Tag Archives: training

Cycle 0 test day

Today was test day, which means the sole purpose of my training session today was to see how much weight I could snatch and how much weight I could clean and jerk (C&J)—with good form and technique—and then use those numbers to build my first official program/cycle with my coach. (My coach and I have been working together for the last two months, tweaking things here and there as my injuries have healed and I’ve been cleared to add more movements into training, which I guess is technically our first training cycle together, but it’s not really, you know?, so I’m calling it Cycle 0.)

I snatched 42kg and C&J 52kg, for a total of 94kg at a current bodyweight of somewhere around 66kg, give or take a kilo or two (I truly have no clue how much I weigh, I don’t own a scale). Bodyweight is relevant because weightlifting is contested by weight classes.

In weightlifting, a training cycle typically ends with a “test” or “max-out” day, to see how much progress an athlete has made with their current training program—how much stronger they’ve gotten, and how much they’ve improved their mechanics and technique. Test/max-out day will also expose or highlight things an athlete still needs to work on, and help an athlete and their coach plan out the next training cycle.

Until today, I hadn’t tested or maxed out either of these lifts since around this time last year, and I hadn’t ever tested or maxed them out with my current coach. When we started working together in mid-August, I still wasn’t cleared to lift weight overhead, which means I couldn’t test either of them. Instead, we tested both my front squat and my back squat, and spent the first few weeks focused on squats, pulls, halting deadlifts, and cleans. With the blessing of my physical therapist, we added in (very light) snatches, jerks, and presses in mid-September. Since then, we’ve stuck with very light weights. Until a few days ago, I was still using the 7kg training bar and training weights instead of the 15kg regular/competition-weight bar and regular training plates to train both competition lifts.

Going into today, I truly had no idea what to expect. It’d been well over a year since I last tested any of my lifts, and almost exactly a year since my last “pre”-injury training session (I was lifting injured for weeks before I finally stopped, got everything checked out, and took a months-long break from structured training). Also, I slept like shit last night, which is to say I barely slept at all (period, migraine, etc.).

Overall, I’m happy with how today went. I really wanted to snatch at least the greens (10kg plates) and C&J at least the yellows (15kg plates), and I did! Also, my mechanics and technique were WAY better than they’ve ever been, and my pelvic floor mostly held.

My next training cycle—my first structured one with this coach—starts Monday, and it’ll be based on the numbers I hit today. I’ll train three days a week for four weeks, then test my lifts again. The obvious aim of this cycle is to get stronger. We’ll also be focused on:

  • Staying tight in the bottom of the squat.
  • Consistently hitting triple extension.
  • Shoulder positioning in the snatch, especially when standing it up. (Hypermobility is a bitch.)
  • Jumping out, not back, in the catch.
  • High shoulders in the pull.
  • More aggressive footwork.
  • Pelvic floor control.

I’d like to add 8kg to both lifts at the end of this next cycle, which means I’m aiming to snatch 50kg and C&J 60kg in four weeks. Here’s hoping my Bambi-ass legs will grow for once their goddamn lives!!!

Training update (change of plan!)

From the time I started CrossFit in January 2013 until 2021, it was my primary sport. I took 2021 off from CrossFit to focus solely on weightlifting. The idea was to get stronger in the Olympic lifts, which I’ve always struggle to get stronger in, so I could be closer to competing RX in CrossFit. When I started physical therapy earlier this year my plan was to return to CrossFit once my body was healthy and make a go at competing RX.

I’ve changed my mind.

Plot twist! Whiplash! Parkour!

I’ve decided to stick with weightlifting as my primary sport, and to do CrossFit-ish workouts on the side—for fun, not for super serious. There are several reasons I made this decision. A big one is: I think weightlifting is better suited to my brain and my body, and the way that the two do (and don’t) work together. Said another way: I think weightlifting better positions me to (1) keep my body healthy (no, CrossFit injury rates are not higher than injury rates in other strength sports) and (2) be competitive.

Photo of me snatching 45 kilos (yellow plates) on a wooden platform. I'm wearing a black sports bra, black camouflage leggings, a black and hot pink knee sleeve on my left (injured) knee, and white Adidas lifting shoes with neon green laces. I'm in the bottom of the snatch position, with the weight over my head. In the background is the powerlifting side of the gym, complete with deadlifting platforms, benches, squat racks and rigs, and weight trees full of iron plates and change plates. The walls of the gym are black and red.
Pre-shoulder injury, and several months into my knee injury. This is a 45kg (99#) snatch. The bar weighs 15 kilos, each of the yellow plates—one on each side—weighs 15 kilos.

My body isn’t quite where it needs to be to jump back into weightlifting full time. I’m still not cleared to snatch or jerk (which is, like, 2/3 of weightlifting), and I can’t yet do pull-ups or push-ups (which are important accessory (successory!) exercises). I *am* cleared to do a bunch of other shit though. All varieties of squats and deads are okay; most types of lunges are okay; and cleans, presses, neutral-grip overhead work (dumbbell thrusters, devil’s presses, etc.), core work, and a ton of accessory movements are okay, too. Running, biking, and rowing have been back in the mix for a few months already.

So…what now?

Microdose my way back into weightlifting—in two simple steps.

Step one: Supplement my 1:1 sessions with one or two barbell training days per week for a few weeks, beginning in mid-August. (Since May, I’ve been working 1:1 with a gymnastics coach two times a week. Our training reinforces and builds upon what I do in PT, and works to improve my aerobic capacity, and endurance.)

Step two: Phase in additional barbell training days until I’m at four a week while phasing out PT and 1:1 training.

How much overlap there’ll be between weightlifting, PT, and 1:1 training will depend on how quickly my body heals. Could be a few weeks, could be a few (more) months. Don’t know. I think we’re close.

About five weeks ago my physical therapist estimated I’d be able to start snatching and jerking in about eight to 10 weeks. We’re halfway through those 10 weeks. Some days it feels like we’re so fucking close. Other days it feels unlikely or even impossible that we’ll get there. We’ve made a ton of progress since I started this round of PT in March, and it feels like we’ve been stuck at this last little bit FOREVER. Historically, being patient has not been a strength of mine. I’m working really hard to change that, and I think I’ve done a good job.

Some good news is: I’ve accidentally been prepping my body for more over the last few weeks. Oops! Pre-injury, I was training 3-4 days a week, for two or more hours per training session. Pre-2021, when CrossFit was my primary sport, I was training 6 days a week, for two or more hours per training sessions, and sometimes twice in a day. Since May of this year, I’ve been in the gym only two days a week, one hour per session.

Until the last few weeks.

My kids have been with me for the last month, and my youngest has been very enthusiastically attending the CrossFit Teens class almost every day that they offer it (four days a week). So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been at the gym three or four days a week, not just my usual two. I’ve been using those extra days to get in some active recovery—mostly different intervals of backward sled drags + C2 bike, and running + rowing—between and around my 1:1 sessions and physical therapy.

Some more good news is: I met one of the weightlifting coaches on one of these extra days—A WOMAN!!! (I’ve only ever had men for coaches)—and we got on really well. We talked about my specific challenges as an autistic athlete, my goals, and the plan I’ve outlined in this post. She was kind, welcoming, passionate, and accepting of me, an autistic athlete (the entire coaching staff at the gym I’ve been training at since May has been incredibly accommodating and accepting, and receptive to learning from me and with me). I’m excited to start working with her and the rest of the team. I AM VERY EXCITED TO GET A BARBELL BACK IN MY HANDS AND OVER MY HEAD, Y’ALL!!!