A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.
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I'm back again! Yes I keep on having extended breaks which seem to contradict my post about balancing school and sport. I guess it also comes down to my initial motivation to actually sit down for a few hours to write a post. Within the past month and a bit, I have sat two A-level equivalent exams and competed in two Olympic Weightlifting competitions (Manchester club comp and the British u17, juniors and u23's). I just came back from my holiday last Wednesday, I went to Formentera (an island about an hour away from Ibiza) and took a needed week off from lifting. This giving me the chance to write myself a new 5-week program (6 weeks being too long, 4 weeks being too short), which aims to be repeated multiple times before my next Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting competition. Meaning, it's time to get strong. Before I took this week off, I'd been experiencing more failures than usual within my training and within the British competition. Please continue to read to hear about these experiences of mine and how you can actually distinguish a failure within any sport.
What is failure and what is attribution?
The Google definition of failure states 'lack of success' or 'the neglect or omission of expected or required action'. Relating this back into a sporting context, I would define failure as being 'unable to complete an action that is expected or needed in order to gain a personal advantage or benefit, due to a personal fault'. For example, if a Weightlifter was to go out onto the platform and their first Snatch lift was failed by the referees. It would be because of the fault they completed, e.g. they fell onto their knees at the bottom of the squat due to loss of balance and stability.
The Google definition of attribution states 'the action of regarding something as being caused by a person or thing'. Relating this back into a sporting context, I would define attribution as 'pushing the blame from yourself onto another aspect of what made you make the mistake or fault'. For example, if a Weightlifter was to go out onto a slightly uneven platform and their first Snatch lift was failed by the referees. It would be because of the fault they completed, e.g. they fell onto their knees at the bottom of the squat. But they may say 'the platform made me fail the lift'. It would be the same for any noise distractions in which the blame can be shifted from the lifter onto this. Attribution is not different from failure, it is a part of failure that involves shifting the blame of the fail onto something else.
Why do we fail?
Failure can be the cause of many personal characteristics. In this sense it may involve a person's technique, sporting characteristics (e.g. strength and power levels), fatigue, dietary intake, limits, habits, and psychological issues (the competition, how much the lift or point matters, how much weight you are lifting). This could also involve slight attribution, but the environment surrounding a lifter can have an impact upon their likelihood to fail, this relating into psychological issues. For example, a lively competition environment could make a person fail if they are quiet, anxious or used to a quieter environment in training. However, this same environment could boost a person to perform and compete better due to added pressure felt psychologically. This partially links into one of my previous posts about Nature vs Nurture, this is linked below.
Why is attribution used?
Attribution is often used by Weightlifters (and athletes) to put off the thought of a mistake they have made until later when it can be processed. This is usually encouraged and supported verbally by coaches, family and friends (unless of course you are really blunt and you straight up tell the person that it was their fault and NOT in fact anything else that caused the mistake). This is important so listen up! ATTRIBUTION IS A GOOD THING TO REMOVE PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS TO PERFORMANCE. Imagine this: A Weightlifter fails there first lift due to 'someone's phone going off the second they jerked the barbell' not because 'they lack the strength and power to jerk the weight on this particular day'. What does telling the Weightlifter that it was the distraction do? It enables them to complete the second and third attempt with a fresher mindset and a clearer conscience. As the blame is shifted and it is no longer seen (in their eyes) as their fault. If the lifter then is able to get these next two lifts correctly, then nothing is lost, the lifter did not give up! In training however, if a lifter is using attribution as a way to make up excuses not to train, then it is better for the lifter to accept it as failure and to overcome these mistakes by working harder. Although, it may well and truly be that the platform is uneven or the weights on the bar are not loaded equally.
Have you actually experienced failure?
Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt like a failure? like you've let your coach or your team down? you've even let yourself down. Did you go back and assess the situation to see how you could improve? It is often until you've followed these five steps, that you don't realise that your brain thinks you've failed because you haven't lived up to your expectations, but that you actually haven't failed and that there are some positives to your performance. For example, you may feel awful because you failed your last two lift attempts (personal best attempts) but your placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd. You may feel awful if you placed 3rd, but out of 10 whole people! In training, you may not gain a personal best, but you may be closer to it in strength than you were a month a go!
Personal experiences: Attribution
I must admit, I am a victim of attribution and failure. But mainly I have had many offences involving attribution. If you ask my coach (who initially told me what attribution was), he would say that when I've stopped shouting, screaming, crying and even swearing over a failure, that I'll then use attribution. The difference between myself using attribution a few years ago to now is that it would stop me from training, but now I laugh it off as a 'Haha I'm blaming the air temperature for my poor squat attempt'. For example, some of my recurring instances to blame attribution on have been: air temperature, clothing not fitting right, uneven platform, coach putting me off, noises, no noises, lighting too bright, lack of chalk, hair in face.
Personal experiences: Failure
Now moving onto failures, I feel that it's good for me to assess these online, it feels like such a mental cleanse and shows that I don't have to be perceived as any sort of perfect standard Weightlifter. I always have dealt with many failures of personal best attempts and near maximal lifts within my training, but it was very rare until a few years ago that I'd fail a competition lift. More recently in my training, I would get so fatigued (don't worry, my program has now changed) that I couldn't jump to get under my Snatch. So then, I would either get underneath it and drop it, or only be able to pull it up to stomach height. In training, I'm not going to lie about this, but my world feels like it comes crashing down every time I fail. I completely go back to comparing myself to the standards I set for myself. Thankfully, it's not too often I compare myself to other lifters, since different factors (bodyweight, age, experience, genes, smarts) help me to deal with this mindset when it does creep back up on me. But I don't want to be an Olympian, so I'm just here having fun until I'm old and can't tie my shoelaces.
My first failure in competition was only last year, I fell onto my knees. But I then jumped up more kilograms and gained a personal best. Before this, my only competition fail was when I was 12 and in the British and missed the call to my platform. Within the past year, I have gotten used to failing in a competition (not regularly, but when it happens I just shrug it off). A very cool Olympic Lifter once told me 'Sometimes it's good to fail and learn from your mistakes'. 5 years later, Nigel Richmond you were right! Although I did like keeping up my 9 year streak of no competition technical fails. In my most recent British competition, I failed my first ever Snatch (2nd lift) and my 2nd Clean and Jerk. But then I added more weight on and got the lift, because I'm pretty cool and I've got a habit of it now. It's asif failing reduces the psychological pressure of getting 6 out of 6 lifts. That same competition put me 3kg away from my personal best total, leaving me placing 9th out of 12th within the British rankings for my age and weight category (although some in the list are younger - not in the age category - and older than me). This still makes me feel great, considering this is a hobby of mine and is not a goal of mine to beat any form of British record at this moment in time.
