A 19 year old fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter. I am a Level 2 Weightlifting coach, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthier 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.
Back to Blog
Coming up to two years ago now, I wrote a blog post entitled 'how six strong women inspired a generation'. It featured a lady name Judy Glenney for her inspirational roles of IWF referee, women's weightlifting coach AND because she lifted within the first official American National Women's meet! She also officiated in the first Women's World Championships and was chairwomen for the US Weightlifting federation. To put it short, she's had a very large influence on women's weightlifting today! If you'd like to read more about her, the post is linked below - you'll also find her website there.
Anyway, Judy actually ended up contacting me after I mentioned that I would love to get hold of the books she has written on weightlifting. This was such a surprise and I was really grateful to even hear from her! When she mentioned she would send me the books I was honestly ecstatic. This post is a review of one of the books which was printed in 1989 in spiral-bound form, leading me to believe that if any other copy's do exist, they're probably going to be somewhere in the states. This being one of the very first books on women’s weightlifting. I cannot wait to share what this book contains and hope it motivates some women to take up Olympic Weightlifting.
Cover and layout
I feel the cover’s title presents the book and the era it was written in very clearly. With the word ‘female’ added into the title above the word ‘weightlifter’, as if to say its uncommon for these two things to be put together or that being a female weightlifter is different to lifting as any other gender. I particularly love the artwork on the front of the book, with two muscular women completing the snatch and jerk. I think the cover is very interesting once you stare at it for a while, either sweat or maybe tears are dripping off the lifters and onto some sort of plant in the ground, hinting at feminine traits and growth within the book.
The book has no blurb, however the back page of the book provides information regarding Judy and her husband’s equipment and nutrition company. Here features a brief list of their accomplishments, mentioning that they have designed and manufactured weightlifting equipment, are international referees and have achieved numerous national and international records. Very inspirational. The first page in the book is dedicated to Jesus and Judy’s husband, which is very sweet and shows who she is as person. Judy mentioned to me that her husband has been very supportive over her weightlifting journey, which is so lovely to hear!
I cannot comment on the price of the book, however there are very few printing errors in this book. I actually only found two, nothing serious, it happens. Underneath each of the chapters there is space for the reader to make notes, which I absolutely love and think is so useful.
The book in itself is pretty thin, meaning the introduction is very brief being only a page. Judy states that many books and articles she has read have opened with the line about not wanting to lift weights, so she chose to open the book with a firm statement that the book is for those who want to lift. This really shows Judy’s enthusiasm and drive to encourage other women to lift weights. I feel compelled to mention how Judy suppressed her desire to lift weights until she had graduated from college, how frustrating it must have felt that not only were female weightlifters viewed as peculiar, but that P.E lessons did not even teach strength training! Once I am teaching, I will certainly make sure that this area does not lack. Judy reveals her struggles in competing in male-orientated weightlifting competitions, as women were not allowed to compete, this part of the introduction struck something within me. Judy is featured within the introduction, cleaning 98kg and snatching 85kg. I do love the black and white images that frequent this book. The introduction has really made me smile in that the man who introduced Judy to the Olympic lifts is now her husband.
…Strength training for women and strong women in general were almost considered “freakish".
Chapter 1: So You Want To Be An “Olympic” lifter (But What Do They Do?)
This chapter begins with something I was always commonly asked when I revealed I was an Olympic lifter: ‘are you going to be in the Olympics?’. It is interesting that even 30 years ago, Judy was asked the same questions! When introducing the lifts, the author repeatedly uses the pronoun ‘she’ and ‘her’, which is so refreshing to read as most weightlifting books usually refer to the lifter as male. This chapter expresses the differences between Olympic lifting, powerlifting and bodybuilder, which sets a foundation for the beginners who may be reading the book. Since I dabble in weightlifting and powerlifting, I am completely in support of the authors opinion in that women using weights should support other weight-related sports (powerlifting and bodybuilding etc.), that these sports should still be recognised.
Whilst introducing the components of fitness used within weightlifting, the author mentions that an individual’s body type should not stop them from getting into weightlifting. This is yet again another point I have always aimed to stress within my own blog posts after seeing varieties of body types within competition environments. Chapter one features empowering black and white images of a collection of female weightlifters, who are lifting some phenomenal weights. So far this is the only weightlifting book I have read that shows off the talents of a variety of female lifters, not just the author.
Chapter 2: Getting in shape for Weightlifting
This chapter introduces conditioning to a beginner and reminds us experienced lifters to treat our bodies kindly when returning to the sport from any form of break, not rushing to begin lifting heavy again. Judy provides some back, shoulders and leg stretching examples with images, which can be useful for those who’s bodies are not used to the strain of weightlifting. She provides visual and written instructions for the military press, front squat/split squat, upright row, bicep curl, shoulder shrug, back squat, tricep extension, calf raise, good morning, bent over row and crunches, a great variety of exercises. Judy explains that conditioning should involve 5 sets of 5 reps, working the whole body every other day. I found it interesting that Judy said that weight should be added when one can complete 8 reps on the last set, instead of working with 1RM %, I will give this a try sometime.
Chapter 3: The Clean and Jerk, A Real Challenge Of Strength
Judy stresses the importance of technique at the beginning of this chapter, especially for women as we tend to lack upper body strength in comparison to lower body strength. Judy recommends the clean and jerk to women who also partake in other sports (not just strength sports). I learnt in this chapter that due to women usually having greater amounts of lower body strength, that the power position within the clean and jerk is in our favour.
