Olympic Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting

This is for Bike, who wanted to know a bit about form and whatnot for the lifting that I do.  I don’t feel totally qualified, which is … weird… since I do this 2-3x/wk and have done for almost three years now.  But I’m not a coach.

That’s my first caveat.  For the olympic lifting, you NEED a coach.  I think you can get away with light/medium weight powerlifting without a coach, but you really don’t want to start throwing barbells over your head without someone there to make sure you’re doing it right, you could tweak your back out pretty hard.   We’re watched closely, we’re careful, we drill on form and drill and drill and drill – and we do core work that makes us all wake up at 2am and say, “why?”

There are only two Olympic lifts… not to say we only do two things.  But the competition is only two lifts – the snatch and the clean & jerk.

This is a snatch:


Only that happens in seconds.  And then you have to stand up, barbell over your head, before you can drop it.

This is a clean and jerk:


So, to do those two lifts, we  practice things to make our back strong, core work, things to make our arms strong, and a lot of things to make our hips/thighs/butt strong.  That’s where the momentum comes from to throw the barbell in the air – from the hip-snap.  (I get yelled at a lot for “muscling up” the bar instead of snapping it up – your arms are really there to control things, not to do the lifting).

Beginners generally start with “power” cleans/snatches … which is the same movement, only you don’t drop to a squat, you just get the barbell in the air.  Coach tells me that you can get a lot more weight up with a full clean/snatch, because you’re not lifting the bar as high, you’re dropping under it (see the second to right/top picture in the clean cycle.  It takes time and work to be able to drop to a full squat – and full squat under load isn’t easy.  (Then stand up!)

One of the lift preps we do quite a lot is overhead squats with a slow drop and hold at the bottom.  Even with a PVC pipe (which is what we start with, and what we work on form with every.single.session) this is a challenge.   If this becomes easy, get on a bosu ball and try it there.

If you follow me on instagram (amyrosehearth) I put up our workouts most of the time if you want to know what we do.  But seriously – get a coach if you’re interested in this kind of lifting.   https://www.teamusa.org/usa-weightlifting/clubs-lwc/find-a-club

My coach tells me that there is *nothing* you can do to get stronger than oly lifting… and it doesn’t bulk you up the way powerlifting or bodybuilding do.   Helpful tips?  Keep your weight on your heels as much as is possible.  Land your lifts with your weight on your heels.  Go *slowly* and focus on form.  Strengthen your lower back and your thighs/butt.

There is not a session that we aren’t using PVC pipes to warm up and then working on form with empty barbells.   If you’re concentrating, you can get an excellent workout like that, and that form is more important than adding weight.

We do a lot of airsquats – a LOT of airsquats – and if you think you’re sorted, do airsquats facing the wall.  With your nose to the wall.  Burpees seem popular (I can’t do them, no jumping for moi).  Pushups.

So, what’s powerlifting?  Powerlifting competitions generally have three lifts:  Benchpress, deadlift, and backsquat.  These are much simpler lifts.  Deadlifting – hold on, stand up.   Keep a flat back (very important), mind your feet are set properly (there are differences in stance, but you want to be happy with how your knees feel – I’ve been taught feet-under-hips).

Backsquat – again, you want to have your feet just right.  Weight to heels/outer foot.  Hold your core tight (oh, I hurt myself the last time I PR’d because my second-to-last lift was done without holding tight and I almost folded – 255lb is a lot on your shoulders!).  Keep a neutral spine.   If you can’t break parallel, don’t add weight, just keep working where you are.

Bench… I don’t know that I have a ton of stuff to offer on bench, I don’t feel like I have technique mastered at all.  Making sure that shorties have their feet solidly planted is important – I put a box under the bench for my feet.  Mind your breath.  Be sure to get a spot if you go over 75% of your PR.  Don’t put clips on your bar, just in case you have to tip the weights off.

For all of this – you care about form more than you care about weight, and it is not possible to do too much core work, or too insane of core work.  I know I look ridiculous when I do these things, and I don’t do them like the youtube videos, but I *do them* and it makes a huge difference.

Vicious core work examples: 

When I set 295 as my DL PR – a few months after starting BBC, 1.5 yrs after starting CF – my lower back hurt the next day.  I hadn’t done anything wrong, but it was sore.  When I set my 300 PR, my back hurt less than it often does after a heavy regular workout.  Why?  Because of that year of doing core, core, core, and more core.

And that brings us to the benefits… all that core, all that strength, that means that I’m substantially less likely to hurt myself in everyday life.  I’d say I’ve gotten back about 10 years worth of endurance (I feel more like a 30something when I’m doing yardwork than a 40something).  I can move bigger things – and to a woman who can’t lift all that much in the first place, that’s a big deal.  It’s easy for me to deal with a big bag of dog food or a case of water or … you get the idea.  Makes my daily existence far more pleasant.   I’m steadier, less tippy.  I can walk farther, even with my bad foot, because my legs are stronger.

