After some lunch we hired bikes and headed for the infamous Golden Gate Bridge, seeing some spectacular views of the bay and city and before we knew it we had biked 10 miles!
While on our way back we came across an outdoor gym and couldn’t resit trying it out. Something the UK misses out on massively! Although the weather out here certainly makes it easier for people to use.
Another great day in sunny San Francisco, with lots of phys and amazing weather we shall be sorry to be moving on.
After a very long journey – over 24 hours of travelling, we finally made it to San Francisco! In the early hours of the morning, local time, Sam cautiously drove the American highways to our hotel. We had a short power nap and got up and about to orientate ourselves and plan the next few days.
We really felt like we needed some rest but a decent leg stretch after no exercise for 2 days and eating some pretty naughty processed food on the flights. We came across an absolute gem in the form of a whole foods store….
We stocked up on some Paleo friendly goodies and headed out for a walk. Check out this street…. Hill sprints anyone??
Today we shall be clocking up the miles on foot and eating at one of the awesome Seafood Restaurants at Fishermans Wharf. Hopefully tomorrow we will be feeling refreshed and nourished ready to really start our adventures!
We are very excited to announce that Oly Clothing have taken us on as affiliate athletes! Today, Emma and I received a package of awesome lifting and casual wear t-shirts in an array of colours! Check them out – we are very happy with the quality and style.
Wow, what a weekend! Sam and I travelled to Cardiff, Wales to compete in the Four Nations Powerlifting Championships for Team Scotland.
I am so grateful to the Scottish team for selecting me and giving me the opportunity to compete at a high level competition. It was a real privilege to compete alongside the best Powerlifters in Great Britain. I have learnt so much in just one weekend. Both female and male athletes on the Scottish team were supportive and encouraging. Just what I needed to soothe those nerves, I felt like such a rookie standing beside World, European and British record holders!
What were the scores on the doors..? Well! Irish team (by default) placed last. Scotland 3rd, Wales 2nd and England 1st by 0.4 of a point. Competition was extremely close! The standard of lifting was truly inspirational.
Now I have had time to reflect on my performance, I can say that I am very happy. Despite an early error of mine in the squat, overall I felt I performed to my best.
My lifts were as follows:
Squat: 1. 105kg 2. 115kg NO LIFT 3. 115kg
Bench: 1. 75kg 2. 82.5kg NO LIFT 3. 82.5kg
Deadlift: 1. 140kg 2. 150kg 3. 155kg
My first squat attempt went smoothly – I made the decision to open with a weight I know I can rep comfortably for 3.
Sadly, my second attempt did not go to plan. I let my nerves cloud my focus and I re-racked the weight (after a successful squat) before the judges command which meant I failed the lift. This made me feel uneasy. I was tempted to go for a 120kg final lift but felt this was too risky, and I had to think of the team first! So I finished with a 115kg. I know I have more in the tank there…
My first bench press felt very easy. I felt that I got my body into a great position. My shoulders were tucked under, my arch felt strong and my feet were sitting flat and comfortable. So, for my second lift I decided to go a lot heavier than first planned. Sadly, another NO LIFT. The judge informed me that my right arm dropped slightly meaning my left arm locked out first. For my final attempt (with the team in mind) I stuck at 82.5kg and I was successful. I didn’t feel too disappointed as this had been my planned 3rd lift despite the no lift. I tried very hard to get my head back in the game and remain confident.
In the warm up area prior to my deadlift, I suddenly became very fatigued. I had snacked little and often throughout the day. I felt I had maintained my sugar levels and had given my body enough carbohydrates to perform. Perhaps I had eaten a little too much or perhaps the intensity of the day was starting to take its toll. Either way, I was looking incredibly tired in the warm up meaning Sam and I decided to drop my opening lift from 145kg to 140kg.
Amazingly (perhaps due to adrenaline), the 140kg flew up! We decided to take a risk and make my second lift 150kg. Again, it felt comfortable! I got a great confidence boost. My head was in the game now, my sickness and fatigue slowly disappeared and I felt that I could set a new Personal Record at 155kg – and that I did. Final lift successful.
This weekend has taught me a lot. It taught me how to erase the doubt in my mind after the no lifts. It taught me to keep pushing through the sickness and the fatigue. To switch off the negative niggling thoughts in my head and to focus. For the first time in competition, when I walked up to the platform I knew that I was going to lift that weight. Now I must work on tuning in to the judges commands! Practice makes perfect I guess.
Finally, I must say a huge thank you to Sam for being the best coach and supporter I could wish for. From making sure my water bottle was always filled, to helping me mobilise to being the mastermind behind my opening lifts – without him the weekend would have gone very differently! Thanks coach.
