Sarah Wheal – From CrossFit to Oceania Powerlifting Championships!
My name is Sarah Wheal and I’m an Elite Master’s Powerlifter. I feel like this would be a good introduction at Powerlifter’s Anonymous…
I can probably count the number of sporting successes I had before I turned 40 on one hand. I joined the Air Force in my early 20’s, but was by no means “fit” – I could barely pass my fitness test. I smoked, drank, was a little plump, and didn’t go to the gym except when I had to do “remedial” PT after failing my fitness test each year.
In about 2008 I decided I wanted to be an Instructor at Officers’ Training School and thought I should probably be at least as fit as the students I was planning to set an example for. I finally managed to quit smoking, lost some weight and started going to the gym. Over the next few years, I did some fun runs, cycled, tried the 12 Week Body Transformation a few times, and then in 2012 started doing CrossFit.
CrossFit became my happy place for the next 5 years, taking me to some cool places, doing some great fast exercising, entering local competitions, volunteering at major events and finding an amazing community. I dabbled in competitive Olympic lifting, but the reality was that I was much better at squat and deadlift than anything else. I persisted with oly because I actually saw it as superior to powerlifting (I was so wrong!).
Roll on to December 2017 and I decided that I wanted to aim higher. I set myself a 5 year goal of making the top 200 in my age group for CrossFit. I started training twice a day. In January 2018 we did the CrossFit Total (squat, strict press and deadlift) and I added another 20kg to my total.
A chance conversation inspired me to enter a local powerlifting competition. I turned up with no idea, the wrong socks, CrossFit technique and no handler or coach. I was really lucky that this tiny woman called Liz decided I looked lost and took pity on me. She got me through the meet, and I came second to the incredible Jesse Akister in 72kg class, with a total of 330kg.
Liz (who turned out to be none other than Liz Craven) suggested that it would be a good idea if I trained with her. She was right. Over 2018, I competed in the Matti Tikka Challenge, then Masters Nationals. At my first nationals appearance I came third, and was able to secure a place in the Australian team for the Oceania Powerlifting Championship, where I won my class and came second over all in Masters Women with a total of 362.5 (Wilks 356.48).
I love powerlifting. I love that it’s about what you can do, not how you look. I love the strong women I have met and look forward to learning more from them all as I grow in this sport.
Let’s Talk Calories, Body Weight, TDEE, NEAT and All Things Maintenance!
So, there is the whole cutting and building that we all know so well – but there is also this little magic land called maintenance. Sometimes the magic of the maintenance phase is so far overlooked!
What is Maintenance?
Basically, you are sitting in a ball park measure of your calories where you aren’t really losing or gaining weight.
But here is the thing. The body doesn’t do math and we don’t live in a vacuum – so our metabolism – our TDEE – even our intake (calorie counts aren’t 100% accurate on the nutritional labels) – are not to the exact dot point. Everything is dynamic. So, we adjust – play it out for about 3-4 weeks, assess our data, act on it. If our body weight is roughly the same, then we are in a maintenance.
BUT GUESS WHAT…
Maintenance doesn’t mean:
1.] You can expect your weight to remain the same daily or even weekly or monthly
2.] You cannot make progress
1.] Attempting to “shred” a fair amount & continuously for too long leads to:
Satiety falls, moods worsen, sleep worsens, digestion worsens… etc., etc.…
And most of all… decreased Performance…. TDEE and NEAT drop and your metabolism adapts, and you stall… your risk of losing muscle becomes exponential.
What is TDEE? Total Daily Energy Expenditure – this gives you a great indication of what calories you need to eat each day so as to maintain your current weight.
What is NEAT? Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – is the energy used in your everyday life when you’re not sleeping, playing sports or sports-like activity and eating. It could be when you go for a walk, gardening or working in the yard, just fidgeting or even typing.
2.] Attempting to “bro bulk” continuously for too long leads to:
Decreased insulin sensitivity
Increased injury risk as you keep hammering training volume and intensity
Increased fatigue same reason above
==> All leading to: exponential higher fat gain, injury & over-training risk
The human body wants to remain the same…
The longer you try to push an imbalance i.e. try & lose or gain weight, the harder it will push. Think about trying to cycle uphill, at first, you’re all OK, however as time goes on you tire and the chances of falling back get higher.
So, my thoughts on “bulking” or building?
Muscle gain is much slower than fat loss, and most should attempt to gain it around 2 to 4 times slower.
Muscle takes much more time to grow than fat can be burned off, we all know this.
Therefore, you’ll be looking to gain muscle LONG TERM! OVER MONTHS… even a year or so…
BUT it is also important to consider periodization and cyclical nutrition with slower weight gain… why?
1.] the increasing fat gain &
2.] Adaptive Resistance which lead to
3] decreasing insulin sensitivity.
– the more you do something, the less responsive you become and the greater the ratio of fat: muscle you accrue. If you keep increasing the training volume… the more you become resistant to it and you have to keep increasing it to get an effect but there comes a point where it’s ridiculous to add even more… recovery needs to be had…. And there’s only so much time and energy you can put into your training. So, you NEED to phase your training approaches to
1] allow desensitization and
2] different focus – i.e. strength vs metabolite vs just volume accumulation.
