Tag Archives: coach

Fight against female weightlifting misconceptions and celebrating femininity with heavy loaded barbell

Sitting at an English Weightlifting Championship 2015 in Leeds as a spectator and keen supporter of Olympic weightlifting and every athlete who appeared on the podium regardless of his or her club or weight category, made me feel great
about being part of the sport’s community which recognises top level fitness, functional fitness and strength built and acquired through hard work, practice, training and disciplined life.

Not all athletes, perhaps hardly any, are sponsored these days, so preparation for the competition which is often the pinnacle of athlete’s efforts is all about discipline and juggling priorities with work, training and leisure time.

Turning up at the competition whether local, regional or national is often surrounded by injuries and unforeseen events. It is rarely the ideal or perfect time for athlete, but we all learn to work around it and adapt and continue challenging ourselves.

Females whom I watched competing across two days ranged in body weight, body type and performance. All of them had two things in common; the journey they took to get here as well as the celebration they received from the sport’s community, spectators, coaches and families.

These competitions aren’t hosted just to showcase individuals but to celebrate high athletic performance, dedication and disciplined and relentless life of athletes. Weightlifting is historically associated with strong men! Misconceptions cloud over female lifters and female weightlifting as a sport discipline in general is almost frowned upon by general public.

It’s no news to any female lifters whether competing here this weekend or training in their local gym that we are rarely encouraged or recognised for our hard training and work we put into athletic performance by the society; it’s highly likely that we are commented on in a dismissive almost uneducated manner that we will be fat, big and ugly if we lift heavy weights.

This weekend I sat in the audience and watched amazing girls who not only showcased female strength but also the femininity and beauty at it’s best. Lifting shoes replaced high heels and dust from chalking up hands was the make up for a day! Instead of having a pint of lager in our hands and talk crap we all chose to be here, pay respect to the barbell and our coaches and talk “snatch” and “clean & jerk” as well as PBs (personal bests) and strategies maybe even touch on training techniques which got us on the podium and helped us qualify.

Perhaps weightlifting doesn’t attract crowds of football or athletics but it celebrates athletes performance in the same way as any other Olympic sport.

All I experienced this weekend was very refreshing, big crowd of spectators supported all female competitors just by being here, clapping and cheering them on. All weight categories were much bigger in the number of female competitors than previously experienced which is good news for sport and fight against misconceptions associated with female weightlifting.

Anyone wanting to experience hard work at the gym paying off through respect you gain by competing and facing a room full of like minded crowd should at least join the crowd and watch local or regional competition and maybe join the club for some quality coaching and training.

It’s never too late to train and compete. Weightlifting is very inclusive sport and it recognises hard work of individuals really well.

I am a girl and I lift heavy

20150215-124723-46043662.jpg

20150215-124723-46043957.jpg

Advertisements

Work, travel, hotels, restaurant and training…how to manage through strong will and motivation

I for many years travel with my work. Majority of my time is spent entertaining clients which is predominately through wining and dining or other social events.

When I first got into fitness and light training I would go for a few weeks eating clean and training regularly but every overseas trip would mean eating in restaurants and inevitable drinking sessions with clients.

I would find myself coming from work trips back to routine and training feeling all upset that I failed continuing on my mission to “lose weight” by eating well and drinking and also not training.

For the first time on my overseas trip I found a simple way to maintain my training program, my eating habits and working duties.

My trip also coincides with my first competition in weightlifting. I am in Spain spending 2 weeks away from London and these are the crucial two weeks before the competition. I guess that’s why I was pushed to consider and find ways to balance everything required from me professionally and also personally (training for the competition).

So here are my few quick tips how to integrate training and nutrition when working overseas

1. Book a hotel or accommodation which has some gym, swimming pool or activity areas (tennis courts) – in today’s competitive market of hotels there shouldn’t be a problem to find a good value for money hotel with gym…. Don’t forget to pack a sports bra, trainers, swimming suit and some leggins

2. If you (as much as me) prefer to continue with training and require Olympic lifting bars and bumper plates which are not often a part of standard globo gym equipment then turn to crossfit box. I’ve done it and for as little as €10 a session I am maintaining my program. Added benefit is you meet new friendly faces and exchange a few “crossfit” talks as well.

3. If eating out in restaurants is a daily occurrence stick to healthy choices. I’ve been here for a week almost and ate out every evening. I opted in for grilled meat and salads but also fish and seafood. Just because it’s a treat doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy.

4. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. I have had many offers of wine over dinner but I maintained my water only approach. It only takes refusing wine or alcohol twice or three times. Next time you do it, it is more natural.

5. Plan your days… Even though you are overseas the routine is important. I book my meetings in specific times and even dinners are booked for a bit later allowing me a time for a quick evening workout/ cardio….

6. Have your coach and training partner available on chat as in the times you might feel like giving into the drinking with clients and colleagues or can’t be bothered to train he/she might just be having right few words to motivate you…

7. If all above fails… Revisit your motivation to succeed in your goals. There are no real reasons why you should fail if you want it bad enough.

Given that my first competition is quiet soon I had to face the situation I found myself in due to my job and career and organise myself.

Happy training and working!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

20150115-235156-85916514.jpg

Forgetting about your PBs and slow return are better than mourning after your PBs and comfort eating… my tips to comeback from an injury

Physical injuries, mental barriers, recovery, therapies and frustrations associated with inability to be where you want to be or could be, all contribute to setbacks which every professional and amateur athlete experience on their road to the top of their physical performance.

Injuries are and will be a significant part of that road and often are not easily avoidable neither recognised by athlete especially if your goal is to succeed and get to the best possible results as soon as possible. Sometimes drive and determination overshadow little signs which could have helped you avoid injuries in the first place.

There are plenty of articles on the internet which suggest the best ways of avoiding injury. In fact most of those articles are very good tips, however they are talking about how to prevent injuries by not over training and ensuring right nutrition intake and balances in life overall.

From my very recent experience of a sport’s injury and consequent operation which lead to inability to train and caused a setback, I struggled to find any material (other than related to doctor’s or therapist specific advice) on how to turn setback into comeback. I guess no athlete or coach or fitness gurus and experts like to highlight to the new world of fitness enthusiasts that there are indeed the “down times” in physical performance and especially CrossFit might be a little bit to blame (not a criticism of anyone specifically in CrossFit rather an observation).

We all seem to focus on our PBs and on our 1RMs and all motivational quotes out there go as far as “don’t give up” / “failure is just temporary” etc…

You know them, you see them floating around and they are everywhere. We seem to be obsessed with these new messages, memes, quotes, images which in my opinion don’t cater for injuries resulted from perhaps pushing yourself too hard and instead of endorsing progress and consistency they support over training and peak performances in unrealistic time frames.

Is the injury a failure?

Are you giving up when you have to take time to recover and completely stop any physical exercise?

Are you a quitter if you can’t exercise?

Surely not!!!!!

But there is a very limited support available for those who injured themselves unless you are a top professional athlete OR you know where to look for the crucial element of your comeback – the right mind-set and support.

Too many of my colleagues and other fitness buddies, even crossfitters are injured or have been injured. Majority of them never return to the sport activity which caused the injury and always talk about the activity in a very dismissive manner.

I am not surprised! It caused them a pain; put them out of training and destroyed something they enjoyed and human beings don’t like to come back to situations which hurt them in the first place.

Here is my approach to turning setback and injury into comeback and consistent measurable progress.

Note: I’ve created these tips and outlined the approach only with the help of professionals from the surgeon to physio through fellow athletes and two coaches (Rich Kite and my father Stefan Korpa).

1. Recognition is the key – the moment you in your mind recognise that you are indeed injured and need to take a time off (not a setback) from any physical activity is the moment you start your recovery and saving yourself a lot of time wasted in the “denial stage”

2. Seek professional help – it might cost you to get this sorted, but getting yourself a medical help and advice is probably the best next action. Get scans, get in front of the consultant and don’t under-estimate even small-ish injury as they indeed result into larger and more complicated injuries if not rectified early on.

3. Take up the proposed treatment – in my case it was in form of an operation and as drastic as it sounded there was no other way to cease the pain and commence healing process. In some cases the treatment might be drugs or other therapies. I guess it is your own choice and views you  might have or your coach might have on the proposed treatment. In all situations, do consider taking up the best one for your injury. Avoiding this step and hoping it will go is probably not very realistic view.

4. Listen to your body after all we are all individual – post any treatment and operation you will get a very standardised advice about how the recovery looks like or might look like. You will get a time frames of various progressions and improvements. I’ve learnt that these are very generic guide lines and don’t cater for individual’s health; nutrition etc. Don’t blame the health care systems for this; the specialist surgeon can’t spend another few hours or days consulting with you individually the best way to progress. You need to listen to your body and watch out for the signs of progression. These will vary from person to person, the age group, your nutrition intake and your mental attitude toward recovery. As an example my injury and operation:

I was told to keep the cast on for 4-6 weeks. In addition I was told that stitches will fall out in 14 days post operation. Estimated time to return to any physical activity was 8-12 weeks. Advice given was to commence physio therapy after 4 weeks.

