Well…there I am. So I recently did an interview with the magazine Functional Sports Nutrition (FSN). It was published in this month’s issue…and I’m on the front cover looking…bliiiigh #covergirl #not 😉 But sure look! Have a read there if you can and if you want to subscribe to the mag, it’s genuinely really interesting and informative, dealing with all topics on nutrition for athletes (and everyone else)! The subscription is not expensive (£20/year for 6 issues or £35/two years for 12 issues). Managed to get an aul plug in there for my sponsors Optimum Nutrition and The Punnet Health Store too.
Thanks to my lovely UK based friend, Naomi Mills for flagging this with me…as I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.
Thanks to FSN for including me in their magazine, ’tis a pleasure, and big thanks to weightlifting photographer extraordinaire Ramsey Kechacha from Under The Bar for the cover photo for this piece – legend.
xxx In Squats We Trust xxx
Interview with Functional Sports Nutrition Magazine
Without going all cringe and intense on it…this lift has to be the highlight of my weightlifting career to date.
The goal to be the first woman in Ireland to officially clean and jerk 100kg has been top of my list for a few years now. The last couple of months have been a race between myself and a few others in the country for the title…most notably, between myself and my training partner and one of my besties, Aoife MacNeill. We both knew we were capable but just didn’t know who would hit it first on the platform, nothing like some healthy competition (She’s also incredibly sound and a big ride as you can see –>)
100kg fail, Euros 2016
I missed 100kg at the European Champs in Norway in April and then at the International Grand Prix in Tenerife in June I cleaned 100kg but missed the jerk. So that was mildly irritating :/ …but I knew it’d come soon and no better place to do it than at the Irish Championships. #nopressure
The Weightlifting Ireland National Championships took place last Saturday 9th July. I snatched 63kg, missed 66kg and then hit 66kg with which I was sort of happyish…kind of…not really…but sure look, the snatch is still my nemesis (head wreck), but I got that over with and focused on the clean and jerk. I opened with 93kg, then got 97kg which was a new personal best (PB) and new National Record…but my goal was the hundy…and it felt easy! So I finished with a 166kg total (a best total to date) and Irish Champion in the 69kg weight category, with a bonus of the Irish Record in the Clean and Jerk. Check out the video above if you’re interested, and as per usual, I apologise for wearing a onesie, but it’s obligatory and also, apologies for my demon face, but it comes out when I’m in “the zone”. (Also, for those who work in pounds; 100kg is 15 stone and 10 pounds or 220 pounds altogether).
I want to thank everyone who was there on the day – the support in the room was unbelievable and it really helped me, especially on my final lift. The support and congrats since then has been overwhelming and I appreciate every word and message from you all, it genuinely does not go unnoticed. The encouragement inspires me to strive for bigger and better things. Huge thanks to my fellow competitors, my Prodigy Barbell club members and coach, Sami Dowling, they knew how important this lift was to me. Massive love to all of my family and friends (#blessed), my fellow coaches from CrossFit 353 and our members, all of my clients, and so much gratitude goes to my physical therapist, Paul Opperman (my godfather/sensei/buddha), of Dublin Sports Clinic and to my sound sponsors Optimum Nutrition, Sara Da Silva and The Punnet Health Store who help me with my sporting career which is important as we receive no funding (and on that note, if anyone wants to sponsor Weightlifting Ireland please contact me immediately and I’ll get you in touch with the board. We need help. There is a serious lack of money in the “smaller” sports in Ireland).
To finish my emotional ramble, the satisfaction and relief when you hit a major goal in life is like no other feeling in the world. We are all capable of greatness and I’d encourage everyone to set themselves individual goals and chase them, however trivial they may seem. I hope that now I’ve hit the 100 milestone, it’ll open the gates for many girls to follow and will pave the way for even more females to partake in weightlifting and progress up through the ranks and increase the competition and awareness of our sport for the better.
The Prodigy Crew …post competition banter #ladsladslads
It was a fab experience, apart from the part just before I was interviewed during the news and weather, when I was silently sitting and panicking that I didn’t take my bottle of water over to the couch with me…I was so afraid I’d dry up and be like this… #cottonmouth
However, all was grand, big thanks to TV3’s Ireland AM crew for having me on and hopefully it has helped increase awareness on Olympic Weightlifting, girls that lift and what I do in general!
