Questions and Answers, part 1.

OK! Here’s is part one of the Q&A.

When I posted last night, I thought I’d get like five or ten questions… but when I woke up this morning there were hundreds, haha. Amazing. I DID NOT MANAGE TO ANSWER ALL OF THEM TODAY! So sorry! However! All questions will be answered and part two will be my first youtubevideo! Hope no one gets angry or offended or sad for having to wait a few more days. It will be up on friday, I promise. Be patient my friends!

 

So here we go:

 

Q: How did you get into lifting? How old where you and how old are you now? How long did it take you to lift as heavy as you do? And did it at first come naturally/enjoyable to you?

A: I’ve trained for about four years (started going to the gym in March 2013). I was twentythree and I’m twentyseven now (my birthday is in July). A personal trainer helped me at the gym I trained at back then. She helped me for a few months before I started training at my local lifting club (in August 2013). After I learned proper technique, lifting became quite natural and enjoyable very fast (I liked it from day one). Other than having very beneficial angles for powerlifting and good muscular response, I’ve never been scared of adding weight, more like I’ve always chased the numbers and I think I was naturally aggressive from the start as well. 

In January 2014 I did my first meet and a year and a half later I competed internationally for the first time, winning a bronze medal at the World championships in June 2015. 

 

Q: How much did you squat and deadlift when you first started? How long did it take you to reach 100kg?

A: I think I did 60kg first time I ever tried squats. And the same in deadlifts. I think it took me about a month to reach 100kg. Four months to squat 130kg and deadlift 140kg.

 

Q: What’s your diet like? How much do you eat when your weight is stable?

A: I eat regular meals with carbs such as rice, potatoes, pasta, oats, etc. Fat from butter, olive oil, avocado, nuts and animals. Protein from fish, chicken and red meat. (Usually I avoid pork and I preferably buy my meat from a local eco-friendly farmer that my family buys big quantities from.) I eat lots of raw vegetables and green leaves, sometimes just for snack because onomnom. I drink milk and I eat some supplements like proteinbars and, proteinpowder when I need to eat something ‘on the go’. I always liked cooking so I make lunch and dinner almost everyday. I usually skip breakfast (not always), call it intermittent fasting if you will, but I compensate the calories later in the day by eating more before and after training. Normally I like to eat two really large meals and one smaller. Other days I just eat constantly the whole day haha. Depends on what my body craves. Protein intake is always high though, about 2gram per kg bodyweight.

EDIT: Obviosuly I eat other snacks than vegetables, haha. I love snacks.

Q: Do you have rest day?

A: Sure! I rest whenever I feel like it, or when I feel that my body or mind needs it, which is usually about three days a week.

Q: What’s your job?

A: Currently I’m a university student. I study social work. 

Q: When is your next meet?

A: The European championships in Denmark. I compete on friday 17th, 10am local time.

Q: Before a big lift/ PR attempt, what do you think about? How do you focus? How do you dial in and get mentally prepared? What is your thought process approaching the deadlift and squat? What thoughts allow you to focus on the movement and not the weight?

I try to keep my mood light and my thoughts positive. It demands less energy and helps to associate lifting with happy thoughts. In my head I’m going “lightweight lightweight lightweight!!!” and I try to be as aggressive (focused/intense/motivated) as possible. No room for anything else. Aggressiveness blocks out all other thoughts. It’s a passionate and excited feeling.

Q: Whats going on in your head before a lift at a meet? What are your thoughts for calming yourself/getting fired up?

A: Before a meet, I’m always terribly nervous, lots of anxiety, just trying to stay positive, focusing on everything but lifting and what is about to happen. I just want it to be over and done with. And I think about all the food I’m gonna eat after weigh in. I don’t need to think about anything special to get myself fired up, more the opposite!

Q: What kind of accessory work do you do?