Thank you for reading this post, it has taken me more than just a few hours to write. More like 5 hours... But it's got to be one of my favourite posts that *cheesily* comes from the heart. I hope this has helped anyone out there who has felt like a failure at some point in their life.
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I was thinking for a bit what I wanted my next blog post to be about, and hundreds of concepts flew through my mind, but I eventually stuck to this one. Do people have the view that the only point in taking part in Sport and Physical Activity is to compete? Are people not trying sports they might be amazing at and gain personal benefits from just because they feel that they aren't good enough to compete or they'll look foolish being a beginner? I'm sure you've heard the saying 'Everyone starts from somewhere' and its true. Continue reading >
I've been in the position even when I've been Weightlifting for years that I feel as if there is no point in competing if I'm not good enough. It came to a point where I hadn't competed for a year and a half due to comparing my skills to others of a higher level. Thankfully, I got over this mental stumbling block and have began to compete more. But there is much more to sport than competing. It's not always necessary to compete (in individual sports that is), training using a certain sport to develop a skill can be just as beneficial to provide you with personal competition between yourself. Even learning a new sport can help to develop skills in old ones! I have never competed within an Irish Dance Competition, but the skills I have developed from dance have helped me to excel within my Weightlifting. Such as better balance, flexibility and even managing my breathing. My coordination has also developed greatly through dance, helping me with other sports I have picked up in school. It is still enjoyable as a hobby without the need to compete.
Why do we have this mindset and how can we fix it?
My theory is: We have this mindset due to the pressure put on from the media and the UK education system. Okay maybe the education system isn't entirely to blame, but certainly from my experience you're either good at a sport and you are picked/forced to compete to represent your school or you are mediocre/awful and aren't forced to compete. The amount of times when I was developing my athletic skills and was nor amazing or awful, the amount of kids I would hear saying that they couldn't be bothered or didn't want to compete was crazy. Why? because its not fun anymore? because the pressure to win is too high? are they scared of losing? I always thought to myself how lucky they were that they had so many skills and didn't even want to compete. Just to clarify, I am sure there are many opportunities that schools provide in extracurricular clubs for beginners to try new sports, therefore not completely eliminating the idea of schools not encouraging participation outside of competitions.
We can fix this mindset through encouraging the fun aspect of sport on our youth of today. Do you want to try a new sport that you could be great at? Good! Don't want to compete? No problem! That's how it should be. If pressure is ultimately forced onto youths to do well in sport in order to be great at competing, then you lower the chances of those that are quiet and only want to do sport for fun, trying at all. For instance, I've always wanted to try Pole Vault, Kayaking and Calisthenics and I have never had the opportunity to do so! Nothing is stopping me at all from doing these things, except my current time restrictions due to my dedication towards other sports. Maybe in the future I will give them a try!
Personal benefits of trying a new sport
There are many personal benefits to trying a new sport:
Physical/ Emotional: Physically healthier, mental and cognitive improvement, muscle tone improved, stronger heart, particular fitness components improved (E.g: Balance, flexibility, aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, strength, power, reaction time, agility, speed and body composition)
Intellectual: Gain insight upon technique of the sport, gain knowledge in what your body can stand and can do, set targets to aim towards.
Social: Make new friends, compete (if desired).
Here is a link to bbc's site on lists of many sports you can become involved in, they also provide links of how to find your local club that hosts and coaches the sport. I hope you enjoyed reading this short post and I hope it inspired you to try a new sport.
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Recently, I have completed two courses that will help me professionally in future and when currently coaching youth Weightlifters. In this blog post, I thought I would explain the benefits of the courses, summarize what the courses are about and how you can take these courses. These courses are particularly useful for anyone wanting to work with children or are involved in coaching any sport. Please carry on reading if you are interested.
UKAD Accredited advisor course
I took this course online on the 28th of February and passed with 92%. This certificate lasts for 2 years and then requires renewal. This course is to essentially say that you as a coach or athlete will report any instances involving doping, will promote anti-doping and that you will advise athletes that they check the supplements and medication they take prior to competing. You can find the course online for free at the link I have provided. This course is affiliated with 1st4sport and it took myself approximately 6 hours over a period of 3 days to complete.
This course highlighted over the ways you should report any signs of doping, the history of doping, how many months/ years/ permanent exclusion from the sport that athletes can gain, what coaches can be reported for, a coaches role and what TUE's and ADRV's are and much more useful guidance surrounding anti-doping. This course gave me the knowledge on how to report and guide athletes under my supervision about anti-doping. The benefits of this course would be that you are professionally developed, support anti-doping and that your athletes will experience fair competition environments.
Child Protection course
I took this course on the 22nd of March at my local youth centre (where I coach) which was hosting the course. Again, this certificate lasts for 2 years before renewal. Since this course was ran by a member of the county council, I am unsure if the course costed anything. This course is to essentially address how you can protect and safeguard children and young people. The NSPCC are running courses that will be similar on their website, they are currently around £30. My course took 3 hours to complete, the ones upon the NSPCC website are said to take 3 hours also.
This course featured information involving spotting signs of abuse, the different types of abuse and how to handle situations involving incidents and abuse (social services). This course allowed for free-thought regarding what is classed as abuse (E.g. the predicament of whether smacking your child is physical abuse). The course covered aspects from physical, psychological and sexual abuse, which was eye-opening and did contain sensitive topics (E.g. Female Genital Mutilation). This course gave me the knowledge on how I would report and deal with any concerns regarding witnessed or suspected abuse. The benefits of this course is that you are professionally developed and you know that any athletes or young people you are working with are able to be completely protected at uttermost best when under your care.
Thank you for reading this blog post, I didn't want to make it very long as taking the courses will provide the most knowledge and I would hate for this post to be used instead of someone taking the appropriate course required.
