News Archives - JustLift

News

Home/News

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

There will be no classes on Monday, Oct. 12.

Open Gym 3:30pm – 6:30pm.

Make sure to eat all the food and rest up!

By |October 10th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Happy Turkey Day!

OWA Fall 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Update 2015-11-17
The start list is now available here:

OWA Fall Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift Start List

Schedule:
10:00am – Session 1 Weigh-in
11:00am – Session 2 Weigh-in
11:45am – Session 1 Presentation of Athletes
12:00pm – Session 1 Start
1:45pm – Session 2 Presentation of Athletes
2:00pm – Session 2 Start

When: November 21, 2015

Where: JustLift (895 Churchill Ave South, Ottawa, ON)

It’s time for the next OWA Again Faster Club Challenge! JustLift will again be taking part and inviting all other OWA clubs to join us that need a venue with officials. This competition is open to all registered OWA clubs and their registered lifters. An OWA “General” athlete membership ($50) is required to participate. Athletes who plan on competing at any meet with a qualifying standard, the JR championships, out-of-province, or Nationally/Internationally need an OWA “Elite” athlete membership ($80).

The Again Faster Club Challenge Series will consist of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer Competitions (4 in total), with the overall winner being decided after the Summer 2016 event.

Competition Registration:
JustLift Members: $10/athlete payable to JustLift, we’ll take care of the team registration with the OWA.

Non-Members: $25/athlete payable to JustLift + Team Fees payable to the OWA.

Non-Member individual registration here:
Eventbrite - OWA Fall 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Registration forms for Team fees are available here:
http://www.onweightlifting.ca/#!hybrid-club-competitions/c3zm

Registration forms for Individual Fees payable to JustLift will be available online or can be done in person at JustLift.

The results of each team’s best 10 lifters will be used to determine a team winner across all participating clubs at multiple locations across Ontario. Lifters will be ranked according to their age and bodyweight categories. There is no limit to the number of athletes per team. The winning team will receive a prize for their club from the OWA.

Cumulative points will be kept for the entirety of the Again Faster Club Challenge season and awards will be given to the top clubs.

Age groups contested are:

Juvenille (15 and under, born 2000 or later)

Youth (17 and under, born 1998 or later)

Junior (20 and under, born 1995 or later)

Senior/Master (20+, born 1994 or earlier)

IWF rules dictate that age groups are determined by Year of Birth only, for example, anyone born in 1995 is a Junior for 2015 and becomes a Senior on Jan 1, 2016, regardless of their Date of Birth.

The additional Juvenille/Youth Bodyweight categories will also be contested (M46, M50, M94+, W44, W69+).

This competition is not subject to doping control.

By |October 6th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on OWA Fall 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Trending Topics II: How You Feel

In the Weightlifting community, at least in the West, there’s this popular notion that how you’re feeling is is a lie. That, if you let it, your body will nefariously convince you not to pursue the gains you deserve… Or something like that. And yet, in Weightlifting, another popular assertion is that you must find the feel, and pay attention to every detail about what and how you`re feeling. I’m admittedly guilty of parroting both concepts without much further examination. I realize now that: 1) I’ve probably confused some of you by contradicting myself and 2) that this is a dichotomy ripe for deconstruction!

Upon further reflection I think that both assumptions are correct, just poorly explained and delineated. No, what we have here is another example of gym-folk wisdom that, on the surface makes a whole lot of sense, but upon further analysis doesn’t have much of an explanatory thrust. Here’s what I think upon further reflection: The disagreement in this case has to do with incorrect assumptions about what the correct “feel”or feelings actually are. How you’re feeling, as it relates to training, is only a lie if we presume that you ought to be feeling comfortable when you train. What you’re feeling when you train, as it relates to how you’re moving, is not a lie, and is important information. This article is about reconciling what is relevant about how you feel when you lift, and what is not.

Before we begin, I’m going to have to let the anthropologist in me out for just a moment. I suspect that this attitude we’re questioning, the idea that your body is lying to you (ostensibly because you feel “bad”) has its roots in a cultural expectation we have in N. America. That, one of the central tenets to living a good life includes feeling comfortable, and that feeling discomfort is counter to our expectation of the way life ought to be. I know that’s a rather grand claim to make, and I’m feeling particularly lazy about providing evidence so I’ll leave you with this: just take a peak at our economy, and you’ll have your evidence. Take a glance at the sheer volume of goods and services being offered to make your life more comfortable, convenient, happy, etc. Not that being happy is bad nor is it unreasonable to want comfort in life. It’s just that sometimes you can’t always be assured of that expectation of comfort in everything you do; especially sport. Weightlifting is an inherently uncomfortable experience much of the time, and if you want to perform at a high-level (or be better than you are now), it can be a torturous experience. It doesn’t help either that this is an individual sport where your performance is entirely contingent upon you, and not the collective efforts of your team. From that, then, I’m sure you, just as I, can see how our attitude towards that discomfort might be more reactive than analytic. Your body isn’t lying to you; you probably do feel like you’ve been beaten up by the bar. As coaches, what we really mean with that statement about your body lying to you is that feeling significant fatigue isn’t necessarily an acceptable excuse to dial back on training. Nevertheless, because of the cultural milieu we reside in, it’s not surprising to see that, when the reality of a situation is so counter to that of one’s general experience of the world, their response might be outright rejection as exemplified in the: “your body is lying to you!” trope. Of course, it’s also just easier for a coach to tell you to stop being a damn wuss than deconstructing your cultural world to explain why training hard is, well… Hard. Anyway… let’s go ahead and look what a coach might really mean when s/he says your body is lying to you.

