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Becoming a powerlifter - the aftermath.

The main event!

It's been a couple of weeks now! So a bit of a delayed update because I have been up to all sorts of things.

The news on powerlifting is that I did get to my meet! I made weight (hoorah!) by cutting a couple of kilos, then I did the competition, and because I knew that I would likely not be able to update my blog straight away, I made a little video to summarise how the competition went.

[TLDW, I totalled 230kg, which is less than my gym PR, but I'm pretty happy considering. There were hiccups...]

Here's a couple of quick videos (kindly recorded by Ryan from Kernow Gym). My second squat, with extra angry lockout, and my third deadlift.

A post shared by Claire Salem (@firelotusfitness) on

So, what did I learn?

The first thing I learned is that you really do need someone to look after you at a meet. Or at least I do!

Arriving at the meet was confusing, there was no front desk check in and it took me a while to find an official to tell me where to weigh in etc. I hadn't brought anyone with me because nobody with meet experience was available and I didn't want to be "looking after" a guest - but in retrospect, someone else asking questions, listening to announcements etc would have given me some headspace.

That said, the other competitors and their teams were really lovely and I would have been lost without them. I am so glad I reached out before I went and I've met some brilliant people who I am keeping in touch with going forward.

In future I decided that I really need a handler/coach.

I'm a very chilled out kind of lifter. I don't yell or get aggressive, I don't smash weights around or get hyped up to lift. I tend to lift to relaxed, or intense but steady music, I'm all about focus and intent. In a competition environment, this is a very difficult mindset to maintain. I'd been told I might lift better because of the adrenaline, but actually I was a little bit too wound up and that meant I made silly mistakes (like not hitting depth on an easy squat and setting up badly for my 2nd deadlift). I think I need someone to hold a calm space for me, and do things like put in the numbers for my next lift, so I am not rushing around thinking about that stuff and losing focus.

Bring chalk. I didn't, because it is provided for the stage, but, at least at this meet, it wasn't provided in the warm up room.

What I did to a great job with bringing though was my packed lunch. I nailed that! I re-fed my carbs on "porridge" bars (basically granola/flapjack, but the brand I chose markets these ones as "portable porridge". Then I had jelly babies for between lifts and boiled eggs and a chicken sandwich for "lunch", which actually got eaten between rounds. I had a pasty after I lifted, because Cornwall.

Coffee. There was no real coffee at the meet. There were some lovely ladies with an urn, but instant coffee will not do. In future I will bring a travel mug of real coffee for post weigh-in.

Speaking of weigh in, I am going to look over how I cut weight pre-competition. I started out training 16 weeks prior at 70kg, thinking that would serve me well for competing under 72kg. But 2 weeks prior to the meet (after peaking in my programme) I was slightly over 72kg. I hadn't taken account of muscle gains, inflammation, glycogen load etc. I was able to knock those 2 kg off with a little water manipulation and by cutting carbs for 48 hours before. But this was a risk because dehydration triggers my fibromyalgia flares  and that would not be a welcome addition to meet day. As it was the headache didn't hit until after I lifted.

So I need to make sure that my weight is a bit further below where I want it to be in competition, before I start my meet prep, to give myself more leeway. Ideally I would implement bulking, cutting and maintenance cycles, but I am not sure I am up for being that serious with my nutrition when I am competing for fun.

Where do I go now?

This is the question!

I'm definitely going to compete again. I am not sure yet whether I will stay in the same federation, or try out ABPU, who I am told have a very different energy and competition experience.

I'm also going to look into training as a powerlifting coach, because who wouldn't want to get more in depth on this stuff? OK, maybe not everyone, but geeking out over the biomechanics of 3 lifts is my happy place.

I've just had a 2 week deload. I did a high volume deadlift session last week, because I am trying to decide whether to change my deadlift style, but that's the only powerlifting I have done since the meet.

I also did some strongman training at Fit Martock. Because why not?

New phase, new programme

I've decided to programme my own "off season" training while I work out where I am going next. It will be heavily influenced by Konstantin Rogozhnikov (Head Coach WPC Team Russia). His programming has a strong focus on recovery, which is great for me, along with cybernetic periodisation (meaning I can adjust my weights based on how I feel that day, super important for an athlete with physical challenges). It's also very similar to the type of programming where I have made the most progress previously, but with some important additions in terms of cycling intensity.

That was a ride!

I'm looking forward to some downtime now. Doing a bit more strongman and Crossfit, and focusing on my nutrition coaching and programme writing for a little bit. I hope you enjoyed coming on this adventure with me. I can't wait to see where it goes next....


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