Using the reverse chain method, this chapter explains and talks the reader through the phases of the clean and jerk with key images and detailed explanations around the transition into the power position. When Judy begins to explain how the lifter should complete the clean from the ground, she mentions that they should look 3-6 feet in front of themselves. I totally agree with this point and think that nowadays it is very common for coaches to instruct their lifters to look forwards or up at the ceiling when lifting, which is incorrect. Once explaining the clean and jerk, Judy continues to discuss some exercises that will be beneficial to the lift. These being deadlift to the knees, upright rows, front squats, back squats, push press, push jerk, rack jerk and split jerk recovery. All of these exercises being explained with clarity.
Chapter 4: The Snatch: The Quick Lift
Chapter 4 is very similar to the previous chapter, however I would like to emphasise the highlighted point of ‘do not sacrifice technique for speed’. This is a very important point when learning the Snatch, one that should be iterated. This chapter contains information on how to complete the ‘top pull’ of the Snatch and a word of advice surrounding releasing the bar to avoid injuries, something that new lifters may be shy of doing. Judy often refers to chapter 3 within this chapter, meaning that my thoughts on chapter 3 can be carried over to this chapter too. The author recommends the following exercises for the Snatch: pulls from the boxes to a stick (which is placed on racks), drop snatch (or flip snatch), overhead squat, and snatch grip deadlift.
Chapter 5: Operation Adrenalin: Competition!
With lots of encouragement provided to the reader, Judy introduces how an American lifter can enter a competition. The old bodyweight categories have been stated (nostalgic, I know) and Judy instructs the reader to convert their weights in lbs to kg (something I have never had to do as a British lifter! – interesting). Judy makes a comment that is very interesting to me, that women should be weighed by other female officials and not to be afraid to ask for this person. This is something that I expect most people probably don’t know or is often the last thing on someone’s mind when they are entering a competition – very important to mention.
I sit here with a solemn look on my face as I read the words ‘Hopefully, by 1996 or 2000, women’s weightlifting will be a fully fledged medal sport in the summer Olympic Games’. Wow. It really wasn’t all that long ago that Women Weightlifting in the Olympic was seen as absurd, it disappoints me actually, that it took this long for anything to be done!
Chapter 6: Advanced Training
Judy introduces the reader to the prospect of training as a Weightlifter. She talks of Jim Schmitz (who from just a quick google, I can tell he plays a big role within US Weightlifting) and dividing training into four cycles. I am interested as to whether these cycles can be compared to macro, meso and microcycles. The structure of the program is as followed:
- One month light training – mainly assistance exercises using heavier weights and more repetitions.
- One month medium training – mainly assistance exercises using still heavier weights but less repetitions.
- Two months power – mainly assistance exercises using heavier weights and less repetitions
- Eight months competition – concentrating on technique in Olympic lifts
The book provides a helpful exercise key, reducing the amount of text on the page, which made the program easier to read.
Chapter 7: A Word About Eating
I quite like this chapter, its very simple and provides good guidance surrounding eating and lifting. There are five tips within this chapter, that I have attempted to sum up.
- Keep fat intake to a minimum, still eat them but in moderation (e.g. cheese, butter, dressings, fried food, desserts).
- Eat more lean meats as a protein source.
- One’s diet should contain many carbohydrates to aid working out (e.g., pasta, potatoes, fruit and veg, wholegrains).
- Eat 4-5 smaller meals a day, rather than 3 big ones
- Take multi-vitamins and amino acids (if you want to).
I would take it as a basic guideline that is not far away from the eat well plate. To my readers that are youth lifters, fat is not bad for you in small amounts, try not to become calorie-counting obsessed like I once did.
Thankyou for reading this post! I've really enjoyed writing all my thoughts down whilst I read this book and thankfully, I get to do it again once I get started on Judy's second book. Her second book focuses on her pioneering the sport, which I'm hoping will spark the attention of other female lifters, giving Judy the recognition she deserves.
Back to Blog
If you're reading this, chances are you've been brought here by an algorithm. If not, all your very much 'conscious' and 'not' determined social media choices have led you to read this very sentence. This is a post that I never imagined myself writing. This post is more to provide clarity on a matter of recent changes and experiences, mainly targeted towards my own generation. However, it may influence others too. To hear my point, I beg of you to scroll.
To begin, I just finished watching a documentary called 'The Social Dilemma', it is available on Netflix or other options like free streaming services. This post comes from my room at midnight because of this documentary, as eye opening as it really is. It's been 5 months since I last wrote on here and when doing so, nothing felt like it mattered due to the pandemic situation. Having covid-19 myself and still being under my normal weight and strength limits, really hits hard when you see how hard other people are working within their fancy home gyms. Whilst you're simply hoping for your club to reopen, purely to coach again! So you don't have to face the reality of how far behind strength-wise you have became. This situation still being the present reality for our local Weightlifting club that situates in a deprived area, of a Youth Centre. So since then, not much activity from myself. Safe to say, it is difficult to face the reality of falling behind on your progression within a sport.
So there lies my current situation. Starting University being the best and also at times, the worst thing that ever happened to me. An element of competition in which your place in the race relies on how you feel that day or week or month, that then represents the future. Add in the mix of the controlling nature of social media and you've got yourself some trouble. I'm talking about the repetitive nature of scrolling, constantly reading about other peoples lives and being enticed by notifications. Rather than creating hobbies for yourself and learning. If I asked you what you did yesterday on social media, could you tell me? Because I certainly wouldn't remember. I did a simple calculation and guessed that I (on average) may spend 5-7hrs per day on my phone. Having social media since I was 11, works out to be 2 and a half years of my life (so far) spent on social media. Algorithms will only become more clever, phones are only going to become more addicting and time is only going to go quicker in this current state.
By my change in tone in this post, it may be notifiable that in attempt to stress the importance of this, I know the impact of this year has taken a toll on a lot of people. Whether that involves people in sports or not. In my opinion, young people's mental health is immensely declining due to this pandemic. If it's not the strange rules we must abide by, it may be how easily it is to distract ourselves with social media and to refrain from normal hobbies, simply because 'it's easier' or the only thing we've known to do. Or maybe its the idea that other generations may believe that students and young people are to blame? Public verbal abuse being thrown around throughout my time at University. But that's a rant for another platform...
