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What It Takes to Be the Best – Rosie Howard

The MASS Team caught up with University of Reading student and female athlete of the year Rosie Howard to find out what it’s like, and what it takes, to be the national champ!

Name: Rosie Howard
University: University of Reading
Course: BSc Archaeology
Year of Study: 2

Congratulations! How does it feel to be crowned the MASS Male/Female athlete of the year?

It feels amazing, I only started competing in powerlifting last year at the MASS London Regional Competition and have improved so much since then! I’ve really enjoyed this year of competing with MASS and I look forward to trying to retain female athlete of the year next year!

Which competitions did you compete in, and how did you get on in each of them?

I competed in the MASS Powerlifting London Regional and MASS Southern Strongman Championship, I managed to win both of these competitions overall. At the MASS Powerlifting competition Team Reading also got the win.

 

 

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What was your favourite competition and why?

I would have to say the strongman competition, because it was something completely new for me and I had great fun competing with the other girls. The powerlifting comp brought back memories of my first ever competition last year with MASS, having Team Reading around definitely spurred me and all the other competitors on.

Did you have a lot of support from your family and peers?

Powerlifting and strongman are individual sports, but the people you surround yourself with can have a huge impact on your performance in and out of competition. Having that support from friends and family really encourages and motivates me to keep on improving and making gains.

 

 

Give us the low-down on a typical training week for you?

I normally train 4 times per week, sometime I do strongman events training as an extra session.

Does your training vary between term time and holidays?

No not really.

How drastically did you have to alter the way you train between prepping for the different competitions?

Not drastically, they are both strength sports so the general principles of training are the same. For the strongwoman competition I changed one of my Bench Press days to a Log Press day and incorporated more events training in.

What’s your current training split?

Delroy McQueen does all my programming for me (http://delroymcqueen.com/coaching.html). My current training split is building up to compete in a GBPF powerlifting competition

 

Session 1 – Bench Press

  • Bench with comp pause
  • Close Grip Bench
  • Dumbbell Chest Supported Row 5 sets of 12
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 sets of 15
  • Tricep Push Downs 3 sets of 15
  • Dumbbell Shrugs 3 sets of 15

Session 2 – Squat

  • Squat
  • Pause Squat
  • RDL 5 sets of 8
  • Seated Leg Curl (with resistance band) 100 reps total

Session 3 – Bench Press

  • Bench with comp pause
  • Close Grip Bench
  • Lat Pull Down 5 sets of 12
  • Front Dumbbell Raise 3 sets of 15
  • Dumbbell Tricep Extensions 3 sets of 15
  • Dumbbell Curls 3 sets of 15

Session 4 – Deadlift

  • Deadlift
  • Deficit Deadlift
  • Front Squat
  • Seated Leg Curl (with resistance band) 100 reps total
  • Lat Pull Down 4 sets of 10

 

 

How do you structure your nutrition?

I take an IIFYM approach to my diet, eating fairly clean most of the time but not being too restrictive. I compete in the u72kg class with GBPF and u75kg with GPC-GB and sit at about 70kg therefore don’t need to worry about cutting weight for my competitions.

Can we see your current diet plan?

My macro split is 235/78/176 (40/30/30)

  • Breakfast 8:00 – at the moment I have 3 eggs and 2 rashers of bacon to start the day
  • 1st Lunch 11:30 – protein shake 50g Protein Dynamix Vanilla Ice Cream flavour
  • 2nd Lunch 14:00 – 150g of chicken & lots of vegetables with 100g rice or pasta
  • Pre-Workout Meal 18:00 – 100g oats, 25g protein dynamix Vanilla Ice Cream flavour, 20g golden syrup. I make this up with water in the morning so the oats have absorbed the water.
  • Post-Workout Meal 21:30 – this varies a lot, I tend to make meals like; shepherd’s pie, lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise, chicken strips and chips, pork chops and mash.
  • Snacks – I have a really sweet tooth, so any leftover macros go on reeses pieces, kinder Buenos, cadbury’s and krispy cremes!

Is it hard to maintain such a training and nutrition regime as a student, and on a student budget?