The whole notion of “how you’re feeling is a lie” is predicated upon one simple fact: athletes have been able to pull off brilliant performances when they self-report feeling like shit, and, by the same token, have utterly shit the bed despite proclaiming that they’re feeling amazing. That, whether you feel good or not, this is not a reliable predictor of performance in the immediate future. It makes an intuitive sense, then, does it not to claim how one’s body feels is a lie given these results? Again, here’s where we see that cultural expectation poking its head in, where it’s assumed as though that, in order to be productive, we must be comfortable and fresh first. What’s confusing, however, is that later on in the same session where you’re slogging away, working through your pain, that your coach may instruct you to pay attention to how a lift feels because you’re all over the place… Right after having told you at the beginning of the session that how you feel is a lie. I know I’ve done it. So what the hell is coach actually getting at?

The problem of the “how you’re feeling is a lie” concept has to do with what we conflate our feelings as being. Feeling good versus feeling bad, feeling tired, feeling sore, comfortable versus uncomfortable, these are only a part of how you feel. Because of our cultural upbringing these feelings are central to our notion of how we’re feeling, but just because they’re central doesn’t mean they’re the only things we sense that constitute how we’re doing. How you feel, in this respect, isn’t a lie. It’s just often irrelevant and/or out of context.

How you’re feeling, as it relates to the way you’re lifting, is relevant, and is what your coach is actually getting at when they ask you to focus on feeling. For instance, do you feel like you’re staying over the bar long enough? Does the bar feel close as you turn it over or is it getting away from you? Does your receipt of the bar feel sloppy and weak or tight and strong? These are are all more relevant measures of how you feel as it relates to lifting. Focusing on this kind of feel has no cultural or strong emotional value attached to it, and is directly relevant to your performance; in short, it has nothing to do with a warm and fuzzy training experience. It’s also far more germane to your coach’s efforts to help you succeed. I can’t do a whole lot to help with feedback like: “Ugh, coach, I just don’t feel good today. I’m tired. My butt hurts, too.” That’s nice. I’m stiff and sore all the time. You want me to pat your head? No, what’s useful is if you tell me: “Coach, I feel really slow in getting under today. My arms feel fatigued when I catch my Snatches, and I’m having trouble staying over the bar. What do you see? What should I do?” Notice how much more specific, and thus, meaningful the latter statement is? The nice thing about the last example is that you’ll also learn a lot more about how you both respond to, and work through fatigue because, in the end, that’s what we’re talking about. What was it that made your body “lie” to you in the first place? Training and the accrual of fatigue. Being fatigued is an unpleasant albeit necessary experience. It’s how you adapt to training, and get better. The best athletes are those who accept this, and can then, with precision, navigate through their emotional, physical, and performance states as they relate to their bodies. The reality is that we’re not discreet beings so we’re going to be feeling all kinds of different things all the time, some more dominating than the others (e.g. Our preoccupation with feeling “good”). The task at hand is learning to navigate and respond to them appropriately. I’ll give you a few examples of my own.

The other week I had a rough Clean workout, missing three heavy attempts in a row. On the last attempt I must have stomped too hard (or something, I honestly am not sure what I did), but the next day my knees felt like junk. I started my workout the following day feeling great not really cognizant of my knee pain yet. It was only when I started playing around with the bar that my knees let themselves be heard. Even though it was to be a light workout that included Power Snatches, I couldn’t bend my knees and get into the right start position. I felt confident, strong, and ready warming up. I was in a good mood because, regardless of the Clean misses the night before, I had had a good session. But, there was just one angle of knee flexion that I could not reliably achieve and it happened to be the same position I needed my knees to be in to setup correctly. I tried extra warm ups, stretching, I lightened the load on the bar, and in the end, I still couldn’t move right. So I stopped. Well, actually… I was told to stop. But, that’s why it made sense to do so.. I couldn’t setup properly, and in spite of my enthusiasm, the bar wouldn’t move correctly. My coach decided I should stop since I’d just be moving improperly, and modified my workout as necessary. I’m a bonehead and probably would have tried to work around it anyway, so thankfully a clearer head than mine acted. Here’s a case where, even though I felt strong and confident that my physical discomfort was enough to throw me off. This is a case of feeling great, but having an uncooperative body. My body wasn’t lying to me here. It told me, in very certain terms, that it was not a good day to lift. If you notice, though, I only accepted that answer after taking stock of how I felt in the context of how I was lifting.

As a converse example, I recently Snatched 110kg. I haven’t done that in over a year. The day I did that was not one where I felt particularly strong or confident. I felt fatigued. Not too sore or tired, but enough that the thought of it being one of those sessions where you just do what you can entered my mind. I worked up, feeling a little slow, but everything was moving well. Mind you, I only felt slow because of my fatigue. Video evidence and my coach’s eye said otherwise. No, working up, I was hitting lift after lift… Until about 102kg. I missed that weight twice before the technical flaw I was making became evident. The video said it all: I wasn’t staying over the bar long enough, probably because my back was tired. So, I waved down, and then back up. But, as I worked back up, I really focused on feeling that tension in my legs and back, to really feel the positions I needed to be in. I even did a few Snatch Deadlifts with 100kg first under my coach’s supervision to ensure that what I was attempting to feel was indeed what I ought to be feeling. I repeated 100kg, then got the 102kg I’d missed before, feeling the weight, staying patient as I pulled it into my hip. At this point, I was starting to get tired, thinking “dammit, I still have to Clean and Jerk and Back Squat heavy.” Whatever, though, the bar was going up. I decided to continue being cautious since, even though I wasn’t feeling great, the weight was clearly going up. 104kg is a cinch. 106kg. 108kg. What the hell? I thought I felt beat up? Fuck it. 110kg. I approached the platform. I carefully grasped the bar, giving it a bit of a tug just to prepare myself for, an get a sense of the weight. That tug felt heavy. It was a struggle to stay over the bar, but I didn’t hesitate. Going into that lift I knew, contrary to my not feeling particularly comfortable, my body was there to lift. I didn’t hesitate. I wanted that weight. I knew given my other attempts that the potential was there, and that, ultimately, that was all that mattered. I knew that because I was feeling a little slower than usual that I not only had to do everything right, but I that I absolutely had to commit to it. This last lift ended up being one of the best Snatches I’ve ever put above my head, and was definitely one of the more satisfying lifts I’ve executed in recent memory.

