Training Diary: Perfect Practice and Making Heavier Lifts

So, back to weightlifting. In case you missed it, I won my division at the British Master’s Championships last month, setting a new competition PB of 127kg in the process.


I’m pleased that I won. I’m happy and touched that several friends came out to watch. But I’m not satisfied. I only made three of six lifts and didn’t even crack 70kg (my previous competition best) in the clean and jerk, let alone get close to the records I’m chasing. And I’d matched or squeaked by them both in training during February. And I really, really wanted those records. Breaking them ought to have been, as you English so winningly put it, “a piece of piss”.

Part of my failure to achieve what I should have been capable of is down to lack of experience in competition. The other part is (probably) down to having to drop about 4kg bodyweight in ten days. (In fact, I had to go for a bit of a jog after getting to the Master’s venue to drop 200g. Then I weighed in naked, because champions don’t wear underpants.)

I’m really not trying to lay all the blame on the cut, but I can’t shake the feeling that I stepped onto the platform still fairly dehydrated. Even a very small margin of dehydration can cost kilos on the bar (or seconds in the mile, or power off a swimming start, etc.).


I’ve only done two cuts now. Both were via water loading plus a bit of time on the treadmill wearing binbags, and both times I went in on the day feeling woozy and finding the warmups heavy. I’m really not keen to make it a ritual. I have been more strict with food since March in order to ensure I make weight without any fuss– or loss of “oomph”– next time.

Long-term programming

Anyway. After a discussion with King Meathead I’m now in the fourth week of a new, lower-volume programming block that’s meant to reinforce better positions and basic shit like consistently locking out jerks. It also contains some accessory work from which I am gleaning some very interesting findings:

accessory work
Lateral Dumbbell Raises 😦

The intention of the next several months is to focus on turning out the best performance possible at Master’s Worlds in October. I’d like to put up at least 157 for a total as this is a) within the range of what previous podium finishers have achieved and b) safely qualifies me for next year’s English Championships (the normal ones, not the ones for Teh Oldz). Possibly even the British, although they seem to like jumping the qualifiers for that by a largeish margin year-on-year.

Long-term programming! Positional focus! This is precisely what I was whining about wanting back in February. So why am I not quite satisfied?

Terminal Should-Itis

A lingering after effect of that two-year plateau I was stuck on is this feeling that I am only just now approaching numbers that I should have been on by the start of 2014, and that by now I should be snatching 72-75kg as a matter of routine and I should be looking at 90+kg for a clean and jerk and I should be squatting 140kg and so on ad nauseam.

I also should  be a published novelist*, should have sorted my pension, and should have found myself a more suitable haircut by now. Mainly what I should do is stop this kind of self-talk. I hear myself get into these feedback loops in my head and I just get so tired of me.

Most of us know it’s useless to compare yourself to someone else:

  • Why does she earn more than me?
  • Why did she get the guy I wanted?
  • Why did she win the fellowship when my work had the better score?

Why does it matter? You can’t control the behaviour of others. It’s bullshit thinking. Comparing yourself to an imaginary, idealised version of yourself is double-dipped, gold-dusted bullshit thinking.

But I can’t stop doing it. Anybody have any ideas?


On the actual training I have been overachieving somewhat. My current programme is percentage-based. I plug my best lifts into a spreadsheet and it spits out the loads I should work with at each session. My current actual maxes are 63 and 74 respectively, but I plugged in 70 and 80 for fun. And I have, by and large, been making the lifts and making them better. Last night, for instance, I made 8 sets of 2 no-feet snatches with 58kg (I attempted nine sets) plus a cheeky double with 61kg.

Dave says I shouldn’t do this. That it’s not about making the lifts, that it’s about perfect practise. And this is true and wise. It reminds me of the kind of thing my Dad, also a very experienced and dedicated coach, would say, except that he would say it in a New Jersey accent.

What do I say?

ww vs gorilla.gif

I say that I’m an impatient cow. I say that I understand the principle– respect it, even– but I don’t care. I say that I’ve checked in with my body and we’re all okay with these numbers, thanks. I say that I’ve been making the lifts and making them better. I say that I love watching weights that used to be might-makes become can’t-misses.

I won’t carry on plugging in ridiculous fantasy maxes once 70/80 becomes a reality. But for now, why not both?


*Actively seeking beta readers for May. Must be capable of tolerating talking bears.



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