Here’s one of the confusing things about competing in the Pro Ranks for World Titles – we probably look the most muscular we ever have, so people assume we are pretty strong. However, the truth is that with the extreme dieting and training involved, we are often exhausted and apart from our training, food prep and other absolute necessities, we aren’t really able to do much else. A s well as this, the weights we lift often get less and less as prep goes on!
Our focus is aesthetics, not strength.
After many years of competing successfully nationally and internationally in figure competitions, I’ve decided to give my body and mind a break. This means my training has been somewhat lacking in direction. Having previously been so incredibly focused on my goal of winning world titles, every single rep, every single step, every single gram was vital and had a purpose.
Since then, it has been a struggle to find a new goal that appeals to me.
Finding a new goal
Bulk Nutrients are the most prolific supporters of a plethora of different sports and among these is power-lifting. They have been sponsoring these competitions for many years.
In my treasured role as a Bulk Nutrients ambassador I was scheduled to represent the company at a local powerlifting competition in three weeks. It suddenly occurred to me – since I was going to be there, maybe I should enter.
My disclaimer here is that I am NOT a strong woman! I have never trained for power-lifting. I don’t even know what most of the rules are or why they wear those suits.
But, don’t we always endeavour to give new things a go? Don’t we want to set a great example to our daughters about stepping out of comfort zones? Don’t we love an excuse to try and lift heavier, and grunt and not worry about lifting-face?
Training for a power-lifting competition
With a miniscule three weeks to get ready, I have changed my training around entirely. My old schedule consisted of four fairly high-volume weights sessions a week loosely based around a traditional bodybuilding schedule of three to four sets of eight to ten reps of each exercise and cardio to improve my symmetry, balance and aesthetic flow. My new training schedule is just three sessions per week, based mainly around five sets of five reps of just the big three: Squats, benches and dead-lifts.
Additionally, only two of those three sessions are high intensity, with the middle one being more about keeping recovery going and stimulating ancillary muscles.
My body is loving the lessened training load! I have more energy for other areas of my life that have taken a back seat due to a lack of energy and a lot of muscle soreness! I thought I would be stressing out about not training almost every day, but in fact the opposite has happened. I’ve been able to spend more time with my daughter and husband and more time mountain bike riding and doing all the other things I have meant to do, but haven’t. This has made me a lot happier and more relaxed.
Learning the rules of power-lifting
There’s still lots to learn and heaps of practice to be done.
The form is extremely specific. For example, in benches your shoulders and butt have to be on the bench at all times and feet flat to the floor. In squats your hip crease has to be below your knee at the bottom.
Then there are the calls. There are certain calls that you have to follow or you will be disqualified. In benches, you unrack the weight and then hold it until the ref calls “START” at which time you can lower it to your chest, but then you have to hold it there, motionless, until he calls “PRESS” and then at the top you have to hold it still again until he calls “RACK”. You also have only a short amount of time to commence your squat once the weights have been checked, and in dead-lift you have to hold the bar in lockout at the top until the ref calls “DOWN” and then you can’t just drop the bar, you have to lower it down with control.
Only certain types of equipment are allowed, such as knee sleeves, wrist straps and weight belts. Even then only very specific brands and types are accepted. For example, we have to wear a T-Shirt under our soft suits, but it has to be one colour and with no logos. We have to wear long socks when dead-lifting. The organiser has also told me I need to wear big cotton ‘granny’ pants underneath my suit. I’m not sure if this is actually true, or if he just wants to have a good laugh when we all strip down for the weigh in! I can’t actually see this requirement in the rules…
Anyway, I’m off to the gym again right this moment. It’s my day to attempt a new five rep max. Chalk on, headphones in, game face on, BCAAs in. Wish me luck! And then give me a protein shake, a banana and a massage.
Please note: This article was written before Bridget competed in her first ever power-lifting competition last month. She absolutely smashed it, coming second overall in her weight class. You can check out her results here. Stay tuned for Bridget’s full rundown of the day coming to the Bulk Blog next week.