The above example is probably one another coach might use to say: “Hey, see, your body was lying to you!” On the contrary, I think my body was telling me exactly what I needed to know. I was feeling tired, even unmotivated a little because I wasn’t feeling “on.” The truth my body told me was that, even though I felt fatigued, I was conditioned to lift 110kg that day. It’s the same truth I’d tell any lifter who didn’t feel great, but was moving well: that you have to go for it when your body and the bar are cooperating, that pushing yourself both to, and past your perceived limits is the essence of getting better. In reality, your body never lies to you, and how can it anyway? Your consciousness is the agent that pilots your body; it’s not like your arms can conspire against you because they don’t feel like locking out jerks after Snatches. No, the only lies being told are those you might concoct because you want an excuse not to push through discomfort. The truth is that you have to pay attention to everything, and you have to do so in a manner that doesn’t treat your relative comfort level and your performative ability as mutually exclusive. How comfortable you feel, in the context of having a leisurely training session, isn’t useful. How comfortable you feel can be indicative of how fatigued you are, however; it just has little immediate bearing when it comes to predicting your performance for the day. So, remember: how you feel does matter. It’s only meaningful when you place it in the total broader context of what you’re doing. The next time you feel like hammered shit, and are wondering how you’re going to finish a workout, stop thinking. Stop saying the phrase: “I feel” in your head, and give yourself a chance. Instead, opt to make observations like: “the bar is moving well, but I’m being slow in my turnover” or “the bar feels heavy, but I’m moving fast.” Then you can take stock of how you feel. I promise that, most of the time, you’ll be glad you did. Your numbers will go up, too.

By |August 25th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Trending Topics II: How You Feel

Trending Topics at JustLift: Confidence

It’s been a while. Yes, I regrettably stopped writing these blog posts just before Nationals 2015. It’s been an unceremonious hiatus, but let me tell you, I needed it. Admittedly, I should have had the courtesy to warn the few of you who read these, and for that I apologize. After all, what inspired this article I’m writing today was a comment from one of you about what I’ve written in the past; I want you to know that I appreciate your readership even though I’m an inconsistent author.

Since I first started writing these I strove to relate my own training experiences, as both a coach and quasi-athlete, to you, and your own training experiences. To answer some of those questions that might invite themselves into your head as a result of the training experience. In the end, as a coach and gym owner, I strive to direct our curriculum so that you become both experientially and intellectually empowered to take account for the direction of your own training process. So that when you train, you and your coaches can make informed decisions together that allow for the maximal accretion of what we all want: gains. What I’m going to write today is going to be list article. No, this isn’t going to be the typical blog litany of my top 10 most absolutely, positively favorite assistance exercises for the Snatch that will magically fix everything. Instead, over the next few weeks, we’re going to go over a handful of topics. Since my last article and this one, I’ve seen a few trending thoughts that ought to be addressed. So, without further adieu, here’s number one!

Confidence: In yourself, your coach, your program, and performance.

You absolutely, positively, need to have confidence in not just yourself, but what you’re doing. I know I’ve written about this before, but it needs to be restated. Perhaps what I missed before was another qualifier. Confidence can’t simply be:L “I’m confident because I’m feeling good today.” No, it must be durable, and all-encompassing. I’ve seen too much self-doubt recently, some of it my own, much of it from athletes we coach. Thus, this will be the first topic I want to discuss.

Often times I get questions that start with: “Coach, do you think that…” and I already know where it’s going. I don’t need to know if it’s about the Snatch, the Clean and Jerk, someone’s squat strength or the program they’re doing. That’s not the point. The point is that, through rigorous statistical analysis, I’ve found that exactly nine times out of ten, this question, fundamentally, has to do with some kind of doubt the athlete has, either in themselves or the program or even their coaching. While there is the rare instance that such doubt in whatever aspect of the athlete’s training is both valid and productive, generally speaking, it’s maybe kind of valid, but almost always unproductive. Here’s a scenario:

Yes, you missed a metric shit-ton of Snatches tonight. No, there’s nothing wrong with your program. No, there’s nothing wrong with you. Yes, I know you’re making the same mistake over and over, and that’s why you missed a third of your lifts. The answer is still no. There’s nothing wrong with you, the program, or the coaching you’re receiving. The simple fact of the matter is that all three of these elements, you, your coach, and the program are imperfect. They can never be as optimal in the real world as we allow ourselves to imagine them to be. Your sense of confidence needs to be acquainted with this irritating truth.

As Weightlifters, we’re often exceptionally hard on ourselves when we miss or can’t perform the program as written. The sheer amount of time, discipline, discomfort, and effort needed to succeed in this endeavor makes our training performances especially meaningful. Couple that with the pressure we put on ourselves to be “good” and we’ve created an amazing potential for a sink-or-swim situation. Guess what? Most of us can’t use or operate under that sort of pressure productively. Confidence, then, is the ability to dampen this pressure, perhaps even harness it, but never wilt under it. It’s having the humility to accept all of these things while still being able to live with the knowledge of what we need to do to get better, what better actually is, in the form of a goal. In other words, don’t be so damn serious! Let some fun sneak into your demeanor.

I’ve said this many times, but our most successful athletes are those that can place enough importance on their actions so as to ensure that all the elements of success are meaningful enough to matter yet not so anxiety provoking that they become crippling. Last Friday I Snatched 107kg, 5kg more than I have in over a year. I was stoked! Given how the weight felt last week, I went into yesterday’s workout thinking I had 110kg in the bag.

As I worked up in yesterday’s session every lift up and through 100 felt precise, fast, and strong. So I jump from 100 to 104kg, planning on going 104, 108, and then hit my target of 110kg. I missed 104 three times. After reviewing some recordings of those attempts I found that I was scooping in too early. So I waved. 95. 100. Easy. 103kg. Nope. Okay, Greg, get your shit together. This is it. 103kg again. Hell no. Not happening. Maybe I’ve grown as a lifter recently, because I accepted that seemingly anything over 100kg was just not there for me yesterday. And that’s fine. I went on to do 100kg for a few more sets. 100kg hasn’t been a working weight for me in a long time. Now, I realize that this is a very convenient example, one with a silver lining, so I’ll give you one that’s much harder to find the good in.