It’s not that hard at all! I’m quite often working towards a competition and this drives me to keep consistent with training. Nutrition just takes a little bit of thought and planning, I am fairly flexible so can fit in the odd takeaway if I want one. I think if you shop sensibly it’s not hard to achieve on a student budget, I do most of my shopping at Aldi and spend roughly £25 per week on food.

 

Not sure if I have enough meat #protein #meat #gains #powerlifting #eattogrow

A photo posted by Rosie Howard (@rosiemayevelyn) on

In the end, is it all worth it?

100% I love competing!!

What advice would you give to 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls?

Enter and give it a go regardless of how much experience you feel you have. All the MASS competitions are well run by David and provide a really supportive atmosphere for lifting and competing in!

What’s next for you?

I am competing in GBPF South Midlands Qualifier on May 22nd then at the GPC-GB No Dumbelles competition on the 16th of July. I recently competed in Englands Strongest Woman Southern Qualifier and will be competing in strongwoman again this year. In the autumn I aim to compete in the GBPF and GPC-GB National Competitions. In the next year or so I hope to compete internationally in powerlifting!

Where can our readers follow you?

You can follow me on instgram @rosiemayevelyn

 

 

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Weights Announced – MASS’s Strongest Man 2016

Anticipation has been building, excitement brewing, and the weights are finally in for MASS’s Strongest Man 2016. This is it, this is what it’s going to take, do you want to take on the challenge? If yes, then we’ll see you on March 6th at Trojan Fitness Bristol.

 

  • Farmers Walk (Head to Head)

15m there and back.

Weights are per side

W<65kg – 50kg

W>65kg – 60kg

M<85kg – 80kg

M<105kg – 100kg

M>105kg – 110kg

  • Silver dollar deadlift (21 inch)(last man standing)

Starts low, goes up in 20kgs, when 50% of the competitors have been eliminated it’ll moved to 10kg increments then finally 5kg increments for the last two competitors until there’s a last man standing.

Starting Weights

W<65kg – 40kg

W>65kg – 50kg

M<85kg – 60kg

M<105kg – 80kg

M>105kg – 100kg

  • Overhead medley (75 seconds max)

W<65kg – 20kg log, 26kg kettlebell, 35kg circus dumbbell, 50kg keg

W>65kg – 30kg log, 35kg circus dumbbell, 50kg log, 65kg axel

M<85kg – 35kg circus dumbbell, 50kg keg, 65kg axel, 70kg log

M<105kg – 50kg keg, 65kg axel, 70kg yoke, 80kg log

M>105kg – 65kg axel, 70kg yoke, 80kg keg, 90kg log

  • Keg toss (4m height) (75 seconds max)

All categories will do the following for time

12kg x2

14kg x2

16kg x2

80kg bonus

  • Stones run (75 seconds max)

5 Platform heights, starting at the highest platform with the lowest weight.

W<65kg – 50kg, 60kg, 70kg, 80kg, 90kg

W>65kg – 60kg, 70kg, 80kg, 90kg, 100kg

M<85kg – 70kg, 80kg, 90kg, 100kg, 110kg

M<105kg – 80kg, 90kg, 100kg, 110kg, 120kg

M>105kg – 90kg, 100kg, 110kg, 120kg, 130kg

 

For details on how to enter:

MASS’s Strongest Man National Championship

 

For Enquiries
Email – champs@muscleathleticsports.com
Phone – 0208 668 4310
Office hours are 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday
See you there!

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Powerlifting Meet Introductory Guide

Preparing for a powerlifting meet without having had quite a few under your belt can be a daunting experience. This will especially be the case if the meet is your first. With that in mind, this article elaborates on some of the more important things to keep in mind in two articles, both as you prepare for the meet in your training, and how to conduct yourself on game day.

Firstly, let’s look at each of the lifts in turn: squat, bench and deadlift, after a brief intro to the MASS powerlifting rules. Then we’ll look at some of the other aspects of the day such as logistics, mental and nutritional prep, and finally we’ll cover the details of choosing how much weight to attempt for each lift.

