Training with deadlifting legends and watching them, and a few other man mountains, compete!

This is such an exciting week! So much strong stuff going on. So much lifting to do. No point forcing an introduction to this post…

Sunday 3 August

I am desperate to match my Strongwoman deadlift PB (132.5kg) with a proper Powerlifting deadlift with beautiful, proper deadlift form. So desperate, I’d sell my soul… OK that’s a slight exaggeration, but paying a few quid for a seminar with two of the best deadlifters in the world definitely isn’t.

Luckily, The Commando Temple in Deptford had arranged a workshop with Andy Bolton, the first person to deadlift 1000lb (about 454kg), and Benedikt Magnusson, the current world record holder for the deadlift. I didn’t need asking twice if I wanted to go!!

The day started badly. For some reason, I got it into my head that I didn’t need to leave the house until 8.30am, but that was actually when my train left for Waterloo! I tried to do the 15-minute walk to the station in 6 minutes and, shockingly, failed! I don’t know why I didn’t just accept that I wasn’t going to make it. I could’ve made sure I’d packed everything I needed…

But no. I tried running. I hate running. And I ran in Converse. My bag was bouncing all over the place. My arms and legs were doing interesting things. Why didn’t I just accept it?!?!

The next train was due to arrive at Waterloo at 9.23, giving me 6 minutes to leg it to Waterloo East and jump on my connecting train. I actually arrived at 9.12! I needn’t have worried at all! I’d got myself all worked up (and knackered) for no reason!

And Andy and Benni were 40 minutes late anyway! Typical!!

We started with deadlifts, no surprise there, and worked on them for about 3.5 hours! I have no idea how many reps I did at 60kg, as we looked at everything: foot, shin, hand, hips and head position; hip drive; tightness; breathing…everything!

Then came the opportunity to put some weight on the bar! I’d heard tales of an immediate 20kg increase during an Andy Bolton workshop, and I wanted some of that.

80kg…90kg…100kg…all good! But 110kg you evil piece of crap! I failed it twice! Why?!?! OK, so I was trying to max out a week after a competition, that was a bad idea, but then I did proclaim that I am stupid last week. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be beaten and eventually got 110kg up. Phew.

120kg then…fail! No! Try again. Yes! Success!! A good powerlifting-standard deadlift PB! Woohoo! But only 10kg…

130kg…haha! You’re having a laugh. Failed 3 times. Couldn’t even get it off the floor. How did I manage to shift 132.5kg in any way back in March?! That was bloody heavy!

After lunch came squats. Andy got us to squat really wide – for more carry over to deadlifts. It felt weird, and the first time I tried 85kg I went too low, got stuck and failed. I got it the next time though. And, of course, because I’m an idiot I went for 90kg, and got it! BOOM! I’m not sure if it would get the white lights at a comp though, but at least I know I can move with 90kg on my back. One step closer to 100kg. Will I get there before my next birthday?

Finally, we covered bench press. Andy got us to practise the set up but no actual pressing happened. His way wouldn’t be OK at a GBPF comp though: we only had our toes, not a flat foot, on the floor. But I understand the tightness Andy was talking about. Man it hurt.

Andy and Benni with me and Tara. Gorgeousness!

Andy and Benni with me and Tara. Gorgeousness!

So sadly, I didn’t get 20kg on my deadlift, not that I really should’ve expected to, or even tried to! Maxing out two weeks in a row…idiot!

But what this did show me is that I have the strength to get 110kg and 120kg, but I don’t believe it. I talk myself out of it, without really knowing that’s what I’m doing. Although I’m telling myself the lift’s going to be successful, there’s not enough conviction behind it. And that sucks! I can’t have 5 attempts at a powerlifting competition because my head wasn’t in it!!

So what am I doing about this? Well, I’m going to have to get angry (that’s pretty easy) and then channel that anger into my lifts (hmmm, not so easy).

I’m also going to start doing some visualisations. I’m going to play out lifting 120kg, 130kg etc. in my head every night before going to bed. My body and stupid head should start thinking it’s already done this weight easily, and will transfer into a successful lift. Well, that’s what the internet said, and when has the internet ever lie?!

I’ve also bought a book on sports psychology.

I feel a bit New Age…

Monday 4 August

I hadn’t intended on having a rest day today – I was going to do shoulders – but I woke up with a migraine. So I spent the day either asleep, popping painkillers or force feeding myself.

