This is more for me than anyone else. Feel free to ignore.
Commit to the pull
Deadlifts are hard freaking work. No two ways about it. On top of that, you don’t actually get to feel the weight before you’re expected to do something with it. You don’t walk it out like a squat, or press it out of the pins like a bench press. It’s just sitting there lifeless on the ground, taunting you. This is especially true for a new 1rm attempt. You may have pulled that weight for a partial, but you have no idea what it feels like when it breaks the ground.
As such, you can’t be a mental midget when you’re deadlifting. You have to be 100% sure about your intention to destroy the lift, as well as the lift’s parents, children, and extended family. Compared to the other lifts, not being able to get your head into deadlifting makes a much larger difference. A 635 top squat (705 max) or a 405 top bench (445 max) is a bad day for me; about 90% of my max. For deadlift, there are days I’m simply unmotivated to deadlift and 545 looks up at me and says “lolz nope,” doesn’t budge, and that’s just how it is.
For this, it helps to have a ritual. It could be Magnusson’s mini charge, it could be Hatfield’s jump, or it could be as simple as “I’m taking 3 breaths, and on the third, I’m pulling this sucker” (that’s mine). Little things like that take your mind back to the place it was when you’ve done the ritual before (hopefully that place is “ready to destroy worlds”). Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s better than just approaching the bar all willy-nilly each time. It also gets you in the same starting position each time you pull to reinforce your groove.
I’m a pretty chill guy, but if there’s a lift I’m going to yell, put on loud music, and generally make a fool of myself for, it’s the deadlift. Most people say a generally slow burning rage is the most helpful. That’s the approach I like to take. Once the bar’s loaded, I’ll stare at it like it’s prey that’s about to get it’s throat ripped out. I’ll find a deep, dark place to go to (people who know me may find that one hard to believe), put on either “Lose Yourself” by Eminem or “Calm like a bomb” by Rage Against the Machine, take about 30 seconds to develop a brief but intense hatred for pretty much all of existence, and then pull. Find something that works best for you, but more than anything, whether you make yourself angry, cocky, or zen, just be ready to pull.
Posted on 3/07/2014 by usmcmp
you're doing something wrong?
A friend posted this today and I have to disagree. I know not everyone will like me because that's life. It's pretty easy to just not piss most people off, the key is to not be an asshole to everyone you meet (on the internet and in real life).
I'm not always going to have helpful advice. I'm going to be blunt sometimes. In the end if you really need help I'm more than willing to do what I can. I answer private messages all the time from people who are confused. I want to see people reach their goals!
I know it's tough seeing others with more success than us and even I get jealous of other's bodies or lift stats. I will never make fun of someone who is starting out or trying. Do what you can. Where you are. Right now. With what you have.
Above all don't forget: We all have different goals. Don't let someone make you feel bad for having a different goal than they do as long as your goal is healthy. Be open to suggestions though, because sometimes there is an easier way.
Posted on 3/07/2014 by usmcmp
As many of you know Saturday was my first powerlifting meet. Thought I'd make a blog to put everything in one place for those of you who aren't around on weekends.
After driving 5 hours I arrived at Elite Performance Fitness (Jeremy Horn's gym) in West Jordan, Utah for weigh in. Due to being sick all week and the strong desire to not cut weight I landed in the 165-181 pound weight class. I picked my starting weights for each lift, had my gear checked and headed out for dinner.
That night was a rough night of sleep filled with nightmares of not making squat depth. Very reasonable fear since I do struggle with it. At morning check in I dropped my starting squat weight to something I knew I could hit for depth to make sure that I didn't red light all 3 attempts (can't drop the amount of weight after you've attempted it). The meet uses a monolift, which I've never even seen in person, so I got permission to lift it and walk out like I was in a normal rack.
I was first lifter in the second group because my starting weight was the lowest of the group. After watching how the first group was run I was pretty confident walking up to squat. First attempt I nailed at 187.2 pounds (the pounds aren't even because the meet goes off of kilograms, I just converted the numbers for you). I didn't think I hit depth, but I got it according to all 3 judges. Second attempt I nailed at 198.2 pounds. Third lift I hit at 214.7 pounds, even though I was sure that I didn't get low enough I got it according to all 3 judges. I had been worried that I would struggle without my music or that I would over think it, but focusing on not double bouncing at the bottom and listening to the spotter cheering me on from behind really helped.