A: All kinds during off season (the months after Worlds) Some good ones that I do consistently over the year are militarypress (shoulders), front squats (back and shoulders), flyes (pecs), dragonflags (abs), narrow grip bench, sometimes dips, sometimes lateral raises. My weak point has always been chest and shoulders, so that’s usually my main focus for accessory work.

 

Q: Who writes your program? Do you have a coach?

A: I do it myself, but my coach, Arvid Lind (also my partner), gives me input, feedback, pointers, watches the process, gives directions, lets me know if I need to change something or add something. Sometimes tell me to train less, usually never to train more. I always decide in the end, but I’ve learned by now that he’s usually (pretty much always) right, haha.   

My training is autoregulated so we decide each day what the training will be like, but we divide it into blocks and smaller cycles.

 

Q: How long does your average cycle last?

A: A training block is usually two-three months, and the cycles within that block are usually about six weeks.

 

You’re amazing!

Thank you!! <3

 

Q: Do you think that you will reach the 200kg squat mark ?

A: Yes I do but I don’t know when.

 

Q: Do you currently have any injuries?

A: I’ve felt pain in my right knee for some weeks, but I’ve been consistent with rehab and lowered the intensity so it’s already feeling better.

 

Q: How many hours do you sleep per day?

A: As many as I can. Usually ten. If it’s any less than nine on a hard training-week I’m a wreck.

 

Q: What kind of music do you like?

A: When I train it’s pretty lame music, usually the stuff you hear on the radio, eheh.

Otherwise I like most kinds of soul, RnB, jazz, house, tropical, pop, some rock..

 

Q: Do you have a life goal number when it comes to squat PR?

A: 3x body weight would be cool.

 

Q: What’s your favorite or go-to hip mobility routine/secret? Ever have problems with tight psoas muscles when squatting frequently. Solutions?

A: I did have this problem actually, two years ago. I had it for some months, it was a real pain (in the hips). It went away after regular stretching and never came back. Don’t know if that will help you, but if it doesn’t, perhaps a physiotherapist can give better advice!

 

Q: What are your long term strength goals?

A: To avoid injuries and to stay passionate and live a happy life.

 

Q: How often do you check 1 rep max?

Whenever I feel like it, but not as often nowadays, because since my weights are getting bigger, the risk of injury obviously increases if I max out too often.

A: How do you warm up for 1 rep max..

Very little. Only a few lifts. For example, in deadlift: bar x10, 60kg x8, 100kg x3, 140kg x1, 170kg or 180×1 and then the top single.

 

Q: Do you also like martial sports?

A: I want to try boxing… 🙂 Maybe I’ll like it, don’t know yet!

 

Q: How many hours a day do you train and how many days a week?

A: I usually train for about three hours, four or five times a week.

Q: How do you structure your training? How often do you squat deadlift and benchpress per week? How many days a week do you train and for how long per session?

A: I squat, usually, two-three times a week (sometimes more), and deadlift twice (but never more than twice). I benchpress usually three-four times a week.

How I structure my training, more specifically, is going to be a long, elaborate blog post, in a close future. Stay tuned 😉

 

Q: Hi Isabella! Four questions:

1) I’m having trouble with stagnation in squat and deadlift. I train 4 times a week, my best pull is 210kg and squat is 120kg. Do you have any tips for programming training?

2) How much protein should I eat every day?

3) What supplements do you recommend? I use creatine, EAA, d-vitamin and c-vitamin.

4) You best tips for technique in squat and deadlift.

5) What do you eat and/or drink before training? Thank you!

A: 1) Way too hard for me to answer in a short reply like this! 🙂 Best thing might be if you found a lifting gym and/or someone who could coach you? Or maybe check out some online coaches (preferably IPF-lifters) or well tried online programs like sheiko or russian squat routine. I’m not saying any of this is the “right way”, but since you feel like you haven’t been getting results, it’s usually best to get consistent feedback from someone. There is no short answer! Good luck though, and DM me if you have more questions.