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On the 2nd of February, I competed within my first North West Powerlifting competition. I am very familiar with the environment surrounding Olympic Weightlifting competitions, therefore making this environment a little unfamiliar. I have been using Powerlifting (squat, bench press and deadlift) within my Olympic Weightlifting training for approximately 4 years now, which has improved my Olympic lifting. Recently, my poundages began to increase more frequently in my Powerlifting than in my Olympic lifting, so I figured I would give a Powerlifting competition a try. Read more about my experience below.
The environment and setup
In order to be able to compete, I registered with British Powerlifting and North West Powerlifting and therefore kept track of their competitions on their website and Facebook page. Just like within Olympic Weightlifting, I had an idea of my opening weights prior to the competition. I arrived on the day, competing within the unequipped U18 Sub-Junior -47kg category and just made it into the category by 0.1kg (meaning I may be in the -52kg category next time I compete). Within Olympic Weightlifting, the bodyweight categories are different to those within Powerlifting. When I weighed in, I gave in my poundages as starting on 50kg Squat, 30kg Bench, 87.5kg Deadlift. Unlike Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting competitions have a total of 9 attempts altogether, there are only 6 attempts within Olympic Weightlifting (although both of the sports contain three attempts per lift).
Before the competition begins, you will be measured for your rack heights for your squat and for your bench. This number will be written down and altered for each of your attempts, you can alter this if too high or too low. I seem to recall mine were either squat height 6 and bench height 8, might have been the other way around. This was a completely different experience for me, as within Weightlifting you don't use racks so height measurements aren't needed to be measured. Before I turned up on the day, I checked to see which equipment could be used, as although it was only a divisional competition, the rules sometimes still apply to the standards of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). This meaning, specific logos could not be worn unless approved and some materials or specific equipment could not be worn. I also made myself familiar with the powerlifting commands, which I will mention within the next few paragraphs.
During the competition
A Powerlifting competition has a different structure to an Olympic Weightlifting competition. An Olympic Weightlifting competition is ran in order of how much is being lifted. For example, Lifter A is lifting 45kg, Lifter B then lifts 46kg, and Lifter A then complete their second attempt of 47kg (this providing there are not more attempts in between). Within Powerlifting, everyone within the flight path will complete their first attempt, then the bar is reloaded for Lifter A's second attempt and then everyone completes their second attempt until it's time for Lifter A's third attempt. This was strange to get used to during the competition, as often I would expect to be back on the platform immediately again, but actually I would have a good 20 min rest. In Powerlifting, you can increase with 2.5kg, however in Weightlifting you can increase by anything more than a kilogram and in some circumstances (age or failure) stick at the same weight.
Usually, within a Weightlifting competition, Group A would complete their Snatches and their Clean + Jerks and then they would be given awards and sent away. However, after I had finished all three of my squats in my flight path (group), then the next flight path would complete their squats and then the next. Then my flight path would begin the bench press and so on. I much preferred this layout, it made it more relaxing to watch the other groups and made it fairer so that the other groups that were later on actually received an audience, rather than everyone who'd already competed had already gone home.
During the competition, it was useful to see the number of spotters upon the platform that would essentially ensure the bar couldn't fall on the lifter in the event of a fail. The bar could be passed to you in the bench and maybe one spotter was on the platform for the deadlift. The system for loading was very efficient and I believe it would make Olympic Weightlifting competitions run more smoothly and quickly. A computer program was used to indicate the colour and order of the weights that were required on the bar, this would then be called out for the loaders to load on.
Here is a summary of how the competition went:
Squat: 50kg, 52.5kg, 55kg
Bench: 30kg, 32.5kg, 35kg
Deadlift: 87.5kg, 90kg, 92.5kg
I received all white lights for every lift, achieved a personal best deadlift of 92.5kg and beat three North West records in the U18 category (Bench, Deadlift and total) and then two records in the U23 category (Deadlift and Total). I also placed first within my category (nobody was in my category). I will now explain what is meant by the judging system, results and the commands for the lifts.
I was told prior to one of my squat attempts that there must be a gap between my knee sleeves and socks (and also the legs of the singlet). Before the competition began, I checked that I could wear my Olympic Weightlifting singlet as although Adidas is not approved, it was only a divisional competition. I learnt that I can only wear neoprene knee sleeves (and thankfully I had bought my neoprene ones with me as well as my cotton ones). I learnt I wasn't allowed a Velcro belt so I ordered one and picked it up from the post office THE MORNING OF the competition. Very stressful, but it did the job for a £60 breaking-my-bank belt. There are still other reasons why equipment cannot be used, for example, not wrapping anything around the bar and not using the thumb-loop on your wrist wraps (which I was gently warned about prior to being on the platform).
The white lights mean that the lift was good. Just like in Weightlifting, three red lights mean it was a no lift, whilst only one red light is still acceptable. You can gain three reds for not obeying commands or keeping up to the technique standards. I will briefly explain some of the reasons you can fail a lift, this being very strict and different to Weightlifting. I have linked the IPF rules on the commands, which can be found on page 9 and 10 of the attachment.
The result of the competition can either go based upon wilks (a coefficient taking into account of bodyweight and gender), age-adjusted wilks (age is taken into account), total (total amount lifted, highest three lifts added together) or ipf points (a newer equivalent to wilks).
Currently I am at:
Ipf points: 358.77
Olympic Weightlifting usually uses your total or a Sinclair coefficient.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Whether you are an Olympic Weightlifter, Powerlifter or none at all, I hope this post has shed some light upon a competition environment within the sport. Overall, I had an amazing day and met some great people as everyone was so kind and welcoming; I look forward to my next competition later on in the year.
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I was so desperate to write this around the time I actually completed the course and I never got around to it! I wrote some notes down around the time upon my opinion and experience when completing the course. This course takes place over two days of practical work and features some work that must be revised over and completed upon British Weightlifting's online learning platform prior to the course. Once this course has been completed, you are given the title 'Assistant Weightlifting Coach', which allows you to assist a qualified Level 2 coach and to coach under the provision of a Level 2 coach.
I completed my course on the 26th and 27th of January as Crossfit Leyland (North of England), the course began at 9am each day and finished at approximately 5pm. Currently, the course costs £350, but if you are a British Weightlifting member, you can receive £50 off the course. Here is the link to British Weightlifting's information regarding all of the courses they offer. I suggest you carry on reading if you are considering taking this course.