Tuesday 5 August

Can’t say I was feeling particularly brilliant today, but I dragged my sorry arse to work and then into the gym once I got home. And because I missed yesterday’s workout, tonight’s was epic!! 😦

I’ve decided not to squat quite as wide as Andy suggested on Sunday. My squat isn’t particularly narrow, but taking it a couple of inches wider feels wrong. The Coach hasn’t said I need to squat any wider, so I’ll keep it the way I feel comfortable and just work on not allowing my stupid knees to cave in. Stupid knees.

  • Squats:
    • 20kg x 10
    • 40kg x 5
    • 50kg x 5
    • 62.5kg x 5 (x 5 sets)
  • Pause squats:
    • 60kg x 3 (x 5 sets)
  • Romanian deadlifts:
    • 60kg x 8 (x 4 sets)
  • Inverted row:
    • 12
    • 10 (x 2 sets)
    • 8
  • Seal rows – it took me a fucking age to work out exactly what weight I needed. I was warned to go light. Guess I took it too literally…:
    • 2.5kg per hand x 8
    • 4kg x 8
    • 15lb x 8
    • 20lb x 8
  • Seated dumbbell press:
    • 20lb x 8 (x 4 sets)
  • Klokov press:
    • 15kg x 10 (x 4 sets)
  • Band front raises – using red band (27kg resistance):
    • 12 (x 4 sets)
  • Clams:
    • 6 (x 5 sets)

Wednesday 6 August

I’ve finally started feeling human again, but I really need Friday to hurry the fuck up! I’m so excited about Saturday!!

I tried out the set up Andy suggested, only keeping my feet flat on the floor (which is what I have to do in GBPF comps). I got awful cramps in my lats and hips! Haha! I think that means I’m doing it right!

  • Bench press:
    • 20kg x 10 (x 2 sets)
    • 35kg x 5
    • 42.5kg x 3 (x 8 sets)
  • Incline dumbbell press:
    • 25lb x 8 (x 4 sets)
  • Triceps extensions (bands):
    • purple band x 10 (x 4 sets)
  • Band pushdowns – 2sec pause at lockout:
    • red band x 12 (x 4 sets)
  • Dumbbell shrugs – 2sec pause at top:
    • 40lb x 10 (x 4 sets)

Thursday 7 August

Deadlifts! Yes!! Time to put into practice all those hours working on deadlifts with Andy and Benni. I kept an eye on everything, particularly my shins and driving through my heels. They felt super speedy and tight. I’m really happy that the 5 reps I did at 95kg were solid.

  • Deadlift:
    • 60kg x 5
    • 70kg x 5
    • 80kg x 5
    • 85kg x 5
    • 90kg x 5
    • 95kg x 5
  • Front squats:
    • 20kg x 10
    • 40kg x 5
    • 52.5kg x 3 (x 6 sets)
  • Rack squats:
    • 50kg x 4 + 40kg x 4
    • 40kg x 8 (x 3 sets)
  • Side lunges:
    • 12kg kettlebell x 5 (x 3 sets)
  • Kettlebell swing:
    • 20kg x 10 (x 4 sets)
  • SUPERSET: Inverted band rows/low band rows:
    • green band + bar x 12 / blue band x 8 (x 4 sets)

Friday 8 August

Friday at last! Woohoo! As I’m off to Europe’s Strongest Man tomorrow, tonight’s gym session had to include as much of tomorrow’s session as possible. Obviously I couldn’t squat, so I’ll have to save those for when I get home on Saturday night! Fun!

  • Bench press:
    • 20kg x 10
    • 20kg + red bands x 8
    • 32.5kg + red bands x 5 (x 5 sets)
  • Military press:
    • 20kg + purple bands x 6; 20kg x 2 – this was too heavy!!
    • 15kg + purple bands x 8 (x 3 sets)
  • Snatch grip high pulls:
    • 20kg x 2
    • 40kg x 2 (x 2 sets)
    • 50kg x 2 (x 5 sets)
  • Parallel bar dips:
    • 12, 10, 8, 6, 4
  • Dumbbell fly:
    • 4kg x 12 (x 4 sets)
  • SUPERSET: band pushdowns/band kickbacks – 2 second pause at lockout:
    • red band/yellow band x 12 (x 4 sets)

And then I baked a peanut butter and chocolate cake for tomorrow…

Chocolate and peanut butter sponge with peanut butter buttercream. Between the layers: mini Reese's peanut butter cups. On top: Reese's Pieces. Each slice was 470kcal of peanut buttery gorgeousness!!