Reality:

I kept the cast on for 3 weeks and final week I keep removing it on and off – it was only after sending emails and pictures to my surgeon who suggested I am progressing and should start getting used to using my right hand without the awkward cast.

Stitches had to be removed after 25 days as they did not fall out. I returned to very light but still physical activity after 5 weeks post operation on the recommendation of the physio whom I sought after 4 weeks which was about the time stitches were removed.

5. Keep challenging yourself elsewhere – often withdrawing from challenging physical activities causes a mental set back and frustrations. Your brain and your body are used to the adrenaline and performance and suddenly you are not getting the same stimulus. Find something else to do which can challenge you. You know the approximate time frame for recovery, so try to excel in some other area of your life; I took up time to learn about nutrition and focused more time and effort at work and as a result I opened up 2 international offices. These new mental challenges substitute the lack of physical challenges and kept me happy and too busy to think about set back.

6. Slow return and forgetting about your PBs are better than over-eating and mourning after your PBs – very harsh reality but I experienced this first hand. At the beginning I kept thinking about where I was and how I am unable to be there now. I wanted to be where I was 3 months ago at the healthy physical performance with good potentials for better. That kept me miserable and every time i sought motivation those PBs were on my mind. It was a lot of “what if” kind of thinking. If you are like me; driven and determined, this is the point when you MUST STOP these kind of thoughts! You must forget about “the good old days” and focus on slow return and start from the scratch. Literally!

I’ve taken a lot of advice from my coaches and friends who luckily kept telling me all about this mind-set.

I have forgotten about my PBs (not literally, but I am not fixated on them) and thanks to my coach and physio who accommodated me a lot I started to train with only empty bar. Despite my own frustrations they kept me on the same very basic levels for a few weeks and did not give in to my persuasive personality. In hindsight it’s the best they did for me.

7. Work on the form and technique and get the basics right – now is the time to return to your goal of being the best of your own self. It is the perfect time to work on your technique and form. Even if you have to repeat the moves which caused an injury in the first place, this is  the time to get your form spot on. A lot of light weights, repetitive work, technique training instead of loading up and reaching new PBs and 1RMs etc. Working on the parts of your body which shouldn’t be affected by the injury is another way of setting yourself up for success!

8. It’s a marathon not a sprint – final tip for anyone who wants to see themselves in the best physical condition they can be and wants to perform in the said sport and activity. It’s incredibly important to realise that whatever you want to achieve it is very unlikely that it will happen overnight. Set yourself for success and not for failure and avoid mistakes I’ve made.

“I am a girl and I lift heavy”

20141028-130612-47172231.jpg

“All in One” long term measuring of your weightlifting performance, body weight, clothes size and major lifts… conclusions which will shock most weightloss theories

Past few days I spent collating information and data jotted down in various diaries and notepads I had started and never finished since October 2012 and searching for email conversations with my coaches related to my progress and data.

Putting together a table and chart which covers a lot of (at times) random information was a big ask on myself, but I have finally finished it and my own findings and statements below are the result of a long-term (22 months) data and information recorded in a simple excel format.

The graph 1 which I produced from this data is somewhat less easy to read so I decided to break it down to main comparables in a series of graph for example “body weight” vs “clothes size” to prove that the myth of” weight loss diets mean smaller clothes” is just a myth!

What was I recording:

Body Weight / dress size / front squat / back squat / dead lift/ snatch (lift) / clean and jerk (lift) / injuries

main chart

A few conclusions from my initial graph are as follows:

* The most body weight (in kg) I’ve lost in the measured period of 22 months was staggering 17kg!!!

* My average body weight in those 22 months was 62.18 kg

* The longest injury free period was 4 months at the very beginning of the measured period where I weight 70kg and lifted a very small % of my body weight. Another 4 months of injury free period was early this year Feb – May 2014, the time I was hitting heavier weights and started crossfit (April 2014)

* I had over two months off from training due to my broken foot which is the injury incurred during Tough Mudder 2013

* My lifts started to improve this year significantly after joining crossfit box in London and I also dedicated a lot of time to weightlifting and became coached by Rich Kite

* My body weight is creeping up slightly, however my dress size dropped to UK 6 even though I am 5 kg heavier than my lightest 54kg when I was size UK8

 

Graph2: Body Weight vs Clothes size

When I was at my heaviest 71 kg my dress size was UK14. This was not due to my whole body being fat, but predominantly my body shape being “pear shape” which meant my hips were very wide and I carried a lot of fat on my hips, tummy and on my back.

