What has Powerlifting ever done for me?

The effects of strength training on mental wellbeing and the aging process

For the past three years, I have been balancing my love for powerlifting with my managerial and scholarly role in Trinity College.

Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which athletes attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift. The goal is to get the highest possible total between the three lifts. Competing in powerlifting requires meticulous planning, training, and body awareness. I have to balance training time with work time and take care of my body by getting proper nutrition and adequate sleep.

Weightlifting can reduce processes related to aging

The benefits of powerlifting reach beyond strength. Weight-bearing exercise can increase bone density, decrease the reduction in muscle mass and resting metabolism associated with aging, reduce fat weight, reduce resting blood pressure, and reduce aging processes in skeletal muscle. Additionally, weight training can decrease symptoms of depression, increase self-esteem, create a positive perception of one’s body, and improve cognitive ability.

Powerlifters have described the relaxation aspect of this sport, the reduction of anger and the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. No matter how much is going on in my life, when I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose – to get that weight of the ground. This is a quiet and meditative moment, I notice nothing else but the weight and how my muscles work together to lift it.

What does it do for me?

I think that powerlifting enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – in particular the combination of practitioner and scholarly work. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week.

So I am not only training to get physically stronger and break world records, I am training to take care of myself both now and later. I am now in better shape than ever. I am stronger, feel calmer, the best is really that my training, discipline and determination gives me the ability to face better everything that life might throw at me!

 

Der Effekt von Krafttraining auf mentales Wohlbefinden und den Alterungsprozess

In den letzten drei Jahren habe ich meine Liebe zum Powerlifting mit meiner leitenden und wissenschaftlichen Rolle im Trinity College verbunden.

Powerlifting ist eine Form des Wettkampfes, bei der Athleten drei Arten von Gewichtheben in einer bestimmten Reihenfolge durchführen, Kniebeugen, Bankdrücken und Kreuzheben. Ziel ist es, die höchstmögliche Summe zwischen den drei Liften zu erhalten. Um im Powerlifting zu konkurrieren, bedarf es sorgfältiger Planung, Training und Körperbewusstsein. Ich muss die Trainingszeit mit der Arbeitszeit in Einklang bringen und mich um meinen Körper kümmern, indem ich richtige Ernährung und ausreichend Schlaf bekomme.

Gewichtheben kann Alterungsprozesse verlangsamen

Neben dem stärker werden hat Powerlifting hat aber noch andere Vorteile. Krafttraining kann die Knochendichte erhöhen, den Abbau von Muskelmasse und den mit dem Alterungsprozess in Verbindung stehenden Stoffwechsel im Ruhezustand verringern, das Fettgewicht reduzieren, den Blutdruck im Ruhezustand senken und die Alterungsprozesse im Skelettmuskel reduzieren. Darüber hinaus kann das Krafttraining die Symptome einer Depression verringern, das Selbstwertgefühl erhöhen, eine positive Körperwahrnehmung bewirken und die kognitive Leistungsfähigkeit verbessern.

Powerlifters haben den Entspannungsaspekt dieses Sports, die Reduktion von Ärger und das emotionale Wohlbefinden beschrieben. Ich stimme ihnen zu. Egal wie viel in meinem Leben vor sich geht, wenn ich mich auf einen schweren Lift vorbereite, gibt es diese intensive Konzentration mit einem einzigen Ziel – das Gewicht vom Boden zu bekommen. Dies ist ein ruhiger und meditativer Moment. Ich bemerke nichts anderes als das Gewicht und wie meine Muskeln zusammenarbeiten, um das Gewicht zu heben.

Andere Vorteile des Powerliftings

Ich denke, dass Powerlifting es mir ermöglicht, die anderen Aspekte meines Lebens zu bewältigen – insbesondere die Kombination aus praktischer und wissenschaftlicher Arbeit. Dank meines Sports kann ich einige Stunden pro Woche komplett abschalten.

Ich trainiere also nicht nur um körperlich stärker zu werden und Weltrekorde zu brechen, sondern auch um jetzt und in späteren Jahren gesund und fit zu bleiben. Ich bin jetzt in besserer Kondition als je zuvor. Ich bin stärker, fühle mich ruhiger, das Beste ist, dass mein Training, meine Disziplin und meine Entschlossenheit mir ermöglichen, die Herausforderungen des Lebens besser zu bewältigen.

Aggression in Sport vs in Aggression the Workplace

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!

 

 

European Powerlifting Championship – Me against myself!

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 Lifts” and “3 white lights”

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!

 

 

“My sport is my medicine” / “Mein Sport ist meine Medizin”

A few days ago a colleague said to me, “you always look so happy, keep taking those drugs!”

I know he was trying to make a joke, so I replied “my sport is my medicine!”

Afterwards I thought about this short conversation a bit more.  I have written about the link between mental wellbeing and being physical active.  I also wrote about the link between weightlifing and emotional wellbeing.

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!”

Danach dachte ich ein wenig über diese kurze Unterhaltung nach. Ich habe über den Zusammenhang zwischen geistigem Wohlbefinden und körperlicher Aktivität geschrieben. Ich habe auch über den Zusammenhang zwischen Gewichtheben und emotionalem Wohlbefinden geschrieben.

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.

 

 

 

Healthy Ireland /Eine gesunde Initiative aus Irland

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 🙂

Kitty the cat outside with stones
Kitty the cat discovers new sporty opportunities.
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin outdoors
Weightlifting with Kitty the cat
Weightlifting Training outdoors
Making the best out of the beautiful Irish summer: Weightlifting 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.

 

Weightlifting and the Positive Effects on Emotional Wellbeing

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.