My main point is, if you are regretting how you have spent the past few months in lockdown or abiding by rules and being distracted by social media.
That was my short, but hopefully eye-opening post. Linked below is the social dilemma's website, notifying how you can reduce social media hours.
Back to Blog
I was transferring all my old programs, programs I've written for the kids I coach and training programs I had to design for school work/coaching course assessments over to my laptop. That was when I decided I'd provide some basic advice on how to design a training program. Obviously most popular clubs, gyms and businesses will charge for programs, prices can actually be pretty extortionate and you could probably learn to write one for yourself if you're clever and patient enough! Some programs are worth the money though, getting the feedback from an experienced competitor and coach. The good thing about writing programs is that if you aren't experienced in writing them, you can learn through trial and error! I view it as, there is always room for improvements and new knowledge to learn surrounding training and sports in general, with dissertations and research being produced all the time! I enjoy volunteering to coach the OASIS Squad lifters, so I've always produced (and learnt from) creating free programs in my spare time. In fact, I've never had a program written for me and any I've trialled online have never suited me. You know your body best! So if you aren't sure where to start, and are feeling patient enough, please continue reading.
Periodisation and Aims
Before you begin writing your program you want to think about periodisation and the aims of the program. The periodisation of your program should fall under one of these three categories:
Percentages and PB's
When writing a program for myself, I tend to stick with a macrocyle but write the mesocycles only a couple of months in advance, since I never really know what comps might pop up and might get cancelled/ replaced with other plans. I also fit my program around my coaching and exams, so if I did write a macrocycle a year in advance, I think I would probably fall behind. However I believe anything is worth a try. I aim to write 12 four week training programs that I complete within the year, however since I've been doing this for a while now, I tend to jump back and re-complete old programs that I enjoyed and which worked for me.
Back in March, I trained 4x per week with 2 active rest sessions, so my mesocycle would consist of 16-24 individual sessions. My lifter's programs consist of 10-12 individual sessions per mesocycle. We tend to have Personal best re-evaluations every 4-6 weeks (at the end of the mesocycle), these are then used to calculate or alter the next mesocycle training program based on percentage of one rep max. However, we feel that if one of the lifters in feeling particularly strong and able on a normal training night, that they can attempt a personal best. Personally, I don't do this within my own training.
Here's an example of how the increase in % of 1RM looked in my older programs (for myself).
I try to keep up with the latest research produced surrounding training, weightlifting and coaching. My coach sends me stuff, I read a lot, test theories out myself, research what has worked for other people on strength forums and have joined many Facebook groups surrounding coaching science (this I absolutely recommend). Catalyst athletics being the most reliable source I've found so far, my coach has had his fair amount of input in their sites comment section now. I also recommend (as any coach should) attending webinars and seminars, getting as much CPD as possible. I found my level 1 and level 2 weightlifting courses the most educational and best coaching experience to date! You learn so much from observing other coaches. Sometimes I like to sit in the warm-up room and spot the things other coaches do, that I don't. Then, I hope my brain has picked up the good bits to try out later with my own lifters!! Hahaha.
Regarding % of 1RM, I found information from www.cdearperformance.com very interesting. It reads:
Choosing assistant exercises
For a Weightlifter, you'll stick with the main lifts of the Clean and Jerk and Snatch, following on with maybe some complexes (versions of the lift) and any of the following that I use:
Some exercises for Powerlifters may include any of the following (including the main three lifts):
Thankyou for reading! I enjoyed writing this and hope I can share more surrounding the intricacies of my future programs. Take care, Niyah.
Back to Blog
Wow so this is my first post of 2020 huh! Not exactly been feeling the most motivated to write a post this year, but now that i’ve got a lot of time on my hands, my blog post list is pretty extensive. I’ve been lifting significantly less during lockdown, but painting, teaching myself stuff, reading and getting back into riding my bike more. I’m not going to mention how many hours i’ve been playing video games for, but let’s just say that despite the lovely weather I am still as pale as I was pre-lockdown. I’ve been using zoom to teach some young kids some irish dancing steps, which has been nice, so I figured i’d attempt to use this platform to teach anybody some basic Sports psychology knowledge. I’ve enjoyed reading and making notes on this stuff for the past few months, so I hope you enjoy this read.
My coach originally introduced me to this theory and i wrote about it in another post. I probably don’t love it as much as him, but from what I've read recently there's a lot more to it than I wrote previously and he told me about.
Attribution can be defined as ‘How people (in this case athletes/coaches) justify successes and failures.’ Attributions can be placed into either of these categories:
- Stability (Permanent or unstable)
- Causality (Is the reason for attribution external or internal?)
- Control (Is the reason for attribution under your control or not?)
Then under those headers are the titles winning or losing, for example:
- Stable: I was better than my opponent
- Unstable: I got lucky
- Internal: I tried hard
- External: My opponent was easy to beat
- Under control: I trained really hard
- Not under control: He wasn't as strong as me
The reasons for losing are opposite of the reasons for winning. If you'd like to read more about the attribution theory, then please read the post below.
Attentional cues and focus types
I particularly enjoyed learning about this topic, so i'll go into more detail where I can.
Relevant attentional cues (these directly affect performance)
- Position of teammates
- Position of opposition
- Flight of ball/ Progression of the weight on the bar per attempt
Selective attention helps to focus on a specific relevant cue and block out irrelevant ones
Divided attention focuses on multiple relevant cues, to complete multi-tasking
Irrelevant cues (these distract from overall performance)
- Crowd noise
- Insults from opposition
There are four attentional focus types (Internal, External, Broad, Narrow), that come under the headers of direction dimension or width dimension, the meanings of these headers don't matter in this post.
