We’d like to thank team GYM Laird member, Brittany for writing this guest blog post. Britt competed at Open Nationals last weekend and had a 243 squat, 127 bench and 281 deadlift; breaking state records along the way. Thanks Brittany, and congrats on a great meet!
Ahhh, meet prep season. I compare it to chewing a piece of gum. At first it’s sweet and flavorful. Then the gum loses its zest and it’s time to pop in a new piece. Don’t get me wrong – the reward is worth the sacrifice, but the reward comes with struggles. Let me be real. Meet preparation is 12 weeks long. Those 12 weeks are comprised of accomplishments, set-backs, and mental games. Your mind can be your best friend or worst enemy, and that applies to more than just training. It’s about perspective and acceptance that every training session may not elicit a jump in numbers, and sometimes your performance at a meet will be a little wonky. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a meet, and it can be both physically and mentally taxing. I think I can speak on behalf of my teammates when I say we were tuckered out and anxiously awaiting off-season to start. It is so important to take time off and allow your body to rest and recover, something I have learned to do more of lately. Lucy Hendricks, you would be proud! Going full-throttle every day will leave you fatigued and in a whirl of other health issues. After some quality recovery time, I can assure you my teammates and I are ready for another round of meet prep season with new strength goals in our sights. It’s an addictive sport!
There are common misconceptions concerning powerlifting meets in general. The word powerlifting might bring to mind a variety of mental pictures – big, beefy men walking around in tight singlets, gulping down 100 gallon protein shakes and squalling during lifts. Well, there may still be some of that in our NASA conference (which is also drug-free), but there’s so much more involved. I have seen a lot in my three short meets: tears of frustration, cheers of encouragement, “whoops” and smiles at a new PR (personal record), and the list goes on. It is a unique and rewarding experience for all who want to take their lifting to the next level. Even if you don’t lift weights, I would encourage you to check out a local meet and see what it’s all about. You may be inspired to get under the bar yourself.
Your first meet can be a bit intimidating. It’s always a good idea to go into a first meet without setting huge benchmarks for yourself. You are already nervous and unsure of what to expect, and the last thing you want to do is pack on extra stress. Focus on the overall experience and the camaraderie with your teammates and other lifters at the meet. I would almost bet you will fall in love with powerlifting, so you can always focus on more specific goals your second time around. The first lift is the squat – my present favorite of the three main lifts. Those who have squatted with a bar would likely classify this lift as the scariest of them all. You are already nervous about being on stage, and then you have to squat a weighted bar. Yeah – it definitely can be one of those “oh, snap” moments once you’re grinding it out at the bottom and realize “I may not come back up!” Don’t worry, you will usually find a deeply rooted surge of energy and lock it back out. In the event you get stuck at the bottom, those meets come equipped with the best spotters in the world – just don’t bail the weight on them!
Next up is the bench press. I don’t have much to say about this lift other than learn from my past mistake: Control the bar and don’t bounce it off your chest – you’ll be holding the bar for what feels like an eternity until you get the “press!” command. *frowney face*
Last of the three lifts is the deadlift – a definite favorite of the GYM Laird community. I think a quote from our last meet is appropriate: “Just stand up!” Of course there is more technique involved than standing up. I’m beginning to wonder if the front judge makes you stand with the bar in your hands long enough to brush your teeth just for the enjoyment of watching blood rush to your face… but I digress.
My favorite part of a meet is the opportunity to share in each other’s successes, and encourage those who might be having an “off” day. Naturally, I cannot forget the traditional celebratory cupcakes post-meet. I am fortunate to have such a supportive group of women that I get the privilege of calling my teammates and friends, and hope I am as much of an encouragement to them as they are to me. A really cool observation I have made is the increase in women at our meets. It is obvious other women are catching on to the benefits and fun of weight-lifting. Powerlifting competitions are a great place to meet other strong ladies and swap fascinating stories of how they got their start. So there you have it – competitions in a nutshell. Hopefully I have managed to pique your interest a bit into the world of powerlifting.
I want to bow out of this blog post by extending my gratitude to Coach Jim Laird for constantly reminding me to have some grace when it comes to taking care of myself. He trains women like me on a daily basis, and always exhibits patience and understanding when we may be a bit grumpy or off-kilter. Thank you for the time you spend challenging and motivating us. We love you!