Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best Training Day Ever

Today was a great day- I think it was the weather.  It's been FREEZING here in Santa Cruz and I'm a baby when it comes to cold weather.  Some days I get through my whole workout never feeling like I ever got warm.  Today it was 70 degrees and I was feeling good.

AM workout I did my squat triple plus back offs and hit 137kg.  Was so stoked.  Followed by my Snatch pull 4's which I did at 105kg.

Evening I made up Snatches from yesterday (which conversely was not a good day).  They were so bad yesterday I asked Kyle if I could re-do them tonight along with my usual PM workout.  So I snatched 75kg every 2 min.  Then Power Cleans- hit 90kg for a double.  Yay!  Was happy about that because I am not very good at power cleans.  However, because I have this problem of crashing down into the bottom of my cleans, losing tension, and thus getting buried under the weight we have made them a regular part of my training to work on precision of receiving the bar and tightening up as I catch it (not to mention my slow elbows).  It's starting to come around...finally.

Monday, January 14, 2013

HRV and Yay For PR's!

It's been almost 3 weeks since I started using BioForce HRV and I'm pretty happy with it so far... I think.  The purpose of HRV is ultimately to measure your recovery and to be able to manipulate your training load and intensity accordingly.  HRV measures your heart rate variability and gives you a score (usually somewhere between 50-100 depending on what type of athlete you are) and a color (green, amber, red) to let you know what state of recovery your body is in.  The interesting thing is that my HRV is incredibly high.  While most weightlifters will be in the 70's or so mine has consistently been in the high 90's and low 100's- that of an elite level endurance athlete.  I have been baffled by this as obviously I hate running, I don't do running or cardio, and I am in fact a weightlifter.  Furthermore, I have had mostly greens, only a handfull of ambers, which also baffles me as I train really hard all the time to the point where I feel like I can hardly walk.  I'm not sure yet if this is actually because I'm not doing enough or because I am simply recovering well (I'm leaning towards the latter as I get amber about once per week and I know that I am recovering well due to a super clean diet, absolutely no alcohol, and I am actually sleeping well for the first time in my life).   Having said that you are supposed to collect data for a while to start to understand how it applies to you and your training and recovery.  

Measuring my HRV has become a little game for me where I breath and hope my heart rate is low and my score is good. For some reason, maybe because I'm competitive, I always hope for the low 100's.  I don't know why but I've taken pride in the fact that my score is so high and wonder how my heart rate variability is that of an endurance athlete- elite none the less.  Most days I'm happy that when I get green and a high score that I can mentally approach the days training hard because even though I may feel beat up, my HRV is telling me that I'm ready to push it anyway. 

Today I got an amber.  My score was 88.  So I went in for my morning squats and pulls with this in mind.  I only got 130kg for 3 in the B.Squat and 130kg for 4 in my pulls which is significantly lower than my best just a week ago (137x3/ 135x5 respectively).  Mentally I could accept this because I knew it was expected- no need for my occasional flip out which usually requires a walk around the block before I come back to the platform to finish my training.

I thought to myself, "ok, I have 6 more hours of coaching to do today, then I have my snatches and jerks so I will probably not be putting up any big numbers today and that's ok."  Much to my surprise I got a quick burst of a second wind and PR'd my Power Snatch at 70kg (best for 1) and did it for a double!  Yay me!

Oh, unfortunately that second wind was short lived because I was burned for the jerks.  Only got 100 for a double (compared to 107 for a triple last week). Guess you take the good with the bad.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

And we're back

It's been a tough couple of weeks and though my squats are on the rise I sure am wrecked.  Even knowing that the volume and intensity in the squats and pulls would take a toll on my classic lifts and overall recovery for the time being I couldn't help but feel discouraged when I couldn't hit the numbers I really wanted.  Today, however, felt promising.  I hit 80/105 with a 185 total.  Not bad for week 6 of the base cycle.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Slumps Are Temporary

I've written about this topic in various capacities whether on the gym blog, older personal blog posts, etc.  The past week has been tough with the Holidays and the inevitable high sugar consumption for three days straight.  Not to mention I'm in the fourth week of heavy squats and pulls for 5 sets of 5 multiple days per week.  I'm not feeling the most confident or triumphant as I have at other times and I'll quote my friend Tyler on this- "My CNS hurts."