- Internal: Attention is directed towards your own thoughts and feelings (E.g: Mentally rehearsing performance could help an athlete to relax before an event)
- External: Attention is directed towards a relevant external factor (E.g: Judging the flight of the ball or positioning of opponents)
- Broad: Taking in and interpreting lots of information to make decisions during play. This being important for a Centre in Netball, as they are constantly moving around the court and are often used as a connection between players who are limited in where they can play.
- Narrow: Only having 1-2 pieces of information to take in to be able to make your next 'play'. I feel that Weightlifting is a good example of this, I've seen many lifters (including myself) jump up only 1kg on their last lift and fail. My coach likes to describe this as 'the straw that broke the camel's back', it can be very much hit or miss in Weightlifting if you misjudge how close to a failed lift you may have been only prior to the weight increase or misjudge how well warm-ups are going.
The relationship between cohesion and performance
Cohesion can be defined as a dynamic reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in order to reach group goals and objectives, a sports team or club in this instance.
Cohesion impacts the performance in interactive teams rather than co-active teams.
Interactive teams: Team members will directly interact and coordinate with each other to achieve successful performance (E.g. Ball teams)
Co-active teams: No direct interaction during performance, but rather through individual events to achieve overall team success (E.g. Gymnastics team, School athletics competition or a Team weightlifting competition).
The cohesion-performance relationship is CIRCULAR okay? So if members of a netball team win regularly they may then get along better. This leads to them more likely being successful due to further improvements in performance. Then this continues to repeat.
So what helps to increase cohesion between a team? Well i'm going to tell you the team-member strategies. I'd tell you the coach strategies but my coach once told me to never educate your competitors, and in this sense, this means other coaches rather than team members!!
Team member strategies to improve cohesion
- Be responsible for your own activities (E.g. Loading your on barbell, timing yourself for athletics events, clearing up after yourself - certainly for my lifters anyways!)
- Resolve conflict quickly
- Try as hard as possible
- Get to know each other
- Help eachother through advice and motivation
Thanks for reading this post! I hope it provided somebody with something to do in these difficult times.
Back to Blog
Just a short blog post to keep track of this years progress (in relation to my past two blog posts in 2018 and 2017).
Olympic Weightlifting wise, my personal bests have not increased as much as I would've liked them to. However, I did hit my goal of Clean and Jerking my body weight (47kg) and I have since lifted this weight whilst only weighing 45kg. My snatch personal best has increased to 34kg and I am not far off 35kg. My Snatch technique was a bit wobbly at the start of the year as I could not get out of the bad habit of power snatching, that has now resolved itself.
This year I competed in my first Powerlifting competition (North West Juniors) and gained 6 North West records in the SubJunior -47kg Category. Later on in the year, I travelled 100 miles to compete in the British Junior Championships in Northumberland scoring myself 15 Records (2 British, 4 English and 9 North West records). I placed first and achieved a deadlift personal best of 100kg! My best lifts were: 60kg Squat, 35kg Benchpress and my 100kg Deadlift, making me a British -47kg Subjunior Champion. My personal bests for these lifts are: Squat- 63kg, Bench- 38kg, Deadlift- 100kg.
I completed my level 2 Weightlifting Coaching course this year, making me a fully qualified coach. I have enjoyed coaching and programming the OASIS Weightlifting Squad (OWLS), helping our young 6-7 year old lifters enjoy the sport and coaching the under 15's in competitions.
Irish dance wise, we have performed quite a bit this year and I can pick up steps much quickly than I could last year. We are starting a dance that has a focus on rhythm and has no music, we will perform this in 2020 (video will be posted on my Instagram).
Here are some targets I have set for myself:
Clean and Jerk: 49kg or more
Snatch: 35kg or more
Squat: 65kg or more
Benchpress: 40kg or more
Deadlift: 105kg or more
Coach within a British or English Youth competition
Gain my Weightlifting technical officials qualification
Enter more Powerlifting competitions and hopefully qualify for the British Juniors again
A decade summarized
The end of 2019 will be my official ending of a decade in the sport of Weightlifting, I came into the decade merely lifting a 15kg Women's bar, not being as technically sound as I am now and having no idea about the tactics of coaching. I had never really tired Powerlifting and I still did gymnastics! This sport has really helped me to grow and tackle anxieties throughout this decade. I cant wait to see where the next 10 years take me, as I am starting a degree in Physical Education next September. See you in the new year!
Back to Blog
I was scouring for blog post ideas this week (since I've finished one of my BTEC courses, so I have more time to write posts) and I found an old idea of mine hidden within the notes of my phone. I always find it historical and almost overwhelming that it was only in the year 2000 that Women were allowed to compete as Weightlifters within the Olympics. It sometimes shocks me that its not talked about very often and seems to be a topic that's brushed under the carpet in the sport. To think, if Women could've competed within the Olympics as Weightlifters before 2000 how many more successful Female Weightlifters could've made history! So within this post, I thought I'd highlight the inspiring female Weightlifting figures who were the first to compete in world championships, change history or win their categories.
Born in 1884, Catherine Brumbach (Katie Sandwina) was an Austrian born circus strong woman. Women Weightlifting was viewed as a circus or freak-show act during this time period. Reading about Catherine, her act involved many men and women attempting to beat her in a wrestling competition and some lifting events. One day, Catherine defeated a famous strongman as she lifted near to 300lbs over her head (the man only lifting the weight to his chest). Since beating this strongman, Catherine adopted the stage name 'Sandwina' as a female derivative for the strongman's last name.