 

Introduction to lift rules

MASS will be conducting their meets under GBPF rules. As an affiliate of the IPF, the GBPF has strict book rules, but there may be slight variation due to encountering different referees, human error from the same referees, and as an introductory event, some relaxation relative to high level meets (for example, the pause on the bench command may be somewhat shorter, or more benefit of doubt may be given to squats with borderline depth, compared to say, the GBPF Nationals).

This should be no cause for panic, as long as you understand the standards required of your lifts and practice them in training to that standard. While this will be covered in the rules briefing at the meet, which you should attend anyway, the process and commands of each lift as well as common issues will be covered here.

 

The Squat

 

MASSPowerliftingsquat

The squat has 2 commands. ‘Squat’ and ‘Rack’. After you are called to the platform, you will set up under the bar and walk it out. When you are standing upright with hips and knees locked, you will then be told to squat.

After receiving that command, understand that you are not under time pressure to squat. The command merely signals that you will be allowed to start at any time after that. It’s usually after the command that you will take in your breath for the rep. Making eye contact with, nodding at or otherwise acknowledging the main referee up front may reduce the wait.

After finishing the squat, you will have to stand still momentarily to demonstrate control of the bar, only after which you will be commanded to rack. This is a common cause for failing a lift; practice this call with a training partner leading up to the meet.

When in training, always ensure that you squat to depth. This is one of the most common causes of judges failing squats. You must ensure that the hip joint at the top of the leg (which is more or less at the crease of the hip) drops below the top of your knee.

Taking videos from a direct side-on view with the video camera at between knee and hip height is the best way to evaluate your depth. Good lighting and brightly coloured clothes will help you to perceive the hip crease more easily.

 

The Bench Press

 

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The bench press has 3 commands. ‘Start’, ‘Press’ and ‘Rack’. After setting up under the bar, you will unrack the weight (or it will be lifted off for you by spotters) and hold it with elbows locked until you are given the Start command. You will bring the bar down until it touches your torso and hold steady until told to Press. After finishing the rep, you will hold the weight with elbows locked out until told to Rack.

In training, ensure you practice holding the weight at full lockout before starting and after finishing. Practice with a considerable pause. Pause length may vary slightly depending on the judge and lifter’s style of benching, but the more quickly you bring the bar to a complete halt on your chest, the shorter you can expect to wait. The IPF has a few other subtle technicalities in the bench set up you have to contend with as well, namely that your whole foot must be flat on the ground and that your head must be in contact with the bench at all times after the first command has been given. Keep that in mind when training.

 

The Deadlift

 

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The deadlift is very simple in comparison to the other two lifts. It only has the ‘Down’ command. You will approach the platform, grip the bar and stand up with the weight. The down command will be received when you have locked the weight out fully. You will then return the weight to the ground without letting the bar leave your hands.

Keep in mind that hitches (resting the bar on your thighs) and any downward motion after you start pulling in the deadlift will earn red lights. When returning the weight to the ground, you may let the weight fall freely, but the bar must clearly remain in your hands until it hits the ground.

For additional references, you may consult pages 16, 17, 18, 19 of the IPF rulebook

It may also be helpful to watch videos of lifters in the IPF and their affiliates to understand the technique and standards required. The GBPF Classic Nationals and USAPL Raw Nationals are great places to start, simply plug the comp names into YouTube…

 

Keeping your head on Game Day

Depending on the available space and the total number of lifters and spectators, the venue may be crammed and a bit chaotic, with varying finish times from late afternoon to the mid-evening or later. You may spend 6 hours or more at the meet venue, so prepare accordingly.

Handlers and Groups

Go in a group, or with at least one person who can accompany and ‘handle’ you. Ideally, you’d bring along a friend who has lifted in a meet before and knows the flow well enough to keep you out of trouble.

Even if the person is inexperienced, you stand to benefit from their assistance. They can keep an eye on your belongings, keep you updated regarding the schedule and flow of the meet (more on that later) as well as film your lifts. If they’re new, they will need to be carefully and clearly briefed beforehand (by you) to know what their responsibilities are. They will have to be adaptable, alert and perhaps more than anything, have an interest in seeing you succeed at the meet.