All of which are reasons I don’t believe in or like the term bulking – plus the more advanced you are in the weight room, the slower the actual muscle gain rate is…
& Obviously the slower you gain the slower fat will accumulate,
For both muscle gain and fat loss, training doesn’t look that different… and shouldn’t. We always want to train to build muscle as we aim to preserve it in fat loss phases.
As there is phasic nutrition, there is also training that you phase between strength blocks and hypertrophy blocks…
However in between the both you have to gradually build your way up as one desensitizes you from the other. I.e.; if you’re doing strength training with high intensity and low volumes… when you go into hypertrophy phases again with high volume… you need to start somewhere otherwise you will be maxing out or overreaching your maximal recoverable volume and your soreness post workout will subtract from your quality of life and other daily activity…. So, you NEED to slowly build up the volume and frequency as you go which then gives you a great stimulus for progress & consistent overload once again!
Same as going into strength phases… if you have been doing high volume high frequency the whole time and you jump into lower reps of heavier weights, you will find that the older heavy weights you did at the triples or the 5ers before are currently out of reach so you will be building up to those intensities again!
I am a great example because I remember complaining that no matter how much I did for my back, it would never fatigue or feel any post exercise soreness… I could just keep upping it without detriment but then I got to a point where if I added anymore, it would be taking away from other muscle groups.
Now… after going through a lot of desensitization of the strength phases and dropping back down A LOT – hardly anything even as the big 3, squat, bench press & deadlift, and their variations were my main bread and butter for months and months… I now feel the effects of even a third of what I used to do. Albeit now it is probably heavier, I actually even recruit my muscles more and can connect my mind to the contractions.
So, don’t just put your progress measures to the weight on the bar because we can’t keep just racking up the kgs… even some weights I do the same now as I used to, I feel much more effectively as I now recruit my muscles and perform the exercise to a higher standard.
Ruby Cherie – Ruby is an Approved Powerlifting 4 Women Strength & Conditioning Coach / Mindset Coach / Comp Prep Coach / Fat Loss Transformation Specialist / Metabolic Nutritionist / Accredited Sports Nutritionist ISSN-SNS
Powerlifting Australia & World Powerlifting 2019 Calendar
Each year, Powerlifting Australia and the World Powerlifting Federation hold events on a Local, National and International level.
The first Powerlifting Australia powerlifting competition for 2019 will be held in Melbourne on the 3rd February 2019, this being the Australian Para Powerlifting Championships, with many more events held across Australia from Tasmania, Melbourne, Woolongong, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, right up to Darwin throughout the year!
You’ll be able to find information about the events, register online for all Powerlifting Australia competitions (once they have been opened for registration and if there are still available spots) right up to 5.00pm 10 days prior to a Local event or 21 days prior to a National event.
The Entry Form for each event will have the Meet Director listed as well as other relevant contacts, where you should direct any enquiries.
To compete in these powerlifting events, you must be a current PA Member. This applies also to Coaches and Referees.
All PA Members are subject to the PA Anti-Doping Policy, year round! Also, these events are subject to ASADA drug-testing.
Australian Records can be set and broken at all of the Local and National Competitions (for National Records, there must be 3 National Refs Officiating the attempts, along with all regulations being met).
Growing up in a household where sport was the basic undertone of day to day life, I always knew that in one way or another it was going to guide and shape who I am. I never could have imagined though how influential the synergy between powerlifting and other aspects of my life would be.
I’ve played basketball since the age of five and always had promise surrounding my ability. Being a solidly framed girl, I was constantly swinging between owning my power and not feeling worthy because I didn’t at the time for the stereotypical basketball body type. I played strong and hard and while I did achieve some great things in basketball that I am proud of, I can honestly say I never really felt like I thrived.
I have been in the fitness industry since 2006, specialising in training the female body and mind…
My training philosophy consists of 3 Pillars to an athlete’s Success: Training, nutrition and most important, yet least considered: the mind. This flawless holistic system not only creates physical change in my clients but forms new sustainable habits around food, training and lifestyle.
As I stood on the worlds podium in 2016, having just won 3rd place for squats, it was a real moment of reflection and somewhat disbelief. How did I get here?
April 2015: So, here’s me, 22-year-old Kathryn, meeting another commercial gym PT. I’d been through a few, not really knowing what I was doing. Just knowing I should probably work out and get healthier. It had been this way for 3 years. He took me over to the squat racks and we got started. I was weighing around 54kgs at the time, still in the mindset of wanting to be skinnier. Then I squatted 75kgs. No knee sleeves, just a belt. Then we benched. I managed 50kgs. Finally deadlifts. 82.5kgs. Oh yeah, this is pretty fun. He told me this was powerlifting, and I was hooked.
Kristine Lio-Willie – 19 year old Powerlifter – ‘The Power In Her Voice’
I attended a Powerlifting event Saturday 3rd March 2018, where I had the privilege of meeting an amazing young woman who is super strong, has an amazing story and some really great goals for her Powerliftinjng career!