With powerlifting being a weighed in sport its beneficial to be as light as possible, as long as it doesnt affect your lifting of course. But with the points being totalled in comparison to your body weight it can pay to be a little lighter on the day. One way of shedding a few pounds is through fasted cardio and this week Emma and I will be doing just that (for me more the summer shreds)
The body will always use simple carbohydrates as its primary energy source because these are already in a form that the body can use. Complex carbohydrates and fat need to be broken down into a simple carbohydrates in order for them to be used as energy. Fat is quite difficult for the body to break down, which is why it is important to keep the intensity low. If it is too high the body won’t be able to convert it into energy fast enough and this will lead to symptoms such as cramp.
For those who are unaware fasted cardio usually works best first thing in the morning before you have eaten, because the body has used all its energy (glycogen) during your sleep. Therefore the body has no alternative but to use fat as an energy source, if the cardio is kept at low intensity. For this I would recommend having your heart rate at around 120bpm working for approximately 20-30mins. An alternative to before breakfast is after a workout, because your body will have used most of its energy stores during your exercise, thus turning to the fat stores.
It’s a great way to burn fat and lose a few pounds either to make weight for a competition or to cut for summer!
If you would like to know a little more about carbohydrates and the effects they can have on your body watch this short video.
Today we worked on some final strength exercises for our chest and triceps. Mainly for Emma’s benefit because she will now be resting in preparing for the 4 Nations powerlifting champs next weekend. Although it seems we have hit the chest quite hard this week I felt it was quite important for her to practice the bench press movement once more. With CrossFit being Emma’s main sport the bench press, as a compound movement isn’t something that she practices too often, in comparison to the squat and deadlift which often crop up in the WOD’s.
We began by changing our rep scheme to a heavy 5, 3, 2, 1. Working on techniques given earlier in the week by Chris Martin. For Emma this was to widen her grip, pinch her shoulder blades more and ensuring the feet are positioned correctly. The wider grip really seems to be working for her, which of course reduces the distance the bar has to travel.
We then proceeded to do dumbbell press, mainly to isolate the individual arms as any weaknesses can very often be compensated by the stronger arm when using the barbell. Again a heavy 5×3 rep scheme, followed by some cable flys.
Finally we worked the triceps, starting with over head tricep extensions. Emma found this quite difficult as she had never done the movement before so I put her back on the bench to do some close grip work. This was probably more beneficial as its more time on the bench getting used to that position and movement. Finally we finished the session with some heavy weighted dips working on a 5×5 rep scheme, myself at 28kg and Emma at 12kg. A great way to burn out the triceps but still working on our strength too.
I myself will continue to train this week and will relish the opportunity to get back in the weights gym as Emma rests up. Her only task to eat and sleep (easier said than done) and be ready to do the job on Saturday.
This evening had Emma and I training squat and bench press with Royal Navy power-lifting champ, Chris Martin. Chris offered to give us some valuable technique on both disciplines which has really benefited Emma with only 10 days to go until the 4 nations championships, also giving her some added confidence before the big day.
Squatting for myself has always been such a challenge, what with having such long leavers, it really makes the whole process hard work. With Emma and I having completely different body types the way we set up for a squat is completely different. After widening my stance and pointing my feet out more I was able to squat much more comfortably and with some more practice I should be able to improve my 1RM.
The following link shows how femur length affects your squat and if like me yours are particularly long, you may find it useful and it may improve yours.
So, this weekend, Sam and I became official Bear Strength Clothing affiliate athletes!
We decided to head to my family home in Spean Bridge (Highlands of Scotland) for some much needed home cooked food and rest. Our parcel from Bear Strength Clothing awaited us! We were so excited to find an array of awesome workout gear including some cute crop tops for me and some cool T’s for Sam.
Saturday was a full rest day and Sunday we planned to have an ‘active recovery’ day. We headed out to Glen Nevis in Fort William for a short but hilly trail run. We took in the scenery and took the pace steady today. Just what we needed after some seriously heavy days in the gym last week.
Click here to check out the Bear Strength website!
With our aim to one day open our own gym and CrossFit box, we figured some market research would be a good place to start and what better place than the USA.
In just under four weeks time we will be flying in to San Francisco to begin our adventure! We plan to take a ‘CrossFitting’ and weightlifting pilgrimage along the West Coast finishing up in Sunny San Diego.
Emma will be charging towards every CrossFit box along the way, whilst I will have my sights set on those famous Muscle Beach style venues. Either way; sun, sea and lots of iron throwing will be forecast.
On a serious note, the aim will be to visit as many gyms as physically possible in our short three weeks. We will be taking notes – figuring out what we like in a gym, from the equipment and location to the finer details such as decor!
We will be continuing with our personal training programmes and doing our up most to resist the temptation of those infamous American butter pancakes!… Okay, so we may visit IHOP just the once #cheatmeal
Watch this space to follow our fitness adventures.