Five thoughts about strong(wo)man training

Five thoughts about strong(wo)man training

So after all of my blog posts disappeared on Monday, my comments then decide to shut down on Wednesday! And then I just wrote the whole post below and it completely disappeared. I love you, WordPress. Things are almost back to normal – except for the random hyperlinks appearing above my pictures – but please bear with me in case anything else goes wrong.

Last week when I was interviewed for the strongwoman documentary, I was asked a LOT of questions. I thought it might make a good post to go through my responses to some of my favourite strongman-related questions.

How did I get involved in strong(wo)man training? 
In May 2013, I started researching local powerlifting gyms online. I discovered a gym within walking distance to my home that is now my current gym. During that summer, my gym ran weekly “gym in the park” sessions which involved 2.5-3 hours of strongman training. I attended my first class in June. I quickly learnt that lifting logs, flipping tyres, moving yokes and pulling prowlers was not only a lot of fun, but an amazing challenge that I had never subjected my body to before. I was surprised by what I was able to do during that very first class, and I knew I wanted to see what more I was capable of.

Flipping my first-ever tyre!

Flipping my first-ever tyre!

During that first class I met my coach, who convinced me to sign up for my first competition just three weeks later. I had nine weeks to prepare. I was scared shitless and wanted to pull out of the competition several times, but my coach kept me calm – for the most part. I competed four days before having surgery as I was very sick, and failed to even complete all of the events, yet I knew right away that I was hooked and wanted to do it again. The rest is history!

My first competition

My first competition

What does strong(wo)man training mean to me?
Strongman training has completely transformed my style of working out but it has also affected the rest of my life including my diet, sleep, relationships, career, rest, recovery, mobility and even this very blog. It has made me more confident in myself than ever before, not just from a strength standpoint but also from a body image perspective.

As cheesy as it sounds, the gym feels like my second home. I have met some people there which I will maintain lifelong relationships with.

That tyre has since tripled in size!

That tyre has since tripled in size!

What sacrifices have I made to compete in strong(wo)man?
I didn’t know how to respond to this question. I have made changes to my life since I started strongman training, but I don’t consider them sacrifices as it was my decision.

The most obvious “sacrifice” is the 8-10 hours a week I spend in the gym. During the week, I work all day and then train 6-8ish. By the time I get home and prepare my dinner and meals for the next day, it’s usually bed time. I don’t watch TV or do other activities to unwind that most people do, but I just think of it as being more productive with my time. On the weekends, I can easily spend half the day in the gym, especially if I am travelling to another gym to use different equipment.

Competing itself typically takes up the entire weekend once you factor in food prep and travel time. Again, I don’t really consider this a sacrifice as I am doing something which I love.

log press

In the final weeks leading up to a competition – like the period I’m in right now – I become very focused and unsociable. I don’t like going out as my training at this point in the cycle is very physically and mentally demanding, and I don’t like to exert myself more than necessary. I don’t want to go out drinking or eat food which will potentially damage my performance.

All this makes me sound like a recluse, but I promise I’m not like this all the time! I do make sure I take Tuesdays and Fridays completely off from exercise, which is generally the time I devote to paying attention to my loved ones. I’m very lucky in that the people I am closest to in my life are fellow strongman competitors, powerlifters or another form of athlete, so they totally understand my focus.

What are my goals and aspirations as a strongwoman competitor?
As negative as this may sound, I have no real aspirations to become England’s Strongest Woman or anything like that. I don’t think I will ever get close to that level unless I take drugs, which is not something I desire to do. That said, I plan to compete 3-4 times a year and continue to get as strong as possible for as long as my body will allow me to. Some of my specific long-term goals are to deadlift twice my bodyweight (150kg), log press 60kg, and pull some kind of epic vehicle such as a small plane or train.

After my last victory

After my last competition

 

My main goal as a strongwoman is to spread awareness of the sport. I want more women to realise what their bodies are capable of, and to take the risk to test it in competition. I love inspiring people both in person and through my blog. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I receive an email from someone who was inspired to sign up for their first powerlifting or strongman competition due to my blog posts.

What advice would I give to someone looking to get involved in strongman training? 
Don’t be afraid. Many people assume they aren’t strong enough to try this kind of training, or that they must reach some arbitrary self-imposed level of strength before signing up for a competition. I was nowhere near ready to be competing in a national qualifier for my first competition, and yet I signed up anyway. The more you compete, the more confident and relaxed you will feel during competitions. The longer you wait to compete, the more pressure you will place on yourself to succeed and the more terrifying the entire experience will become.

I mean, how can keg tossing NOT be fun?!

I mean, how can keg tossing NOT be fun?!

Many people don’t realise that strongman training is completely customisable. I have done modified events sessions with people that have never touched a weight in their lives. Google strongman training and your current location, or use this guide – I guarantee there will be a gym with strongman equipment closer than you think. I promise you will enjoy it and may even find a new life-consuming hobby like I did!

The women I have competed against have been some of the most supportive women I’ve ever met. We all cheer each other on and sometimes feel more like teammates than competitors. As cliche as it sounds, it really is you versus you out there.

Do you have any questions about strongman training? Were you surprised by any of my responses?

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