My preparation and experience
Although I am only 17 years old, I have been unofficially coaching Weightlifting under the supervision of a Level 2 coach for approximately 5 years. This has allowed me to create my own training sessions and deliver them to young Weightlifters. Usually, it is the qualification that would allow you to do this, however since my club has fluctuated in its number of members over the years, I have been given the opportunity to slowly build up my confidence from coaching small skills to then completely analyzing and correcting technique upon the spot. I believe by doing this, due to my age, I was very prepared for the course.
However, I believe that as long as you know the basics of Weightlifting (the technique, what not to do, failures and the two lifts) and have the intuition to coach and recognize where mistakes could be made, then you are prepared and able to take this course. You will be given access to British Weightlifting's Online Learning platform, which will provide you with information to revise over that will educate you upon any other knowledge you do not know about the sport, that is required for the course.
Online Learning: Review
I personally felt, from my perspective when completing the online learning section for the course that it provided me with details that were featured upon the course. The content was easy to pass through and provided interest through videos and colourful diagrams. This meant, the information was easy to recall when questions were asked on the online learning platform and during the practical sessions of the course. Therefore, the information introduced me clearly to the course and helped me to have a basis of what the course would require of me upon the practical days. I recommend making notes from the online learning material, not everything is necessary if you know how to perform the Olympic lifts, but the structure of the example sessions and safety precautions I found were beneficial to make notes upon.
The only point I would like to put across, is that the information online should be double checked over. Some simple grammar issues have been made and uncorrected, this made some information difficult to understand. As a 17 year old with no issues with English nor learning difficulties, this wasn't such an issue for myself as I had the knowledge to understand what was actually meant by the incorrectly phrases sentences. However, take for example someone with severe Dyslexia, learning difficulties or those who aren't excellent at English, they may struggle to understand some confusingly worded content.
Contact with the Instructor
Online and Offline
The instructor introduced herself on the online learning platform before we met up for the two practical days and provided us with her contact details if we had any questions. This was very useful, in case content upon the course wasn't understood or working. During the two practical days, I asked about many topics about the course, ensuring that I knew what was required when I was to lead a practical session. The instructor was very clear and friendly when answering my questions, which really helped me to settle in and feel less nervous (as I was the youngest there). Her guidance was very beneficial, from the start to the end of the practical days.
Summary of the course: Day 1
When I first arrived there was a brief introduction to the facilities and everyone on the course introduced themselves.
We received booklets upon the Weightlifting technique and were refreshed over the technique. We were asked to spontaneously come up with warm up activities, which later progressed into teaching a movement to the group throughout the day. This allowed for the sharing of knowledge and promoted creativity, which I really enjoyed.
We were told that on the second day, we would have to lead a group session and were able to think about what we may coach and how to construct a training session suitable for a targeted age group/ level.
The online learning material was highlighted and some knowledge I already knew was mentioned, however there were parts of information which I had never learnt before. For example: Different ways to configure your Snatch grip.
Summary of the course: Day 2
Before I lead my session, we had the opportunity to practice what we were going to demonstrate in our session with guidance from our session plans we had written.
Leading the session
I lead the session without the usage of my session plan and naturally began to coach how I would at my club. The instructor would ask to see parts of each section of the session to save time and to get through everyone's session plan. I targeted my session towards young people who were intermediate Weightlifters. I structured the session plan with a warm up, main session and cool down. Each section featuring activities aimed towards young people, making the session fun and enjoyable. The written session plan and practical deliverance of the session were both graded and counted towards my final grade.
After all the sessions had been completed, we all received feedback as to what was good and could improve. I was told that:
How did the course benefit me?
Once leaving the venue, I felt more independent, confident (after partaking in a course with some Masters of Science Students), creative and ready to improve my coaching. When I went back to my club, I conducted my same training session. Over the past few weeks, I have used many of the fun games that the others incorporated into their sessions, which the young lifters enjoyed and gave me excellent feedback on! I feel more confident in my ability to coach, as the qualification backs up my experience and proves that even for age, I have the ability to be a good coach even though sometimes people underestimate me. The price of the course can often discourage people from completion, but hands down, it was worth it. I enjoyed both days, the content was interesting and I definitely feel that I have improved qualities within my coaching since then.
Thank you for reading this post, I'll be sure to write another upon my Level 2 Certification and may compare the two courses.
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I'm currently studying Alevel psychology and a recent debate we have been looking at is the idea that we are who we are due to nature or nurture. Nature meaning that we are us due to our genetic makeup that is inherited from our parents, nurture meaning that we are us due to the environmental conditions surrounding us. We were asked to write about any scenario surrounding the idea that our behavior is inflicted due to nature vs nurture, hence why I've developed the idea to yet again turn my written school work into a blog post. The following passage you will read is merely based upon theory and no physical evidence of any experiment, this is simply something different that I thought would look nice upon my site, it may not prove to be at all accurate. I hope you enjoy!
The initial scenario
Picture this scenario, you have trained with a coach for a sporting competition and prior to the competition , you feel incredibly motivated and have an idea of where you would like to place. After losing in the competition, the adrenaline rush prior to the competition and afterwards causes you to experience feelings of anger. Lets consider the factors of nature vs nurture and whether they correlate with these angry feelings.
In this setting, the idea of nature may come into consideration when looking over the genetics of athletes with more or less aggression physically and emotionally present. This can be configured through measuring the aggression levels of the parents of the athletes who show more feelings of anger to motivate themselves prior to competing and after if they experience anger if they lose a competition. These aggression levels could be measured through giving tasks to the parents that involve high amounts of adrenaline being produced and then deliberately introducing the fixed result of the parents losing. This can be compared to see whether the athletes are likely to have inherited more anger issues due to their genetics. Then when given the opportunity to, will these aggressive feelings be revealed in times when adrenaline is boosted.
Nature debate: limitations
Some limitations of the nature debate being fully supportive are:
The idea of nurture may arise within conditions surrounding sports competitions and the overall environment, due to the situation inflicting the behavior shown. A general sports competition will be likely to contain a reasonably sized audience to competitors ratio, some which will be in support of the athlete, others not so supportive. Other factors such as the participants feelings surrounding the other competitors and the audience come into play, which can depend upon nurture. The levels of adrenaline and aggression present in the athlete can depend upon how much the athlete is able to boost themselves up before competing, do they make themselves angry to perform better? How much do they want to succeed? Then, depending upon environment factors (Where they placed, the effort they put in and the excitement of others who won), after such a large adrenaline rush, does nurture prove that the anger shown when losing is simply due to what happens there and then? The training environment surrounding the athletes prior to the competition may inflict the uproar of anger experienced when losing a competition. For example, are their training sessions loud and are pushy coaches and parents claiming that the athlete 'will beat everyone they're against', is there pressure present to win for the sake of the club and not for personal benefits?