Schedule and Timing

There is a good reason to know the meet schedule. This is to ensure you can time your warm ups well so you begin your attempts so that you’re primed to lift with minimal fatigue, and can time other things like stopping heavy food intake.

Knowing your flight (lifting group) start time will tell you when to start warming up and stop eating heavy. You’ll want to begin your warm up at least 25-30 minutes in advance, especially on the squat. Err on a longer warm up time if you’re uncertain. It is after all, easier to slow down than speed up a warm up. Don’t be afraid to take a warm up weight more than once if you’re way ahead of schedule.

There are 2 parts to this, with the first being the flight you belong to and the next, your position within the flight. Flights are just a way of grouping lifters to keep waiting time manageable. For example, a meet with 20 lifters may be split up into 2 flights of 10 each, so we don’t wind up waiting for 20 lifts between attempts. In other cases, one may have flights in two groups (or more), with a break between the groups. [e.g. Group 1: Flight A,B – break for 2 hours Group 2: Flight B,C]

Let’s consider the meet set up at different ‘zoom’ levels.

Using myself as an example (my name is Dan Chin), let’s consider that I know I’m 4th to squat in Flight B and I have the following ROUGH information (don’t take these as exact examples, in reality we may have 3 flights in a group or larger flights to give a longer break between each different lift).

  • Group 1 (Flights A,B): 1300 start
  • Break for 2 hours
  • Group 2 (Flights C,D): 1800 start
  • Flight A: 1300 start
  • Flight B: 1330 start

Meet sequence (Time-Flight):

  • 1300-Flight A squat
  • 1330-Flight B squat
  • 1400-Flight A bench
  • 1430-Flight B bench
  • 1500-Flight A deadlift
  • 1530-Flight B deadlift

The first thing I’ll do is to stop heavy eating by about 1200. From there, only snacking and drinking. I’ll also start to warm up by 1250-1300 to secure a place in the warm up room as well as allow for extra time when working between others’ warm ups.

Next, I take a look at the schedule for the individual lifters.

 

temp

You can see here the schedule of each individual lifter in his flight. I’m 4th to lift in Flight B, which begins squatting after Flight A finishes. Since I’ll prefer to have between 7-10 minutes rest between my last warm up and my opener, I work by counting the names that come before mine, starting with Patrick Fixler. I hit the 9th name when I count Maxwell Ha. With about 1 minute for a lifter to finish, I plan to hit my last warm up single when Maxwell takes his 3rd attempt squat (in reality, getting it in roughly when Flight A is about halfway done with their 3rd attempts will be good enough). If I work further backward, I know that my penultimate warm up should be done as Flight A rounds up their 2nd attempts.

As you can tell, it does seem like a lot to take care of. However, if you have help, it becomes much less difficult to keep track of what stage the meet has reached at any point. In some cases, the progress of the meet is tracked on a large LCD screen or a projector. You can watch the spreadsheet changes to see where things are at.

If you are the first flight in the group, things will usually start on time and will not be subject to the variation that comes with waiting for the previous flight. Just count the number of lifters the will lift before you in your flight, keep an eye on the clock and hit the last warm up when you want it.

 

Food and Supplements

 

food

Come equipped with food. Make sure it’s familiar, ideally something you can eat before a normal training session without any issues. Whether it’s whole food or candy doesn’t matter, but it must keep you fuelled without causing gastrointestinal distress. Supplementing with protein and carbohydrate powders may be a great idea, especially if you’re hungry right before a lift or eating food right after.

While you should take advantage of ergogenic aids like pre-workouts or stimulants, I will warn against going all out on stimulants until the deadlifts. If you burn out an hour before it’s time to pull because you got hopped up on 4 scoops for your first squat 4 hours before your deadlifts, you’re going to have a bad time finishing up. Scale back slightly the consumption of anything like stims and sugar that may cause a crash in energy levels if this applies to you until the deadlifts begin. A non-stim pre-workout may be very helpful here.

For good reason, this section does not discuss anything related to glycogen or water levels carb depletion or water cutting to make a weight class. As a novice, this should not be under consideration.

Introduction to Matt Gary’s attempt selection process

 

Matt Gary

The approach I recommend on attempt selection is based on Matt Gary’s approach. As a consequence, the following closely paraphrases articles that he has written, which you may look up on the net to verify.