Sometimes you’ll be so sure that your coach and/or your program are the problem, and not you. Like I said, very rarely, this is in fact sometimes the case. One of the reasons we rotate coaches, and, at some level, have you work with everyone, is because different eyes, different cues, and different interpretations can often be useful. I can assure you, however, that all of our coaches know a thing or two about getting people stronger.

For much of my career as a lifter, I’ve been self-coached. When I was at my absolute peak I did virtually all of my own coaching. I wrote my own programs. I filmed and analyzed my lifts myself. I handled all of my own diet, supplementation, and recovery strategies. When I started making my “comeback,” my programs were still my own, although I left my technical coaching in the hands of our coaching team. I made some progress, but as time went on, my programs were destroying me. I was getting injured, and feeling confused as to what changed. Why couldn’t I recover? I must have a recovery problem now, I thought. My technique, the one thing I left to my coaching staff, grew leaps and bounds, though. Unfortunately, my strength actually started to decrease. I felt terrible. My sleep was no good, and I my workouts were less than pleasant. Simply put, it wasn’t that I had a recovery problem. Rather, I overestimated my recovery ability. I was too apt to write my programs in the context of what I could do at my peak as opposed to what I can do now. JustLift coach and athlete, Julia Boggia, now handles all of my programming. It’s simultaneously been both the best and most frustrating thing to happen to my development in years.

I’m getting stronger, better, staying healthy, and lifting well! Clearly, her programs have been more successful than mine. Does that make me bad at programming? Far from it. I still write all of her programs myself with minimal input from anyone else, and she’s become the first female athlete to Snatch 80kg and Clean 100kg at JustLift in just under 2 years of training. If her results are indicative of my ability as a coach, then, I can say with confidence that I know what I’m doing. Except for myself.

As Head Coach, for a while, this arrangement was a hit to my pride. The one thing I’ve devoted myself to perfecting for others I can’t do for myself? That’s a harsh situation to accept, and one that can precipitate all kinds of self-doubt. It’s not unreasonable or without precedent, however. Just because I know a lot about Weightlifting programming and technical performance doesn’t mean I can apply it properly to myself. For the same reason that all kinds of therapists don’t treat themselves, but defer to their colleagues, I must do the same. I can’t be trusted to apply my knowledge of training principles to myself without my ego truncating reality. Now, this isn’t to say that she doesn’t take my input into account because she does (just as I take feedback from my athlete’s seriously when I write or modify their programs). Her word is the rule, however, and if she tells me “no,” then, I have to accept it because she’s my coach.

Everyone who is experienced and trains in the Level 2 session has experienced this kind of doubt, questioning the direction of their training. I’ll give you a tip that’ll save all of us time, trouble, and extraneous discussion both from the perspective of a coach and as someone being coached. If your question (or criticism), when it was first inspired, also brought with it some kind of emotional response, then, you’re probably wrong, and should just do what your coach tells you to do. Like when I’m supposed to Back Squat at 70% for sets greater than 5 reps. I’ll argue with Julia using reasons rooted in training science that are, at some level, valid if extraneous. In reality, the root of the issue has more to do with me not wanting to squat for reps than anything else. You’ll find that, if you’re able to distance yourself from the immediate “feeling” of the question that what you’re actually just doing is rationalizing the avoidance of discomfort, which is only really justifiable if injury is a worry. Failing that, if it’s a slightly ambiguous question, but your coach lifts or has lifted more than you, then, you should still probably ignore that desire to question, and instead just accept your coach’s training proscription.

My personal favorite is when people argue with me about wearing a belt. I can provide ample reasoning as to why it’s a good idea. Incidentally, and I’m trying really hard not to be an ass when I say this, with the exception of one person, the only people who have ever argued with me about wearing a belt have had Back/Front Squats literally 80-100kg less than my own (that’s just counting the guys). And, that one outlier? I still squat more than him. Just not 80-100kg more. Yes, we can parse the literature, talk human kinetics ad nauseum, and maybe I’ll even relent. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that the bulk of strong squatters at this gym and others, all wear belts with their heavier sets unless explicitly instructed not to. Sometimes trends, even if not particularly well substantiated by the masses participating, take hold for good reason. I’ll be one of the last people to ever say we shouldn’t appeal to reason or make decisions based on careful interpretation of a problem. That said, emulating the habits of those you aspire to be like is often a good idea. You can figure out along the way what is and isn’t smart. This is another example of how, even with reason supposedly backing your position, you can still be wrong. Were engaged in a result-driven pursuit. In the end, that’s what matters.

Part of being a confident athlete is knowing and accepting the above point. When I first started making a concerted effort to perfect my performance in the lifts again I tried all kinds of Snatch techniques because I know for a fact that, even when I was at my strongest, my technique and mobility were garbage. Some of the different techniques I tried were more peculiar than the others. One in particular involved breaking what is often seen as a cardinal rule: allowing the hips to rise before the shoulders in the first pull from the floor. I’d seen a number of lifters, particularly Chinese athletes with long femurs, perform their lifts this way. It allowed them, in spite of their proportions, to produce a big scoop into the second pull. The reasoning being that this would allow someone, in spite of their anatomic proportions, to more effectively use their quads to punch the bar up. I tried to mimic this because, hey, I have long-ish femurs, and a strong enough back to make it work. That didn’t last for long, however, as I kept hitting the bar outwards. My back was also always fatigued, and pissed off. I now use a technique that would come straight out of a Russian sport science text. My hips start much higher, and my scoop doesn’t look too deep. I don’t have that beautiful, deep scoop in many of the lifters I admire. However, I’m also Snatching much more consistently, using my quads the way I intended to originally with the unorthodox technique, and am lifting pain free. And you know who trained me to be like this? The woman whose Snatch is, by large orders of magnitude, more efficient, technically sound, consistent, and, not to mention, prettier than mine. The kicker? I’m the one who taught her to Snatch. That should have been enough to convince me, but what can I say? I’m just as stubborn (and stupid) as any other athlete. The only difference is that I think I know better because I’m a coach, too.

