This morning I went to my usual Sunday training session in my powerlifting gym. During my rest periods between lifts, I watched a group of lifters preparing for a competition. They all looked fearsome, strong, and aggressive. Many had tattoos and body piercing. Some had tribal haircuts. The athletes growled and shouted before lifts, some stamped their feet. Loud heavy metal music played from the sound system, so everybody was shouting to communicate. Somebody walking into this gym for the first time would probably find it quite scary.
Having been going to this gym for over a year I soaked up the atmosphere, wondering about all this terrifying display of aggressiveness. I have to admit that I too engage in this behaviour, in powerlifting competitions particularly, where I know I have to push out the boat. There are certain routines I go through to get the adrenaline flowing, perhaps to get into fight mode, to push myself to lift heavier than ever, to win and break records. I growl, through up my arms, I hit my weightlifting belt.
To find out why athletes display aggressive routines before lifting heavy weights, I turned to sport science and existing knowledge to find out what is known about aggressive behaviour in sport, in particular weightlifting. I found out that in sport there seems to be a difference made between hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. So maybe aggression is not always a bad thing? It appears instrumental aggression can help to focus and increase performance.
But what about aggression at work, aggression towards others? Surely that type can only be hostile. We likely think of someone who is loud, maybe angry, probably has a bullying manner, talks over people, throws their weight around etc. It is a very negative, emotional image. Aggression does not belong into the workplace, schools and other institutions. It has a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing. So perhaps anybody feeling the need to be aggressive and cannot control it should try channeling it into sport – applying the instrumental kind!
The European Powerlifting Championship took place in Dublin, from 21 to 23 September. It was a fantastic event, with over one hundred athletes from all over Europe competing in squat, bench press and deadlift. The age categories ranged from 14 to 74 years of age.
I competed in four categories, squat and deadlift both raw and equipped and I came first in all in my categories. I achieved two new world records in the equipped categories of squat (100kg) and deadlift (125 kg). It wasn’t easy to compete in four categories, two each day, as I had to conserve energy over a long day, and do my maximum best twice a day for the same lift. I had to stay calm but focused, relaxed, but watch what’s going on around me, be mindful of my fluid and nutrition intake. I did not beat my personal best and was a tiny bit disappointed. No matter what I achieve, the real competition goes on in my own head – it’s me against myself, hoping to do better every time I go out on that platform. The present me trying to do better than the past me.
Needless to say that I enjoyed breaking records. But as at every competition the highlight was meeting my fellow powerlifters, sharing stories of struggles and successes, what it took to get here and compete on European level. It was a great weekend overall.At the competition, I learned what I could do to get stronger. But for now I’m looking forward to a week of rest, indulging and eating all the chocolate I want 🙂
Preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship – Hoping for “Good Lift and 3 white lights”
A big thank you to all wishing me well for the European Single Lifts powerlifting competition in Dublin next week. I hope I won’t disappoint you.
Over the last three months, I’ve been training hard, and now I’m in maintenance mode. My nutrition is “angelic” the last time I had an alcoholic drink was at a wedding in August, a glass of prosecco. There I also had the last time sugary food – a beautiful dessert selection. From then on I ate lots of protein from different dairy, plant and animal sources, good fats, lots of vegetables, nuts, fruit, some good carbs, but no sugary food and no alcohol.
Ethically I would prefer to be completely vegetarian but once a week I have fish and a steak, to get the full spectrum of proteins from natural sources. I am lucky that I like cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk, all good natural sources of protein.
I have to stay at around 67 kg to compete in my usual under 70 kg category. The competition takes place over 3 days, Friday squat, Saturday bench and Sunday deadlift. I have to allow for putting on about 1 kilogram each day, as I will eat a lot to keep my energy up and stress levels down.
The biggest challenge is to sleep well coming up to the competition, and that is harder for me than sticking to good food. However, I’m working on it, with some relaxation exercises, stretching and no scary movies before going to bed!
Powerlifting competitions are as unpredictably as any other sports competition. Anything can happen! All the training and preparation has to come together and then each lift is over in less than 10 seconds. Failure is public, but so is success!