Matt Gary is the owner of SSPT, a USAPL Platinum training facility in Rockville, Maryland. He has trained numerous lifters, including those who have reached USAPL Nationals and IPF Worlds meets. Matt is, however, perhaps even more well-known for his platform coaching and handling skills, which means that he often is involved in handling the US national team at IPF international meets. He employs this very system of attempt selection in the field, to great success. However, in addition to having a good system backing him up, Matt’s skill and experience often enables him to call in 3rd attempts that leave less than 2.5kg left in the tank when he needs to.

To get right down into the nuts and bolts, attempt selection should be something that’s well thought out advance and based on reliable and recent data. Good attempt selection will prioritize ensuring that you don’t bomb out, or take what you have on the day before even considering PR’s.

You should aim to hit a minimum of 6 lifts in the meet. Keep that in mind and be prudent in picking the first 2 attempts, taking reasonable risks on the 3rd.

 

The First Attempt

Your 1st attempt, the opener, will be very important, especially in the squat. It sets the tone for the rest of the attempts and perhaps for the rest of the day. Open reasonably, but lighter if in doubt. The weight should be roughly 90-92% of your projected max, or 100% of your best triple with solid form.

You should be certain of getting this. It should be a weight you can take for a single under even very poor conditions within reason. Treat it like a final warm up. If you have to get psyched for this, it’s probably too heavy. Drop the weight. Likewise if you’re feeling unusually beat up. That shouldn’t happen on game day, but sometimes it does. Make a course correction.

There are few things that will bum you out more than missing an opener, and Matt Gary’s data has shown that those who miss a first attempt are likely to miss subsequent lifts. Dominate this lift and let things snowball as you build your confidence.

The Second Attempt

The 2nd attempt should be considered a springboard more than anything else. As such, it’s generally not the place to take a PR. Still, if results from training have been unusually good and your projected maxes have far surpassed old bests, then taking a PR is not out of the question. That’s something I’ve done several times without issue.

This is usually 95-98% of your projected max. I like to take a bit more than my best double. Use this to build toward the 3rd attempt, which will be the best place to take a PR. Conversely, if the first attempt felt a bit slower than expected, you should adjust expectations and scale back by aiming slightly lower, perhaps 93-96% (taking 100% of your best double is a fairly safe bet here).

The Third Attempt

The 3rd attempt will be the place to take a PR. While generally no percentage is assigned here, if everything is on track, it will be at roughly 100% of your projected max. It is often prudent to take a small increment, such as 2.5kg over your best, especially if you’re an advanced lifter and progress comes slowly, but if you’re feeling good, being aggressive is fine.

Generally, you would not want the jump from the 2nd to 3rd attempt to be larger than the 1st to 2nd attempt. On top of that, if a PR does not feel like it’s in the books, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a smaller jump without a PR, to add to your total. The total ultimately matters more and a PR total is still a PR.

So, in short, be reasonable in selecting your weights. Prioritize not bombing out, and building up to a larger 3rd attempt rather than going too heavy too early and losing out on building a total.

 

Applying the Maths; Course Corrections

I offer two different approaches to building your attempts. You can begin with a goal weight, or your opener. If you begin with an opener/your best triple, add 10% to get a 3rd attempt, then split the difference between 1st and 3rd, then add 1-2% to get your 2nd attempt. Conversely, if you begin with a goal weight, subtract about 10% to get the 1st, then split the difference and add 1-2% to get your 2nd.

Whichever way you start, if you suppose that you have a best triple of 190kg OR a goal weight of 210kg (using an opener of 190kg yields a goal weight of 210kg and vice-versa, so they’re equivalent), a sensible approach to writing out attempts along with a Plan B in case things feel bad, may look like the following:

  • A1: ~90% = 190kg – A2: ~96% = 202.5kg – A3: ~100% = 210kg
  • B1: ~90% = 190kg – B2: ~94% = 197.5kg – B3: ~96% = A3: 202.5kg

You can see that the absolute values correspond well to the suggested percentages from the text.