Nurture debate: limitations
Some limitations of the nurture debate being fully supportive are:
What would society choose?
Society may not side with neither nature or nurture as they may have impacts upon each other in order to provoke the initial behavior change when faced with a result of loss. For example, training sessions may promote the athlete to be loud and angry when training gets tough, but without any genetics that show their parents had issues with abrupt anger and the controlling of this, what does this intend to prove?
My personal experience
My personal experience with aggression and sport within Olympic Weightlifting is that prior to an attempt at a personal best, I often boost myself up and try to make myself angry before attempting the lift. If I succeed at the lift, my response is something like 'Great, now volume'. If I fail the lift, there is a good chance you don't want to be the cause for my failure as sometimes (especially after multiple attempts) I can become really angry with myself for not successfully getting the lift or even if my technique is looking awful. Here are some factors about me:
So without my opinion, what do you think? Nature, nurture or both? Thank you for reading this post, it has been enlightening to write a post that is fresh and that can be built upon.
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As it is now gaining near to the end of 2018, I figured I would write one of these posts again. It is not often that I write a full post about my achievements or about myself in general, but this blog is also a method for me to track my progress.
Olympic Weightlifting- This years achievements
I started 2018 with very low personal bests (due to ending up on crutches in 2017), these were my 22.5kg Snatch lift and my 30kg Clean and jerk.
In February, I manged to boost these up to 24kg Snatch and 34kg Clean and Jerk. Slowly but surely, my ankle was getting better. By March, my Snatch lift had gone up to 28kg and my Clean and Jerk shot up to 40kg! I had my first competition of the year (and since my injury in June 2017) and reached new personal bests of a 29kg Snatch and a 43kg Clean and jerk. I then made myself take a 4 month break due to my gcse exams coming up, that break ended in September. My current personal bests are 31kg Snatch and 44kg Clean and Jerk.
Olympic Weightlifting- My 2019 goals
Although I still haven't beaten my goal of Clean and Jerking my body-weight yet (46kg - 48kg), I will still be aiming towards this in 2019. I would also like to be Snatching at least 35kg, as this would make up approximately 75% of my body-weight.
Accessory exercises/ Powerlifting- This years achievements
At the beginning of 2018, I hadn't attempted a deadlift personal best for atleast a solid year. This personal best was 60kg with sumo. Throughout this year, I have used sumo deadlifts as an accessory lift and boosted my personal best up to 70kg.
In August, I managed to increase this to 80kg and more recently have found that my technique is better when using conventional to lift the 80kg (no wide stance and with my arms inside of my legs). One of my 2018 goals was to hit my 80kg deadlift!
Again, due to my ankle injury I hadn't attempted a back squat personal best for a solid year. However, this was 40kg and was boosted to 54kg in April. My back squat personal best has recently increased upto 63kg.
My front squat personal best was 43kg up until November, when this increased to 47kg. I am still yet to try for another bench press personal best.
Accessory exercises/ Powerlifting- My 2019 goals
I will be aiming next year to gain a deadlift personal best of 95kg, a back squat personal best of 70kg, a front squat personal best of 55kg and a benchpress personal best of 40kg. I aim to do more powerlifting and perhaps even enter some competitions whilst I am still in the sub-junior category. I've got to continue to focus upon my deadlift technique with heavier weights (as this drops as the weight on the bar increases).
Health and fitness- This years achievements
At the beginning of this year, I weighed approximately 46kg. By March, I was weighing 48.2kg, which at the time was out of my bodyweight catergory. During my 4 month break, my bodyweight dropped down to 45kg, my Weightlifting plateaued slightly here. Between summer and now, my bodyweight has fluctuated between 44.5kg and 48kg. This meaning I am still towards the middle or bottom of the 49kg catergory. I have still managed to gain personal bests even with lower bodyweight than my previous lift. For example, gained a personal best of 43kg whilst weighing 48kg, but gained a 31kg snatch whilst weighing 45kg.
Overall, my Olympic lifting has really taken over my personal fitness workouts at home (as I've been training three to four times a week). However, my year has been good and I have never felt more myself this year. I went to many concerts this year, some on my own, which I wouldn't have been able to do a few years ago because of my anxiety. This year I have became a healthier and happier version of myself through self-reflection and closure.
Health and fitness- My 2019 goals
Next year, I would like to remain in the 49kg category, but possibly be closer to the 55kg category, making me stronger and able to lift heavier weights. I will try to avoid plateauing by lifting over the summer and continuing to progress through different programs. I have just started to look into the interesting factor of enneagram and Myers-Briggs, something which I'd love to further analyse for myself next year. I wrote poetry more often in 2018, which I hope I continue to do next year as a way of self-expression and stress-relief. I guess I could say that my blog is a more structured version of my self-expression habits.
Irish dance- This years achievements
This year I have developed more on my hard shoes in Irish dance. I have learnt three full dances this year and I am now better at clicking my heels together, better at remembering steps and more able at balancing on my toes.
Irish dance- My 2019 goals
Who knows how long i'll be dancing for, but certainly I want to make the most of it. I'd love to be able to choreograph dances better for myself and learn steps quicker. Other than that, there isn't much more that I'd like to aim towards, it is a hobby of course.
Thisgirlcanlift- This years achievements
This year I have posted 8 blog posts (taking into account of my 4 month break). I finally made my own blog logo and have fiddled around with my theme enough to find an ideal theme for my site on desktop and mobile. I am writing in more detail and expressing my views more, particularly I wrote my first book review this year (with more planned to come). I have also additionally gained a good 300 followers on my Instagram page through fluctuation this year.
My views on my website are as followed:
Last year- 9,152 page views
This year- 11,417 page views
Last year- 3,461 unique visitors
This year- 4,824 unique visitors
That makes up 2,265 and 1,363 more than last year!
Thank you so much to anyone who has viewed my site and read these blog posts. It is insane that I have had this website for two whole years now.