I argued vehemently about why my decision to adopt the unorthodox technique was right for me. There were even instances where, in my argument, my coach would have to concede that, at least in a conceptual sense, I was right or at the very least, she didn’t know enough about the logic of the technique to posit a rebuttal. Ultimately, for all my thinking and engagement in argument I was still wrong. And, what I mean by that, was until I started doing what she instructed me to do without complaint, my Snatch was no good. At the end of the day I’m lifting better now than I was then.

This allows for a lot of possibilities. Maybe my argument only seemed right because I presented it in a way that made sense yet didn’t address everything necessary. Maybe, being an unorthodox technique, neither Julia or myself possessed the requisite experience to understand its nuances enough to make it work. All of that, in an academic sense, is reasonable. In a practical sense, though, it fails and is irrelevant. Who knows? Maybe if I’d have relented and simply followed my coach’s thoughts from the start without challenging her I’d be lifting more now? In this sense, confidence is as much about quelling doubt in spite of failure as it is about maintaining trust.

When I started this piece I presented doubt as an emotion that is inimical to confidence. Let’s take that a step further. If I’m lacking confidence in being able to complete my workout or get better, then, I’m doubting my ability. If I’m doubting my ability, then, fundamentally what I’m accepting is that I don’t trust myself to complete a given task. That I don’t trust my coach to lead me. That I don’t trust the process with which, at least at some point, I was confident enough to commit to. Confidence and trust are easy to have when everything is comfortable and going the way it’s supposed to. Confidence and trust are tested when things don’t go according to plan. What you ought to do is have the confidence and trust in yourself that, even when tested, you’re able to see the value in what you’re doing.

It can be frustrating when you see people around you making lifts, one after the other, with what appears to be technical precision and ease. One of our rising athletes was sidelined for close to six months doing rehab and foundation work. She expressed doubt, concern, and often frustration at the process. More than once what we tried didn’t work, and we had to re-assess what direction to go in. Nobody joins a Weightlifting club like ours looking forward to spending their time doing wall sits and band walks. Even though I know she was disappointed in the content of most of her programs, it was that trust and discipline that have allowed her to shine now.

An American coach, John Broz, once famously suggested that your body lies to you, that how you feel is often not indicative of what you’re actually capable of. I think it goes further than that. Your ego, in unison with how your body feels, lies to you, twisting simple realities into superfluous problems that don’t need to be solved. I love to train, and was disheartened when I saw how little work Julia had programmed for me when I first gave her complete control of my development. When I accepted what she had observed in my performance it became clear that I was tricking myself into accomplishing big workouts as opposed to lifting big weights. Unfortunately, and especially if you’re highly-motivated, you’re going to have do battle with your ego frequently. Confidence is having the fortitude to accept this, and yet still resist, with minimal emotion, the nettling questions you’re going to ask yourself when things don’t go your way.

Your hunger to be better will provoke all kinds of self-doubt, questioning the trust you’ve placed in every facet of the training process. As I’ve said many times before, you have to put everything in context. As humans, we’re prone to only cognizing conflict in the short-term. As weightlifters, this manifests itself in one shitty workout convincing us that our entire approach needs to be corrected. Sometimes we need to simply take stock of and rely on our general resilience. As a child, I was clumsy, and on more than one occasion, dropped that ice cream cone I got as a surprise treat from mom. I never once questioned whether or not I had enough dexterity to ever eat ice cream cones, though. If it takes you missing 500 Snatches to learn how to do it well, then, so be it. If you want to Snatch well you’ll do it, and simply accept that it might take you 500, it might take you 1000. You’ll never get there, though, if you can’t trust yourself to endure those lessons each miss brings. Trust the your coach. Trust your program. Trust the process. Trust yourself.

By |August 11th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Trending Topics at JustLift: Confidence

OWA Summer 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Update 2015-08-26
The start list is now available here:
OWA Summer Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift Start List V2

Schedule:
10:00am – Session 1 Weigh-in
11:00am – Session 2 Weigh-in
11:45am – Session 1 Presentation of Athletes
12:00pm – Session 1 Start
1:15pm – Session 2 Presentation of Athletes
1:30pm – Session 2 Start

When: August 29, 2015

Where: JustLift (895 Churchill Ave South, Ottawa, ON)

It’s time for the second OWA Again Faster Club Challenge of the 2015-2016 season! JustLift will again be taking part and inviting all other OWA clubs to join us that need a venue with officials. This competition is open to all registered OWA clubs and their registered lifters. An OWA “General” athlete membership ($50) is required to participate. Athletes who plan on competing at any meet with a qualifying standard, the JR championships, out-of-province, or Nationally/Internationally need an OWA “Elite” athlete membership ($80).

For the 2015-2016 season, the Again Faster Club Challenge Series will consist of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Competitions (4 in total).

Competition Registration:
JustLift Members: $10/athlete payable to JustLift, we’ll take care of the team registration with the OWA.

Non-Members: $25/athlete payable to JustLift + Team Fees payable to the OWA.

Non-Member individual registration here:
Eventbrite - OWA Summer 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Registration forms for Team fees are available here:
http://www.onweightlifting.ca/#!hybrid-club-competitions/c3zm

Registration forms for Individual Fees payable to JustLift will be available online or can be done in person at JustLift.

The results of each team’s best 10 lifters will be used to determine a team winner across all participating clubs at multiple locations across Ontario. Lifters will be ranked according to their age and bodyweight categories. A progressive scoring system that awards greater points to the younger age categories will be used. This is to encourage the participation of younger lifters without precluding other age groups. There is no limit to the number of athletes per team. The winning team will receive a prize for their club from the OWA.

Cumulative points will be kept for the entirety of the Hybrid Competitive season and a banner will be awarded to the top scoring team.