It would be a good idea to write things out on a piece of paper so you can refer when deciding between continuing aggressively and dialling back if things don’t feel right.

In order to make a good decision on modifying your opener or deciding between Plan A and B, it’s important not to overestimate how heavy the weight feels. The best indicator of how much you have in the tank is how fast the bar moves. Therefore, if time allows, you should run over to quickly peek at footage of your lift before submitting 2nd and 3rd attempts. This must be done quickly though, as you’re often asked to submit within a minute of finishing the last lift. If not, a trusted friend with lifting experience could be asked to rate the lift and give you another opinion.

As an important final note, it is almost never a good idea to increase the weight after failing an attempt for any reason. Find out why you failed and rectify it when you repeat the weight. If it’s for lack of strength, you must be nuts to think that you’re suddenly come back and kill a heavier weight after failing something lighter. For issues of technique, increasing the weight generally only makes it harder to correct an issue. As a novice lifter, it is hard to imagine a scenario where you would fail a weight and then make a heavier weight.

 

Written by Dan Chin
Edited by Shaun Howell
About the author:

Dan Chin has been training for nearly 4 years, with the last 3 years dedicated to improving the powerlifts. He is a recent addition to Reactive Training Systems’ coachee roster and holds a wilks of 350, with a meet total of 520kg and a gym total of 547.5kg in the U93kg class. He values knowledge as a tool to get more results from one’s efforts.

 

Want to get involved in MASS Powerlifting?
Click the picture below…

 

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MASS Powerlifting National Championship Report

Following the growth of MASS Powerlifting and the successful regional championships, 40 student athletes filled Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club along with dozens of spectators and GBPF officials to find the best of the best at the MASS National Student Powerlifting Championship.  A truly ‘down to business’ gym set the perfect tone for a day of serious heavy lifting, and the friendly staff perfectly complemented the supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

The group was split into 2 waves across 9 represented categories from 17 universities, proceeding as usual through Squat, Bench and Deadlift with 3 attempts at each starting with the lightest female and ending with the heaviest male.  The lightest women, at 52kg, put in some strong performances with Becky Montague pipping Alexandra Langberg at 235kg to 232.5kg totals.  The 57kg female group was the most contested with 4 athletes and Catherine Smith coming in top place with a total of 282.5kg thanks to a 140kg deadlift, although Carrie Shearer’s 105kg squat scored her 2nd in the group. Of the 63kg females Cari Davies stole the show with a 302kg total thanks to a 160kg deadlift amidst a roaring crowd, although Elly Bar-Richardson did pip her on the Bench Press with a 50kg press. In the 72kg female category, Kimberley Cowell and Ursula Artjoki tied for highest total with 282.5kg, although Ursula’s slightly higher Wilks earned her 1st place.

 

 

NATIONALSsquat NATIONALSbench

From the lightest male category, Amrik Mehta put in a solid performance at 66kg with a 475kg total that would have won him the 74kg category crown too, although that went to Joshua Foo with a 462.5kg total after a big 240kg pull. From the 83kg males, Zib Atkins stormed his way to 1st with a huge 615kg total that also would have won him a crown at the next weight category, in part due to a 230kg squat. The 93kg men’s crown went to Ryan Strother for being slightly lighter than Oliver Sawyers after they both totalled 590kg, although the standout performance from the category was Oliver’s big 270kg deadlift.  From the heaviest men’s category, at 105kg, Marcus Jolly thrived on the support of his friends and managed a big 635kg total following a 275kg deadlift to have the biggest total of the day.

 

 

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Overall, Zib Atkins achieved the highest male Wilks at 412 followed by Amrik Metha and Marcus Jolly, and Catherine Smith achieved the highest female Wilks at 343, followed by Cari Davies and Carrie Shearer.  The battle for best university was hotly contested but Loughborough achieved the highest Wilks total with 1430, followed by Cardiff at 1294 and Bournemouth at 962.  Finally, MASS games points were awarded, prizes were distributed and plates were put away to mark the event of another brilliant MASS example of competition and community amongst student strength athletes.

 

 

PL

A huge thank you goes to the event sponsor USN – Ultimate Sports Nutrition, to Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club for hosting the competition and to all the spotters and plate loaders who made the day possible.

