Tag Archives: progress

Compete to better yourself vs train to be ready to compete

 

In the past few months, in between living my life, working and my weightlifting training I was also exposed to competitive weightlifting from both athlete’s perspective (competing myself) and from organisational aspect such as putting a team of athletes together to compete and hosting a competition in my home club (Battersea Weightlifting Club).snatch

This experience opened up a dialogue with fellow lifters and club’s athletes. What I’ve learnt as an athlete myself is that there are many good lifters, new lifters who don’t want to compete or represent the club for quiet a strange reason which I would refer to as misunderstanding, misconception or even missing the point.

There are many weightlifting competitions taking place throughout the year in the UK and while majority of competitions are only for registered athletes [under British Weightlifting Federation] they allowathletes of all abilities (new and professional) to compete in front of the referees on the platform and more than likely with very good and supportive audience.

I only took part in two competitions this year thus far under British Weighltifting and on behalf of my club; however competed in others such as lifting league for South-East of the UK.

First competition took place in January 2015 and it was a great experience. Out of 6 lifts I’ve hit 5 good lifts which was great and then I’ve missed two competitions due to travelling and competed again at the end of May.

Many of my fellow lifters ask me if I am ready to compete? My answer is simple: as ready as I can be!

So, why are there athletes, lifters, males and females who are scared of weightlifting and when invited to compete they decline with usual excuse: “I am not ready, I need to train more to be able to compete!”

My coach once told me that competing to get experience as a new lifter is what I should focus on. Get as many times on the platform as you can – was his view.

So I did! Once registered for the competition my competitive spirit then started to get concerned about making weight category (ie. dropping into category I would like to compete instead of just getting as many good lifts as possible). I was also getting too concerned about being the weakest lifter on the platform with very low opening attempts.

My fears were well-managed and consequently eliminated by my fellow lifter and training partner and coach. All of the worries about body weight and other lifters were irrelevant to me as a new lifter.

The moment I stepped on to the platform I hit new PBs; both in snatch and clean&jerk.

The difference between training and lifting at the competition was that I couldn’t hit those numbers in the training and struggled to get over my comfortable numbers. When I was encouraged to compete the work I’ve put into the preparation has paid off on the platform. For me it was the adrenalin, the coach, the audience and ambience which made a difference.

Why should you aim to compete and enter the competitive weightlifting at any stage?

1. Competitive weightlifting gives lifters different experience from ambience, warm up and build up to your first lift through to your best lift

2. Adrenalin levels often than not run much higher in the competitive environment over training environment which means that your PBs are likely to be hit and new PBs made

3. Learning from other lifters of similar weight, body composition which you might not normally see lifting with you or next to you in the warm up room will give you new perspective

4. Relationship with your coach changes and improves every time you prepare for competition, compete and even after competition. You will get to know your coach from different angle. You will see a different person and not just somebody who writes a programme and shouts clues at you during training.

5. Finally, entering competitive weightlifting gives those who train hard, have a strict routine a reason to celebrate and reflect on the progress made; I treat myself to a few days off from training and enjoy good food treats.

By believe that you are not good enough or ready enough to compete you are holding back from facing the referees, the platform and most importantly yourself from your true athletic and physical potential and new PBs.

Getting involved with competitive weightlifting is simple:

1. register with British Weightlifting by registering as unattached athlete or attached (by joining a club)

2. find out about your local competitions and clubs and maybe start with club competitions

3. ensure you have a good coach who understands weightlifting and supports you in competition

4. get involved!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

More references can be found here:

http://britishweightlifting.org/

https://www.facebook.com/batterseaweightlifting

 

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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”

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Injuries, setbacks and how to cope with them

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My amazing holidays on Bali came to an end with ruptured tendon on my right hand wrist.

Initial emotions which filled my head when I sat in the hospital in Kuta (Bali) amongst many tourists with “Bali belly”, broken legs and arms and green faces, were anger, frustration, setback, pain, upset, anxiety and disbelief.

I was angry with myself, with the world, with the sport, with my holidays, with everyone and everything who might have contributed to this situation. X-ray scans arrived and showed no fractures, MRI scans showed the most feared for injury – tendon/ligaments tears. I was in need of an operation which would reconstruct my tendon for a proper healing and to grow back, however I was advised to do it in the UK and take a flight home as scheduled – 3 days later.