2) I’m not a dietitian but I guess approximately 1g-2,5g per kg bodyweight ..?

3) Good choice of supplements, you really don’t need anything else. 🙂

4) Being aggressive, using core/bracing, proper breathing and filming every lift.

5) Lots of food, sometimes Resorb (water retainig)

Good luck!

 

Q: What do you think about supramaximal loading? Like pin squats above parallel, or rack pulls? Are they beneficial? Do you incorporate them?

A: Could be beneficial, depending on your purpose. I’ve mostly used supramaximal loading for mentally preparing myself for bigger weights, also for getting muscular hardness/tightness in the body (lack of better word). I know some use it for improving technique in certain parts of the lift, and I’ve done deadlifts from blocks (just below the knee) for lockout, but it’s been a while since I incorporated it in my training.

 

Q: Favourite accessory lift for Deadlifts?

A: Definitely squat 🙂 For some people with trouble in the start, they could incorporate leg press with a dead start. Maybe deadlifts from below the knee for lockout.

 

Q: Myth or truth, do you believe weightlifting shoes enable you to lift more? Also which do you recommend.

A: I suppose weightlifting shoes are good for people who want to do an olympic squat, and people who have limited flexibility in their tendons. Maybe if you have very strong quads and angles that benefit you doing doing olympoic squat instead of a more powerlifting lowbar squat, it could benefit you. I don’t know. I think a flat shoe is probably beneficial for you if your are squatting low bar and have the flexibility and isn’t built like I described above..

 

Q: What supplements do you take daily?

A: Vitamin C, protein (bars, powder, pudding, whatevs I have at home).

 

Q: Do you do any specific exercises for abs and if so, how often?

A: I do dragonflags and toes to bar,sometimes the plank with weight-plates on my lower back. I train abs a couple of times a week, two or three I think….

 

Q: What’s your mobility routine like before a session?

A: I usually focus on mobility after the session is finished. I foam roll or use a hard ball, strech, do lots of circulation exercises for blood flow in lower back, shoulders and quads.

 

Q: Are you afraid of injuries and how heavy lifting is going to affect you in the future?

A: Of course, I am always afraid I might get injured (not during a lift or during training, but I mean, in general). I’m trying to avoid it to the best of my abilities. But at the same time, I’ve chosen to train as an elite level athlete and by doing that, I need to accept that training is gonna take a bit of a toll on my body. But it’s what I’m passionate about and I’ve set my goals this high, so… it is what it is.

 

Q: What’s your drive in your training? What keeps you going?

A: Very difficult question 🙂 There are a lot of psychological mechanisms behind what I do and why, I suppose. Maybe I can write a longer blog post about it some day!

 

Q: What’s your goal this year and on a three year-plan?

A: My goal this year is to to my best at the european championships in March and World championships in June. In 2019 the World Championships will be in Sweden, so I’m also pretty excited about that! 🙂

 

Q: What’s your athletic background?

A: None, actually. I was very out of shape when I started lifting in 2013. 😀

 

Q: Are you doing Wods/Metcon sometimes ?

A: Is that crossfit?

 

Q: Some tips to stay injury free?

A: Train consistently, keep a good mobility routine, listen to your body and rest when it needs to, sleep as much as you can and fuel it with lots of proper food.

 

Q: How much is the difference in weights if you are alone in the gym without music  as opposed to a crowded room, high energy and lots focus on you?

A: Wow, huge difference! I don’t really like to train heavy on my own. I always do better if people are watching and cheering 😀

 

Q: What are your thoughts about cardio? Is it necessary? Do you do it?

A: Looking guilty as I’m typing this….I could do it more. But yes, cardio is absolutely good for you and yes, it will most likely improve your ability to recover after a strength session. It would also probably improve your ability to do high-reps/AMRAP-sets (as many reps as possible).