Age groups contested are:

Juvenille (15 and under, born 2000 or later)

Youth (17 and under, born 1998 or later)

Junior (20 and under, born 1995 or later)

Senior/Master (20+, born 1994 or earlier)

IWF rules dictate that age groups are determined by Year of Birth only, for example, anyone born in 1995 is a Junior for 2015 and becomes a Senior on Jan 1, 2016, regardless of their Date of Birth.

The additional Juvenille/Youth Bodyweight categories will also be contested (M46, M50, M94+, W44, W69+).

This competition is not subject to doping control.

By |August 8th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on OWA Summer 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

August 3, 2015 – Holiday Hours

August 3, 2015 Holiday Hours:
Oly 2 – 5-9pm
Strength 1 – 6-7pm, 7-8pm

There will be no morning classes or open gym.

Rest Up and get ready to hit it hard!

By |August 1st, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on August 3, 2015 – Holiday Hours

JustLift at the 2015 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships

2015 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships

Mississauga, ON

May 15-17, 2015

Follow the JustLift High Performance Team as they compete at the 2015 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships! Watch us on the live stream as well as our Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be updating this page with results as well. Coaches Greg Chin and Cierra Mansergh will be there taking care of our athletes! We’ll try and hashtag everything #2015cswlc. If another one starts trending, we’ll update here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Session#3 (M56, M62) 9:00am EDT

Ian Haya (instagram @ianhaya)
Results:
SN – 96, 99, 102 (PR)
CJ – 121, 126x, 126 (PR)
Total – 228 (PR), 2nd Place

126kg #cleanandjerk at the 2015 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships. My 102kg #snatch gave me a 228 total, which was good enough for second and gave me competition PR's all around. That makes 4 straight silver medals at the Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships. Every year I've been beat by somebody different and every year I've lifted more than I did the last. With second already secured, I missed my 2nd attempt at 126kg in the #cleanandjerk to take the lead… @chadlangan then made 126 to take a 3kg lead. I would've had to make 129 to take the lead on bodyweight, but I knew it wasn't in the cards based on my first crack at 126. This make at 126 therefore had no bearing on placement, but meant the world to me based on all the goals I had set for myself coming into this meet. All you are in control of is pushing to better yourself and you can't control what other people lift. #iamjustlift #2015cswlc #weightlifting #alwaysabridesmaid

A video posted by Ian Haya (@ianhaya) on

 

Session #6 (M85A) 2:30pm EDT

Zachary Marino (instagram @rubixmonkey)
Results:
SN – 115, 120x, 123 (PR)
CJ – 147x 149, 154x
Total – 272 (PR), 5th Place

 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Session #9 (W48, W53)

Heather Amundrud
Results:
SN – 54
CJ – 74
Total – 128

Val Hoang (instagram @valhoang)
Results:
SN – 61, 64, 66 (PR)
CJ – 80, 83x, 84x
Total – 146, 4th Place

 

Session #11 (W58A, W69B)

Julia Boggia (instagram @julialiftsbig)
Results:
SN – 70, 74 (PR), 76x
CJ – 81, 84 (PR), 86x
Total 158 (PR)

Nancy Kozorezova (instagram @oly.lifting.gal)
Resuts:
SN – 70x, 70x, 70x
CJ – 84, 88, 90 (PR)
Total – 160 (PR)

Resources

Full Schedule

Live Stream

 

By |May 15th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on JustLift at the 2015 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships

Finding the Feel: Give Yourself (and the Process) a Chance

Yes, I’m aware, I sneakily didn’t post a new article last week. What can I say? Prepping multiple athletes for the National Championships is time consuming, especially when last minute requirements to do so effectively suddenly compound. Admittedly, I’ve been quite focused on their training as opposed to mine, and since many of my coaches are themselves just as focused on their own preparation for this event they haven’t been particularly attentive to my (re-)development as a (quasi-)athlete. I’ve been forced to mostly fend for myself with occasional input trickling in when time or mood allows. It’s been immensely productive.

I’ve written a lot in the past about finding the “feel.” That, while a coach can give you cues, manhandle you into the right positions, and provide you with drills in an attempt to communicate correct technique to you, that, ultimately, the onus is on the individual to embody that information. I’ve spent thousands of hours at this point watching lifts, analyzing, experimenting with, and applying many different technical ideas to the performance of the lifts. This has perhaps been the most frustrating part of my training experience these last few months. I’m very aware of what’s going wrong in my lifts when I film them. At times, I think that’s actually the “feel” I’m getting the most well-acquainted with.

I know I’ve said in the past that one needs to visualize their success, to, at some level, begin embodying what they’re trying to achieve. I’ve been doing that. A lot. I have to tell you, it hasn’t worked out as well as I would have liked it to. That’s when it dawned on me that I was doing it wrong.

Yesterday I was lifting heavy singles in the Clean and Jerk with my focus being on really feeling the weight, the positions, and then, ideally, correlating them with the lifts that either felt the best or I was told looked the best. I’d do a rep, sit back, rest, think about what I had just done, what felt right, what didn’t, and what I wanted to do. Then I’d go again. My hands would grasp the bar. I’d be thinking: “Okay, be smooth in the pull from the floor, patience until the power point, then, explode, pull the elbows up, and receive!” I’d stand up with the Clean, and then get set again for the Jerk. My thinking now would be somewhat muddled, lack of oxygen and all. I’d think: “Stay tight, dip with straight hips, don’t push too soon, and drop under the bar with your back foot hitting the ground before the front!” After all, that was what I had been visualizing between reps. It should be structurally-evident in the just the writing that this was far, far too much to be going over.

I was overzealous. My visualizations were a litany of cues. How could I possibly execute them all properly if my mind wasn’t set on one? My Cleans up until now had been feeling sloppy. The more I while resting the more disjointed everything felt. Then it dawned on me. I’m being impatient! I’m not giving the process a chance to reveal what I’m looking for. Why were my Cleans sloppy? I was thinking about too many damn cues, and not staying tight, that’s why! My next set, I didn’t think about anything other than keeping tight off the floor. Low, and behold, it was the best Clean of the day! All I did was focus on one cue, but most importantly, the one that would enable all the others.

