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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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.