My Powerlifting Journey - My decision to go up a weight class
As I was just about to submit the online application form for the Easterns Powerlifting Competition next February, I was hovering over the weight class options. Under 63’s being my usual category I naturally went to click on it when a wave of uncertainty just came over me. I had been thinking about going up to the under 72’s for quite a while, and thought I had made the decision to postpone that to when I ‘got muscly enough’ to justify going up. So when I went to submit that form clicking on my usual weight category, it just didn’t feel right. So I changed it.
‘’Under 72’s here I come !’’
This blog post is about a lot more than just my change of weight class. I’m going to go into the logistics behind the decision with an outlook on future progression, and also the mental aspect of it, how and what I perceive those to be. Another big reason why I am moving out of my perceived ‘comfort zone’ is to break the stigma and do what others don’t. Most people will cut their weight to fit into a weight class that may be more advantageous for their wilks points plus it will give them more of a chance to place. As much as I understand and respect that, there are exceptions to the rule where especially ‘newer’ lifters can benefit from possibly going up in weight in order to grow. Allow me to explain...
When I started competing I had a choice to make. I was around 65kg/5 foot 6 and fairly new to powerlifting training. My bodyfat percentage was probably around the 22% mark. (Now I know that those numbers may seem completely random when all we are looking at in powerlifting is a particular ‘weight class’ but these will be important factors to consider when you are looking at your future progression.)
So I had to choose whether to stick at my current weight of 65kg and therefore land myself in the under 72’s weight category, or to cut my weight to under 63kg. I chose to cut for my first competition. I’m not going to lie and say that I should have stuck where I was (eventhough I would never give the advice of cutting for a first comp to any of my lifters) because on that day, I placed first in my category in my very first powerlifting competition (Fife Open 2017 - under 63kg), proud was an understatement - it was one of the best days of my life.
Fast forwarding to the following 3 competitions I did following that, 2 full powers and a bench only comp (in which I weighed in at 63.5kg as a last minute decision to enter and therefore technically competed in the under 72’s) I started noticing that eventhough the competitions were fairly close together (all in 1 year) I was not making any significant strength gains. It seemed like I was always cutting or keeping an eye on those extra 2-3kg’s. It may not seem like much, but to me it was 5% of my bodyweight, a significant reduction when it comes to trying to gain muscle.
So the logical step after my last competition which was the Scottish Classic Championship (2018), was to take some time out to evaluate. The smartest thing to do was to work on gaining new muscle over a period of a few months, in order to then work on strengthening it. This brings us to now, where I am 66kg, slightly thicker in appearance but definitely more confident within myself.
Mind Over Matter
I am a big believer of women being strong. You can call me a feminist or whatever, I never really thought about the labels, just about what makes me feel confident and empowered, and being strong physically and mentally is something I pride myself on, yet something I have an inner conflict with at the same time. I have been quite vocal about this on my social media, and also quite vocal about how training is good for my psyche, my mind, my inner peace. I know a lot of you can relate.
When it comes to body image however, it is kind of strange to think back throughout the different stages in my life and how I perceived my body to be. I was always the chubby girl growing up, which then turned into an obsession with being thin in my teenage years. It wasn’t until I found lifting that I started to respect my body for what it was capable of instead of what it looked like. This was the healthiest approach I had ever taken to looking after my body. Instead of stressing over the number on the scales (and finding satisfaction in seeing a lower than average number) I became obsessed with the number on the bar. A healthy obsession, a fixation that led me to love it so much I have made a career out of it. It wasn’t until I had completely forgotten about how big or small I was that I was able to look into the mirror one day and think;
‘’There is absolutely nothing I would change about my body now.’’
Before I finish this article there is one more thing I want to touch upon, and that is my ego. Of course I am aware of the fact that there will be girls much stronger than me in a category where I will more than likely be one of the lightest at 66-67kg. Will this make me feel weak? Probably. Will this bruise my ego? Of course it will. But here’s the question I asked myself when I made the decision to throw all of that self doubt and negative talk out of the window;
‘’Will it allow me to grow?’’ Most definitely.
When I look into the future of my lifting career I feel like I have only scratched the surface of my potential, I have only been competing for just over a year. I see myself getting bigger and stronger over the next few years, and I am in this for the long haul. A short term gain that could set my potential growth back another year just is not worth it. I’d rather lift amongst bigger stronger women who inspire me to become who I know I will soon be.
So girls here’s my take away message;
‘’Be strong, be yourself, and don’t let anyone else tell you what is right or wrong when it comes to your bodies. Be unapologetically YOU.’’
I hope this blog post has helped anyone in any way :)