I like the rowing machine 🙂 I do less cardio closer to meets, because then I need to train with more specificity than during off season.

 

Q: What is your opinion on zercher squats? Would you put them in an advanced PL program? Thank you very much

A: Never tried! No idea!But probably not 🙂

 

Q: I get dizzy when I deadlift/squat many reps. Why is that, what can I do about it?

A: I’m sorry, but I have no idea :/

 

Q: What is your WILKS, what are your PR’s?

A: My current wilks is 477,4. My PRs in competition is squat 188kg, bench 97,5 and deadlift 200kg. In the gym I’ve squatted 192,5, benched 102,5 and deadlifted 215 kg.

 

Q: Have you considered doing a live stream?

A: Not really but now that you mention it, why not!

Q: How do you train your grip?

A: I’ve always had a very naturally strong grip. Maybe you could try holding on, on your last rep in the last set, every time you deadlift? Perhaps rackpulls? Also mentally getting in there, really focusing on keeping a hard grip could help! My experience with this issue is limited though, I’m afraid..

 

Q: What is your height and bodyweight?

A: 165 cm (5’4) and 72kg (158 lbs)

 

Q: How long it takes u to deadlift 200kgs? 😁

A: Two years or something like that 🙂

Q: Do you do box squats or stop squats?

A: Nope, never tried.

Q: What is your favorite pizza?

A: With parma and mozzarella!

Q: How do you adjust to low bar squat from a high bar position?

A: Good question! Maybe try and ease into it by only going lowbar on your working sets? But I’m not sure… I felt A LOOOOOT of pain on the back of my shoulder when I started doing low bar.. It helped a lot to do a lot of blood flow exercises for that area…… other than that I just sorta made the switch.

 

Q: What or how is a good way to warm-up the body, back and hips before doing Squats?

A: If I’m doing squats I warm up with squats. 😀 I could probably be much better with this..

 

Q: How often do you think… “screw it, I don’t want to train today..”?

A: Surprisingly often. Every week or so. If I feel like that, I just skip it, haha. I don’t force myself to do anything.

 

Q: How many tons do you lift on an average session?

A: Impossible to say, the weights, sets and number of reps vary so much.

 

Q: What motives you when you don’t feel at your best or you have other important things that you still want to prioritise? Also have you ever thought about starting a YouTube channel?

A: I give myself some slack. If I’m not motivated, there’s probably a reason for that and I try to get behind that reason and figure it out instead of forcing myself to do something.

I always prioritise my family, though, that’s just the way it is. 🙂

I’ve been wanting to start a youtube channel for a long time! Next part of this QandA will be in a video. Promise!

 

Q: Do you regret posting this yet?

A: Boy, I did not expect this many questions. I’m thrilled though!! I can’t believe so many of you wanted to know so much ! Awesome questions and super motivating! But seriously, I have actually only answered about half so far, and it’s getting late in the night. I’m sorry to keep some of you waiting, but how about I answer the rest in a youtube-video to compensate? 

 

Love you all !

Take care and good night! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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goals

I might have a tendency to.. maybe.. over-analyze some things and by things I mean things that I say to other people. This has become a more relevant matter for me to deal with now that I’m more active on social media. I try to be mindful of what I say, because I feel like I have a responsibility in a way, knowing that a lot of people are reading and listening. It often makes me question a lot of my statements and sometimes also leads to me avoiding saying certain things, because I don’t want to be misinterpreted.

I don’t believe there are any perfect one-liners when it comes to the human body and mind or high level performance of any kind. I don’t want to deliver any catch-phrases. You wanna know what I think the answer is, I say it depends

But some statements I stand by.

