A 20 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.
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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.