Sandwina's act progressed and she eventually showed many individuals her talent of being able to lift her 75kg husband above her head (Not to mention this was completed with one arm!). She was also able to bend steel bars and pull the weight of four horses. Sadly, Catherine and her act of Katie Sandwina died of cancer in 1952. Her amazing start to the 'phenomena' of Women Weightlifting will always be historical. She set the standards for the maximum amount of weight that a Woman could lift above her head (130kg).
Dr Karyn Marshall
Four years after the death of Katie Sandwina, Karyn Marshall was born and ready to break the record that Katie had set, this was the kick-start to Women's Weightlifting. This record was broken when Karyn lifted 131kg and earned herself a place within the Guinness Sport Record Book. Competing as a 76kg+ and 82.5kg+ lifter, Karyn became the first Woman in history to officially Clean and Jerk more than 136kg, she lifted 137kg (303lbs). This is available to watch on Youtube when searching for 'Karyn Marshall'. Achieving 60 American Records and including 8 World Records, Karyn's achievements and lifting ability was clearly phenomenal! She was named the 'Worlds most powerful Female', and proud she should've felt to hold that title. Prior to this, Karyn had been competing against Men, before it was confirmed that a Women's National Weightlifting Competition would be formed. She had even been refused to be acknowledged at placing first, all because she was a Woman.
Karyn also gained silver medals within some International/ World competitions in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990. The 1987 World Champiosnhips only being a few weeks after the historically known Wall-Street Crash (impacting Karyn as a analyst and regular trader), she was working many extra hours but still gained a World Record Total of 220kg, winning the Women's World Championships. The 1989 Womens International championships being in Manchester (which is an hour away from where I reside) makes me wish I was born just two decades earlier! Viewing the results from that competition, it is clear that Karyn dominated the leader board, placing in the Clean and Jerk, Snatch and Total. This was also where Karyn achieved a world record 110kg Snatch and an outstanding total of 240kg.
People think women weightlifters are squat and muscle-bound, with all the intelligence of amoebas. - Dr Karyn Marshall
Although Karyn is well known as a Female Weightlifter who made history within the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame, I thought it was important to honor that Karyn was a first responder and volunteered as a chiropractor to help those involved in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Learning about Karyn from writing this post has been very inspiring. She holds the title of Dr and works as a Chiropractor. In 2006, Karyn made a comeback at the age of 50 and achieved a National Total Record of 143kg. Placing 6th in World at the 2011 Cross fit Masters Games, Karyn now coaches Weightlifting and crossfit. She must be proud to not only say that she is a survivor of the gender-biased era surrounding Weightlifting, but that she is also a fighter and survivor of many years with Breast Cancer. Karyn's best ever lifts stand at 112.5kg Snatch, 137.5kg Clean and Jerk, and a 247.5kg Total. To read more about Karyn Marshall, visit her site below:
I think I project femininity and intelligence, which people may not think is possible. When people start looking at us as athletes and not oddities, we will be better off. - Dr Karyn Marshall
The next Woman I would like to introduce within this post is a remarkable lady named Judy Glenney. Born in 1949, Judy has had a successful career achieving titles as a National Weightlifting Champion and becoming an International Weightlifting Federation Referee and Women's Coach. I specifically wanted to mention Judy Glenney within this post since she lifted within the first official American National Women's meet. She began competing within the early 70's just for fun and not for any form of trophy or medal. She also officiated in the first Women's World Championships in 1987, followed by officiating the first feature of Women competing within the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Whilst competing herself gaining five Gold medals within World Masters Championships, a Gold medal in the World Masters Games and several Gold national Championship medals; Judy was also chairwoman for the United States Weightlifting Federation.
I had always been interested in testing my strength, but growing up that’s just something girls didn’t do. - Judy Glenney
I am sure that Judy was involved in bringing Women's Weightlifting into the Olympic Games and how thrilling it must've been when Women's Weightlifting officially became an Olympic sport! Judy's best Snatch lift was 82.5kg, her best Clean and Jerk lift was 97.5kg and her best Total was 172.5kg. Due to all of Judy's coaching, officiating and lifting; she was titled the 'Strongest Woman in History'. In 1989, Judy wrote a book entitled 'So you want to be a female Weightlifter'. This included adaptations to the Weightlifting technique due to a Woman's anatomy and physiology, if I ever find out how I can purchase a copy, it'll be an amazing Weightlifting book to review upon this site! More recently, Judy teaches Tennis, circuit training, weight training and many more physical activities. To read more about Judy Glenney, visit her site below:
Karnam was the first Indian Woman to compete within an Olympic games and the first Indian Woman to represent the sport of Weightlifting. I've mentioned the infamous Sydney 2000 Games quite a bit now, what a phenomenal competition that would've been to watch! Within this competition, Karnam received a Bronze medal in the 69kg category achieving a 240kg Total (110kg Snatch, 130kg Clean and Jerk). Karnam also achieved a World title in the 54kg Class, placing 2nd in '94 and winning in '95. She has gained an incredible 29 International Medals and 11 Gold Medals, Karnam is continuing to put her effort into the sport through creating an Indian foundation for Weightlifting, see her website below:
Dr Kulsoom Abdullah
Not only was Kulsoom Abdullah the first Female Weightlifter to represent Pakistan in the 2011 World Championships, but she was also the first Female Weightlifter to be allowed to compete wearing a full body outfit. Usually, Weightlifters are made to wear a singlet which reveals the arms and legs of an individual. After being denied the right to compete, Kulsoom changed history in 2011 when she was allowed to wear a unitard, which respected her religious views. Thankfully, the IWF modified the rules to allow for this to happen, meaning that more Women with religious views like Kulsoom's will now be allowed to compete whilst feeling comfortable in what they are wearing. She was also the first Female Weightlifter to wear a hijab within a competition, which must be inspiring to other Women and young girls who can also compete whilst up keeping their religious views. After all, the sport of Weightlifting should allow for anyone to compete and modifications should be made to ensure that everyone can experience the feeling of being strong. Kulsoom Abdullah is also a computer engineer with a PHD, giving her the title of Dr. She has a website entitled 'lifting covered' which is linked below.