After 18 months I was weighing 54kg but my dress size was UK8. Today I weigh 58-59kg and my dress size is UK6. Muscles weigh more than fat!

graph 1

Graph 3: Clean and Jerk and Front Squat have direct correlation

The below indicates a few key points for my training. Front squats are important in your clean and jerk olympic lift. There is a direct correlation between the weight squatted and the weight cleaned. No wonder that part of my weightlifting training session is front squat.

Muscle memory: You can see that I had no lifts recorded last summer (2013). It is because I was injured and couldn’t lift or train. Though muscle memory remained pretty strong and my return to lifting was pretty strong too. More on muscle memory can be read here: http://www.dna-sports-performance.com/coaches-zone/muscle-memory-a-coaches-perspective/

c&J and front squat

As I dig deeper into my analysis of my figures I will be publishing more articles on my form and performance over 22 months period.

I am a girl and I lift heavy x

Crossfit Games – late night watching and snacking

So the time has come. The Crossfit Games 2014 are upon us! Sadly due to time difference those unfortunate who did not obtain tickets to watch it LIVE will have to put up with a live stream on their computers or ESPN.  The stream starts 5pm GMT and ends around 3am in the morning.

Those who can stay up will have to be glued on their screens till early hours. So, what are the benefits of watching amazing athletes  and the fittest on earth?

They are inspirational! I wouldn’t want to miss Rich Fronning, Annie Thorisdottir, Denae Brown and inspirational Elisabeth Akinwale and many more amazing athletes.

They are strong!

They go beyond what many crossfit athletes dream of and aspire to!

Besides all the athletes, the WODs are something to look at and learn from whether you are the athlete or a coach. This year’s WODs are not a surprise but a combination of long distance running and swimming with our good old classics which can’t be missed in any Crossfit WOD – burpees and thrusters!

nut butter

But, what are you going to do with your own training routine during next 4-5 days? Are you going to stick to your morning training after spending a night glued on the screen being envious and excited to watch the impossible becoming possible?

Are you going to give into late night snacking? What will you snack on?

There are ways to combine your own routine with this exceptional TV coverage.

1. move your trainings to more suitable times (i.e. evenings if you are going to stay up late)

2. visit the website games.crossfit.com for schedules and WODs and select those that you will definitely want to watch

3. go to sleep if you are having a long day ahead – there is ARCHIVE which you can watch online after the events

4. Don’t snack too late and if you really can’t stop or hold yourself have something light or sip on a cup of green tea! Personally, I will have nearly empty jar of cashew nut butter hidden for the worst cravings.

5. Don’t forget to drink lots of water

Enjoy the Games and keep lifting!

 

I am a girl and I lift heavy x

Supporting from the side lines! Envy and jealousy of competing in Crossfit

photo 3

This weekend I was privileged enough to watch Kim (my training partner) and team from my Crossfit box competing at mixed team event Wild West 2014. What a weekend that was!!!

It was Kim’s first crossfit competition and given that we are only training at crossfit for 3-4 months she was doubting herself and her abilities. Little did she know that she is absolutely capable of competing with athletes who are crossfitting for longer than her.

This post is not all about her, but she more than deserves a mention and she should enjoy the glory of the weekend – she was amazing to say the least! Well done and congratulations from many who know her are in order:

Kim’s PB on Deadlift – 130kg

photo 2

Personally, I have gained a new perspective over two days  spent shouting from the side lines at her and at the team; and also having some very good conversations with friends and new friends.

As I am close to Kim I was privileged enough to get a taste of her excitement during the build up to a competition. She was always sharing her doubts with me but also her successes, which I am unsure if can be told about other athletes. She made me feel as if I was part of her special weekend, which again made me feel more than involved.

Deep down, and initially, I was frustrated from my persisting injury and also jealous that I couldn’t be part of that amazing team and was “just” a spectator. As the event went on, my initial feelings changed considerably. All teams and all athletes involved in the weekend were absolutely amazing and more than anything they inspired me. So jealousy was gone very quick and pride ane excitement kicked in! Overwhelming feelings that crossfit community is a very competitive one but welcoming too. I didn’t feel out-of-place being a spectator and amongst strong and fit girls I felt “at home”.