If your back is slack right off the floor, then, you most certainly won’t be in the right position to bring the bar properly to the power point on the thighs. If you don’t do that right, then, you can hike your elbows up as high as you like, but you still won’t receive the bar properly after jumping. No, simply focusing on keeping tight allowed me to pull up straight, efficiently and confidently. After feeling such a good Clean, the Jerk seemed to set itself up. I felt strong, and solid from the receipt of the bar in the Clean, all the way to the recovery. I was still tight when getting ready to Jerk, thus, my hips were straight, and I could effectively punch the bar up, and my body under. The footwork, then, came naturally, as I wasn’t leaning to forward, throwing off my balance. I ended up feeling so good that I did reps with weights up to 10kg heavier than I had planned, and you know what? They felt easier than the lighter, sloppier ones before them.

Fixating on everything I was doing wrong never allowed me to do anything right. When you visualize, clear your mind. You can think about what the entire lift ought to look, and thus, feel like, but it’s crucial that you pick one component, and focus on it. When that one point in the lift becomes so practiced that you no longer need to give it extra attention, then, you can move on down the chain towards the others. As I’ve said before: Weightlifting is both an elegantly simple yet dauntingly complex endeavor to participate in. You can come up with all kinds of intricate cues, programs, and analyses to improve your lifting, and they can work. But, if you ever find yourself at a point where that rich detail is just making things worse, the problem, then, is likely simpler than you think.

By |May 8th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Finding the Feel: Give Yourself (and the Process) a Chance

OWA Spring 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Update 2015-05-20
The start list is now available here:
OWA Spring 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift Start List

Schedule:
10:00am – Session 1 Weigh-In (All Females)
11:45am – Session 2 Wegih-In (All Males)
11:45am – Session 1 Presentation of Athletes
12:00pm – Session 1 Start
1:30pm – Session 2 Presentation of Athletes
1:45pm – Session 2 Start

It’s time for the first OWA Hybrid Club Competition of the 2015-2016 season! JustLift will again be taking part and inviting all other OWA clubs to join us that need a venue with officials. This competition is open to all registered OWA clubs and their registered lifters. An OWA “General” athlete membership ($50) is required to participate. Athletes who plan on competing at any meet with a qualifying standard, the JR championships, out-of-province, or Nationally/Internationally need an OWA “Elite” athlete membership ($80).

For the 2015-2016 season, the Hybrid Club Competition Series will consist of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Competitions (4 in total).

Competition Registration:
JustLift Members: $10/athlete payable to JustLift, we’ll take care of the team registration with the OWA.

Non-Members: $25/athlete payable to JustLift + Hybrid Team Fees payable to the OWA.

Non-Member individual registration here:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/owa-spring-2015-again-faster-club-challenge-at-justlift-tickets-16871058791

Registration forms for Team fees are available here:
http://www.onweightlifting.ca/#!hybrid-club-competitions/c3zm

Registration forms for Individual Fees payable to JustLift will be available online or can be done in person at JustLift.

The results of each team’s best 10 lifters will be used to determine a team winner across all participating clubs at multiple locations across Ontario. Lifters will be ranked according to their age and bodyweight categories. A progressive scoring system that awards greater points to the younger age categories will be used. This is to encourage the participation of younger lifters without precluding other age groups. There is no limit to the number of athletes per team. The winning team will receive a prize for their club from the OWA.

Cumulative points will be kept for the entirety of the Hybrid Competitive season and a banner will be awarded to the top scoring team.

Age groups contested are:

Juvenille (15 and under, born 2000 or later)

Youth (17 and under, born 1998 or later)

Junior (20 and under, born 1995 or later)

Senior/Master (20+, born 1994 or earlier)

IWF rules dictate that age groups are determined by Year of Birth only, for example, anyone born in 1995 is a Junior for 2015 and becomes a Senior on Jan 1, 2016, regardless of their Date of Birth.

The additional Juvenille/Youth Bodyweight categories will also be contested (M46, M50, M94+, W44, W69+).

This competition is not subject to doping control.

By |May 5th, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on OWA Spring 2015 Again Faster Club Challenge at JustLift

Motivation: You Have a Choice

Another deload week has rolled around for me. Just as it is for many a lifter, I definitely can’t say I’m excited. You’re lifting lighter weights for fewer sets and reps while spending considerably less time under the bar if programmed properly. You’d think after weeks of hammering yourself to exhaustion that this would be a welcome change of pace. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I don’t enjoy the process of the deload, they’re still absolutely necessary for recovery, and thus, adaptation (read: gains) to occur. You’d think that, as a coach, knowing this, I’d be a little bit more enthusiastic about the whole process. Well, I’m not. I’m a stubborn bastard (sorry, mom, I use the term figuratively), just as emotionally frenetic as any other athlete, and dammit, I want to train! As such, even though I’m doing the work, I sure as shit don’t feel any particular motivation to do it. With that in mind, then, I see no better opportunity to talk about another aspect to the concept of motivation.

As I’ve stated in the past, motivation is the key to attaining everything. It’s the most important item in your training toolbox, more relevant than any exercise or training program you can think of. Now, previously, I’ve deconstructed the concept of motivation, discussed what motivation might mean to you or how to find and define the most profound reasons to do what you do. Today, however, I want to leave you with a little exposition of sorts. You see, I recently had an epiphany, and I want to share it with you in the hope that it can do for you what it’s done for me. What I’m about to tell you can be applied to all training, but is especially pertinent to doing what you don’t want to do, but know you ought to be doing.