In a contemplative world, we would think about how to come up with attire that would bring out the best in all competitors, regardless what their religious or personal level of modesty is. This is not a beauty contest, not a religious litmus test. - Dr Kulsoom Abdullah
I have known of Zoe Smith for the longest I can remember, my Grandad/Coach has always preached and praised her name throughout my life as a Weightlifter. She was the first English Woman to win a Commonwealth Games Weightlifting medal, this was in 2010 when she won a Bronze medal as a 58kg lifter. Zoe now holds four British Clean and Jerk records, her 121kg Clean and Jerk being achieved at the London 2012 Games. Zoe has also achieved two Bronze European Medals and one Bronze, Silver and Gold Commonwealth Games Medal, lifting as a 58kg and 63kg lifter. Zoe has always been an inspiration to me and I'm sure many other Weightlifters would say the same! As such a young, hard-working lady she has progressed so much within the sport (even after overcoming her Shoulder injury that I watched on the live stream). Zoe definitely has a bright future ahead of her!
I totally empathise with women when they say they find it quite intimidating. Until you find your stride, it is very intimidating. - Zoe Smith
Thank you for reading this blog post of mine, it has been very enjoyable to learn about the backgrounds and records that these strong and clever Women have achieved! Disclaimer: I do not hold the rights to the images and quotes upon this blog post, below is a list of references.
Katie Sandwina Image 1:
Karyn Marshall Lifting Image 1:
Karyn Marshall Block Quote 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karyn_Marshall
Karyn Marshall Image 2: Redbankgreen.com
Karyn Marshall Block Quote 2: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-07-29-sp-145-story.html
Judy Glenney Image 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bklemens/22416070949
Judy Glenney Block Quote:
Karnam Malleswari Image 1:
Kulsoom Abdullah Image 1:
Kulsoom Abdullah Block Quote:
Zoe Smith Image 1: https://www.martin-macdonald.com/testimonial/zoe-smith
Zoe Smith Block Quote: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/weightlifting/2019/05/14/olympic-weightlifter-zoe-smith-depression-confidence-still-intimidated/
Back to Blog
I completed my Level 2 Coaching course at my own club (Oasis Weightlifting Club) based in Ellesmere Port (North West of England). This took place over a period of two days which were spread out over a week (The 11th and the 18th of August). This week gave each of us time to form several session plans and a specific session plan that we would deliver to the rest of the group on the second day. This specific course, once completed allows for you to become an official Weightlifting coach. In order for you to be insured by British Weightlifting and to be allowed in the warm up room at a competition, you must then purchase a coaching license for £40. I was very lucky in that I didn't have to pay for my own course, I believe the initial price is £500 (there are discounts for British Weightlifting members).
If you are looking to complete your level 2 certificate in coaching Weightlifting, I suggest that you check out what British Weightlifting have to offer on their site (linked below). Note: In order to complete a Level 2 coaching certificate in Weightlifting you must already hold a UKCC Level 1 Award in Coaching Weightlifting or a BWLA Level 2 Award in Instructing Weight Training.
My preparation and experience after my level 1 award
I only had 7 months in between my Level 1 award and my Level 2 Certificate (most people have around a year), but I feel that I found my own methods of coaching over these months and learnt more about coaching from my own coaches experiences. I ensured that I included more fun games at the end of my clubs sessions, which really allowed the lifters to know that sport is meant to be fun as well as competitive. I tried and tested many different games, some which younger lifters preferred to older lifters. I feel that this enabled me to learn more about my lifters as people, this meaning that I could recognize when they were performing to their best or if they simply didn't enjoy a specific exercise. I didn't coach as much as I could've between January and August as I had various competitions I had to prepare for, so I focused more upon my personal training. However, I still felt prepared for the Level 2 certificate through reading some past course material from my coach and from the help of note-taking whilst completing the online-learning material. If you would like to read my level 1 coaching award review, please view the link below.
Online Learning: Review
From just reading the modules that were in the online learning section of the course, I assumed that I would struggle to comprehend and recall the information surrounding anatomy and nutrition. However, most of this content I had already covered within my Btec Sport Level 3 extended certificate. I definitely learnt more about other topics surrounding Weightlifting within the online learning material. I especially enjoyed the Level 2 module entitled 'Effective Communication'. This included subjects such as: Self reflection, Sports Psychology and Advanced coaching. I feel that this is the type of information and knowledge that may be neglected by a coach who doesn't have their Level 2 certificate yet. I was really pleased that this information was accessible from an Ipad as my laptop had recently broken and I was stressing out about how I was going to complete the online learning modules.
Similarly to the Level 1 coaching award modules, there were grammatical mistakes within the e-learning content. This time, some of the information I found difficult to read and understand due to spelling errors. When I've eventually gotten through a long list of things I have to do (hence why this post is 2 months late), I might contact British Weightlifting to make them aware of this.
Contact with the course tutor
I had the same course tutor that I had for my Level 1 award, this made me feel somewhat less worried about completing my level 2 certificate. My course tutor has been brilliant and very helpful throughout both of these coaching courses and I cannot thank her enough for giving me honest feedback about my coaching and emailing me some guidance sheets surrounding programming sessions for youths. My level 2 coaching course included myself and initially four other males, I was a little worried that I might have felt uncomfortable with this. However, both the other participants and the course tutor all made me feel very included throughout the course.