Thisgirlcanlift- My 2019 goals
My goals for next year with my website would be to tackle my audience from different areas such as from a Facebook page. It would be nice to update my logo if I fancy it, or to create a sign off for this site. I may consider to have weekly sections for my website.
Anyways, thank you very much if you read this post. I know it is not the most entertaining as it has no images (apologies). See you next year!
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Since I wrote my last post back in September, our Weightlifting club hosted our first inter club competition. This was a small competition that simply showcased our lifters talents to family, friends and members of the local area. Since this competition was hosted by our own club and was not affiliated with any other body, I was able to have roles that I wouldn't have been allowed to be in without some form of qualification. I helped out by essentially officiating as a side referee for the first group and center referee for the last group, I also was the MC (microphone controller) for the whole event. Whilst having the role of side referee for the younger lifters, I was also judging the lifters by using the technique point system. Within this blog post I am going to explain the point system that we used to judge the young lifter's technique.
A short summary: What is the technique point system? and when is it used?
The technique point system is predominantly used during youth and schools competition and is a method of judging the technique of younger lifters below the age of thirteen. This would then discourage youth lifters from lifting maximal heavy weights at such a young age and would act as a basis before they would begin to train to lift heavy than training to learn the technique. Since there are two lifts involved in an Olympic Weightlifting competition, the Snatch lift will be based out of four points per each of the three lifts (making a total out of 12) and the Clean and Jerk lift will be based out of eight points per each of the three lifts (making a total out 24). The maximum amount of points a lifter can gain is 36, this is then doubled to be out of 72. The lifter closest to reaching 72, is given the place of first within their age and body weight category.
Snatch lift point system
Within our inter club competition, we used the point system revised by ourselves as we believed the previous rules contained a rule that we considered to be unfair to youngsters with a bone structure which was not of average This rule was that lifters were only to be given one point if they do not fully squat, instead of only deducting one point.
Within the Snatch lift performance, the lifter will begin with full points and as mistakes are made, points will begin to be deducted. Either way, this will work by adding points on when spotting parts of the lift that are completed without fail. Here is as followed, the point system for the Snatch lift:
The first point a lifter can gain in the snatch is from being in the get set position (Key one). This is when the lifter is at the beginning of the lift before the barbell has even left the platform. This point can be deducted if the lifter places their hands incorrectly upon the barbell (For example, one hand is closer to the middle of the barbell and the other hand is further away). In the Snatch, the lifter will usually have a wide grip.
The second point a lifter can gain is by lifting the barbell to knee height. This is otherwise known as the key two or the power position. This point can be deducted if the lifter's bottom is rising before their head and the rest of their body.
The third point a lifter can gain is by performing the triple extension. The triple extension can be defined by the barbell moving upwards from knee height, past the thighs and towards the top of the lifters torso. The lifter should attempt to fully extend (straighten) their arms and elevate onto their toes when completing this movement. A point is NOT deducted if the lifter bounces the barbell of their hips in attempt to catch the barbell at the top of the lift.
The fourth point can be gained by the lifter fully squatting with the barbell above their head. A full squat is classified by the lifter squatting past at least a 90 degree angle at the knee. This point is only deducted if the lifter doesn't fully squat, a snatch lift without a full squat is known as a power snatch.
Clean and Jerk point system (The clean)
I figured from the clean and jerk lift, it would be easier if I split up the eight points. In this first section I will be discussing the first four points that can be gained from the clean. In the section half, I will discuss the remaining four points that can be gained from the jerk. This is very similar to the Snatch lift, but I figured I would explain it better with the same layout.
The first point a lifter can gain in the clean part of the lift is from being in the get set position (Key one). This is when the lifter is at the beginning of the lift before the barbell has even left the platform. This point can be deducted if the lifter places their hands incorrectly upon the barbell (For example, one hand is closer to the middle of the barbell and the other hand is further away). In the Clean and Jerk, the lifter will usually have a fairly narrow grip.
The second point a lifter can gain is by lifting the barbell to knee height. This is otherwise known as the key two or the power position. This point can be deducted if the lifter's bottom is rising before their head and the rest of their body.
The third point a lifter can gain is by performing the triple extension. The triple extension can be defined by the barbell moving upwards from knee height, past the thighs and towards the top of the lifters torso. The lifter should attempt to fully extend (straighten) their arms and elevate onto their toes when completing this movement. A point is NOT deducted if the lifter bounces the barbell of their hips in attempt to catch the barbell at the shoulders.
The fourth point can be gained by the lifter fully squatting with the barbell held at the shoulders. A full squat is classified by the lifter squatting past at least a 90 degree angle at the knee. This point is only deducted if the lifter doesn't fully squat, a clean without a full squat is known as a power clean.
Clean and Jerk point system (The jerk)
The fifth point can be gained by the lifter being in the get set position, with the barbell positioned at the shoulders. During this, the elbows should be up. This point can be deducted if the lifter originally has their elbows down and then moves them upwards before jerking. Additionally, this point can be deducted if the lifter performs a double dip of the elbows before jerking the barbell upwards.
The sixth point can be gained by the lifter performing the dip and drive. The dip in the jerk can be defined as the lifters elbows dipping and the bending of the lifters knees before the explosive jerk. The drive (punch) is essentially the involvement of the arms in the jerk. A point can be deducted if the lifter drives the barbell above their head with a press out, this is also classed as a fail (No lift).
The seventh point can be gained by the lifter performing the split. The split in the jerk is essentially the involvement of the legs in the jerk. The split is the movement of the Weightlifters legs splitting vertically. It doesn't matter which leg is the front foot and which leg is the back foot. There are a few reasons why this point could be deducted, depending upon how well the referee is able to spot the fault and how strict they may be. This point may be deducted if:
The eighth point can be gained by the lifter recovering from the split. The front foot should move backwards to half way between both feet and the back foot should move forwards to place both feet together. This point can be deducted if the lifter only moves one foot backwards or only one foot forwards. Additionally, this point can be lost if the recovery is wobbly and the lifter is struggling to recover without walking all over the platform or is struggling to stand still to wait for the down signal.
If a lifter was to perform a power jerk, the lifter is still able to gain full points with the provision that the squat in the jerk is below a 90 degree angle. Otherwise, one point may be deducted from the lack of the split.