Links
Scoresheet
Competition Page
Event Photos

 

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Bench Press World Record Holder – Owen Hubbard

Celebrating the end of exams just found whole new meaning, recent Bournemouth University graduate Owen Hubbard left the partying to the rest of us as he flew out to South Africa to set the Junior World Record in the Bench Press! Just 1 hour after the final exam of his entire degree Owen boarded a plane to the IPF World Classics where at only 21 years of age and 83kg in bodyweight he bench pressed a staggering 190.5 kilograms…. That’s like three times the weight of Mo Farah holding a watermelon! As well as ginormous bench Owen can Squat 257.5kg and Deadlift 265kg giving him a combined powerlifting total of 705kg…… lightweight baby?! StudyFit caught up with the student power lifter, originally from Merthyr Tydfil, to find out more about him, how he built such strength while at University and what his future plans are. Naturally, there was only one question to open with.

You’re one of the UK’s strongest students! What’s that like?

“It’s not really something I think about too much, but it’s nice to be reminded from time to time! The great thing about powerlifting is that you can always get stronger, so I haven’t finished achieving yet.”

How and why did you start Powerlifting? How long has it taken you to build your strength?

“I started Powerlifting at quite a young age, around 15. As a younger child I was a bit of a fat kid sitting at 11 stone, aged 11. So to combat this I joined the local gym which was a real chalk, meat heads and rusty bars type gym. This environment introduced me to weight training pretty early on and through this style of training I ended up losing quite a bit of weight and getting down to around 8% body fat. Then I did what quite a lot of gym goers do, and became complacent. Luckily there were a few guys in the gym, who competed in powerlifting. I’d seen them gym shifting these massive weight and thought yeah, I wanna be able to do that! So I jumped in at the deep end, and 2 months later I was in my first comp totalling around 360kg in the 75kg class. From there I caught the bug and never looked back.”

Where do you train and do you train by yourself or with others?

“Throughout my time at Bournemouth University I’ve been fortunate enough to train with a powersports club, Bournemouth Barbell. This is run by a terrific coach, Paul Rees, who has helped me since my first year of University. It’s safe to say that without him I wouldn’t be where I am now. He creates a good lifting environment with other likeminded lifters which, I believe, is paramount to success.”

 

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How have you learned what works for you and what doesn’t?

“It’s a lot of trial and error. I train with my coach, Paul, 3 times a week but the rest of the week I train on my own due to work commitments. Over the years I have picked up a lot of things that I know works for me in both my nutrition and training. After every training cycle I review and adapt to what suits my needs at that particular moment in time. By doing this you can work on weaknesses and build on strengths!”

Which body parts do you find toughest to work on?

“I wouldn’t say there was a body part that I find toughest to work but there is an exercise for sure….. I HATE deadlifts! Probably because they are my weakest lift by far. But all I can do is keep working at it as much as possible until it gets better. I blame my short arms…” Weakest lift? You lift 265kg! Make the rest of us feel small why don’t you Owen.

What type of diet do you follow?

“This is an aspect of my training that I’ve done a lot of experimenting with in the past and I’ve finally got to a point where I can keep my performance up as well as maintaining my body weight around 83kg. This is very important for a power lifter who has to stay at a particular weight for his or her category. I usually train each day at around 5pm. Before I training my meals are mostly high fat, high protein (around a 50:50 ratio) with no carbs. Post workout this is where I introduce carbohydrates into my diet, around 150/200g altogether… depending on how hard the session has been! Over the years I’ve found I don’t really hit the higher rep ranges enough to warrant a ridiculously high carbohydrate intake throughout the day. Carbs just tend to make me sluggish for lifting more than anything. This is what works for me!”

What is the IPF and what was it like competing in the IPF so close to your final exams?

“The IPF is the International Powerlifting Federation and is the largest drug tested federation in the sport of Powerlifting. I was fortunate enough to compete in their World Classic Powerlifting Championships in South Africa in June this year. Competing there was pretty stressful considering my last Uni exam was the same day as my flight out to South Africa! My social life suffered a little leading up to the competition as I spent early mornings in the library so that I had enough time to train in the evenings. I’m glad I had the opportunity to lift out there and it was definitely worth the stress leading up to the competition!”