How to get through Heavy Squats: Physical and Mental Key Points
Please note, this goes out to y’all who actually know how to/are able to squat efficiently with correct posture and mechanics. If you DON’T then join us in CrossFit 353 or holla and I’ll teach you the ways personally. Contact me here (I will also do a post soon on how to actually squat). Remember my tag line always “In Squats We Trust”. #gospel
Today I was squatting heavy. The video is of my 5 rep max (5rm) back squat at 132.5kg. Last week my Prodigy Barbell coach, Sami Dowling, had programmed me to hit 5 reps as heavy as I could as part of my session and I got 127.5. So this week I moved up 5kg (I was going to go 130kg but fellow CrossFit353 Coach/bestie/booty builder/Celtic Cup team mate Gary Featherstone agreed I should stop pissing about and go 132.5kg). The most important thing that I have to do when squatting (and lifting anything for that matter) is believing I can do it, and committing to the lift. However, here are more points to note which always help me…
What I cue myself PHYSICALLY during these reps:
BREATHE AND RELAX – I force myself to believe I am comfortable. This slows down my heart rate and prevents me from panicking. DEEP BREATH, BRACE HARD – ensures I have oxygen; I breathe in, brace HARD and hold my breath throughout the lift (again if you do not know how to brace properly, you are missing out on massive improvements across all strength and conditioning movements. Again, holla and I will teach you the ways #plug ). STRAIGHT DOWN, HEELS – this forces me to not hinge massively forward and to drive the pressure through my heels. DRIVE UP, KNEES OUT – makes sure I drive straight up and keep my knees from caving in so that I use my bootay (so, so key). BREATHE, STAY TIGHT AND RELAX – In between reps I focus on taking a few breaths to slow down my heart rate and let the blood flow properly so that I don’t pass out. This would not be ideal. Going into my last rep here, I knew the 4th one was difficult…and knew I needed a second or two longer at the top before going again to ensure I’d get it. I was also convincing myself that I felt good and to stay even straighter and lead with my chest to nail the last one…it worked 😉 (REPEAT AS ABOVE)
What I cue myself MENTALLY during these reps:
Before the exercise – visualising yourself doing a good rep before carrying out the movement is crucial, as it prepares your brain for what you’re about to do. Once your brain sees it, the neurological paths have been prepped so that your body can just do the task at hand.
Commit Before the Lifts – I tell myself it’s going to be heavy and won’t be easy. I don’t freak myself out but just respect and acknowledge the weight while still keeping the faith. Once I’ve admitted that to myself, I know I won’t shock myself or freak out mid lift when I realise “oh shite this is heavy”. What’s the point in having the weight on the bar if you’re going to bottle it? JUST COMMIT.
The Walk Out – get both feet under the bar, breathe in, brace and squat it up – make it a pretty and strong walk out. This way, you are comfortable and not all over the shop before you attempt to squat. If your walk out is messy, it will take your focus away from what you are supposed to be doing. My fellow CrossFit 353/Prodigy/bestie swolemate Swandy (aka Andy Hickey – he’s swole and his name is Andy) always reminds me of this point. Extremely key. Well done Swandy. Unfortunately on my walk out here, there was a guy beside me, so just had to double check I had enough clear way #gymproblems
During the Lifts – stay committed ON EACH REP. Commit as much to your first one as your last. The better you do your first one, the better your last will be. One thing I always tell my clients is; when you hit a dark patch/sticking point DON’T STOP DRIVING. If you slow down it is ok! You are fighting gravity, you’re not supposed to be able to just glide up easy if you’re trying to hit an uber heavy squat…otherwise it’s too feckin’ easy. So calm the frook down when you hit that point and just keep pushing up, even if you feel like an absolute snail. DO NOT look down as that’s the opposite direction in which you need to move. #science
And that’s that. After a max squat you will more than likely be a little shaky…as I was. Sure look, it’s all for a good cause. Next week I’ll just commit to going heavier. And so on. #InSquatsWeTrust
Last year was my first year at Euros and it was a major goal of mine to qualify again in 2016✅
The relief and excitement is unreal. A full team of 7 guys and 7 girls are going, all of whom are legends and enjoy the craic, like myself. Including TWO of my club mates (Aoife MacNeill and Adam Swan) and my coach, Sami Dowling, who has been selected to go as one of the coaches on the panel.
Finally getting around to “blogging”. I meant to post a “pre-competition” post last week…but I was flat out with clients, coaching, training and “getting in the zone” that I just didn’t have time 😉 I’ll stop with the quotation marks now, …”or will I”.
So the Weightlifting Ireland Club Championships took place at the weekend in LIT Thurles. The National Club Champs… …are the second biggest competition in Olympic Weightlifting in the Weightlifting Ireland calendar year (the National Champs being the biggest), as all of Ireland’s Weightlifting Clubs go head to head and fight for the title of being the best (aka STRONGEST) olympic lifting club in the country. Each club enters teams of four athletes (all male, or all female) and the top three lifters of each team will score. The weights (kilograms) that each lifter lifts, plus their respective body weight is calculated to produce a sinclair coefficient and all of these scores are added up. The team with the highest score then wins. Simples. The reason why four people are on a team is just in case somebody bombs out (aka. misses all of either their snatches or their clean and jerks)…and then, obviously if two people bomb out, your team is screwed :/
The Gurrrrls My team was myself and my besties, Katey Byrd, Aoife MacNeill and Emma Dowling. We were happy(ish) with our lifts (we’re never fully satisfied)…I lifted a 64kg snatch (meh) and a 92kg clean and jerk (very happy – a new competition PB). Three other Prodigy girls also lifted on Sunday, Rebecca Berardelli, Leah Mc Carthy and Leah Pittam and they came away with PBs as well. Legends. #GIRLSTHATLIFT
Thank y’all Massive thank you to all of the organisers from Weightlifting Ireland and all of the clubs for putting together a really well run championships, to the hosts at LIT Thurles on the beautiful facility, to the other clubs and athletes for the challenging competition, to the spectators, friends, clients, CrossFit 353 heads and family for all of the ongoing support, to my sponsors Optimum Nutrition, Sara Da Silva and The Punnet for their help and of courrrrrse to God Almighty…lol, joke…but lastly, to my coach, Sami Dowling, fellow team mates and Prodigy Barbell club members for bossing it and pushing each other at comps and at training to nail lifts all the time, whilst still having the craic. #craiciskey
Here is my final lift of the day – 92kg Clean and Jerk. Excuse the cringy celebration, this lift meant a lot…