The best image for a powerlifter is seeing the three white lights on the screen, showing that all 3 judges see your lift as successful.
The best sound for a powerlifter is the sound of the head judge announcing “Good lift!”
I’m looking forward to compete with the best powerlifters in Europe, I know what they all have gone through to be where they are now.
So, this is it – I can do no more – you hear from me again after the competition – hopefully in a good mood!
I compete in powerlifting and train 4 times a week. On my rest days, I enjoy walking, jogging and a bit of gardening, anything that gets me out into the fresh air.
I think that my competitive sport and being physical active enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my professional as well as my scholarly work, as described in the blog My Powerlifting Journey. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week, always feeling energized afterwards.
I have setbacks in my life, just like everybody else, and with my sport I found a way of dealing with them.
Vor ein paar Tagen sagte ein Kollege zu mir: “Du siehst immer so glücklich aus, nimm weiter diese Drogen!”
Ich weiß, dass er versucht hat, einen Witz zu machen, also antwortete ich “mein Sport ist meine Medizin!”
Mein Sport is Powerlifting und trainiere 4 Mal pro Woche. An meinen Ruhetagen genieße ich Spaziergänge, Joggen und ein wenig Gartenarbeit, alles, was mich an die frische Luft bringt.
Ich denke, dass mein Sport und meine körperliche Aktivität es mir ermöglichen, die anderen Aspekte meines Lebens zu bewältigen – mein hektisches Privatleben, meine professionelle wie auch meine akademische Arbeit, wie im Blog Meine Powerlifting-Reise beschrieben. Dank meines Sports kann ich für ein paar Stunden in der Woche komplett abschalten und fühle mich danach immer wieder energiegeladen.
Ich habe Rückschläge in meinem Leben, genau wie alle anderen Menschen, und mit meinem Sport habe ich einen Weg gefunden, mit ihnen umzugehen.
Press Release from the Department of Health, Ireland, 07 June 2018
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, with Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD, launched the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign in the Phoenix Park today.
The Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign seeks to encourage people to get out and get active together this summer – whether walking with a group, visiting some of our many parks and heritage sites with family or sharing a salad or summer fruit with friends.
Building on January’s Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign, which encouraged people to make a small, healthy change, the Summer campaign highlights the benefits of making those changes with others – getting out and feeling good together. Research shows that starting a healthy habit with someone, such as a family member, friend or colleague, is more likely to last than if you do it alone.
These positive changes are focused on three key areas: eating more healthily, being more active, and minding our mental wellbeing. With the opportunities that the summer brings – longer days and better weather, along with healthy, seasonal fruit and veg – people are encouraged to ‘pause the box set’ and take the opportunity to be outdoors, to connect with others in our communities and enjoy our natural amenities. Healthy Ireland, along with all of our partners, provides support and information to help people make these healthy choices.
Speaking at the launch of the Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign the Taoiseach said “The message of the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign is simple; small steps can make a big difference to your health, you just need to start. And if you start with someone else, you’re more likely to make a lasting change. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved with your neighbours, friends and family or through Healthy Ireland partner organisations to join a group that can help you to take that first step to a healthier lifestyle. Summer is here and it’s an ideal time to plan to get outdoors more often, to enjoy our parks and other amenities, to go for a walk or a run or just take a mental break. These positive and sustainable changes can help us all build a healthy Ireland.”
Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Healthy Ireland is about supporting people to improve their own health and wellbeing. This summer provides us all with a new opportunity to take those first steps to a healthy change. Creating a healthier Ireland is a job for us all and means every Government Department and every sector playing their part to achieve that vision. I’d like to thank all of our partners for their hard work and support. If everyone made one small change this summer, it would add up to a big change for the health of the whole population.”
Healthy Ireland is a major Government-led programme to encourage and support everyone living in Ireland to have the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing.