Next up was bench press. Once again I was the first lifter in the group since my starting weight was the lowest. I was very confident in my first lift number, but I worried about bench height and my feet moving. My trainer's bench is a bit high and the one at my gym is a bit low. I kick my feet out on the heavy bench sets, which would have gotten a red light. Thankfully their bench was the perfect height and I was able to anchor my feet well. First lift was good at 110 pounds, second lift was good at 115.5 pounds. Should have gone a bit heavier for the last one, but I hit a very solid 126.7 pounds.
Final lift is my favorite and my best. Unfortunately the warm up area was small and didn't have much equipment, so my warm up for deadlifts (and all lifts) was less than adequate. Because my starting attempt was higher than most of the other women I wasn't first for deadlift. First attempt was easy with 275.5 pounds. Second attempt was solid at 303 pounds. My latest PR was 315 pounds, so I decided to bump it up and go for a new one of 330.5 pounds (150kg). I nailed it without much struggle and many people said I should have gone for at least 15 more pounds.
As we waited for the award ceremony I checked in for drug testing. At that time I was informed that I tied the national record for my weight class APF raw deadlift. Got two first place medals for my weight class for both federations I competed in. Made some great friends at the meet and got to watch a female Olympic lifter set 3 new national records for her weight class. If you've ever thought about competing I highly suggest giving it a shot. My teammate competed in novice and even though she red lighted multiple lifts and was disappointed in most of her numbers she still placed second and is planning on doing the fall one.
Posted on 3/03/2014 by usmcmp
"As soon as a milestone is passed, its significance fades, and the focus is shifted to some other marker further down the road. No matter what you do or how satisfying it is in that beautiful moment in time, immediately you want more. You have to, if you want to find out how good you can be." - Glenn Pendlay
Whether running, lifting, playing a sport or general weight loss reaching our goal is a moment in time. We put months or years of hard work into reaching that goal for it to be over in a moment. Stepping on stage, winning a game, finishing a race or hitting a specific number on a scale. It lasts for a moment and then life goes on.
I've been there. I worked for months to make it on stage and as soon as it was over I felt a sense of let down. I did great, but it was over so quick that I didn't feel like I got the full joy from the moment. I spent weeks talking about it just to squeeze every ounce of joy I could from it.
Then I had to set another goal.
By reaching my first one I realized that the joy was not in the accomplishment of that moment. The real joy comes from the process. We also have to understand that this is a lifetime process. You might reach your goal on October 1st, but you aren't just done right there. There is no end date to this. Set new goals and find new things to achieve.
Above all, learn to love the process.
Posted on 2/18/2014 by usmcmp
This is not intended for people who are starting out or struggling with the basics. This is for people who have been at it a while (I won't call you out by name). This is also really a note to myself (otherwise I'd be a hypocrite).
Are you just screwing around?
You know how to count calories. You have the hang of weighing everything and being accurate. You probably know the calorie and macro content of your most frequent foods. You have a really good idea of what your maintenance calories are and what an appropriate deficit is. Yet you are getting no closer to your goals.
Why? Are you just screwing around? Your food diary isn't accurate, you went over your calories a few times this week, you half assed your workouts and you didn't stick to your macro goals. It's like you don't even care.
Are you bulking? Are you cutting? To me it looks like you are maintaining on accident. Do you really want to reach your goals? Are your goals appropriate for your current intake, level of fitness, workout schedule or even your body fat percent? Do you know how to determine if your goals are appropriate for you and what your real current goal should be?
Listen. I know it's not comfortable to stick to the plan 24/7. You're used to eating what you want, when you want. The longer you mess around the longer you'll have to wait to have a bit more freedom.
There is so much more satisfaction from reaching your goal and feeling good about how you look than there is from eating an entire pizza (chased with a pint of ice cream). I'm not saying you have to give up pizza or ice cream along the way, but moderation and success feel better than the binge that you went on this weekend. That horrible feeling you get when the scale is up 5 pounds and the sight in the mirror makes you want to cry. You don't have to go through that anymore.
The time has come to get back on track and stop screwing around. More restriction isn't the answer. Find balance and you will be successful.
Posted on 2/17/2014 by usmcmp
Three years ago today I bought myself a Valentine's Day gift. After a year of attempting to lose weight and only managing to drop 10 pounds I knew I had to try something else. I mustered every ounce of courage I had to join a gym.