Chocolate and peanut butter sponge with peanut butter buttercream. Between the layers: mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. On top: Reese’s Pieces. Each slice was 470kcal of peanut buttery gorgeousness!!

Saturday 9 August


This was an early start! My alarm went of at 5.45am so I could get to King’s Cross for the 8.03am train to Leeds. My kingdom for a shinkansen! It would never take so long if Japan Rail were in charge!!

5 hours after leaving the house, we arrive to find this:

Deadlift warm-up area!

Deadlift warm-up area!

Of course, this meant I tried to get as many photos of Thor as I possibly could…

Work it, Thor! Work it!

Work it, Thor! Work it! #stalkerfangirl

After dragging myself away from perving over my favourite Viking, we found our seats, up in the rafters where not even my camera zoom could make much out! Anyway, this was my view:

The view from my seat. Seriously zoomed in. Note to self: buy tickets earlier next time!!

The view from my seat. Seriously zoomed in. Note to self: buy tickets earlier next time!!

The day started off with the Deadlift Championship. It claimed it’s first victim before it had even started: 2x World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw had to pull out because he tweaked his back during his comp the previous weekend. He tried a few warm up lifts, but said it didn’t feel right. Gutted! 😦

All 10 of the competitors (Martin Wildauer, Misha Kloklyaev, Vytautas Lalas, Krzysztof Radzikowski, Johannes Årsjö, Graham Hick, Mark Felix, Eddie Halls, Laurence Shahlaei and Thor Bjornsson), plus the two guest lifters (Benni and Andy Bolton) had to lift the opening weight of 400kg. Kloklyaev was the first man down. 11 deadlifters and 9 competitors left for ESM proper.

A few lifters – Loz, Benni and Andy – skipped over the next weight (420kg). Radzikowski and Hicks failed, and Lalas pulled up with a hamstring problem 😦 8 deadlifters and 8 ESM competitors left.

435kg was next. Arsjo, after getting the Swedish record with his last lift, decided not to take part in the deadlift any more. Benni and Andy skipped. Halls did it twice! Thor and Felix failed. No injuries! 5 deadlifters and 8 ESM competitors left.

The next weight, 446kg, was a new British record. Loz got hurt!! 😦 Wildauer and Bolton (shockingly) failed. 2 deadlifters – Halls and Benni – and 7 ESM competitors left.

Finally the new World Record: 461kg. Benni went up first. And BOOM! A new World Record was set! Eddie Halls up next. Got it…but dropped it so it was disallowed! Silly boy! Still, it was a strong lift. Poor guy! But it also heralded the end of his comp too. 6 ESM competitors left.

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that we didn’t have a full contingent of competitors, but I hope everyone recovers soon. Poor buggers all of them.

Next event: the Super Yoke. 430kg of nastiness across the shoulders, carried over 40m in the fasted time possible. Arsjo won; Thor second. Poor Wildauer’s hammie, which he tweaked in the deadlift, was clearly bothering him. But everyone finished.

Third event: Thor’s Hammer hold. Basically a 25kg front hold, but the weight was hammer shaped. Thor won, despite being the one with the longest arms!

Fourth event: 100kg dumbbell press. Again, Thor won.

Fifth event: Atlas stones. 6 stones, 100-200kg onto whisky barrels, with a 5m sprint between them. Thor was the only one to get all 6 stones and then he treated us all to a t-shirt ripping show! Hallelujah!

Final event: loading race. Thor had to come fifth and Arsjo had to win for Arsjo to win. That was never going to happen, and Thor ran away with it! Wildauer sat this event out. Don’t blame him. He was clearly in agony 😦

So the final placings:

  1. Thor
  2. Johannes Arsjo
  3. Graham Hicks
  4. Krzysztof Radzikowski
  5. Mark Felix
  6. Martin Wildauer

I finally got home at 9.30pm! And I still needed to squat. So yeah, that’s what I did despite being pretty knackered!

  • Squats:
    • 20kg x 10
    • 40kg x 5
    • 60kg x 5
    • 70kg x 3
    • 75kg x 2
  • Bodyweight squats with bands round knees:
    • red bands x 8 (x 4 sets)

Next week isn’t going to be nearly as exciting, but it is the last week of my off-season mesocycle before I start peaking for my next powerlifting comp. Yowsers. Time flies!!!




  1. lozette · · Reply

    I had a few sessions with a sports psych before the British last year and visualisations were exactly what she prescribed!

    1. Woohoo! That’s good to hear. Thanks lovely x

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