This campaign looks to build on the work done by Healthy Ireland over the past three years, as well as a first phase of the 2018 Communications Campaign launched in January. The implementation of Healthy Ireland involves significant collaborative, cross-governmental work to develop and implement policies to address our major public health challenges such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity, and to ensure related policy areas, such as education, planning, transport, rural and community development are aligned to facilitate and prioritise health and wellbeing.
Visit gov.ie/healthyireland and follow #healthyireland and #feelgoodtogether to find out about the changes you can make, and to find resources, tips and ways to get involved.
Implementing Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign with “Team Kitty”
Happy to make these healthy changes with “Team Kitty”: Moving weight training outdoors 🙂
Pressemitteilung des Gesundheitsministeriums, Irland, 7. Juni 2018
An Taoiseach (Irischer Premierminister) Leo Varadkar TD, mit Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris TD und Ministerin für Gesundheitsförderung Catherine Byrne TD, startete heute die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018” der Regierung im Phoenix Park.
Die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland 2018” möchte Menschen dazu ermutigen, diesen Sommer gemeinsam aktiv zu werden, zum Beispiel mit einer Gruppe spazieren gehen, mit der Familie einige der vielen Parks und Kulturstätten besuchen oder mit Freunden einen Salat oder Obst essen.
Aufbauend auf die “Healthy Ireland” -Kampagne, die die Menschen zu kleinen, gesunden Veränderungen ermutigt, hebt die Sommerkampagne die Vorteile hervor, diese Aktivitäten gemeinsam mit anderen zu machen. Die Forschung zeigt, daß es wahrscheinlicher ist, eine gesunde Gewohnheit beizubehalten, wenn man sie mit einem Familienmitglied, einem Freund oder Kollegen durchführt.
Diese positiven Veränderungen konzentrieren sich auf drei Bereiche: gesünder essen, aktiver sein und geistiges Wohlbefinden fördern. Mit den Möglichkeiten, die der Sommer bringt – längere Tage und besseres Wetter, zusammen mit gesundem, saisonalem Obst und Gemüse – werden die Menschen ermutigt, die “Box –Sets” zu pausieren und die Gelegenheit zu nutzen, sich mit anderen zu treffen und Natur, Parks und Strände zu genießen. Healthy Ireland bietet zusammen mit all unseren Partnern Unterstützung und Informationen, um Menschen dabei zu helfen, diese gesunden Entscheidungen zu treffen.
Der Taoiseach sagte beim Start der Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018”: “Die Botschaft der Kampagne” Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 ” ist einfach; kleine Schritte können einen großen Einfluss auf Ihre Gesundheit haben, Sie müssen nur beginnen. Und wenn Sie mit anderen zusammen beginnen, ist es wahrscheinlicher diese Veränderungen beizubehalten. Wir ermuntern alle dazu, sich mit ihren Nachbarn, Freunden und Familienmitgliedern oder durch gesunde Partnerorganisationen in Irland einer Gruppe anzuschließen, die Ihnen helfen kann, den ersten Schritt zu einem gesünderen Lebensstil zu machen. Der Sommer ist da und es ist eine ideale Zeit, um öfter ins Freie zu gehen, unsere Parks und andere Annehmlichkeiten zu genießen, spazieren zu gehen oder einfach nur eine mentale Pause zu machen. Diese positiven und nachhaltigen Veränderungen können uns allen helfen, ein gesundes Irland aufzubauen. ”
Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris sagte: “Bei einem gesunden Irland geht es darum, Menschen dabei zu unterstützen, ihre eigene Gesundheit und ihr Wohlbefinden zu verbessern. Dieser Sommer bietet uns allen eine neue Chance, diese ersten Schritte zu machen. Ein gesünderes Irland zu schaffen, ist eine Aufgabe für uns alle und bedeutet, dass jede Regierungsbehörde und jeder Sektor ihren Teil dazu beiträgt, diese Vision zu verwirklichen. Ich möchte allen unseren Partnern für ihre harte Arbeit und Unterstützung danken. Wenn jeder in diesem Sommer eine kleine Veränderung vornehmen würde, würde dies eine große Veränderung für die Gesundheit der gesamten Bevölkerung bedeuten. ”
Healthy Ireland ist ein wichtiges Regierungsprogramm zur Förderung und Unterstützung aller in Irland lebenden Menschen, um die bestmögliche körperliche und geistige Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden zu erreichen. Die „Sommer 2018- Kampagne“ soll auf die Arbeit von Healthy Ireland aufbauen, die vor drei Jahren gestartet wurde. Die Umsetzung von “Healthy Ireland” erfordert eine umfassende Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Regierungsabteilungen Bildung, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft, damit Strategien zur Bewältigung der großen gesundheitlichen Herausforderungen wie zum Beispiel Adipositas, Rauchen und Bewegungsmangel umgesetzt werden können. Besuchen Sie gov.ie/healthyireland und folgen Sie #healthyireland und #feelgoodtogether um herauszufinden, welche Änderungen Sie vornehmen können und um Ressourcen, Tipps und Möglichkeiten zu finden, sich zu engagieren.
