I will address the topic from the subject line momentarily, but first: an update on my new powerlifting program from Coach Ben Pollack! It involved a lot of learning.
For example, Ben is helping me adjust my technique with each exercise to best work with my personal leverages (the angles my body has, based on my height and the length of my limbs, etc.). The right positions are going to be different for each person’s body, but here are the changes we made:
- With my squat, Ben had me lower the bar half an inch on my back, rather than having it sit right on top of my traps. This actually did make me feel a lot stronger! It’s called a “low bar squat” (see the picture).
- Bench press: Ben had me widen my grip so I am using more pec muscle than triceps. And he had me bring my feet closer to the barbell so I can use the power from my legs to move the bar (picture above).
- Lastly, I have been deadlifting with only socks on because my CrossFit shoes have too much of a lift in the heel (your feet need to be flat to avoid injury) So I need to order some old school Converse Chuck Taylors, ha).
How the program works: Each week, I do each of the big movements (deadlift, squat and bench press) twice, plus some ‘bodybuilding style’ work on various bodyparts, which will ultimately make my “big lifts” stronger. I can also do a few sessions per week of lower-intensity cardio. This is such a change from my previous bodybuilding days when I spent literally 50 minutes to 1 hour on the treadmill every morning (fasted!!), doing lunges, walking squats, etc. (and this turned into TWICE per day cardio, during the last few weeks of competition prep – no wonder I had no social life, lol.).
Overall things are going well and I am having fun! Thanks to everybody who sent kind messages or comments about my new journey! I hope I can inspire some other folks (women in particular!) to pick up a barbell because it’s super fun to see your strength numbers go UP (rather than obsessing about the scale number going DOWN, which is not fun, ever!).
Now explaining the title of this blog:
I talked to Coach Ben a little bit about weight classes. For those who don’t know, in a powerlifting meet, you compete with other people in your same weight class. I asked him where I would best fit (you should select a weight class where you feel strong, but the higher you go, the stronger the other competitors may be, simply because ‘mass moves mass’).
He recommended eventually, long-term, that I ‘fill out’ to the 158 lb weight class (I am 5’7” and currently 147-8 lbs). So I talked to my nutrition coach, and we plan on sloooowly adding muscle over the next several months ..and years. Yes – I said YEARS, haha. That is how long it’s going to take. Muscle doesn’t come on easily for women. It takes a LOT of hard work (so all of the ladies who fear getting “bulky” – I promise you don’t need to worry about it!). If you do it the right way, the slow way, you won’t add tons of bodyfat (aka, we’re not doing the old-school “bulking” which I do not believe in!!).
This is important because I am in such a healthier mindset than I was a year or two ago, before I got into real strength training. From age 12 to my late 20s, I was obsessed with being skinny/lean and never ate enough. That is an exhausting, depressing way to live! Now, of course I want to look fit, but I understand that can be accomplished in a healthy way (with heavy lifting!). Something to think about for anyone else struggling with the scale and body image!! ❤️