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Monday, March 5, 2012

Tebowing and lifting -- at the Arnold Schwarzenneger Sports Festival

I just wrapped-up at the 2012 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Olympic Trials held at the Arnold Sports Festival.  Man, what a ride.

I guess the best way to start this post is with a picture:
Gwen Sisto Tebowing at the Arnold

It all started about 2 weeks before the SuperBowl. I had no idea who Tim Tebow was, nor why Jimmy Fallon's "Tim Tebow to Jesus Christ" was supposed to be funny.  Then, upon discussing with my brother whether to root for the New England Patriots or the NY Giants (can we call them the NJ Giants, I mean their stadium is in East Rutherford, NJ),  the Tebow and Tebow-ing was explained to me.

Then there was the GQ article I read on Tebow-ing.  Though, I never outwardly considered TEBOWing to be part of my personal behavior repertoire,  the knowledge of what an appropriate moment to TEBOW was subconsciously blazed into my head.

Hold this thought, and let's continue to set the stage for the Arnold...

So, I arrived at the Arnold with the Risto Sports entourage on Thursday.  Risto Sports was sponsoring the Weightlifting Championships, and I was lifting Saturday. 

Now, my last National Meet, the American Open, was a bit of a meltdown for me.  I had a 2 week long stomach virus, and wilted down to an abyssmal 61kg's bodyweight.  Somehow, I put way too much pressure on myself for someone who had not eaten a solid meal in 2 weeks. I eeked out only 2 lifts for a 164kg total.  Worse, I even lost my placing on bodyweight.    Like that artist who took payment in shares of facebook and is now worth 200 mil sometime after losing all his money in Vegas (something Cho), I was going to leave this competition as the last time I left too many kilos on the platform,  the day I turned it all around.

Hence, heading into the Arnold, a few things were clear:
1. I was going to have to actually make more lifts in competition,
2. I needed to actually land my jerks,
3. Dare say I actually had to gain weight,
4. I needed to increase my leg strength (yeah, this one's been on the list for a while), and
5. I really needed to work on my head. 
Ehhh, my first couple weeks of training weren't so stellar.  Then, gradually I started to build momentum.

Momentum building
I hung out in Colombia with the Andica's and realized that I took competing way too seriously.  I also heard some sage advise from Diego Salazar, the 2008 Olympic Silver Medallist, " those who talk the most, do the least on the platform."  In other words, stop talking about what your going to do, focus less on talking big words and strategizing, and just quietly lift.  Go back and train hard. Take it one lift at a time and don't over think it.  I also read "The Zone", which basically confirmed what Diego said in 200 pages.  I also got very similar advise from Carlos Andica.

After a much needed decompression over Christmas and New Year's, I carried this advise into my training over the next 8 weeks.   With high volume, loads of protein and good carbs, I gradually saw my strength increase.  Somewhere around week 3, I was like, "Wow, I just power cleaned 80kg and push jerked it, re-racked it, and push jerked it for a few times, and it was easy.".  And then, I noticed I could front squat 90kg, more easily, for multiple reps.

It really is these tiny inklings of improvement that lead to real gains.  Further, gains can be made without maximum intensity lifts. I hadn't gone heavier than 85kg clean and jerk for well over a month, and one day I got lazy and power cleaned it for a double.  Then I was just power cleaning 90kg.  I didn't realize I could do that; it was just the weeks of training that built up in me and unleashed itself.

Continued in PART II...

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