Since I started with powerlifting about two and a half years ago I noticed the positive effect the sport has on my mood. There is this calmness I feel after a good workout as I mentioned in a previous blog (My Powerlifting Journey).
Other powerlifters have also described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose. This is a quiet and meditative moment, nothing else matters but lifting the weight.
Now research finds that resistance training is useful in warding off depression and mental health problems. A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry international journal indicates that strength training or weight lifting has positive effects on mental health.
This large-scale study found that resistance training was comparable in effect to frontline treatments such as antidepressant and behavioural therapies. The review, comprising 1,877 participants in total, also found that strength training or weightlifting “is free from the negative side-effects and high costs of many medications and therapies”, according to Brett R Gordon of the Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department at University of Limerick.
The study found that depressive symptoms among participants taking part in the training fell regardless of whether they were healthy or had an illness, or whether they actually built up their physical strength during the research.
The positive effects of resistance exercise training on participants’ mental health did not increase the more sessions they took part in and researchers noted that further research is needed to “explore the optimal resistance exercise training routine” for dealing with depression.
It has now been a week since the European Championship in King’s Lynn, UK. Since I came back many friends, colleagues and other powerlifters asked me what I did for preparation and also what my game plan was to break two European records (Squat and Deadlift), win a gold medal in my category and achieve three personal bests. So I thought I write a blog about it.
As written in a previous blog, Nutrition – Strong, Simple and Sustainable to get stronger I not only train four times a week, I also eat nutritious food, try to get seven hours of good quality sleep and ensure that I take rest days also.
After having competed in 11 powerlifting competitions, including 5 international ones, there are 3 rules I follow:
Rule 1: Prepare, prepare, prepare
There are no shortcuts in training – ensure that your technique is spot on, in accordance with the rules of your powerlifting association. Ensure that you regularly practice your main lifts, but also do plenty of auxiliary work, to strengthen the supporting muscles.
Rule 2: Know your personal best (PB)
For me, a PB is has to be achieved in perfect form and in accordance with the rules of your powerlifting association, not a lift that is grinded out, almost injuring myself in the lifting process.
Rule 3: Pick your competition lifts wisely – don’t let your ego get in the way
Picking your lifts depends on your PB – but also on your form on the day.
1st lift – the opener. This lift gets you in the game. I have learned that I need to calm my nerves first, and show the judges that I know what I’m doing. So my first lift is one that I can to twice in a row, after a late night out or when sick.
2nd lift –getting serious. Now that you are in the game, you have completed a successful 1st lift, this is a lift that should be a little challenging, but you should have successfully completed it before it in a previous competition. If you have not competed before, choose a lift that you can do once in perfect form.
3rd lift – push out the boat. Trust in your training. If you have trained regularly, focusing on your main lifts, your technique and auxiliary work, everything should be in place now for your biggest lift. This is your moment; the reason you came for. But listen to your body when lifting, if something is off, led the weight go.
Overall – don’t get distracted by what other lifters lift. Powerlifting is a sport where you first and foremost compete against yourself. Of course it is nice to win and break records. But my advice is to leave this for your third lift, when you have already two good lifts under your belt (excuse the pun) and are confident and ready to show them all what for are made of.