From Coach Leah:
Many of you know that for the past few years I have competed in the sport of powerlifting. My training has focused on getting as strong as I can in the back squat, bench press and deadlift and I have loved it!! It has been an amazing journey and I have come a long way. The training program that Coach Al put together for me over the past few years took into account my hectic schedule and limited training time and helped me achieve strength goals I never thought possible like a 248lb squat and 303lb deadlift.
It was hard work, but it was fun and the powerlifting community has been incredibly supportive. My passion for that sport is pretty obvious. I’m always recruiting more to join our team and try it out.
My last competition was in September 2015 and it was my best one to date. Setting a couple of PRs was part of it but I also took risks and pushed myself in a way I hadn’t before. I feel like I was the strongest I have been physically and mentally. Plus, it was a ton of fun.
I took a longer recovery period after that competition, especially with my hospital job getting busier and with more travel through the fall. As I started to build up again, things didn’t feel quite right. Weight that used to be relatively easy warmups was feeling incredibly heavy. It was more of a grind than usual to get through workout.
To top it off I got knocked off my bike and smashed my tailbone which meant putting a hold on heavy squatting for a while. I kept pushing through, modifying workouts, but the component of fun wasn’t really there anymore and I wasn’t as motivated.
This was a strange feeling for me. Lifting weights has been an anchor for so long, how could it be that I was losing the drive for the sport? It was hard to wrap my head around.
Enter Synergy Weightlifting.
Mylene and her team started training with us in the New Year and it was energizing to see them lifting at the gym. I observed a couple of sessions and had a chance to chat with Mylene about her programming and I saw an opportunity. If powerlifting was feeling off, why push it?
Why not take some time to focus on a different sport that will still build strength but will also push me from a technical standpoint. I had done weightlifting in the past but my technique could use a lot of work (still does) and because of that, I was not physically able to load up with a lot of weight. This seemed like a great option. I could shift my focus for a bit, focus on technique and speed and open myself up to a new mental and physical challenge.
I did have some hesitation. Would this mean that I would lose strength in my core lifts? Perhaps. Can I even do it? Is it too technically demanding? Can I develop the speed required for weightlifting? I decided there were lots of questions but based on how I was feeling I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it out.
I connected with Mylene and began training 1:1 with her. As someone who is used to competitions, I like to have those to help focus my training on. I did some digging on weightlifting competitions and discovered the Canadian Masters Weightlifting Association.
Boom! I picked that meet and jumped into my first competition with them this past weekend. I really only had a month of focused training but wanted to test it out and see what it was like. Knowing that I was going out on the platform again was motivational as well.
The transition was and is hard. While I have a very solid strength base, it has been a big challenge to convert that to the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. I am learning a whole new sport and there is so much to think about in terms of timing, speed, starting and finishing positions. It has also been really fun. The different stimulus is just what I needed.
While the competition did not go as planned, I am so glad I did it! It was humbling experience. I had to really dig deep to stay in the competition and just get a total score, something that has never happened to me before.
While I thought that my experience locally, nationally and internationally in powerlifting would help me on the platform, my nerves got the best of me. It was just so new and despite my warmups feeling great, I couldn’t quite get it together on the platform.
I have learned a lot over the past few months. I need to listen to my body and like to challenge myself in different ways even if it means taking a few steps back to get there. I am going to continue with the weightlifting and find a balance with that and my powerlifting training and likely compete in both, because, why not!
If you are feeling stuck in your training, find ways of changing it up. Seek out what motivates you and what you enjoy. It is ok to take a break and try something different. Learning how to listen to your body, when to push for more and when to back off is a tough but rewarding journey. I’m very excited to see where my training will take me next and I’m thrilled that I can do that with my amazing training partners and the Quantum community.
Big shout out to my coaches. Al, for introducing me to powerlifting, for your encouragement and support and amazing programming and guiding me through many powerlifting competitions. Mylene for your incredible support over the past couple of months and your coaching this past weekend. Thank you for your energy and confidence in me when I didn’t have it.