So, why when I talk up the oly lifts do I like powerlifting better?  Basically I’m slow and not flexible, but I’m very strong.  I like doing things I’m good at 🙂  Like, I’m locked out where I am on the cleans, because my triceps need to come forward before I can put more weight up – and that means I have to commit to daily mobility work.  Daily.   And I’m slow – I don’t get the speed for the snap to move my snatch up much from where it is.  (All of these, full depth squats, are around 100lb.  Not weak – but they’ve been there a while).  Can’t jump really… you’re supposed to jump for those lifts … so, I’m kind of stuck.  Whereas I can feel that if I just get my form and bits and pieces sorted, I can throw more on my BS/DL/BP no problem.

Ask anything you want to ask.  I’ll do my best!



Best Workout Ever

My spirit-animal.*


credit dogworks.com

Yes, I’m built to deal with heavy stuff.  I feel so GOOD when I’m moving a lot of weight.

I was the only one who showed up to barbell club last night, so therefore  I got to pick what I wanted to work on… and we did backsquats.

From memory (coach just had me do this as we went, it wasn’t written):

  • Barbell only, 20
  • 50%, 10
  • 60 %, 8
  • 50%, 8
  • 70%, 6
  • 60%, 6
  • 75%, 3
  • 70%, 5
  • 75%… as many as possible (which was 7, which Coach says means that’s not my 75%)
  • Take off the plate, do 10
  • Take off the plate, do 10
  • Take off the plate, do 10
  • Take off the plate, do 10
  • Barbell only, 30.

I feel so good.  I can actually feel that I worked that area today!

Then we got to do benchpress.

  • Bar only (I switched down to a 33lb bar for BP, I use the 44lb bar for BS/DL) 10 reps
  • 40%, 8 reps
  • 60%, 6 reps – then three sets of four
  • 70%, 5 reps – three sets
  • Bar only, 20 reps (this burned)
  • 10 pushups

Then we did core.

3 sets of 8 knees-to-elbows on the rope

3 sets of 8 barbell situps

And then I went home, feeling better than when I walked in the gym.   I still feel good.  Stiff.  But good.  🙂



*I don’t believe in spirit-animals, but it’s funny and it fits.




I read some folks who do these hard-core diets get snippy if you use a crutch, and it seems like to me that when you go to that place, you’re missing the point of the exercise.

The POINT is that you want to change your diet to something healthy, something that feeds your body, and gets you to where you want to be.

It’s day 5.  I’m *tired*.  Totally normal.  And no, I didn’t eat my weight in steak last night, I’d missed lunch, ate way too much at an early dinner, and had a snack later on.  I didn’t want more.   Eaten well but not huge amounts today too.  But I’m sugar-craving.  The monkey on my back is gone, but the other sugar craving is here – it’s time to switch the burner from sugars to fats, and you get low-energy with that.


So, I’m eating more fruit right now, because of that inner sugar hunger.  And more veggies.  Oh Noes.  Not That.   Not more vegetation!  Horrors.  I just can’t with that attitude.  I’ve gone cold-turkey on sugar before.  An apple with some almond butter helps a lot.   And in a couple of weeks, I won’t be wanting something like that a couple times a day…. but today, tomorrow, I sure as heck will.  Also, I shall have some bananas & yogurt.  More potatoes/yams.

Are you listening to this list?  Oranges.  Apples.  Almonds.   These are all foods that are good for me, that feed my body and make it strong and healthy.   Yes, the extra fruit is a crutch.  But that’s okay.  I’m not in some weird competition… I’m changing my diet.    It takes a minute, and if I need something (that is on the list), I’m going to eat it.

From experience, in a couple of weeks, I’ll feel fine and dandy, and I’ll have those apples & nutbutters when I want them, not when I’m a lil crazy.

If you need a crutch – use it.

Week One… Good

I guess week one is technically done on Sunday, but whatever… 😀


Day 5 of W30+D and the bloat is gone.  Hooray, waistline!  (Yes, I have loads of weight to lose, but it’s nice to be back in my old belt, you know?)

Monday:  BBC  (also got some writing done)

Tuesday:  20 min elliptical

Wednesday:  Crossfit (which kicked my butt)

Thursday:  Walk with BFF + BBC

… I woke up so hungry last night that I had to get up and eat if I wanted to sleep (which I very much did).  Had to pre-breakfast then breakfast, and I could eat a steak if you offered it…

So, by appetite and tiredness indicators, I’m burning more calories.  Goal – check.  (We’re running this as a marathon, I am not interested in being so hungry that I start crying on DH and can’t continue).  Need to eat, sleep and drink more today.  As well as get my low-intensity exercise in.

Sugar cravings were here day 1, 2, &3, but weren’t bad by yday.   Hoping I don’t get the low-carb-flu next week.  Having dairy makes SO much difference for me (and for 13yo).   The food feels very sustainable, I just need to get more of it.  Not too much more… but more.  (That’s always the dance, isn’t it?)

Anyway, things are going well and indicators look good.   Happy 2018, people!

When the suit doesn’t fit…

…change clothes.