I just want to preface what I’m about to say with this: I’m getting amazingly tired of writing about my injuries. I’m sure you’re just as tired of reading about them. But really, they do define my training right now, and if I’m going to stick to the mandate I initially set for myself about discussing my personal process of getting back under the bar as it may apply to your experiences, well, I have to mention them because they’re the constraint that currently defines how I train. But, being the opportunist that I am, I’m trying very hard to stay productive. Notice that I didn’t say the word “positive.” There’s nothing about this that I’m particularly happy about, and no, I won’t attempt to trick myself into being “positive” even if that’s what your run-of-the-mill self-help guide says I should do. There’s no amount of imagining or visualizing that’s going to somehow defy the known principles of quantum mechanics, and magically attract my shoulders back into their joint spaces. If you know me personally, then, you know that I can be an intense person, occasionally (who am I kidding, often) motivated by anger or what I see as something that ought to be corrected. Let me tell you, it’s very hard to feel satisfied when you can’t do one something you love the way you’d like to. Being injured is an intensely demotivating experience, and no, I won’t pretend to attach a silver lining to it (even though, in some cases, I’ve tried to).

My training for the last two weeks has included a vast array of corrective, rehabilitative, and preventative exercises that I really, really, don’t like doing. For one, they hurt. Two, they’re boring, and I’m not very good at them nor am I particularly interested in being good at them. Three, you have to do a lot of mental abstraction to convince yourself of their relevance. But, like I asked last week, what’s the most important part in your quest to Snatch big weights? Well, being able to do the damn lift! And, right now, I can’t. I guess, then, shoulder, hip, and thoracic mobility drills are pretty relevant, even if I really don’t want them to be. That still doesn’t address points one and two, however. Sitting in a 90-90 position, trying to stay upright because your left hip won’t rotate, while relevant to Snatching well, is still very distant, conceptually, from the Snatch. So, as I contorted myself the other day, braced against a box, straining to do the drill correctly, I realized something. Motivation doesn’t have to be based on some grand realization or a narrative you’ve created for yourself about who you want to be or why you do what you do. It can be as simple as making a choice.

Yes, your choice should be based on all that other stuff related to what you desire in life, but actively thinking about that in this kind of situation can be really demotivating, and not to mention, extraneous. When you’re hunkered down doing something you don’t like introspection will likely only serve to frustrate you more. My little epiphany was simple: I could choose to be emotional, invested, and analytic about my situation or I could simply choose to do it, full stop. No extra thinking, no pondering, just focus on what I am physically doing, not what I think about it or whether I like it. Although a simple statement, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Although I’d say meaning making is an inescapable part of the human experience, sometimes, though, to be the person you want to be you have to actively stop synthesizing information. I could have sat next to my box, legs in some deranged pretzel formation, thinking about all the reasons I was doing it for, all the good that would come if I stayed the course, and all that I’d miss out on if I didn’t do it. In fact, I did do that, and all it reminded me off was how injured I am, and what I’m missing out on. What am I going to do? Manipulate myself into liking something I clearly don’t in order to enjoy the training experience? I’ve attempted that before, and it definitely didn’t work nor help! So, instead, this time around I shut all that thought out. I accepted my fate, and just zoned out until the work was done.

Admittedly, this is a lot easier to write about than it is to do. As I’m sure you’re well aware, your mind isn’t like a television that you can just switch off with the press of a button. No, no matter what you do, you have to occupy it with something. So occupy it with something that not only defies your inner-monologue, but has nothing to do with it. Just breathe. Between sets of sitting awkwardly using a box to stave off falling over, I just focused on inhaling and exhaling, counting my breaths. During I just counted reps, and thought about my positions. I found a rhythm, and let myself get lost in it. In short, I basically mediated. I’m not a religionist by any means, but there’s something to be said about the Buddhist notion that desire is the root of all suffering. Sometimes that desire is what you need to keep you pushing, but sometimes pushing is the problem. A corrective exercise isn’t something to expend all that energy on. When all I did to force myself into completing my rehab exercises was to focus on why I was doing them, what they would lead me to, I was filled with frustration, and even despair. All it did was remind me that I’m injured, and that I wasn’t doing what I wanted, and that was the whole problem. Even though I knew what I was doing would lead me to where I wanted to be, what I wanted was stressing me out to the point where I didn’t want to train, where I had to force discipline, finding numerous ways to convince myself that I was doing what I needed to be doing. If that’s what’s going through my head, then, I have my doubts about the quality of the work I’m putting inbecause my mind is divorced from what I’m actually doing. Instead, when I perform these exercises, I focus now on my breath, my movement, and its quality. I zone out.

You can be entirely aware of the value of why you’re doing what you’re doing, but often, such a mindset still does nothing to quell the immediate dissatisfaction you might be feeling. Enduring suffering for the sake of a greater goal might make you disciplined at some level, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you’re still suffering. Think of this active indifference as a way around the whole problem of motivation itself, harkening back to that concept of performing as though you’ve already failed/died I wrote about weeks ago.

More than a few of you are currently doing programs you’re not particularly happy about. Some of it is due to injury that, like me, has to be addressed before you go forward. For others, we’re attempting to fix significant deficits that will only become worse the longer we ignore them. What we need to remind ourselves of at times is that, while training can be a fun, envigorating process, it won’t always be, even if that’s your primary reason for lifting. This goes double for you if you have competitive goals because champions are those who focus on rectifying their weaknesses, and more often than not, working on our weaknesses is not an enjoyable experience. Despite presenting the central concept of Buddhist philosophy above as an example, I firmly believe desire is central to the human condition, and must be embraced, athlete or not. I just think that the statement happens to be correct, even if it does seem disappointing. What matters is that we reconcile what our immediate desires are with our future desires, tempering ourselves in order to do so. Even more importantly, that we don’t place attachment on any single means, method, experience, or condition for doing so. I won’t claim to have any definitive answers about what this means beyond what I’ve said above, in part because I don’t really know; I’m probably just as confused as you might be about this. I do know this, however. Life is full of paradoxical events, realities, and in some cases, truths. This might be one of them: sometimes, in order to get what you desire you have to ignore what you want.

By |April 23rd, 2015|Articles, Blog, News, Nutrition, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Motivation: You Have a Choice