The meet is Saturday, and we are READY. Every one of us is feeling good and confident. But what did we do to get here?
First, let’s talk about the obvious—the work that had to be put in at the gym. We’ve been training for our meet for about 10 weeks, 3 days a week, each workout focusing on only one of the specific powerlifts (squat, bench, deadlift), as well as some important accessory work. Before getting started, we all do similar warm-ups: myofascial foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling, deep breathing with core bracing, dynamic stretches, and body-weight mobility exercises. Then, the workouts are fairly quick and goal-oriented. We come in, get the work done, and then go home. They are simple but not easy, which makes them wildly effective.
Our coach used principles from two different methods of training to get us prepared for the competition. For those of us competing for the first time, he used Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 method, which has you working at a certain percentage of your max (depending on what week of training you are in) for 5, 3, or 1 repetitions. Check out some more info on that here: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/hardcore-look-at-jim-wendlers-5-3-1-powerlifting-system.html. For those of us who have competed before, he used the principles of the CUBE method, where each lift day is focused on weight, repetitions or speed. Read more about that here: http://jtsstrength.com/articles/2013/04/26/better-powerlifting-by-bodybuilding/.
We love training hard, but we have also learned that our efforts outside the gym can matter just as much as the work inside. What we do on a day-to-day basis affects performance and overall health, and we are constantly seeking out information and sharing it with one another. We are all works in progress, and what works for one may not work for someone else.
Individually we have some unique lifestyle tools and behaviors, but there are many things that are universally practiced among the Miss Fits. Most importantly, we EAT. We follow a whole-foods approach: slim to none of the packaged, processed, low-fat, low-carb, no-calorie Franken-foods that have unfortunately crept into the mainstream American diet. Most of us follow a Paleo/Primal template for the majority of our eating (meats/fish, vegetables, eggs, and some nuts and fruits), which in turn yields an overall lower carbohydrate diet. With that being said, everyone is mindful to supplement hard workouts with additional carbohydrates. The favorites: sweet potatoes (number one by a long shot), white rice, fruit, gluten-free oats and dark chocolate. We definitely enjoy occasional treats; we all particularly seem to have a special affinity for gluten-free carrot cupcakes from our local co-op grocery store. Some of us would also argue that a good glass of wine or cold beer every now and then is necessary for the health of our souls. The bottom line is that you must eat to be healthy, and you definitely have to eat to stay properly fueled to train hard.
Next, and equally as important as nutrition, is sleep and stress management. If you’re not sleeping, you can’t have an effective workout. The same goes for being overly stressed. It will affect your performance and your recovery. Although it’s very tough for some of us to do, especially close to meet time, we try to follow the guideline that if you are not rested or relaxed, stay out of the gym. Instead, take the time to catch up on sleep, relax, walk, read, meditate, or spend time with your kids/spouse/pets—whatever is needed to get back on track.
And finally, active recovery from the hard training sessions is key. Of course, the foundation for recovery is good nutrition, sleep and stress management, but we have found that soaking in Epsom salt baths, myofascial foam rolling and deep-tissue massage can really speed up the process. We also have a couple of gals that use a chiropractor and acupuncturist as part of their recovery tool bag.
In summary, our mantra is to take care of yourself outside of the gym so you can do the necessary work inside the gym with the proper energy, form and mindset to make each and every workout effective. That way, on meet day, we know we’re going to get it done.
Stay tuned for our meet results!