Kim, Danielle and I in between WODs

photo 1

There were 100 teams consisting of 4 athletes which were 2 male and 2 female. All 100 teams did amazing job at 6 WODs spread over 2 days. The location was excellent, the venue was well set up, the rigs were of a good quality and atmosphere was of that comparable to CF Regionals which I watched online. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was one of those events which I would love to attend again as a spectator.

So, how can  supporting from the side lines be any better than spending the weekend in the park or even doing some exercise?

Firstly and foremost, this particular experience helped me gain a new perspective on my personal goals and targets. Girls who competed were in a commendable form and female of all ages looked very strong and fit. Healthy and fit was the best description for the mixture of body shapes, types and abilities. Very inspirational for me as a beginner and newbie into crossfit and lifting.

Secondly, the atmosphere of the competition was friendly between athletes as well as spectators and it taught me a lot about crossfit community. Embrace everyone’s effort – be it the first time competitor or a seasonal athlete! We all are competing against ourselves to be better than yesterday, stronger than yesterday and healthier!

Lastly, I’ve learnt that I have a lot to learn and a lot to conquer, but I found that all of us are conquering the same. Competitions are a great place to test your abilities and benchmark yourself against others, the adrenalin adds a lot to your performance and you might find (as many athletes have) that the atmosphere of that environment might help you with your PB or PR and you might even be able to do kipping pull ups under pressure of the team!

I am super excited for my first every competition in 19 days! I am hoping to get back into my training today after my third physio session!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

Training partner can help you reach your personal bests, but where do you find one?

In my early days in the gym I realised that my self motivation to come in the mornings or late evenings and run on a treadmill or do some poorly planned exercise was pretty low.
Apart from pointless exercises randomly mixed into my gym routines, I was also alone to master the challenge of coming to the gym.

Before becoming full-time gym-bunny, I appointed a PT (in my mind referred to as Coach) to help me change my random pointless exercise plan into a proper training plan which promised results and delivered results. I was fairly satisfied with it and with my Coach, but there is only so many days in a week that you can train with your coach. The bond between us was really strong, but he also taught me to self-guide myself on days when he was not around. Majority of professional athletes self-guide themselves and coaches only polish their technique. So, when you embark on the journey to become fit, strong and healthy, you will have to consider that a lot of time will be spent self-guiding, educating, researching and correcting your technique. But, this “lonely time” is worth it!

A year into, what I would refer to as a good steady progress, my Coach had to leave as he was moving to California. While I am not a professional athlete, my Coach meant a lot to me. There is a strange relationship going on between a coach and athlete. Firstly, you have to trust your coach. Secondly, coach becomes part of your fitness life but also your life outside the gym as he/she should be aware of your emotional life and social life as it directly impacts your performance and results. Coach becomes your best friend in a very strange way.

So, I was left without a coach and on the quest to find one. While he recommended a few good coaches, I struggled to create the same bond and in all fairness it was a big job to fill his boots!

Fortunately, this was the time when I met my training partner. She also was coached by Adam (our coach) and was on the quest to find another coach or indeed find a substitute to existing training regime which was similar to mine.

We bonded well and we are now training for over 3 months together. It is fun but and it also  brings results and it is fair to say that I achieved my personal bests because she would be encouraging these from the side line.

So, what to look out for in your training buddy?
* shared (similar) goals and targets
* clarity on their plans and training
* similar views on nutrition and food

My training buddy Kim is amazing. She is not like me. She is different, but that’s what makes us work in balance. She pushes me really hard, but also understands when I need to stop training or when I am over -training. Often enough, she is the voice of sanity when my character comes out.

We train together at least 3 times a week, but also train separately. We both enjoy crossfit and mostly we both love weightlifting. This is important as our committment to 5 days a week training means that a lot of it must be enjoyed by both of us.

Our first team competition is taking place in August in Cardiff. We are attending European Inferno http://www.europeaninferno.com/

It will be a lot of fun, but we are also going to test our abilities and team synchronisation.

I don’t have an answer as to where to find a training buddy, but I am a believer that you should try to find one if you see a keen girl/boy in the same gym. Crossfit is a great place to find training buddies especially because of its community spirit. Crossfit clubs encourage team spirit unlike regular gyms where you have to face the challenge of training on your own.

I knew of Kim and watched her and her performance in the gym. I would have never approached her on my own accord and she probably wouldn’t have approached me, but our coach did the hard work for us.

10509716_10152561394408899_8709330049191476123_n

Thank you Adam! It was well worth it!

I am a girl and I lift HEAVY! What is your excuse?