The Real Smolov Beast

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks starting Smolov, which is a roughly 13 week intense squat cycle. There is a lot of hate on the program, so I’d thought I’d share my journey as I complete it. I’m about to start week three, and having a lot of fun. I’ve been getting some hate for it (mostly from men) and I’d like to share my experience of the female powerlifter and this intense squat routine (we all know women are strong than men lololol)

There are several things I do, that I think give me a running start.

1. I calculate my max off of my daily max rather than my all time max. For example, I’ve squatted 250 once in my life; however, I’ve hit 240 several times with comfort and I think I could hit it almost every day so this is the number I calculate from.

2. I eat – everything. Recovery is key when doing any intense exercise. Eating aids recovery – so do it. It will save you.

3. Mobility/Active recovery – I practice yoga and stretch daily to make sure my body is symmetrical and ready for the next work out.

4. Sleep – a lot

5. No Deadlifts: The only other thing I’m doing really is bench pressing – and you don’t really have to but I like to and my bench is doing really well.

6. Adjust to volume: Even though I’ve only been powerlifting for about 8 months, I’ve been lifting weights for about four years, and before that I played sports. I’m an athlete – my body is used to be abused. I’ve been squatting four days a week for a while now. I also did two mini cycles before to test out the waters.

Conclusion: It’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean its bad. It doesn’t work for everyone but that doesn’t mean it wont work for you.

I’ll check in every other week. I fully intend on completing the program unless I feel like it’s not working out.

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I’m back Internet

I’ve taken a little bit of time away from the internet for a while. Over the past few months I’ve been accessing what I want to do with my training- and how I want to progress in the next couple of years.

I recently returned from a six week trip to New York in which I subbed for my amazing friend Saysha. I was teaching a strength class and Yoga for Athletes class at Crow Hill Crossfit, and Crossfit Outbreak. It’s amazing what you can learn from teaching. I learned so much about myself, and for the first time in a long time allowed myself to open up and change. My favorite thing to do is help athletes (and non-athletes), move better, feel better, and be better. I also had the time to really reflect on myself, and what I was doing – and what I could do to be a better role model and teacher.

The time I didn’t invest in teaching while I was away I just focused learning how to squat. I did smolov JR which is a high volume high intensity squat cycle which involves squatting 30-36 reps four days a week. In six weeks I gained all the weight that I spend six months loosing. It was a little hard at first to accept. My clothes started fitting tight, my six pack slowly went away, but I was getting really strong and feeling really really happy. Every time  I went to the gym I felt stronger. There’s no arguing that long term cutting can mess with your hormones but I didn’t realize how much it was. I think what I did was a great experience and I’m happy I did it but it’s not a long term way of living. Eventually, I was able to just let go, eat and squat. Most of the weight I gained went straight into my legs and two months later I am squatting 250 pounds and it even looks nice, hell I repped out 225lbs for five at a weight several months ago I was terrified of. Most importantly, I LOVE SQUATTING.

I think I was so successful because I listened to my body. I was hungry, so I ate – pretty much everything and anything. I practiced yoga multiple times a day to help quite my body and mind so  I could be full rested for my next training session.

I’m not saying that what I spend last year doing was wrong, it was just time for a change. I think to fully grow you need to change things up – and not get too comfortable doing the same thing. You have to have the maturity to realize that just because you did one thing one time, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do something. My body composition is definitely completely different than it was last year at 120 pounds. I will take some body composition photos when I have time. I’ve been eating a little ”healthier” now (more vegetable based diet) and my weight has gone back down to about 117. After eating so much junk your body just doesn’t want it any more. It says, ‘i’ve had enough!!”

Yesterday I weighed in at 118lbs (somedays even fluctuating up to 122). I've pretty much gained back the 20 pounds I lost over five months in five weeks. I feel like people are afraid to watch the numbers on the scale go back up. I'm much stronger, happier, and even feel like I look better. Yeah it was fun to be super #jackedandtan for a bit – but you know what's more fun? Gaining twenty pounds and feeling like superwoman. I swear pastries are the best recovery tool;). The easiest way to hold yourself back is not to allow yourself to change. #squat #barbellbrigade #girlswholift #girlswhopowerlift #diet #gains #bodybuilding #iifym #progress #barbellbabe #fitspo #fitfam #CrossFit #barbellbabes #donutsanddeadlifts #pastrygains

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What to look for in the future:

Some fun body composition comparisons
Mobility/Yoga for strength sports
Nutrition

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The Benefits of Cycle Commuting

Daily exercise is incredibly beneficial to both the body and mind. It’s something that we all know; yet, tend to let slide when our lives get busy. Time is a huge limiting factor when it comes to neglecting gym time. The average american spends hours a day in their car. Riding a bicycle to work can be incredibly beneficial and just uses time you would normally spend in a car. Also note, it’s also nice on the environment and your wallet!

