November 21st, 2013
I had a very exciting day at The Athlete Factory recently.
I back squatted 290lbs!!!
Now if you have been tracking my progress you know that I recently back squatted 320lbs at a competition.
So why the excitement about this 290?
In powerlifting there is two basic categories. Equipped and Classic. If you lift equipped you use a belt, knee wraps, a bench shirt and squat suit. If you lift “classic” you can use knee sleeves, wrist wraps a belt and.. well that’s it. I lift “classic.” Personal choice for both philosophical and cash flow reasons.
So my 320 was using a belt and in competition.
My 290 was unbelted with wrist wraps and really really really solid technique and form. When I am training a lift isn’t “official” unless it is perfect, or pretty damm close. I have a tendency to fold in half as I go down into my squat which makes it harder to get the proper depth (hips below knees) because if your chest comes down your hips go up. This is bad. My biggest battle has been keeping that core tight and up. Good news, I am getting so much stronger. It is like my core is finally catching up to the strength I have in my hamstrings.
I knew my goal that day was 290. I had almost has it the previous week.. except an unfortunate gas issue in the bottom of my squat lead to giggles. Giggles do not make for great squatting.
My warm ups were solid. My form was good. My depth was excellent. My energy was holding.
My confidence was strong.
It was going to be a big jump from what I had just lifted. I think it was 265 up to the 290 but there was no sense in tiring myself out, so the plan was to go for it.
My trainer, Michele has grown to know me well, which is such a blessing. Sometimes when I am lifting I am startled by how heavy the weight is on the bar. When we do a big lift usually the last words I really hear is Michele simply stating; “This is going to feel heavy.”
In the beginning it would be; “It’s going to feel heavy, but you are strong enough, trust your hamstrings”. As time has passed that phrase has gotten shorter and now is simply; : This is going to feel heavy.” I can fill in the rest.
The best thing about this phrase is that it allows me to acknowledge that it does feel heavy, and that is OK because I am strong enough.
I also have a mantra that I say to myself as I get under the bar. In my head I say.
- I am fit.
- I am fierce.
- I am strong.
Following that is a roaring silence.
I squat with intention. Hit depth, drive out my knees and power up.
That 290 was a fight. It felt fabulous as I went down and the first inch on the way up felt great.
Then it all stopped. Literally STOPPED.
It was like a hand was on my head pushing down and saying, you want it? Fight for it.
Fight I did.
Not once did I go back down. I fought to keep rising. I did everything I had learned and just trusted that I was on the line I needed to be on and my hamstrings had the strength to stand.
Michele said there was a brief moment when she was ready to step in and take some of the weight of the bar thinking I was going to fail but she could see that while it was slow, it was rising and it was strong.
This lift was mine and it was happening.
My eyes well with tears as I write this.
When I was done I turned to Michele for confirmation. Did my chest drop? Did I get depth? Did it count???
YES! It was a solid lift.
At The Athlete Factory they have a huge “leader board.” I am not someone who is accustomed to being on a leader board, never mind going UP the leader board. My name in bright yellow chalk with a 290lb beside it is up for everyone to see. One name is above mine with a very healthy 350 next to it.
I can feel inside that one day it will be mine.