Summary of the course: Day 1
The first day really progressed from the basics of the Level 1 course. I felt that even within the first few hours of the course, that we had all demonstrated our coaching abilities and backgrounds. I felt that within this course, I got to know the other participants better. Whether this was due to the experience I had developed over the 7 months, an increase in maturity, or whether this was due to the tasks within the course making us work better as partners and as a group. I particularly enjoyed the part of the course which allowed for us to partner up and coach each other. There was a slight spin to this which involved the lifter closing their eyes or the coach not being able to use verbal cues. I believe that this truly showed the coaching skills that are required to coach those who have a visual or hearing impairment.
We were familiarized with some common lift derivatives (which we were then able to demonstrate and coach), we were also able to coach the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk to each other. We were provided with a refresher involving warm ups and a cool downs. As a group, we were given the opportunity to improvise and create fun warm up games. A lot of the coaching practice upon the first day was to prepare us for our main assessment within the next week. The week break in between the two course days allowed for us to curate six progressive training programs (three for each Olympic lift), I also coached these sessions before and after the second day. Attached below is an example of one of my six sessions. Please note: This work is my own and if you intend to copy a 17 year old's hand-written program, then that is very low of you.
Summary of the course: Day 2
Before we were to coach our full session plan to the rest of the group, we were able to practice a part of our session (allowing for confidence to be built). In the morning we were also taught the basics of a back squat and a deadlift. Each session had to include a warm up, main session (with a focus upon one of the Olympic lifts), and a cool down. I really enjoyed coaching my session to the rest of the group and I enjoyed learning from the ways that the others coached.
The following information is the feedback that I received after delivering my session:
How did the course benefit me?
I'm not going to lie to you, when I got home after this course I was so stressed out and exhausted from the pressure I put on myself to do well that I just bursted into tears. So I can see why they limit the age to completing the course to a minimum of 17 years old. It's a lot of hard work for me to socialise for long periods of time when I'm not in the mood for it, so sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed. I am to blame since I decided to start learning the online learning material only 4 days prior to the course and that I tend to only remember the bad in every situation, until after a few weeks when I can fully evaluate my experience. This is just a personal issue of mine and in no way at all has anything to do with the course content or level. I left this blog post a bit late so that I had a clear conscious when writing it, otherwise I would just completely break down any form of positive vibes surrounding my own coaching.
The day after I finished the course (even whilst holding the mindset that I was the worst coach in the world), I decided to coach the youths in my club. This meant that I have had to train early or late and stay at the venue for an extra few hours. Since this day, I am proud to say that I have routinely kept this up. The youths that I coach are now very familiar with my expectations of them, how I set out their programs and sessions that I coach and where they are allowed to have choices involving rep ranges, weight (depending upon illness and how they feel on the day) and the games we play to cool down. I have learnt from my mistakes and I am rising above them. Now our club has six male youths who are all eager to lift and as much as they can sometimes be a pain in the bum, if they keep it up I am confident that my coaching and their abilities to lift are going to strive.
Thank you for reading my course review, somehow I've managed to write this in only 2 hours (record time!). Just thought I would add a point that it would be amazing if British Weightlifting would introduce some additional coaching courses relating into Weightlifting and impairments, learning difficulties and disabilities. I would 100% attend a course that meant as I coach I would become more familiar with how to reduce barriers to the sport and to make a sporting environment more comfortable for these individuals. Although I have coached individuals with hearing impairments and learning difficulties before, it would be great if British Weightlifting could shed some light upon the topic of coaching these individuals.
Back to Blog
This blog post is a review of the book entitled 'It's Not A Fecking Pull' written by Commonwealth Games Champion and British record holder, Michaela Breeze MBE. Although Michaela and I have not officially spoken, she presented a medal to me back in 2015 at the British Schools Championships at Oldbury Academy. I must admit, being only thirteen years old at the time, I had no idea who Michaela Breeze was! (Although I knew she must've been somebody important, as she was presenting the medals and my coach made a big deal out of it). A few years after that competition, I stumbled across Michaela's Instagram and I have since kept up with her posts and her insightful Weightlifting advice. I have been really excited to read and review this book, so I hope that you enjoy reading my review.
Cover and layout
The front cover of this book really stands out to me. Not only have we got the pop of colour from the Eleiko weights, but the lifting position Michaela is demonstrating is very relevant to the title of the book. This phase of the lift is demonstrating what a Weightlifter should do instead of the misconception of pulling with the arms or swinging the barbell out from the hips. It is really nice to see Michaela fully kitted-out on the cover, it suits the covers' exclamation alongside with the bold title. The blurb of this book is concise and shows that this book is mixture of her autobiographical accounts and her advice from over the past three decades of Weightlifting.
I particularly enjoyed the layout (and not just because my copy is signed). Before each part of the book, Michaela writes about her own stories as a Weightlifter which relates well into what is being discussed within the next chapter. Because of this, I actually believe I read the book quicker and absorbed more information since I was eager to understand how Michaela's story related into the advice she was giving. With some books, grammar errors slip through. There were some that I spotted within the book, but nothing that completely deferred me from understanding the point of the sentences. I am guessing there was a printing error involving page numbers from chapter 2 onwards, but this does not reflect the quality of the Weightlifting information in the book itself. Throughout the book, Michaela also refers back to other chapters. This is great if there are pages and chapters that the reader needs reminding about.
The price of this book being only £20 is astounding, from the amount that I have learnt from this book, I am impressed that this level and depth of knowledge into the sport of Weightlifting is not being sold for more! This book is by far worth every penny, whether you are a beginner to Weightlifting or an experienced coach.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click on the image to be directed to the Publishers website to purchase a copy.
Straight away Michaela gets to the point that technique is important, which again really shows the coaching principles she follows. I loved every bit of honesty portrayed within this introduction, even surrounding the risky topic of National Governing Bodies. Michaela's personality seems to shine in the idea that she is independent and that she has been through all ups and downs within Weightlifting. I mean, to be an incredible female Weightlifter during an era when Women weren't really viewed as 'socially acceptable to compete'; Michaela truly has lived through the sport even at its most adverse times. The opinions and morals that were presented within the introduction were later elaborated on within the chapters, I much prefer opinions mixed with facts over a book containing nothing but factual information.