It's crazy how much sugar can really F you up!  I eat a squeaky clean Paleo Diet like 99.9% of the time.  I have eliminated alcohol completely (haven't really drank for 6+months).  I've been killing it in the gym for the most part and suddenly Christmas rolls around.  Maybe it's a poor excuse but I gave myself permission to be a relatively regular person for a few days as I hung with my family and friends.  I earned it after all.   This included not more than 2 glasses of champagne per day (Sun-Tues) and definitely included large quantities of See's candy, chocolate cake, and cheese fondu served on cubes of sour dough bread.  And man was it DELICIOUS!  It actually reminded me why normal people find it so hard to go on the straight and narrow with their diet.  Because I've gotten so accustomed to eating clean and in measured proportions I forgot how delicious the food from an average American's diet is.

So now here we are in the fourth week of this gnarly training cycle.  It feels like my equilibrium is off.  I feel unbalanced and uncoordinated in the technical lifts.  I'm missing lifts in my warm up weight range and my joints ache.  I'm certain that the bad diet plays a huge roll in this.  But there is also the fact that I'm squatting and pulling HEAVY.

The cool thing is that my squats have gone up every session.  I started my first week of B.Squat 5's at 123kg and finished this week with 130kg x4.  I actually hit 130x3 then had a technical error dropping my chest at the bottom causing a miss.  So I went back in and got 4 the next set.  I'm certain if I hadn't gone and screwed up technically the first time I'd have made it.

Though I don't feel crisp and am far from feeling on top of the world I keep telling myself that this feeling is temporary.  I've been here before.  You can't feel awesome all the time when you are training hard (especially when you throw a few days of nasty eating in there).  Sometime you just have to come in and grind through a few tough workouts- even though your joints and muscles ache and you might not be lifting the weights you were lifting last week- suck it up, do what you can and trust that when the volume decreases/ intensity increases in the next phase of your cycle it will all come together.

Also, on a side note I got Bio Tech HRV for Christmas.  It's a gadget that measures your heart rate variability and essentially your recovery.  So you know how recovered you are and what you can realistically expect from yourself on a given day.  It takes a couple weeks to get in tune with your body so I'm just accumulating data for now but I will write about how it works out later.

Hope you all had a great Christmas, Hanukkah,  or whatever else!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Go on and kick that leg out there to the side.


Most days I train twice- except Saturday max day.  Today was a pretty fun double day.  I did some power clean triples (to 87kg) and push press 5's in the AM session.  I was feeling decently strong and rested though it looked like I had been watching too many of my favorite Diamond Dave videos (see below).  When I go heavy in power cleans I get a little crazy and start kicking my feet out to wide and lean into the bar when I receive it instead of driving my elbows up and sitting my hips down.  In any case I worked down in weight for a number of back offs to attempt to get some pretty reps in too.

Some coaches have their athletes go HEAVY all the time.  Some like to keep it light and work hundreds of perfect reps.  Kyle and I have ended up somewhere in the middle after some time.  Part of the reason things go wrong for me as the weight gets heavy is that the panic button goes off as soon as the weight leaves the floor.  It's like, "ah, heavy!" followed by a spazzy move that slightly resembles a snatch or clean.  It's not that I don't know how to do it right, it's just the fear of the heavy weight that causes this.  At lighter weights I can complete the lifts soundly pretty much all day long but really it's because there is no fear.  When I have the chance to handle heavier weights more often I start to realize that "it's there" (high enough and in the right spot) and I can start to regain composure and work towards better technique with that heavier weight- if that makes any sense.  So we sort of walk the line between weight that is heavy enough to have to fight for but light enough to be able to make adjustments to.  After going heavy we take the weight back down to be sure to get multiple "perfect reps" in.