As the nurse immobilised my wrist and forearm with a temporary brace, the reality of the situation dawn at me. I will not be able to train for 2 months and longer, I will miss my first crossfit and weightlifting competition and my progress will turn into regress. Sad moment.

When you arrive at the point of realising that your injury is for a long-term and you won’t be able to continue to train, you’ve actually arrived at the crossroad.  From here you must make a choice of how you react to this situation. Your choice is either reacting as majority would – feeling sorry for yourself and letting the weight of the situation drag you down; or you can react as a true athlete in an athlete spirit where setbacks are viewed as opportunities to come back stronger.

Choice no. 1 – feeling sorry for yourself

This choice is made by us humans too often. We choose to feel sorry and dwell on the situations from a very negative angle. It is applicable to any setbacks, break ups, job losses, injuries and other emotionally heavy impacts on our lives. The surroundings we live in, work in and are influenced by will play a big role in this choice being made.

Firstly, majority of your friends and families and colleagues will feel sorry for you and no doubt they will express it in calls, texts and their behaviour, they will encourage thoughts about your injury being “bad”, “painful” and with long-term consequences.

Secondly, all you know and are coded with from a very young age is the information about injuries – they need rest and they are a setback. Doctors will tell you “no training for 6 weeks”, they put you through operation and stick a cast on (in my case), they immobilise your injured part of the body, prescribe painkillers, drugs and suggest no exercise for a long period of time.

Thirdly, your own perception of the situation is influenced by both surroundings and professional diagnosis and treatment. It is therefore very easy and almost understandable to make a choice no. 1. It’s the obvious one anyway and you are almost pre-coded to make this choice, so don’t despair if you find yourself in this article. You can learn from it for the next time.

Sadly the consequences of making a choice no. 1 are going to mean that your setback is going to be a true setback which will impact your fitness even more than the injury alone would have. It often means that you abandon your healthy lifestyle, find excuses to eat junk and comfort foods and prolong your recovery time not only through poor nutrition intake but often alcohol intake too.

Choice no 2 – if you eat like an athlete, train like one YOU SHOULD react to setbacks like an athlete would

This choice is the one which you are not told or taught how to make. It is a choice you need to learn to make as you get older, wiser and it becomes a result of disciplined life as well as the result of making the RIGHT choices through the messages sent from the RIGHT surroundings. This choice can only be made if you love your body, understand it, listen to it and you are in a complete equilibrium with it.

Luckily athletes have their coaches and professional sports doctors who when treating them, whether surgical or non-surgical way, create just the right surrounding for the athlete and his/her recovery. In addition, family of athletes also know what kind of words/messages need to be sent to injured athlete. This type of surrounding doesn’t encourage athlete to make a choice no.1.

Sad reality is that majority of us amateur athletes, fitness crazy, don’t have the surrounding which is that powerful. We don’t have doctors who understand the underlying issue of the injury. Our families are supportive of us, but they are not trained or told how to help us to make a choice no. 2. Our friends and colleagues see you as a crazy fitness enthusiast who probably overtrained and deserved this injury.

 

Making THE choice no. 2 – amateurs manual to turning Setbacks into Comebacks

1. Arriving at the “crossroad” I knew I had to make a choice – you must realise and firstly be aware (many ARE NOT) that you have a choice. They are simple: Injury will be a setback for long OR injury will become a comeback in disguise – all you need to do is make the choice no. 2, BUT it starts with realisation that you have the said choices

2. Surround yourself with the right people and accept the fact that there will be friends and family who will try to influence your thoughts, but you MUST talk to your coaches, fellow athletes or even read information on sports injuries and how to cope with them. There is a lot of right information out there, but also a lot of information which conflicts with making choice no. 2

3. Accept the injury as part of the long-term goal which you probably set and keep reviewing as you progress. My goal is set for 2 years and I chose to accept this setback as part of getting closer to my goal. It might be hard to believe that injury will get you closer to it as it might seem like this is getting you further away from your fitness goals, but in a long-term it is only 2 months out of 24 which you will be out of the REAL ACTION. 2 months are less than 10%!!!