At 200 pounds I was terrified of walking into a place filled with fit people. I knew they would stare at me and judge me. Just going there to fill out the paperwork was terrifying. The only reason I followed through is because a friend from high school worked there and offered to set me up with a discount.
I started going to the gym every morning when the daycare first opened. It wasn't very busy, so I didn't have to worry about tons of people staring. The first few days I had no idea what to wear. I spent hours looking at pictures of people in the gym to determine what would help me blend in. The first six months I forced myself to do 30 minutes of cardio. I hated running, but you have to do cardio to lose weight....or so I thought.
Despite logging my food and running 6 days a week I was making no progress. I knew that my "cheat" day was probably not helping, but I was only eating 1200 calories during the week and simply couldn't stick to it 7 days a week. I was beyond frustrated!
I spent hours reading everything I could about weight loss. I didn't understand 90% of it when I started. Since I wasn't making progress anyway I decided to try ANYTHING else and asked my friends on Facebook what they did for workouts. One suggestion was Lee Labrada's 12 week lean body trainer, which was free and had videos. I started with mostly machines because I wasn't confident with free weights. With no change to diet I lost 15 pounds in the first 8 weeks.
I also fell in love with lifting.
Eventually I would learn more about lifting and I would start eating more. The pounds started coming off and the shape of my body improved. I'm glad I stuck with it long enough to find something I love. I'm glad I learned I could eat more. I'm glad that we don't have to starve or be miserable to see results.
Sometimes it takes a long time to learn what works for you. Keep trying. In the end, no matter how long it takes, it is definitely worth it!
Posted on 2/14/2014 by usmcmp
There was a lumberjack competition in the Northwest and competitors from all over the world came to compete. One of the competitions was an endurance test to see how many logs each competitor can split in a 12 hour period. Each competitors got one axe and a huge stack of wood.
When the competition started, all of the lumberjacks were feverishly splitting logs. One man in particular held a blistering pace and maintained a comfortable lead.
About 50 minutes into the competition, the man with the strong lead stopped, grabbed his axe and walked into the woodshed which served as a makeshift locker room.
The other competitors were a little surprised that he needed a break, but they continued to strike away and reduce that lead. Some even caught up to him.
Ten minutes later, the man returned and started splitting logs again, using the same pace and extending his lead once again.
Like clockwork, at 50 minutes pas the hour, he took his axe and returned to the woodshed. The other competitors were too concerned with catching up that they never even bothered to wonder why he went into the woodshed for 10 minutes of every hour.
The fascinating thing about this individual was not just the pace he kept but the fact that how much power he used and the ease that each log was splitting.
At the end of the competition, the man had won by a considerable margin. The one question that was on everyone's mind was:
What were you doing in the woodshed during that time?
Other competitors and spectators assumed he was taking some kind of performance enhancing drug, using some concentration techniques or getting a massage.
When asked what he did during that time, the lumberjack answered very calmly:
I was sharpening my axe.
Regardless of what sport you are participating in you have to keep your skills sharp. Set goals and push your limits. Training at your current level may keep your ax sharp, but pushing your limits will make it more effective.
Posted on 2/07/2014 by usmcmp
When I first started lifting I didn't realize that powerlifting and bodybuilding were different things. They seem to be different words used for the same thing. I mean people who lift heavy weights and have some size call themselves one or the other. So, what's the difference?
Powerlifting (PL) is lifting for strength. The actual sport of PL and PL meets are centered around three lifts. These lifts are squat, bench press and deadlift. The goal of a PL meet is to lift more weight than the other people in your weight class. There is a weigh in period of about 24 hours and where your weight lands dictates your weight class. Each lift has some rules. On bench press the bar touches your chest and you are given a signal to lift it from there. For squats you have to reach parallel beyond a shadow of a doubt before being allowed to stand up. Deadlift has to be a clean lockout at the top before being allowed to lower. There are usually three attempts for each lift, you are allowed to increase weight, you can't decrease weight and your max weight for each lift is added to create your total.
Bodybuilding (BB) is for size and aestetics. In BB the goal is to develop large symmetrical muscles in a balanced proportion (meaning biceps are blanced with chest, tricep and back; quads are balanced with back, glutes, hamstring and calves). BB competitions require competitors to reduce body fat to very low numbers in order to show true muscle size, muscle striations, vascularity and overall development. In the actual BB category competitors are divided into weight classes. In physique, figure and bikini the competitors are divided by height. Contestants are judged on size, symmetry, development, leanness, display and presentation.
