Some of you know that October 2015 I competed in StrongFirst’s Tactical Strength Challenge. It was definitely an experience! I’m planning on competing again in April, but I thought I’d give write down the entire experience for you as well as my training program I’m using this time for the competition.
First of all, it was a great experience! I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous going in. Sure, I’m a big ‘gal who enjoys posting inspiring things on Facebook and Instagram, not to mention one of my favorite hashtags is #PlusSizeAthlete but still, I was nervous! Happily my husband came along to take some videos and I was doing the competition with a friend. I would definitely recommend if its possible to do the challenge with a friend, friends are awesome and help take your mind off of all the nervousness!
So, the Tactical Strength Challenge consists of 3 events. First are deadlifts, you get 3 chances to do your heaviest deadlift. Now, before I signed up for the challenge I had NEVER done a barebell deadlift. I have fooled around with kettlebell deadlifts and dumbell deadlifts but nothing too serious. Did I also mention that I signed up late and only had a month to train for it? Yeah, I’m crazy! For this I just worked on form. I did deadlifts twice a week and for the first two weeks my form was the only thing I was interested in. I didn’t lift too heavy, I did challenge myself but not very much. I’ve heard horror stories of how people had hurt their backs doing deadlifts with poor form and I was not going to be one of those people. When I started it was a huge challenge to lift 135lbs, that was the heaviest I went but I ended up practicing form at about 115lbs. After practicing form I had two more weeks to start seeing how strong I was. I ended up at around 175lbs in my last workout before the challenge. I had another workout scheduled, but it didn’t happen. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was coming down with a cold and I just felt too tired and drained to make it to my last workout.
How did deadlifts go? I started at 155lbs, then went to 175lbs, and tried 200lbs but my
right hand ended up letting go of the bar. Being a rookie, I made a very rookie mistake. I didn’t line up on the bar correctly and a lot more weight was on my right hand and it just let go. If I had it all to do again I would have started at 175lbs, then 185, and probably 195 after that. Probably lining up in the center of the bar would be a great idea too…
Next event! Depending on what category you sign up for depends on if you do pull-ups for a flexed arm hold. I was in the Novice category so I did the flexed arm hold… but didn’t actually do it. My grip-strength isn’t exactly strong and I literally had nowhere to train for this. My husband promised to make me a bar to train on, which he eventually did, 5 days before the competition. So naturally I just didn’t work up enough strength to do it. I had to pass. Honestly going into the event I knew it was a long-shot and I may have to pass on that event so I was mentally prepared for that. I’m hoping to be able to do this in April, but I’m really not sure. Happily I have a lot more time to train now and I also have a better plan of attack!
Last event is as many kettlebell snatches as you can do in 5 minutes. My category used 12kg kettlebells which is roughly 26lbs. When I had practiced this at home I ended up at about 77. The time came for the event and I ended up at 67. I didn’t spend as much time training for this part as I could have. 1. I really don’t like kettlebell snatches so it was hard to be motivated. 2. I enjoyed deadlifts better… so why interrupt perfectly good deadlifts to do kettlebell snatches?
All-in-all I was happy with how everything went. I would have preferred to do better of course but I really didn’t know what to expect. My big goal going in was to not finish in last place, which I didn’t! Now that I know what to expect I’m really excited about the event in April!
This time around my training is going to be a lot better. First of all I have more than a month to prepare which is going to be huge. Also I’m not planning on being sick so that is a plus (not that I was planning on being sick last time either…). This time around I’m doing 3 days of strength training. 1 traditional upper body weight training day, 1 day focusing on all the movements from the strength challenge, and 1 traditional leg day workout. I’m also doing cardio 3 days a week with the hopes it will improve my endurance for the kettlebell snatches. It’s a pretty big schedule, I may not make all my workouts but at least I have a plan in place!
So, that is this big ‘gals experience with a strength competition. Of course I was only competing with myself but thats the best way to compete! If you are interested I highly encourage you to do your research, find a workout partner and go for a challenge. Whether it be the strength challenge or a 5K race, whatever you’re interested in. It will definitely be an experience to remember!