Failing a lift and passing a lift
In a Weightlifting competition, your lift can be failed or passed. If you pass a lift, that really means that you did nothing to fail the lift. As a youth lifter, whether you pass or fail a lift, you will still gain points. When failing a lift, the maximum points you can gain is three points (you wouldn't gain the fourth, as one point is deducted from the error that caused you to fail the lift). It is sometimes a common misconception that when failing a lift, there are no points gained, but this isn't the case. Therefore, making the point system a fair way of evaluating a lift, rather than a young persons lifts being based upon whether they pass the lift with a heavy weight or fail the lift with a heavy weight.
Although this blog post is about the technique point system, I am going to mention ways in which all lifters (including youth lifters) can be failed when lifting. These are:
Thank you for reading this post, I hope that this may bring some clarity to the point system as so far I have not seen an officially approved version online. This is a basic introduction in which our small club are judged by, I understand that other online technique systems will be different and I in no way state that this version is the only correct method.
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Within this blog post, I will be discussing a mix of my opinions, some stereotypes and factual information based around the topic of gender inequality within sport. I thought this topic would be relevant since Serena Williams was treated wrongly during a recent Tennis game of hers. I have touched upon this topic before, but only a small section of the topics surrounding gender inequality. Please continue reading to find out more about these individual topics.
The history of Women in sport
Going back to the past, Women first were allowed to compete in the Olympic games in 1900 but towards the end of the 19th century began to partake in sports that were identified as ‘feminine’ such as Tennis, Golf, Archery and Figure Skating. As a Women who currently competes in Olympic-style Weightlifting competitions, it is interesting to know that the first feature of Weightlifting within the Olympic games was in 1896, it was only until the year 2000 that Women were allowed to compete in the Olympics as Weightlifters. Although in 1986 there were some championships which featured Women. Women were kept out of the sport for so long because it was viewed that the sport was made for Men and that Women shouldn’t be perceived as strong and muscular. Even dating back to war times, Women were seen as the stay at home Mother who would cook, clean and be the perfect housewife. Young girls during this period would learn how to make clothes and look after children, whereas young boys would be introduced to sports and more fun activities. If we're also looking back at the attitudes of Women, it is known that some Women became 'Flappers' and rebelled against the modesty projected onto them by Men. One Woman dance crazes (The Charleston) and more individuality revolving around Women's fashion was soon developed from there.
Attitudes towards Women in sport
Nowadays there are many attitudes towards Women participating in sport or certain types of sports. It mainly depends upon what sport it is and who you’re asking. I have noticed myself that some of the elderly part of society can perceive that Women should only partake in certain sports that are deemed more feminine and ‘suitable for the gender’, probably because Women had less rights back in their younger days so that is all that they have been brought up to think of. It is still relevant that nowadays Women are subsequently less than Men whether that involves sports or not. Some examples of sports that aren’t as socially acceptable for Women to partake in than Men are: Football, Rugby, Olympic Weightlifting, Boxing, Wrestling, Darts, Shooting, Formula one driving, Cricket etc.
Whether this is because Men are deemed to be stronger than Women and therefore are bigger and are more able to excel within the sport (because of higher levels testosterone), or it is just because the general public dislike the Female gender being able to participate and compete in these sports. Thankfully, Women can still partake in these sports but sometimes it isn’t as recognized nor as popular as Men who participate in the same activity. It has always been encouraged that Boys were tougher than Girls and therefore were more encouraged to partake in sports than Girls were. Women seem to team up and stick up for each other when it can come down to being faced with inequality. In this generation there are sites such as thisgirlcan.co.uk which do help to promote to change the attitude that Women face in the sports industry.
Examples of inequality towards Women in sport
Although people are more open to accepting that sports aren’t just for one gender, there are examples of situations which suggest that sexism within the sports industry hasn’t quite fizzled out yet (the $33 million pay gap between Men and Women in football is a good example). Lets start with the smallest issue which involves Women in sport.
In a Tennis game, Men play to the best of 5 sets whereas Women will only play to the best of 3 sets. Although this is seen as ‘traditional’, myself and others would view this as discouraging Women from being able to play as proficiently as Men. Therefore this would suggest that they are only expected to play 3 sets and may not be aerobically able to play to the higher standard that Men can apparently play at. Upon the topic of Tennis, more recently Serena Williams was treated unfairly by the umpire to which if a Male Tennis player was to do the same thing that Serena did, he would not be given the same consequence. Yes, Serena got upset and angry during the game, but if a Male Tennis player did the same, I guarantee nobody would have made a racist and sexist comic about the incident aimed at the person.
In comparison to this, there are worse cases such as another recent issue involving a Female Olympic 800m champion. In several articles it is said that the IAAF have set new rules regarding the testosterone levels of Female athletes which means that it restricts Women with higher levels of the hormone from competing without having to take substances to reduce this factor. Although the amount that she has is over the ‘limit for Women’ and ‘makes her at advantage compared to the other athletes’. This should not be an issue, as if it were for Males the IAAF may have less of a concern to alter the rules.
Examples of inequality towards Men within sport.
It has more than once popped into my head that inequality revolving around Men in sport isn’t brought up enough. Although it is more common for Men to participate in sports than Women without a sense of inequality, there are still some areas of sports and activities that are deemed to be ‘too feminine’ or ‘make Men look weak’. Take ballet dance, gymnastics and netball for example. Sports that you may associate with female teams or athletes and not often with the male gender.
Not only can inequality with certain sports be an issue for Men, but expectations that society as a whole can pressure upon Male athletes or sportsmen. Since it is common for Men to take part in sports, there can be higher expectations of them to perform well, to look a certain way or have a certain level of ability and expertise. For instance, if you are an Olympic Weightlifter and Male, you may be expected to be tall and muscular, whereas sometimes it is the short or skinny lifters that are stronger. The same with Rugby players, it may be a common stereotype that Rugby players are massively muscular but in fact skinny or leaner Men can be great Rugby players as wingers who will do most of the running to score tries. Male fitness magazines or online articles set high expectations for Men in sport, which isn’t always a trait that all Men will have.
How can we tell young girls to strive to take part in any sport they want to but not say the exact same thing to young boys?
Transgender and Non binary* genders within sport.
In an article on Mashable.com it states ‘An athlete's sexual orientation doesn't challenge the gender binary in sports - gay men and lesbian women can still compete in their separate, sex-segregated divisions.’ Therefore, it makes me wonder how come people who are transgender or non binary are sometimes either made to compete in the category which fits their gender assigned at birth or not to compete at all.