My evening workout at the gym was fun and the gym was full of good energy.  After hitting a 121 squat for 5 I realized I may have undershot it (I didn't realize I would have felt that good) so I took it up and hit 124 for another set of 5.  My goal is 130 x5 so I'm feeling like that's right around the corner.  After talking to our friend who trained in the East German Block for 15 years (see Weekend Recap) we've decided to experiment with using knee wraps.  I've maybe used them 5x in the past on days where I didn't feel great and just wanted to get that one last lift- just to feel it and gain confidence.  The protocol now is specifically to wrap them lightly (light enough to be able to leave them on during the workout, walk around, bend my knees, etc.) to get the feel of them and maybe benefit from some added suport.

This is another topic that gets a lot of panties up in bunches.  The thing is that I don't have a whole lot of black and white views on things when it comes to this sport.  I'm still a novice, really, when it comes to weightlifting as a sport (I've used the lifts in my sports training and coaching for over 10 years but never exclusively a weightlifter until 2 years ago).  I'm definitely not an expert and I don't know everything.  So I'm open and willing to learn from anyone who knows a ton more than me and has years of experience.  I also think that it's important to try things for yourself to be able to know what you're talking about if you ever DO end up having a strong black or white opinion on something.  And hey, if it does end up putting 10kg on my lifts- even better.  If not, well then 10 years from now I can say for certain how I feel about them.  Time will tell if I will keep using them or decide to ditch em.

My PM workout was rounded out with some snatch pulls for 5's and some fun smack talking with various people.  Oh, did I mention Kat?  She's the strong as shit newbie who used to be a power lifter (hasn't trained that way for years though so is really starting over) and is now transitioning to weightlifting.  This chick is already on my tail (she back squatted 105kg/230lbs x5 tonight easily for example and like literally just started weightlifting).  I better giddy up or she's gonna fairy on right past me.

Diamond Dave:

Today's Training

Kat's B.Squats

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Recap

This weekend was the kind of weekend I sit back, reflect on, and think to myself, "man, this life is pretty cool."


It was an awesome, energetic session with a group friends from out of town, lifting in the gym with our usual Saturday SCS crew. My training wasn't all that epic as I've just started a new base training squat and pull cycle again and my legs and back are absolutely wrecked. But I was happy with my lifts all things considered- snatched only 70kg for a few doubles and CJ 90 (2 Cleans +1 Jerk) a few times. But the precision was there even with a tired nervous system. The fatigue from high volume and relatively high intensity is familiar to me so mind is right and ready to accept what my body will give me by the end of the week.

My goal right now is to get STRONG. I need to be able to F.Squat 125 for a triple and Pull 140 for 5 reps to be where I want to be. My short term goals are to hit 88kg in the snatch and 115 in the CJ and hopefully by nationals 90/120. I've still got 8 months and feel on track for that.

After training we ate at El Palomar on the Harbor and one of our friends who used to train in the East German Block for 15 years told us tons of awesome stories about growing up as a weightlifter back in the day. He told us how in East Germany it was the 4th grade when they had men with clip boards come to school to test all the kids. They would measure them, give tests, etc., and then begin to place them in specific fields- "you," he pointed, "soccer, you, gymnastics, you, weightlifting." He said initially he thought, "oh no not weightlifting!" Everyone wanted soccer.

Then by sixth grade, after a couple of years of general athletic training and movement with just the bar they would start weightlifting. It was then that they would start to get sent to schools to master their craft. They were given good food to eat and essentially getting paid to be weightlifters, gradually narrowing down the groups throughout the years into the elitest of the elite.

When I asked him about the consistency in coaching throughout East Germany from school to school and whether or not there were multiple styles and ways of teaching the lifts he said that it was very consistent compared to America (here it seems like every coach teaches the lifts differently and there is always discussion/argument on the matter). He said generally everyone teaches the same thing although there might be slightly different "flavors" or focuses. I thought that was interesting.