 

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How do you motivate yourself to train and eat clean?

“For me this is easy. I want to be the best and I know if don’t do it, someone else will. I have the ambition to become a World Champion and I know that’s not going to happen unless I’m training as hard as I can all the time.”

What tips have you for others who want to take up Powerlifting?

“The Great Britain Powerlifting Federation (GBPF) website is a good place to start or see if your University have a club, learn the rules and compete! Powerlifting is such a welcoming sport and that’s what got me hooked in the first place. I was a 15 year old boy with no idea what I was doing in my first competition and I was welcomed and supported by the other guys at my gym who had been lifting for years!”

What would you say is the key to managing training and diet as a student?

“Diet is preparation for sure. For the last few months of my degree I lived out of Tupperware in the library shovelling mackerel salad down my throat. I was probably the last person you would want to sit next to but it’s got to be done!

Training is similar and you get out of your training what you put into it. If I wasn’t too far away from a competition I would socialise and go on nights out without a problem, but I would do it strategically. Basically never go out the night before a heavy squat session as that hangover is just going to make it a write off! Bench on the other hand, your lying down so it’s not too bad!”

What do you like to do when you’re not lifting?

“Obviously the occasional night out never hurt anyone. Also I’m a bit of a secret nerd inside too so I love my gaming and anything do to with superheroes. Sad I know… “

What are your future plans?

“I’ve graduated from Bournemouth University now with a 2:1 in nutrition and am personal training out of 180 degrees gym in Sandbanks. It’s a nice place to be, training people on the beach!

Competition wise I have a bit of a break now until the British Classics in October held in Dover, so I’m training for some big numbers there.”

 

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Owen’s Training Regime

Training can vary depending on how far away from a competition I am. The closer to a competition I am the heavier the weights and my session become more intense and focused on the main three lifts; squat, bench and deadlift. On the other hand, the further away from a competition I incorporate more variance, assistance and repetitions.

Typically leading up to competition my training consists of the following;

Monday – Squats
  • Squats – 8 sets x 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
  • Tuesday – Assistance Bench
  • Barbell floor press – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Overhead press – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weighted dips – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Bench press (speed work) – 10 sets x 3 reps (explosive)
  • Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Finish with foam rolling and mobility work
Wednesday – Deadlifts
  • Deadlifts – 10 sets x 2 reps (building the weight up)
  • Deficit or block pull deadlifts – 6 sets x 3 reps
  • Weighted chin ups – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weighted side bends – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Thursday – Bench
  • Bench Press – 8 sets of 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
  • ‘Board’ or ‘chains’ Bench Press – 5 sets x 3 reps
  • Friday – Assistance work/active recovery
  • Bent-over rows – 3 sets x 10 reps (concentrating on technique and squeezing the scapula together)
  • Wide grip chin ups – 3 sets x 10 reps superset with Lateral raise – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Barbell curls – 100 reps in as little amount of sets as possible
  • Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Finish with 20/30 minutes of foam rolling
  • Saturday – Deadlifts and squats
  • Deadlifts – 5 x 5’s
  • Deficits speed deadlifts – 3 x 5’s
  • Squats – 5 x 5’s
  • Heavy bent over rows – 3 x 5’s
  • Weighted sit ups – 3 x 20’s
  • Glute ham raise – 2 x 20’s
  • Back raises – 2 x 20’s
Sunday – Bench

Similar session to Thursday’s but usually a little lighter and stricter. This means incorporating paused bench into the session. Paused bench involved a 1 second pause at the bottom of the rep before pressing the bar; this is how the bench press is performed in powerlifting. When training I usually pause the first and last repetition.

Owen’s titles
  • Commonwealth Champion 2010
  • British Classic Champion 2013
  • British Equipped Champion 2014
  • Junior World Record Holder in the Bench Press @ 83kg (190.5kg)
  • British classic record holder for both the junior and senior
Owen Hubbard
www.owenhubbardfitness.com
Twitter – @Hubbardfitness
Facebook – Owen Hubbard Strength and Fitness
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