It is a shame that this could restrict very talented and hardworking people purely because in some competitions the categories are sex-segregated with only a Male or Female category choice. Some people have argued that it would be unfair for transgender people to compete within the category that they identify as because of higher or lower testosterone levels (meaning an advantage or disadvantage). There are ways to go around this by creating more than two gender categories or even measuring testosterone levels for some sports and categorizing the athletes in that way. It is just unfair for someone to be unable to compete in their sport merely because of how they identify. Why should they have to compete as the gender that they do not feel comfortable being.
*Someone who identifies as neither Female or Male.
Thank you for reading this blog post, I will cover more topics similar to these in the near future.
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In this blog post I will be reviewing a book entitled 'Weightlifting for beginners' written by Dan Kent and Mihai Ivan. Very kindly, Dan asked me to review this book some weeks ago and I am very appreciative of that. Since I am not a beginner at Weightlifting, I have read and reviewed this book from my own perspective and from a beginners point of view.
From looking at the front cover of the book, the design isn't in your face and clearly demonstrates what the book is about. The blurb is also nice and short, as long blurbs can often stop me from wanting to read a book. The price of this book isn't too expensive for what you are receiving, retailed at £14.99 this book offers advice upon many subjects including technique, strength building, a hint at competing and some programs. By just looking at the organised contents, the book discusses a variety of subjects regarding Weightlifting and would most likely answer any questions that beginners to the sport would have.
From reading the first few pages of the Foreword, it is nice to hear both of the Authors opinions and experiences behind Olympic Weightlifting. Specifically Mihai Ivan encourages that the competition isn't always between other lifters and you, but more just competition within the lifter as an individual. Click on the image to be directed to the Amazon page to purchase.
"It's just you and your bar, all your resources focused towards it" - Mihai Ivan
From a beginners perspective
I believe that the addition about the history of Weightlifting is good for a beginner to grasp some knowledge upon the sports background, often books about sport don't focus on the past but more about the future and really the background of Weightlifting is significant and interesting. From my point of view, I thought it was great that the book mentioned about Weightlifting coaches as often books about sports forget to mention that different coaches will have different ways of doing things. This would help any beginner to battle any misconceptions of right and wrong within Weightlifting if they have had different advice from different coaches. The illustrations are clear and easy to follow regarding the technical movements of the lifts, this being important for a beginner. The explanation upon the Weightlifting technique was very precise and excellently worded. I enjoyed that the book didn't just feature Olympic Weightlifting techniques but rather other related exercises that help to improve Olympic Weightlifting technique and strength standards. There was also a great feature about power, which is very important to those beginning the sport who will require large amounts of power if they wish to develop within the sport. The book mentions ways in which a Weightlifters dietary intake will differ if they are wanting to improve in strength, this is great for a beginner and also anyone who already lifts as it isn't common to find specific advice about diets for Olympic Weightlifters unless guided by a coach or professional. So for anyone getting into the sport without a coach or a Weightlifting club, it gives some great guidance to begin on your own!
From my perspective
When reading this book, I felt intrigued to carry on reading as although not much of the information in the book was new to me, the way the book was worded isn't exhausting or complicated to read. I found this book to be honest and relatable, from when it mentions purchasing Weightlifting shoes to the uncomfortability of the Hook grip. I found that by the book mentioning ways in which a lift can go wrong or can prevent you from getting a personal record being so useful! Not only for individual lifters (like myself) who wish to look back at their lifts or ask someone to check for technique mistakes, but for checking other lifters techniques too. I will definitely think back to this book if one of the younger lifters at my club asks me to check their technique. Towards the end of the book, the dietary help and alcohol intake information is very interesting and would benefit beginners and those who have been lifting for a while. Sometimes it is in fact what you're eating which stops you from improving strength wise. There was some information in the book that I have taken on board and will use within the future. Particularly the alcohol intake details was completely unknown to me and hasn't been something I had heard of up until I had read this book.
A hands on experience: trying programs, technique exercises and more
I decided after reading the book I would have a try at the training program for the beginners, some of the plyometric exercises, technique exercises and mobility tests. These are my results:
Beginners training program
The beginners strength training programs contains a good range of exercises (not just the Olympic lifts) and would allow a beginner to understand an average training program. This 4 week program is designed to improve a beginners strength and power, helping them to reach a new personal record every 4 weeks. I would say that this program may not be built for young children or lifters who have previous injuries and are only looking to improve their technique. Although I didn't complete the full 4 weeks, the program left me feeling stronger and happier after each session. The strength program being based around Olympic lifts and some other exercises would mean that it could still be partially completed by athletes who have no knowledge upon Olympic Weightlifting, but I believe the book would advise any beginners to complete the excellent technique sessions mentioned a few pages beforehand.
The exercises mentioned would help almost any athlete to improve upon their power. They're basic, easy to understand and could probably be completed by most abilities. There are some mentioned in the book which I hadn't heard of such as the "Depth jump", which is great as the book isn't repeating ideas which are already known of. After completing some of these exercises, I did notice that my Olympic lifts improved as I was jumping more when pulling the barbell. These exercises don't require equipment which is also a huge plus!
From briefly reading the technique training sessions written in the book, I can tell that this would be very beneficial for beginners and anyone wishing to improve their technique. The sessions don't require large amounts of weight and focus upon relatively low numbers of repetitions, which is better for technique than strength building. There is a great variation within the technique based exercises which would remove the aspect of boredom if coaching a young child say. In Fact it isn't far from the normal warmup I complete before any training session or competition!
I completed all of the mobility tests mentioned in the book and I absolutely love them! It has helped me before and after training sessions to loosen up and be able to see which muscles and areas are tight without the use of my foam roller. These excellent and interesting tests are found within chapter 3 and those that I have not heard of I will definitely be completing more often. Again, this can be completed without any complex equipment.
Thanks for reading my first book review upon my website! I hope to review some more Weightlifting books within the future. Once again thank you to Dan Kent for asking me to review this excellent book, I would rate it 4.5 out of 5! Just because I would've liked to have seen some more information upon foam rolling. I recommend that if you are a beginner to Weightlifting or wanting to get started, to purchase the book from Amazon as even though I have been lifting for almost 8 years I have received insight from the book that I didn't know about.