IMG_2012That said, there definitely are some drawbacks. Hopefully these tips can help you.

Choosing A Route
Choosing a good route can be the difference between enjoying your commute and completing hating it. Don’t always choose your route solely based on distance. You will be much more content if you take the roads your are taking into top consideration. Some other things to consider are elevation and amenities. Try and find routes with relaxed traffic – you will be a lot happier. Also, considered elevation gain and if you would perhaps like to stop at a nice cafe mid ride.  Note that even if you are going out of your way, a flat bike path will probably be faster than being in traffic.

Your Bike
You don’t need an expensive fancy ride to enjoy your bike ride; however, you should have a bike that functions well.  You don’t want to make it harder for yourself. Make sure your brakes work, make sure your wheels are true, and consider the terrain your are going to be mostly riding on. Over time, the spokes become different tension and the wheel is no longer a circle – creating inefficiency.

Safety
If you’re riding at night it is hard for people and drivers to see you. Make sure to have a bright white light on the front of your bike and a red on the rear. Personally my favorites are by Origin. They are a little pricier; however, you can charge them via USB and they are some of the brightest lights I’ve ever had. Don’t cheap out on your safety!!  Even consider getting reflective stickers and clip on lights for your helmet and backpack.

What to Wear
Make sure to dress comfortably. Consider bringing an extra change of clothes (also note they will be clean if you sweat a lot).   Also consider bringing some wipes to freshen up, Nathan makes a “portable shower” kit.  There’s nothing wrong with joining a cheap gym to shower and stretch before heading to work!

Dressing for the Seasons

 

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Body Composition Feb 13th

I haven’t done one of these in a while. It’s been almost a year since I started my weight-loss journey. Ironically the past few months I’ve been making my way back up to where I started but this time stronger, and definitely most muscular.
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This is me at about 114 pounds. A month ago I was 104.8 for the Camp Pendleton open. For the next couple of months I will be gaining some weight and then doing it all again for USAPL nationals in October.img_9130

This is me at the same weight last Aug. I love how much more developed my arms and shoulders are. Oh yeah, and I actually have quads and calves now 😉

I’ve never had a serious eating disorder; however, women are conditioned to be as small as they can be from a very young age. It was very easy for me to loose weight, it’s been challenging for me to accept weight gain and feel good about it.  It’s definitely good for the mind and the body to gain some weight again and see that it’s okay. Also I love how I look.

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Monthly Highlight (January)

I’ve been away for a while so this post is going to be the monthly highlight. But, I’m back! I just completed a 200 hour intensive teaching program at Yoga Works and it was amazing. I have never learned that much in such a short amount of time. Really exciting. I’m going to start working on a Yoga for Strength Athletes.IMG_0659

I was commuting by bicycle pretty much the whole month – a round trip of about 20 miles so I haven’t been to the gym all that much. I’ve kept it pretty consistent though. My legs finally starting growing which is awesome. All the blood from cycling did some WORK. Also, holding and perfecting all those chaturangas made me PR my bench press! Granted, it was touch-and-go but that’s 135lbs which I’ve never done before so a PR is a PR.

I know I said I was going to start weightlifting again, but powerlifting makes me really happy and I’m getting strong again so I’m just going to stick with that. For me, weightlifting requires a lot of mental concentration and focus and right now I just want to go to the gym and lift a lot of weight. Breaking some deadlift records seems like the most fun for me, so that’s what I’m going to do. Woo Hoo!

I’m going to let myself gain some weight and train hard for a bit and use the summer to cut back down again – I’m looking at USAPL Nationals in Oct.  The class has changed to 47kg which is 103.7 pounds so we will see about that.

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Yoga For Weightlifters: The Importance of Thoracic Mobility

Thoracic spine and shoulder mobility are two very important parts of the body when it comes to weight lifting and one of the neglected when it comes to mobility. Your shoulder joint and thoracic spine is what allows you to reach your hands straight over your head. Your thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae (T1-T12) and naturally is in slight kyphosis (indented towards the back). It is the most flexible part of your back, excluding the neck, and accounts for opening the chest and shoulders. Overhead range of motion is very important in strength sports, especially weightlifting in which you have to have to perform complex movements such as the snatch and jerk.

Most people walk around with internally rotated shoulders and an exaggerated hunch in the upper back most likely from too much sitting at a desk, texting, tight pectoral muscles ect.  Internally rotate your shoulder (with your arms at your side roll your bicep inwards) and try to raise your arm. You will notice that your shoulder blades will start to separate off your back and your range of motion is very limited. Now; try the reverse, externally rotate your shoulders (rotate your tricep towards your face) and try to raise your arms as high as you can. You will probably notice that your arms go higher. Now, if you are tight, like most of us, your arms might not go all the way above your head – but you should notice a difference.

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(Left) External rotation of the humerus in the shoulder joint. You will notice you have much more mobility this way. (Right) Internal rotation, limited mobility.