His career came to an end right around the time the wall came down. He wanted to get out and he had an opportunity to come to America so he took it. Though he never had the chance to compete at the International level as a result, I sure am happy he is around. I've learned a lot from him and he is passionate about helping others.


After training came the evenings festivities. It was our annual Santa Cruz Strength Holiday get together. We went down town to Pono Bar and Grill. It was actually a mellow night, fun to see everyone outside of the gym. I met a vegan bodybuilder (don't ask me how that's possible). He had become a vegan at age 15 for animal rights reasons. I meant to glance at his shoes to see if they were leather but forgot to. Oh well, I don't think I'll ever even bother arguing with anyone about diet again especially if it's unsolicited. People will do what they want and they will get the appropriate results. Anyway he was pretty cool and at one point looked around at our group and commented on everyone looking huge and badass so he won some extra brownie points there.


Today was one of the funnest open gym days in a while. Well, open gym is always fun at Santa Cruz Strength. The atmosphere is like a college weight room with a Santa Cruz twist. We have a great group of people who are serious about their training and also a wave of young energy and talented athletes blowing up. And everyone is stoked on weightlifting! Liz Patterson is among them. She's a National Champion high jumper from University of Arizona (she's jumped 6'6") and an Olympic hopeful- Rio 2016! She moved here to train with John Rembao (who wouldn't if they wanted to be the best?) and now she is doing her weightlifting with us. This girl can MOVE and I am excited to see what she becomes.

On the platform next to her is Dion Shattuck another high jumper and one of John's kids. John thinks he's really special and they are working to turn him into a decathlete.  John's going to turn him into a beast, there's no doubt about that.

On the platform next to him is Jett Gallager a high school baseball pitcher who throws 80mph and will likely be a top recruit (he's just a sophomore).

Then there's Lexi Stevens and Becca Morse- two high school/Club Shoreline volleyball players tearing it up and turning heads (each has improved her vertical by 6+ inches in a matter of weeks), and Joseph Cervantes a high school football player (who I secretly want to turn into a weightlifter:) He nearly snatched his bodyweight today on his first day back after a layoff because he couldn't get away from the football field during season. I'm happy he's back.

I wouldn't dream of not pointing out that the person responsible for inspiring all these folks in the gym today was little, mini, Lauren Price Smith over there out lifting like the biggest person in the gym. She's on our weightlifting team and is like the poster child for getting women to realize how awesome it is to be strong. After she made a beautiful Clean double + Jerk Lexi's eyes get all huge and she says to me, "She is tiny!" I say, "Yes." She says, "She is STRONG!" I say, "YES!"

Seriously the list goes on and they trickle in and out all throughout the day. I'm leaving out way too many people on this list, whether competitive athletes or people just looking to get fit and better their lives, but the point is that it's just such a fun group of amazing athletes and people and an energy that everyone can feed off of.  I feel so darn lucky to be right in the mix of it all.

Thursday, December 6, 2012



So, I've been pretty unmotivated/discouraged to train lately. There were some practical issues that got in the way for a while, and now I struggle with what were my warmup weights when I get under the bar. I think about all the work I put in, and, you know, just get discouraged and stop showing up. Have you ever had to work through that? If anyone has some secret sauce, I figured it'd be you :)


I received this email from a friend who I had previously programmed and coached for about feeling unmotivated and trying to get back into the swing of things after a lay off. It was timely because I have actually been doing a lot of thinking about motivation in general lately and have even had some conversations with various people about it.

It seems we all have periods where we lack motivation- doesn't matter if you are an elite athlete or just an average Joe trying to better yourself inside the gym and out. I don't think anyone is immune to low's. I've been there multiple time throughout my life whether I was playing softball at the Collegiate or Professional level, Doing CrossFit in my post Softball life, or now in my life as a weightlifter. But what I've learned from all of my various athletic endeavors, and have to remind myself from time to time, is that slumps are temporary.