I had a really fabulous conversation the other day with a good friend of mine. We’ve trained together for some years and she’s been one of those people I always talk about, who’s supported me unfailingly since day one. And she’s insanely strong I tell you, with a bull’s mindset (that also reminds me a little bit of my own). Don’t know what I did to deserve being surrounded with people like that, who provides me with opportunities to deepen my understanding of why we do what we do, but it sure adds a tremendous amount of value to my life. This time, our talk made me think that perhaps a blog post about some of the main issues and core values I train by, would be in order. This is of course a pretty broad subject, I guess I just need to get started somewhere and we’ll build upon it over time. 

I came up with this:

Training is a process. Training needs to be joyful and training needs to be something you do for the sake of yourself. Because you are a unique snowflake. stock-photo-14828353-single-snowflake-1

Easier said than done, living by this, of course. But if I’m gonna write here and tell a bunch of people about how I train, I want that message to be clear, before anything else.

 

POWERLIFTING (sometimes) = MINDFULNESS

I’ve always thought of my analytical side as an asset, until about half a lifetime of values and internal expectations accumulated into some sort of existential crisis in the year 2015. The ignition of the crisis was The classic World Championships in Salo, Finland. That meet represented a sort of re-match, I think. The score was Me vs. Life, 0-1. To be honest, it was a pretty difficult time, still I find that it’s hard to describe what the main issue was.

Training for the meet wasn’t the real problem, but it opened up for a lot of unanswered questions I had about myself. Looking back now, I can see that I was, in fact, provided with the perfect tool – a challenge.

 

Rewinding the tape.. Why do I even lift?

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Ferdinand the Bull, thinking about lifting

Well..  I’d just gotten the hang of powerlifting and I had finally found something that felt really right. Like opening a door you’ve been looking for, for years and years. When I started lifting heavy weights, it very much changed me. It changed how I walk, how I keep my hands, how I see myself and how I see life. I might dig deeper into the Bella-before and the Bella-after powerlifting some other day. The point that I wanted to make today, was that when I started, it very quickly became an expression for both my body and mind – it was an in-the-moment-experience, that was very new and very precious to me. Something that I wanted to do only for myself, because I loved the action of lifting in itself, more than I loved the reward I got from it afterwards. A sort of mindfulness, so to speak. 

 

The challenge of the meets.

So, I had never competed before, before powerlifting, although it had become increasingly clear that I had a competitive mindset. When a whole lotta people suddenly started talking about which meet I was going to attend to, and what my results might be, it was a new world that presented itself and it made me anxious. (Not holding this against anyone, it’s just common human behaviour, but when it comes to performance in sports, some people, including yourself to yourself, will always want to tell you what expectations they have on you. They usually mean well, like “Make sure you get that medal now!”, but I’ve found that it makes me very uncomfortable.)

Just to be clear: I’ve competed exactly eleven times. That’s not a lot, if you think about it. I know that a lot of the anxiety I have revolving meets comes from lack of experience and routine. My feelings towards this will most likely change very much over the years.

What I know is, that while some folks seem to fall in love with the competitions, longing for the next one as soon as they’re done with the first, I feel apprehension. Maybe this stems from a little piece of my personality, that a) I don’t like being told what to do (I’m the youngest child out of seven, perhaps that’s got somewhat to do with it) and b) I’m an idealist in that way, that in everything I set my mind to, I want to live up to my true potential and sometimes this ideal is just paralyzing.

GOT GOALS? FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES YOU ENJOY THE PROCESS REACHING THEM.

And so I struggled with it, wanting prove myself and show the world what I was made of, versus wanting to just lift, like I would lift even if there were no other humans on the planet but me. I’m still struggling with this, I guess. I want to prove myself, as the best lifter/human I can be, but more importantly I want the present moment to be the most important thing of all:

I never want to feel like actions of the future have a higher value than the actions of the present moment that I’m currently in.

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2015: Winning my first international medal. Photo: Pekka Savolainen

This conclusion opened another sort of door for me. My training changed. I relaxed. I became better. Stronger. My approach to big parts of my life and my view of myself changed, when not letting my identity completely revolve around future results. I’ll take pride in my accomplishments, for sure, but my focus is always going to be on what I did today.