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Law of compensation: Arms bent at the elbow (soft lockout)

Now, if you keep trying to push your arms you will notice that another body part will compensate for your lack of mobility. Two of the most common ones are either your elbows will bend or your front ribs will stick out and you will compensate by hyperextending your lower back. If your problem is the first one, your lock out will be soft and the second causes a higher risk for injury and chronic lower back pain. Also, you’re not going to get the bar in the right position if you have to fight your body while you’re trying to lift the weight.

 

Tools that will help work your shoulder/thoracic spine mobility:
Shoulder Stretch at the Wall

  1. Start with your hand on the wall (thumb facing up, hand perpendicular to the floor) and face the wall with your arm extended. Push through the index finger and thumb.
  2. Inhale and lift your sternum. Externally rotate your shoulder by shrugging up and rolling your shoulder blade down and back. You should be able to feel the bottom of your shoulder blade put a little pressure on your back.
  3. You should feel a nice opening in the chest, arms, and shoulders. Make sure to keep your arm extended by engaging both the tricep and bicep. Pull your front ribs down towards your pelvic bone to prevent hyperextension of the lower back.
  4. Slowly begin to rotate to your opposite side to get more opening

**It is more important that you keep your shoulder externally rotated and your spine neutral rather than getting a lot of rotation in the torso!!

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

  1. Start in childs pose
  2. Reach your arms forward and root them into the floor by putting slightly more pressure on the thumb and index finger.
  3. Lift the forearms away from the floor and come onto hands and knees.
  4. Curl the toes under and push up through all four corners of the feet, pushing your thighs and hips up and back towards your heels.
  5. Continue to push through the inner hand while you externally rotate the shoulders and relax the upper traps towards your tailbone.
  6. Find length in the torso and openness in the arms and shoulders. Pull the front ribs towards the pelvis to prevent hyper extension in the lower back.

Variations: Dolphin (Forearm balance prep, requires more mobility), Puppy Dog
As you find more openness in your chest, shoulders, and thoracic spine you can work backbends like Upward Facing Bow pose to further open the area.

 

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Camp Pendleton Recap (January 10th)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to compete at Camp Pendleton with all my favorites from Barbell Brigade. It was such a great day, everyone brought their best to the platform and there were so many positive vibes from all the competitors. Personally, it was my best performance. I did end up making weight at 104.8 pounds. Lightest I have ever been in my life. It was pretty hard, but it definitely set a good tone for the meet. I was stressed out because due to my Yoga Teacher training my schedule was really messed up and I ended up gaining back the 6 pounds I had lost over the past month. Luckily, it was mostly bloating and water weight. Several days before I had told myself if I still weighed 110 I wasn’t going to try. But two days before I had gotten my weight back to 107lbs so I was going to go for it. Dinner skipped and a mini water cut later down to 105.IMG_3672

The Squat

I apologize ahead of time for not having that many pictures. I’ll probably get some back and post some and some point later in time.

The cut had taken a bit of a toll on me, and since I weighed in about 45 minutes before warming up I had really not digested any food or rehydrated myself. Due to this I ended up taking all my planned squats down five kilos. What a great idea! I ended up smoking my openers and making all of my squats. I took 90kg, 95kg, and 97.5 kg. Finishing with a 215lbs squat. Squatting in front of people is really scary for me so hitting all of my squats was a really amazing way to start the meet. I always recommend taking your openers down if you have any question of hitting them. You will probably will end up having a better total in the long run if you make all your lifts anyway.

215lbs is a 20lbs meet PR from a few months ago.

The Bench

Not that exciting. Took 50kg, 52.5kg, and 55kg. Ended up being a 1 pound meet PR. The last one was a bit of a grinder but very clean. Just what I wanted.

The Deadlift

This time around I’ve been training my deadlift by training it less. I am very comfortable deadlifting so there is really no reason to fry myself out. My attempts for the deadlift were 250lbs (basically a warm up attempt, in which I pulled so quickly I almost fell backwards), 275 (medium) and 302.5 (all time PR). I have never pulled anything over 280lbs without a hitch so it was a pretty awesome PR. My deadlift from my last meet was 265 pounds. The energy at the meet was amazing, I barely felt the 300 pounds – there was no question about getting it. It was an amazing feeling. I truly felt like super women for a hot second. Our bodies are capable of amazing things, we often let our brains talk us down.

Conclusion
Really awesome meet, I designed all my training myself, all my meet prep, and all my attempts myself. I thought I did an amazing job picking attempts that I could hit but also were high enough that I pushed myself really hard. All of that mediation from this week kinda worked, I felt completely in tune with my body to the pound. I left nothing in the tank in any lift. Ended up adding about 60 pounds to my total. My wilkes was 382.69. On top of that I had a smile on my face the whole time and had so much fun!!

I have some big numbers in mind for the end of 2015!!
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