Even though it can be hard to feel like you are starting over there are a couple of things to remember: A). You already know what you have to do unlike many people out there shooting in the dark or following the latest issue of Fitness RX. And B). If you've been in a good place athletically or fitness wise before you will likely have enough experience and muscle memory to help bounce you back faster than it took you the first time.

As for a secret sauce? I wish I had one. But I think it's different for everyone. Sometimes I reflect back on my journey and how all the twists and turns in my life lead me to where I am today. I grew up in a very blue collar family. My dad, who couldn't make a enough of a living as a potter to take care of his family, worked in the oil fields and when he got laid off he became a truck driver. My mom was a courier for Fed Ex for 20 years. Both were very unhappy in their jobs but did what they had to do to take care of us girls. The most joy I ever saw in them was the pride they had when they saw my sister or I having success or achieving things that they never had the chance to. I think that's really where my motivation came from in the beginning.


My dad taught me to work hard. Really hard. My mom taught me to have the type of passion that no one can get in the way of. So when I told them at the age of 10 that I wanted to play softball in college they held me to it. It didn't matter that everyone said I was too small to be a great pitcher, I wasn't going to accept that. It didn't matter if it was a holiday or my birthday or vacation the practice and the work was going to get done. So when the motivation lacked, my parent were there instill it in me. I lucked out big time in that regard.

Fast forward a number of years and I am a Div I, full scholarship athlete playing softball at the number one university in the nation UC Berkeley. So basically I am getting paid to play softball and get an education. Playing softball at Berkeley was my first experience being on a barbell. We had a fantastic strength & conditioning program which incorporated the lifts (Snatch/CJ and of course Olympic Squats) into our training. You wanna know what's funny? As a freshman I didn't understand why I had to be doing this. First, there was the fact that I did NOT want to get "bulky." Also, it was hard. All this stuff about having to squat deep, push my knees out, keep my weight on my heels- it was awful. I didn't understand how it was going to make me a better softball player. I spent (waisted) my first year trudging through the workouts, looking more forward to the evening when I could go down to Telegraph Ave with my girlfriends to sit on the tailgate of my truck and eat buckets of chili cheese fries from IB Hoagies.

Don't get me wrong, I was still motived and worked very hard on the field. I just didn't get the connection between the weight room, nutrition, sleep, and the softball field.

It's not surprising then that I started to balloon up. I gained 10lbs of fat, then another 5. I hated how I looked and felt. It must be the weightlifting right? Ok, ok, maybe the chili fries played a part too. But I started to realize that I needed to do something about it. Here's where it gets ridiculous. I'm a Div I athlete with access to the best strength & conditioning program/coaches around (one of which suggested I clean up my diet) and I'm in my dorm room eating lean cuisines and doing Tai Bo to Billy Blanks so I can start losing some weight. Jesus, that's embarrassing. Needless to say, it didn't work.

The next time I weighed in (we were required to weigh in a few times per year) I was at a whopping 170lbs (I'm 5'4" by the way). This is where the story, and my life, turns. I was so devastated I decided right then and there that things were going to change.

I had been hearing buzz about eating high protein low carb. All I had to go on was this Atkins guy everyone was talking about so I headed down to the bookstore to buy his book. Fate was on my side that day because they did NOT have any more copies of Atkins. However, they did have a book written by Dr. Eades called Protein Power Life Plan. I grabbed it and read it cover to cover. It made so much sense to me. I could eat tons of protein- even red meat! And fat, lot's of it! Without excess carbs/sugar I would start using fat for fuel. He even talked about the importance of lifting heavy weights and training anaerobically so essentially I could avoid the thing I hated the most- long distance running. (To this day I still think Dr. Eades is the man and browse his site from time to time So I adopted the diet and decided that I was going to hit the weights with a vengeance. Heavy ones.

My life started to change almost immediately and the lifestyle change had a major domino effect in everything I did. I started to get lean and grow muscles- the good kind- and I didn't even grow a mustache or anything. I started to sleep better. I got stronger, happier, confident. And, of course, I started to kick major ass on the softball field- striking bitches out (1,203 to be exact), makings All American, winning a NCAA Championship and MVP.

