Back with my beloved barbell

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve developed quite a love for lifting heavy weights. It all started when I discovered Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution programme and realised that I was reasonably strong. Over the last 18 months I’ve been improving that base level of strength, in the main with dumbbells in my own home.

In January this year I did a four week Ladies Who Lift course run by Strength Ambassadors, which taught me the basic barbell lifts – squats, deadlift and bench press. I loved it and surprised myself with the weights that I could manage after just four weeks of training. Realising how beneficial strength training could be to my marathon training I signed up for personal training sessions with Sally Moss, the founder of Strength Ambassadors. We did a lot of barbell work in those sessions which saw me to a strong marathon finish, despite carrying a hip/glute injury pretty much the whole way around.

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Since the marathon and while I’ve been recovering from that hip injury I’ve not been doing a lot of very heavy lifting. Julia’s Extreme Inferno programme has been my main focus as I’ve turned my attention back to fat loss, and while I use weights a lot during EI it’s all work that I can do in my own home with dumbbells – no barbell required.

Recently my glute/hip has been feeling a lot better and I’ve been hankering to get back to some barbell work. So for the past 3 weeks I’ve been having a once a week PT session with Jess Wolny, who I also met on the Ladies Who Lift course. We’ve worked our way through the ‘big lifts’ and it’s felt great to be back with the barbell again.

I’ve been really pleased to see how much my strength has improved since I last tried these lifts out. I’m relatively comfortable ‘working’ at a 50kg squat, 60kg deadlift and was particularly pleased with a 50kg bench press. Jess has also introduced me to the military press – a move that’s gone straight to the top of my favourites list. I’m excited to see where my numbers get to as I carry on training with Jess.

Last weekend I was back with Strength Ambassadors at one of their free Olympic Lifting workshops. In the two hour session we were taken through a series of drills that culminated in being able to perform both the snatch and the clean and press. There’s an awful lot going on in each of those lifts but Sally and Alex broke the moves down so that they were easy to understand and the drills progressed quickly so that before you knew it there you were Olympic Lifting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session. While the weights were relatively light the Olympic Lifts are incredibly dynamic and involve explosive movements so by the end of the session I was exhausted. That kind of post swimming all over tiredness when you know you’ve worked your entire body.

I wouldn’t say I was a natural at the lifts at all. I have a lot to work on in terms of mobility in my squats and my form in the clean. I got some excellent cues from Alex that really helped me improve in particular aspects of the lifts during the course of the session. I really enjoyed myself and absolutely loved the jerk part of the clean and jerk.

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I’m hoping to sign up for a beginners course in the New Year so that I can learn some more.

It’s safe to say that I’m loving having the barbell back in my life!

2 thoughts

  1. Olympic lifts are complicated but they’re not impossible to learn with a lot of practice and good coaching. I struggle a lot with snatches and overhead squats and I’m very impressed with your 50kg bench press – I can’t bench more than a bit over a 40kg.

    1. Yeah I felt like I made progress with the lifts even in the course of the session. I’m sure I’d improve with practice and coaching. I was really pleased with my bench – my 1 rep max was 40kg in Jan so it was quite a jump to 3 reps at 50kg!

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