Here's a visual difference of the competitions:
Posted on 1/24/2014 by usmcmp
Many of us have been lead to believe we get fat eating bad foods. I see it all the time in magazines, “Cut this one food to lose belly fat” or “Lose 100 pounds by eliminating these foods” and these claims drive me up the wall. The reason many people fail at their fat loss goals is that they think some foods are bad and they can’t eat them at all or they don't understand what calories are. There are some reasons we SHOULDN’T eat certain foods ALL the time, but success comes from balance.
Instead of thinking about foods as good and bad here are some ways we should really view foods.
Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, natural fats, low glycemic carbs and even some dairy offer nutrients that our bodies need. Vitamins, amino acids, fiber and all the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Natural or whole foods have greater nutrient density than processed foods. If you are getting lots of whole foods in your diet you can eat a Twinkie to meet your calorie goal knowing you have fueled your body already with the nutrients it needs.
When you get use to eating whatever you want whenever you want there is rarely a time when you feel hungry. When you start counting calories and eat at a slight calorie deficit it is normal to feel hungry sometimes. This is where how filling a food is comes in handy. I know that some chicken and greenbeans or eggs or oatmeal will keep me from being hungry for around 3-4 hours. I know that eating the same amount of calories in chocolate or cake will leave me hungry again in about an hour. I like to plan my day in advance to mix filling foods with less filling foods.
I know I mentioned macronutrients (macros) in the nutrient dense section, but it deserves a category of its own. Counting calories helps us know how many calories (how much energy) we are consuming. Once we get the hang of that we need to focus on ensuring we get good amounts of protien to aid in muscle repair, carbohydrates for energy and fats to aid in important metabolic processes. There are a variety of suggestions for each of these (which I will talk about in my next blog post), but for now I will leave these amounts unspecified. When we plan our calories for the day we should look at how the macros of each food fit into our overall plan. If you have filled in your protein and still have room for carbs and fat go for some ice cream to fill your macros.
Combining all these
I fill in the main part of each meal with lean protein, fruit/vegetables and high fiber carbohydrates. This makes sure I have nutrient dense and filling foods covered with my meals, so I am helping my health while keeping from feeling hungry. After that I fill in the rest of my calories with yummy foods that help me meet my macros. I get the best of both worlds and I can still lose weight eating ice cream or sweets.
Posted on 1/05/2014 by usmcmp
Lose belly fat and have a nice flat toned mid section. We see that a lot on this site. Hell, that was my goal for my birthday last year. We all want to be able to take our shirt off at the pool or beach and look great, but how do we do it?
1. Slight calorie deficit. Eating 800 calories and killing yourself in the gym is not going to get you there any faster. You need to fuel your body appropriately. I suggest the TDEE-20% method. www.1percentedge.com/ifcalc (If you have questions please send me a private message). Make sure to weigh everything you eat! Guessing could put you well over your calories.
2. Strength training. If you want that toned mid section look you have to put some muscle there. If you just want a nice flat stomach muscle will still help it look tight. You can begin with Strong Lifts, a hypertrophy routine or a strength program from bodybuilding.com (free!). One that includes compound lifts like deadlift, squat, bench press and pull ups will help. Work on increasing the amount of weight you use. When the weight gets heavier you engage your core more and it builds the muscle.
3. Muscle insurance. There are a variety of studies done on the amount of protein the body needs. I like to think of higher protein as muscle insurance. My suggestion is about 1gram of protein per pound of lean mass. Make sure to get fat in your diet to help joints and metabolic processes. Make sure to get carbs in your diet to fuel workouts.
4. Cardio. I like cardio once or twice a week for 30 minutes. It's good for the heart and lungs. It doesn't add much to the calorie burn for the week, but it helps even things out in case you haven't been completely accurate weighing food.
5. Patience! It is not going to happen overnight. If you stick with it you could lose around 1% body fat a month. We aren't going to be perfect all the time. Enjoy birthdays and holidays. It is life and things will happen. Don't stress, learn to love the process.
FINALLY: Losing fat is like trying to dry out a sponge. You can't dry a corner while the rest of it is still wet. You won't magically lose belly fat or thigh fat or any other fat. It will come off where it wants to. Keep working at it! It is possible!
Posted on 1/02/2014 by usmcmp
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