Training with Andy and Benni!

Training with Andy and Benni!

Last week was a very light and easy training week, as I was gearing up for a big session with Andy Bolton and Benedikt Magnusson on Sunday. It was completely awesome!

Monday – Squats
Back squats: 20kg x 8, 8, 40kg x 5, 60kg x 5, 72.5kg x 3 x 6
Box squats: 65kg x 5 x 3
Straight leg deadlifts: 40kg x 10, 50kg x 10, 60kg x 8 x 3
Narrow grip pulldowns: Approx. 45kg x 12, 50kg x 10, 50kg x 8, 55kg x 6, 60kg x 4
Face pulls: 30kg x 20 x 5

Because Em is crazy, she wanted to do a whole lot of fairly heavy squats just two days after her powerlifting comp. I was very, very scared to do box squats as I hadn’t done them since I strained my glute back in February. I focused on making sure my pelvis didn’t tuck under at all (my form was slightly wrong but I’ll take it over another injury!) and all went well, thank goodness.

Tuesday was a rest day. I had the day off work to go furniture shopping and eat mussels. Om.


Wednesday – Pressing
Narrow log press: 30kg x 8, 35kg x 5, 40kg x 5, 45kg x 3, 47.5kg x 2, 50kg x F, 1
Wide log press: 40kg x 5, 45kg x 1, 3
Bench press: 20kg x 12, 30kg x 8, 35kg x 5, 40kg x 5, 45kg x 3, 47.5kg x 1
Rope pushdown: 35kg x 12 x 4

I had an epic meltdown during this training session. I stormed out of the gym for the first time when I failed 50kg, and then again when I failed my second rep at 45kg on the wide log. I mean, come on! Luckily, my coach just happened to be parking outside the gym as I started crying on the sidewalk and he gave me the pep talk I needed. The short version: stop being such a pussy.

I have failed 5okg a few times lately, which is a  weight I should be able to get. I know it’s because I’m training close to my max too often, and it’s burning me out. It’s the thought of my next comp having a start weight of 50kg which is freaking me out, but I need to just back off the weight a bit and build confidence in repping slightly lower weights.

I also had a moment of panic when I realised I’d have to bench on Sunday, which is something I hadn’t done in months, so I snuck in some last minute practice. I was surprised that 47.5kg actually felt easy but I couldn’t do any more as my lats were cramping like crazy.

Thursday – Randomness
Front squats: 20kg x 8, 8, 40kg x 5, 50kg x 5, 5
Bent over rows: 20kg x 15, 40kg x 15, 50kg x 12, 12
Cable row: 50kg x 12 x 4
T bar row: Bar + 20kg x 12, Bar + 30kg x 8 x 3
EZ bar curls: 20kg x 12 x 4
Rope cable curls: 25kg x 15, 30kg x 10 x 3

I wanted to squeeze in one final light workout before Sunday, so I did a bit of back and bis with some front squats thrown in for good measure. I didn’t have any tantrums so I’d call it pretty successful. The highlight, of course, was post-workout homemade burgers.


I then found out that yet another person has been criticising my diet and saying I eat too many burgers, so what did I do? Went out for another burger! Take that!


Sunday – Deadlift, Squat & Bench Workshop with Andy Bolton and Benedikt Magnusson! 
On Sunday, Em and I headed off to the Commando Temple gym in Deptford for a seven hour workshop with the big boys. I went into it thinking it couldn’t possibly last for the entire day, but apparently you can cover an awful lot about each lift (we spent 3.5 hours just on deadlifts!).

The gym itself was amazing. It has similar equipment to my current gym but actual space to use it all, and they run strongman sessions once a week. I will always love my current gym as it led me to strongman and introduced me to some amazing people, but it’s just getting way too busy and filling up with annoying people who have really poor lifting etiquette. There’s no space to use any of the strongman equipment except for the log and every time I think they couldn’t possibly fit another useless machine in there, they do. I just think how much I would improve as a strongwoman and athlete in general if I had the chance to actually do one proper events session per week, without having to fork out to train with my coach every time. I would train at the Commando Temple in a heartbeat if it weren’t  an hour away. What to do, what to do.

Anyway, back to Andy and Benni! They covered enough for me to write 10 posts about, so today I will just focus on what we actually did. I did an insane amount of carb-loading on Saturday night (bread, pasta AND ice cream!) to prepare for some PRs, but some personal stuff came up which meant I had less than five hours sleep. I left the house in a panic and didn’t pack the right food, almost missed my train, couldn’t stop crying, etc. My head wasn’t really in the right space to be even thinking about PRs, but nonetheless I’m pleased with what I achieved on the day.

We started off with deadlifts, and must have done about 10 sets of 5 with just 60kg on the bar – focusing on a different factor of the lift such as bar proximity, foot position, hand position, etc every set. We then started increasing the weight in 10kg increments in a last-man standing type of thing. I attempted 130kg twice, for the third time in about six weeks, but still couldn’t move the damn thing.

Andy watched me scream like a frustrated little girl, and immediately said “I bet your squat sucks”. Oh, how right you are. He said he would change my life in the next part of the seminar. He told me to stop doing deficit deadlifts to fix my weakness off the floor (I can trap bar deadlift 180kg but can’t pull 130kg conventional, which doesn’t make sense). Instead, I need to focus on squatting wider and deadlifting solely for speed for 8-10 sets of 2 reps at 50 to 80 per cent of my one rep max. This is so when I attempt an actual max, my fast twitch muscle fibres will be accustomed to pulling quickly from the floor and essentially shift my sticking point.

Andy also said that every time you approach the bar you should imagine it’s your max, so that when you actually attempt a max it will feel as though you’ve done it hundreds of times before. I definitely need to work on this as my head plays a bigger role in my failures than any physical limitation. He said my general deadlift form was very good, so go me!

This is my creepy fangirl picture!

This is my creepy fangirl picture!

We finally broke for lunch and then got back into it with squats. I absolutely hate squatting in front of anyone, let alone stepping up one at a time in a room full of 30 people – including one who has squat 550kg! Andy made us all squat wide and pause at the bottom to avoid bouncing out of the hole. I squatted 90kg which is an equal PR and pretty good considering I’d just changed my entire squat form and was in desperate need of a nap at that point of the day. I would have attempted 95kg or even 100kg but we ran out of time. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for my next squat session!

We then moved on to bench but no one actually lifted any weight – we just practiced proper set up. All that benching I did on Wednesday was for nothing, ha! The boys talked a lot about training frequency, accessory exercises, deloads, max testing, programming, warm ups, wearing belts and nutrition, just to name a few. I took lots of notes so I can recap if anyone is interested. It was awesome to hear how the best in the world train and I definitely walked away with a lot of new knowledge, particularly regarding how I should approach my programming.

Em and I with Andy and Bennedikt

Em and I with Andy and Benedikt

I’m taking this whole week off as I’m going away for a few days starting tomorrow and my body is screaming for a deload. I will then have five training weeks left before the England’s Strong Women Championship final! I desperately need to start doing events sessions with my coach again, as I haven’t practiced any of the events since my last competition except the log press (I also have to do a car deadlift, 70kg farmers walks, car pull, 67kg anvil carry and 60kg stone over yoke). I know September 20 will be here before I know it!

I still won’t have internet for two more weeks (it’s starting to feel like the dark ages – over a month without internet!) so keep being patient with my emails 🙂

Have you ever met any famous weight lifters?

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