4. Don’t take it word for word when your doctor says “NO TRAINING or EXERCISE” – this is one of the biggest mistakes we all make when injured. I injured my right hand wrist and tendon. Yes, life with this injury is not particularly easy and I am uncertain about when the pain will stop, when will the operation take place and the real consequences of it, but I chose not to accept NO TRAINING or EXERCISE comment from doctors. Nothing is stopping me from exercising my core and abs, doing crunches, leg raises (on the floor) and many other exercises which will keep my form going and in fact will improve the most needed part of my body for weightlifting moves – abs and core.

Also, my legs – they are not injured! Why shouldn’t I try to work on my legs? Squats are the best way to keep training when upper body is injured. I started with air-squats and body weight lunges but I am sure during my recovery when my grip improves I will hit my back squats with supervision of my coach.

5. Avoid junk food and boozing as much as possible. When your body is injured all it needs is a lot of healthy nutrients to heal. I was also given a window of roughly 2 months before I am back on track and training. I made a choice that I will do another Whole 30 in that period and offer my body a lot of healthy nutrients in form of clean eating.

As it is joint/muscle injury I also upped intake of fish oils and other natural sources of nutrients.

Keeping your body fueled when it is injured is the key to speedy recovery.

6. Socialise wisely – time out of the gym means a lot of free time. As I now won’t be training with my fellow crossfiters and weightlifters I won’t be spending evenings in the gym for some time, there will be a reduction in my usual physical activities at the weekend, so I am faced with a lot of free time. It is going to be hard to fill, but I chose to use this time to self-educate myself and use it to improve in other areas of life. My work requires my full attention and committment as well, so I will spend more time here and get ahead of the game. My blog and writing will also get more attention and finally I will write my papers for weightlifting coaching certificate and prepare for exams.

7. Find a new goal while injured and deliver on it – I’ve decided that my goal is to perfect my abs and core along with my bum, so when I finally return to training I will be stronger and turn injury into comeback!

 

I am a girl and I lift heavy, so what’s your excuse?

Article credits go to: Rich Kite – my weightlifting coach, Kim – my training partner and a friend, my family – my dad particularly who is my long distance coach and other friends and athletes. Thank you for helping me turn setback into comeback.

“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

Emotional roller coaster of crossfit and weight loss

Past few days were very emotional for me. The ups and downs of building career in the financial world while devoting all of my free time to weightlifting, crossfit and weight loss have just started to show their true colours. It’s not easy and I almost want to give up.

The most frustrating of the past few days was making a decision not to compete at the European Inferno in Cardiff. My first ever competition in Crossfit and I had to pull out of it 2 weeks before it’s taking place due to my wrist injury.

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How did I arrive to this decision?

Through tears, through number of conversations with my training partner and team buddy for the said competition, through lots of resistance from my side, through a few physio sessions and hard training sessions checking my current abilities and most importantly through a lot of physical pain in my wrist.

Why did I decide to pull out?

It was probably the most sensible decision made in the past few years. I am not a person who enjoys sitting on the side lines and assuming a spectator spot especially if I trained hard to compete in the competition I will end up attending as a supporter and not athlete. The excitement of competing drove my training and influenced my programming, so this was not the easiest of decisions to make.

It was a moment of sanity influenced by professional fellow athletes who like me, once were injured (if not more than once) and knew that I am not fit to compete and would only injure myself more in the process and that would cause a long-term injury with inability to train AT ALL for at least 6 months.

Benefits of that sober moment when you DO THE RIGHT THING despite this being the MOST PAINFUL decision:

1. Avoiding further damage to my wrist and potentially preventing more injuries

2. Allowing current injury to heal properly

3. Refocusing for another competition (October 2014 – Inov8 Trials in Manchester) with my training and programming

4. Learning to listen to my body’s signals

5. Becoming a spectator at the fantastic event which will allow me to breathe in even more motivation for my future competitions

As my emotions were running high and consumption of sugars on a day of making a decision was significantly higher than usual, the positives of all bad situations appeared on the horizon and I decided to look up, wipe my tears and follow the ray of light shining from the end of the tunnel.

The good news which arrived included my first ever photo shoot for Women’s Health magazine and a good training session in crossfit with mastering of my 1st strict pull up ever!

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Onwards and upwards with setbacks being new comebacks.

I am a girl and I lift heavy

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

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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

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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

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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