"The technical and mental sides to the sport are often neglected." - Michaela Breeze
Part one: Getting started
The first part to Michaela's story explains Michaela's background within Weightlifting as a beginner and her progression into a Commonwealth games champion. It's personal, interesting and opinionated; I love it. This part also impacted an educational decision of mine. From my own personal perspective, I am currently writing my personal statement for University. I was 90% sure I wanted to pursue a course in Physical Education and Sport and 10% keen to pursue a course related to Health and Social Care. The reason I wasn't 100% sure about taking a degree in Physical Education was because I wanted to still be able progress within my Weightlifting out of the career and still include Coaching Weightlifting within my life. I found out that Michaela was a PE Teacher and that she learnt Weightlifting from her school PE teacher. I thought to myself that I've always wanted to teach Weightlifting within a school environment and how much Michaela progressed from teaching PE to coaching Weightlifting seminars, so here I am now: 100% sure I want to pursue a degree in Physical Education.
Chapter one and two included understandable terminology that isn't going to confuse a beginner nor be too basic for an experienced Weightlifter or coach. Scientific terminology within books is really not for me when it comes down to learning about the technical model and principles that a coach holds. I felt that the information within the book wasn't biased towards a particular audience; I was able to relate and understand concepts from my point of view as a Coach and a Weightlifter. Michaela discusses what works for her as a coach and doesn't just base her knowledge upon what has been assumed as factual for years within the sport. This book is definitely a refresher for the technically old-minded ones, that is what makes it stand out from other Weightlifting books. Shifting further into Chapter 2, I feel that the absence of using the word 'pull' within Michaela's technical model will be a step forwards for many lifters and coaches. I don't want to reveal too much about the technical model, but I must mention that I couldn't agree more that British Weightlifting should change the phrase of 'First and Second Pull' to an alternative term.
I related to chapter 3 quite a bit. I write my own training programs and sessions for the youths I coach. This chapter highlights how you can analyse your lifts. I actually watched back some of my old videos to spot the technical errors that Michaela mentioned; I would now know how to fix these errors if presented with them again or if one of my youth lifters developed a technical issue. I believe that these small adjustments will allow for me to make better gains in the future and will make the lifts within my program feel more challenging.
I felt that chapter 4 really expanded upon some of Michaela's Instagram videos (@MichaelaBreeze). For example, she showed an expansion of knowledge surrounding the topic of foam rolling, some of this which I'd also seen upon her Instagram. A lot of Weightlifting content and tips is online nowadays, so it's really nice to receive more content within a physical book. This also helps for those without access to social media to still read updated information surrounding Weightlifting. There were many descriptions of 'how to lift' within this chapter. I found this information easy to comprehend and I believe it is definitely possible for a coach to teach straight from this book or for a beginner to teach themselves. I learnt a lot from this chapter, including why lifters complete the exercise of 'pulls'. I also learnt insight upon how to coach crossfitters who are practicing Weightlifting movements; I have never coached a crossfitter before. A big thing within this chapter was all about Michaela showing her Weightlifting advice through her past lifting experiences. She highlighted areas surrounding injury prevention and plyometric training, although this didn't contain too much detail, just enough information was provided to keep me further intrigued in the topics.
Part two: Reaching the top
My story and chapter 5
This was probably my favourite chapter of them all. The 'my story' introduction to this chapter was amazing to read and really helps you to understand Michaela's perspective during her competitive days. I already knew she was a great coach, but her background story is rather inspirational. Her personal experiences definitely show her off as a coach. "This taught me that no one cares about you in sport unless you are achieving results", as sad as this may seem, this is still a principle that still stands today. Obviously from this experience, Michaela shows that she cares about her athletes and not just the athletes who are national and international competitors. This chapter features mental discussion and competition preparation, a lot of the information and tips I have never heard of before surrounding this. I'm definitely going to try the methods she mentioned about getting over mental blocks.
Chapter 6, 7 and 8
Chapter 6 contained programming information which wasn't tailored, but included just enough information to act as a guideline to any coach or beginner that wants to begin Weightlifting. Chapter 7 talked about what to eat post weigh-in, I've never really thought about reading up around the topic as I usually weigh-in easily so don't feel as if what I eat should be a huge focus. However, this chapter has completely changed my views surrounding the importance of food after a competition weigh-in. The topic of anti-doping is discussed within Chapter 8. This is a huge interest of mine and I'm glad the topic was written in a manner that people can see that doping should be stopped.
Part three: Coaching
My story and chapter 9
Michaela's competition stories are really exciting to read and I was kind of saddened that this was the last part to her story. From reading all of the inserts from her life, I can say that she has worked incredibly hard throughout her sporting career. It makes you realise that everything is achievable if you put the effort in. Michaela talks about the responsibility that a coach must have over their athlete and she is completely right! If the athlete is prepared and dedicated, then the coach should be too. Chapter 9 featured some interesting and different topics such as: parents, growth spurts, fun in training, warm-up room tactics and that some males are very weight focused rather than having the view that their technique will get the weight up there (this one is from personal experience!).
"The harder you work, the luckier you get" - Michaela Breeze
Thank you for reading this book review. I've learnt twenty new pieces of information from this book! All which I will apply either into my coaching, training or competing. This book has been amazing to read and has definitely changed my opinions and perspectives upon certain topics in Weightlifting; I would rate it 5/5. Thank you to Dan Kent who kindly asked if I would review Michaela's book. This was a very generous offer and I have very much enjoyed reviewing another book for Powerful Ideas Press.