If you’ve read my Training Diary for last week you’ll know that on Saturday I took part in my very first weightlifting competition. The competition was an in-house one at CrossFit Raeda, with members from both the weightlifting club and CrossFit able to take part. It was a roller coaster day: I missed my final snatch attempt (boo), got a PB in the clean and jerk (yay), and then when the results were calculated, realised I’d come last out of the girls (boo).
I thought (before the competition, that is) that I was fairly strong. It turns out I’m just heavy.
I know, I know… that’s a very defeatist attitude but I’ll explain. In CrossFit WODs I usually RX (work at the prescribed load) or very near it, and on 1RM days I normally have fairly high numbers for my lifts. But in a pound for pound weightlifting format, that’s nothing… a pre-competition PB of 40kg snatch and 55kg clean and jerk may seem ok, but when you weigh over 70kg it’s not much.
In the competition I was up against girls who all (bar one) were at least 15-20kg lighter than me, meaning I had to lift 15-20kg more than them. In. Each. Lift. Impossible (por moi anyway). Don’t get me wrong, I had no false-belief that I could ever win, but I’m not going to lie, I was gutted to be last.
Violin moment out of the way, I’ll get on to how the competition went.
First up, we weighed in. This was daunting in itself, and I was a little annoyed to have been a couple of kg heavier than I had hoped I would be (I didn’t have that big a breakfast!). After that part was over, our coaches (or judges for the day) gave us a brief of how the day would run.
There were 11 lifters in total, 5 girls and 6 boys. The girls would go first, then the boys, with the snatch first followed by the clean and jerk. It was a rising bar format, which meant that the bar would be progressively loaded with the lifters stepping in when the bar reached their specified weight. We all had time to warm up and then specify our opening weight.
First up… the snatch
I chose to start at 32.5kg. I wanted to stick to a weight that I felt confident lifting, and I’d done a few reps at this weight in the warm up so thought I should be ok. I can’t describe how nerve-racking that feeling is stepping up to the platform with everyone watching, but it was really scary. I did the lift fairly comfortably and went up to 35kg for the next one, which I also got overhead ok.
My previous PB (from September/October time) was 40kg, so I thought I’d take the risk and step up to 40kg for my third and final lift. But when I pulled it from the floor and got it to about chest height something switched and I dropped it. That was it. I was left at 35kg. Maybe if I’d started at 35kg rather than 32.5kg and stepped up more gradually I’d have got it. Who knows. But I was really annoyed with myself.
The other girls (and the lads!) all lifted really well and I think we were probably all a little more at ease when we got ready for our next lift.
Next, the clean and jerk
My previous PB was 55kg but after push press testing during the week I had it in my head that I wanted to get to 60kg. During the warm up I got 52.5kg up onto front rack and then overhead with confidence, but when I tried to clean 55kg it just wasn’t happening. I tried twice but failed both times, dropping it before I’d finished my high pull. I chose to open at 52.5kg but my confidence was battered and I thought there was no way I would even get a match PB, let alone a new one.
But… when it came to getting on the platform, the adrenaline must have kicked in. My first lift went smoothly, and then my second (at 55kg) surprised me when I got the bar to front rack. Seeing the 20kg plates going on the bar threw me a little, I usually use 10kg plates to build up to my weight, so had never used the 20kg Eleikos, but it didn’t seem to carry over to when I actually did the lift.
Getting 55kg overhead I thought my third lift would have to be all or nothing so I decided to just go for 60kg. What’s the worst that could happen? I stood in-front of the bar and psyched myself up (it’s funny what rituals people have, but I don’t think I have one just yet!) and I pulled… it went up! Yeah, I hit my boobs with the bar on the way up there (and they’re not even big?!), but it went up! All I had to do now was take a deep breath, dip, and drive. And I did it. Ok, so it was a bit of a technical mess (one of my arms didn’t quite lock out straight away and I had to push it, then I lost my balance and went for a little bit of a wonder) but… I got a PB!!
So I know this post is a little bit arse-about-face (yes, I really did manage to sneak the words “boobs” and “arse” into one post!) but I wanted to write it this way so I could end on the positive of me getting a PB, rather than the (maybe too-hard-on-myself) negativity of coming at the bottom of the pack.
Ultimately, I survived my first weightlifting competition, and I learned a lot about the way I lift in the process. Some people lift better in no-pressure situations, but the nerves were clearly good for me as I beat the weight I could lift in my warm up set. And the pressure clearly worked well for these guys, the competition 1, 2 and 3. Well done!
It’s back to weightlifting club for me now, and hopefully consistently too. I really want to hit my weightlifting goals by the end of the year, and if I’m going to get them I’m going to have to work hard for them.
Have you ever competed in something like this? How did you feel? Did you perform better under pressure?
Photos courtesy of CrossFit Raeda. Thank you to Annie and Lee for organising the competition, and for the encouragement throughout. These things wouldn’t be the same without you. Well done also to all the lifters, it was the first competition for most of us I think, and everyone should be mega proud!