I need to wrap this story up because I could go on forever about it and I'm already forgetting the point of I what I was trying to say. Ah the point. Well, I discovered that lifting heavy weights and eating a clean high protein diet was the coolest, most life changing thing I had ever done. I was in love. So much that I stayed at Cal to be a Grad Assistant Strength Coach and then later started my own gym in Santa Cruz. I guess what I'm trying to say is that one of the biggest things that motivates me is RESULTS. I'm not a softball player anymore, I'm a weightlifter but the results are still what motivate me. I feel so empowered when I work hard in the gym and finally hit that 145kg/320lb B.Squat or that 107kg Clean & Jerk. It makes me excited and hungry for the future. It's like, if I can hit 107, I can hit 110. If I can hit 110, I can hit 120!


Last night my husband Kyle's grandpa passed away. He was 86. I only had the pleasure of meeting him once but he was a really cool guy. Always happy, could make anyone laugh. "Happy Harold" is what they called him. He is the topic of conversation at many family dinners, the stories always funny and warm. When Kyle and I were laying together having just gotten the news I started to think about how life passes by so fast. You don't think about it that much- you just race through it, taking care of your responsibilities. I started to think, "I'm already 32 years old. I feel like I was just born yesterday. But 32 years have already passed." That's over three decades. The next time I blink I'm going to be 60. And then 90, if I live that long. I've had these thoughts at points throughout my life, as I'm no stranger to death (my sister died when I was in college- she would have been 36 this year). I don't mean to be all morbid or anything but the constant re-realization that life is so short is also a major motivational factor for me. I don't want to waist it away being regular -playing video games all day or working in a cubicle at a miserable job and hanging out at the bars on Saturday night. I want to do something unique and powerful- something that makes me feel accomplished in myself and something that allows me to give back to others as well.


When I was a softball player everyone told me I was too small to be a pitcher. When I was a CrossFitter everyone told me I was too big. Now that I'm a weightlifter everyone says I'm too old. To the nay sayers and haters I say thank you. You have always fueled my fire and supplied me with all the motivation I needed to top off my stores and prove you wrong.


I feel like it's my duty to be a role model, especially for young girls and women. I do, after all, own a gym, give pitching lessons to kids and coach the Santa Cruz High Softball team. We live in a world where skinny, flawless, airbrushed chicks are on the covers of every magazine. It's impossible to make it 5 min without advertisements us telling us we need to be prettier, skinnier, have nicer hair, and nails, and skin; That we need to behave a certain way to be desirable to men or to be considered a lady. Well I think it's horse shit and quite frankly I am quite confident in being a strong, athletic, outspoken, goofy, far from perfect girl. Sometimes when I feel my motivation lacking I remind myself how good it makes me feel when I see that attitude rub off on the girls around me.


This is probably the biggest motivational factor for me and probably for most people. You have to have goals. Maybe even big crazy dreams- the kind that are so big you're almost afraid to say it out loud because someone might laugh at you. I was talking to my friend/fellow weightlifter at the American Open this past weekend telling her how bad I wanted to win. I was going on about what I wanted to accomplish and she says to me, "wow, your goals are so different than mine." She explained that she just had some numbers in her head that she eventually wanted to hit and that would make her happy. And that's thing- everyones goals can and will be different- they can be big or small. Once upon a time my goal was simply to be able to snatch with the 45's on the bar (that's 123 lbs on a women's bar). But having that goal, although unfathomable at the time, lead me to snatching with 45's, 25's, 5's, and 2.5's (That's 188 lbs on a women's bar:) I think the important thing is to actually spend time determining what your goals are. Write them down in your journal. Have 3 month, 6 month, 1 year goals and ultimate/all time goals. Otherwise, what are you actually training for?

Wow my legs are wrecked from this new base training cycle- squats, squats, and more squats.  Classic lifts will be itty bitty for a few weeks.  Gotta get my mind right!