I wrote this piece yesterday on my pro blog, and since this is my personal space, I’m going to get a bit more personal with it.  🙂

I might be 45yo, but I haven’t been in the workforce for almost 20 years… and when I was working, I didn’t have a high-powered career job.  However, growing up, my mom did have one of those executive positions, including sharp haircuts and power-suits.  So my subconscious associates professional style with “looking like mom”.

I never developed a career style that I liked.  I was pregnant at my last job, and the job before that involved masculine polo shirts and khakis.  What I’m saying is that I didn’t just not develop a work style, I actively disliked my work clothes.  There are people who wear their work clothes on other occasions… and that wasn’t me.  Not ever.  The second-to-last job was so bad style-wise that it actually hurt my self-image.

And of course none of those were creative fields.  That changes the rules entirely – as a creative, I’m not just allowed more leeway, I’m expected to bring it.  I’m *selling style*.  Now, most of me just loves this opportunity to play.  But I’m not used to it, and I keep defaulting to “safe”.  Too safe.  The first vid I recorded for my pro site was so … not me.  I was wearing a perfectly nice outfit, and if I had been interviewing for any corporate job, I’d have nailed the landing.  (Navy pussy-bow blouse with a multi-colored floral pattern, neat hairstyle).  I re-recorded the video in my green/white dress, hair down – much better.

But I still have the vocal patterns that I habitually use in “professional” situations.   How many of us do this, I wonder?   I drop my voice a notch and use a much more assertive tone on my videos… why?  Well.  I know why. Because we were taught to make ourselves more masculine, because masculine = professional.   I can remember being complimented on my handshake in junior high, because it was firm and direct.  All that stuff … well, I’ve trained myself so thoroughly that it’s habit.  But it’s not ME.

So be aware, as I’m transitioning in everything else, I’m going to let the pendulum swing a little, and you might see some craziness.   That’s okay, it’s a course-correction.  I must play to find my way.

Mommy’s clothes don’t fit.


While I maintain that I am one of the most introspective people on the planet, sometimes some self-information just shows up in my lap without digging.  I’m not even sure how I came about this info, but I did.

I figured out why I play it safe all the time.  SO SAFE ALL THE TIME.   Which doesn’t matter for the purpose of this blog.  God just said, “Oh yeah – so, this is why for that, and for this other thing too.”  Childhood thing, not particularly traumatic.   Just the way I was babysat.

The POINT is that having found out that this was a habit I was trained into, not something I was born with, I can make deliberate choices to get myself out of the rut.   I can work a little longer, even though, “I should really wrap it up and get ready for bed”.  I can go to that party… because I was invited.  I can extend myself to have that conversation, they probably aren’t going to hate me… I CAN DO THE THINGS.  No one actually gives a darn, the person stressing out about upsetting people lives in my head.

I don’t have to play it so safe that I strangle myself.  I can go out and go after my dreams, it’s OKAY.  I don’t have to wait for permission, I don’t have to wait for a convenient time, I can … live.

And if you’d like a fine example of how life is lived just a tiny bit too safe?  I’m 45yo.  I went to my first NYE party this year.  I’ve thrown parties for other folks (once or twice) but I’ve never gone to one.  NEVER.   The streets are dangerous, it’s crowded, it’s expensive, … whatever.  Now, I’m not a huge partier.  The party I went to at a neighbor’s house, sitting quietly, noshing, getting to know people I live near, that was just my speed.    Okay, dressier clothes and dancing would have been awesome too, but I enjoyed myself.

Why haven’t I done that before?  I don’t know.

But let’s find out what it’s like, shall we?

New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t think these are particularly “resolutiony” but I am feeling rather resolute about my plans, and I’m planning some changes/upgrades to life, so here you are:

  1. Step Up.  This is a major philosophical change in my life, and is the assumption of the attitudes and attributes of an intelligent  45yo woman.  It’s time to speak with confidence, write with assurance, and act as if I know what I’m doing – because I do.
    • I badly want to add, “and if people don’t like it, forget ’em” to this, but in all honesty, “the people” like it when I stop equivocating and get to the point.   The person uncomfortable with self-confidence and stepping up to the plate is the woman in the mirror.
    • But change is always hard.  It’s okay to be uncomfortable with this change of life-season, especially as our society has abandoned matrons to the altar of eternal youth.  I don’t want to “go find myself”.  I know who I am.  I want to stop hiding her and get on with my work.
  2. Aggressively pursue my goals.
    • That means my weight goal.  I wrote about the plan a few weeks back.
    • That means my writing goals.
    • That means my professional goals.
    • So, I’m not going to write about specific “things I’m going to do” – because the things are A) reasonably obvious and B) will change as I go along.  I am very good at overloading myself, so I’m going to avoid that and just remember that I have priorities – and I need to not get in the way of them.
  3. Speak with greater Truth.  Say the things that want saying.

That’s it.  I mean, it incorporates a lot.  But that’s the list.



The last couple of weeks we’ve been hibernating.  I’m still not 100%, I got out of breath climbing the hill today.  It seems like we always end up hibernating between Christmas and New Year.  But soon, soon this time of hibernation will be over, and it’ll be time to rock.

Carpe diem.