 Get it? I didn’t. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I didn’t get it all, until a little more than a year after that first world championship in Finland. It took me a least six months to even grasp the magnitude of the results I actually did there (it went very, very well). Months later, I would sit on the bus and it would hit me: “Goddamn, did I actually do all that?”. (This strikes me as a reaction from someone who might have a hard time taking it all in.)

Present moment vs. future goals – It absolutely doesn’t have to be about one thing or the other. Setting goals can be awesome for you. But don’t lose sight. Nothing is going to be more important than what you did today and that same principle is going to be valid tomorrow as well.

Set a goal – stay in the moment – go through the process – look back and evaluate.

And maybe the dilemma of a challenge is that sometimes you won’t know exactly how capable you are of something until you’ve actually done it. So try to keep calm and enjoy the process.

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I’m eight months overdue..

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A picture of me, thinking about making a blog post

Since my instagram captions are getting lengthier and lengthier each week, I think it’s finally time to get going with the blog-project.

First time I felt like I wanted to blog about anything, was in April, earlier this year, some weeks before the Raw Worlds in Texas. Then I got performance anxiety as usual and spent a few months just thinking about what I should write about in my first entry. Eight months later this now strikes me as pretty ridiculous, so I’ve decided to lower the expectations a bit and just type something.  I’m still considering whether or not it’s a good idea, but what the hell. I’ve been considering since spring and by now it’s a christmas-y feeling here in my kitchen, where I’m sitting at the present moment. Time flies. Hopefully I won’t look back and regret all, another eight months from now. Hopefully I’ll just fall into the habit of writing and documenting here and get something out of the process. And there’s always the delete button… So, here goes.

Why write at all and who am I?

I’m Isabella. Today I’m an elite level athlete. A little more than three years ago, August 2013, I got the nerve up and paid a visit to a local powerlifting club in my home town, Gothenburg (Sweden). I’d been going to a commercial gym for a few months. A personal trainer there had been helping me with the basic technique in squat, benchpress and deadlift. It was an instant love with these three, I was practising with a broom in front of the mirror everyday and developed my skills quite quickly. Emma, the PT, told me I was strong. She’d been helping me since March that year and in august I was squatting 130kg (286lbs) and deadlifting 140kg (308lbs), so she was absolutely correct, I guess, although back then I didn’t really have anything to compare my results with. I’d only just realized that powerlifting was a sport, little less that it was a sport that I, a short few months later, would be setting national records in.

Like I said, it’s been a little more than three years, transforming in ways more than one. My first year of lifting, in conclusion, I broke a rib from squatting 180kg (396,8) and I learned a sea of new things about myself and about building strength. (Mind you, at times I still feel like I know nothing.)

But I won the bronze medal at the World Championships in 2015 and this year in March I won the gold medal at the European Championships, and later on in June, a silver medal at my second Worlds, gaining the european record in total (485kg/1069lbs), as well as raising my own world record in squat (188kg/414lbs) in the -72kg open category. A pretty sweet ride, if you ask me!

So this is what I wanted to write about: how the hell this happened. Because it happened fast and it’s got me thinking about all the things that made it possible.

I’ll go over these things, and I will talk about my training and my approach and maybe some of it will be interesting to someone. If there is anything in particular that you want me to write about, or some content you would like to see, don’t hesitate to tell me about it. I want to cover it all. Or well, all that I can. Some of it might be in swedish, if it relates only to swedes. Please don’t take offense.

I’m gonna make this a short one for now though, since it’s my first and like I said, I need to lower the expectations just to get started. 

Also I’m getting up early to watch my fellow lifters from Göteborg Kraftsportklubb compete in benchpress tomorrow. Watch it here: LAG-SM – klassiskt styrkelyft i Sundsvall !

So bye bye, for now. I’ll be back soon.

 

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Infatuation.

 

 

 

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