Big ‘Gal Training for StrongFirst’s Tactical Strength Challenge

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

175lbs, not too bad for one month of training!

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!

I’m not gonna lie, these were horrible

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!

Somehow I always end up in the middle of pictures…

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