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barbell training

Meet Recap: USAPL Washington State Championships, February 2019

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Meet Recap: USAPL Washington State Championships, February 2019

Gaven competed last weekend at the USA Powerlifting Washington State Championships and came through with a phenomenal performance. He set state records in the squat, deadlift, and total for his age (teen one - 14 and 15 year olds) and weight category (-66kg). At a bodyweight of 65.6 kgs (144 lbs) Gaven finished with a 152.5 kg (335.5 lb) squat, 65 kg (143 lb) bench, and 192.5 kg (423.5 lb) deadlift, giving him a 410 kg total. This bested the previous state record total by 25 kgs! Very strong work from this talented and hard working 15 year old.
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Next up for Gaven is high school baseball season. He will continue to train with weights throughout the spring, before returning to training full time in the summer. We are excited to see how his strength transfers over to the baseball field, and look forward to supporting all of Gaven’s future athletic pursuits. #strengthmatters

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Why We Train: Growing Together

Training together is a wonderful opportunity for connection for Wayde and Helen. They each train three sessions per week, but Saturday is reserved for time together. This shared focus on health and strength is inspiring to see in two people who have been together for over 30 years. Both are healthier, more full of life, and more physically capable than when they began this journey together three months ago. We are grateful for the opportunity to support them in growing together in health and strength!


Photos: Wayde and Helen share a bar for deadlifting. Helen tops out with an impressive 70 kg (154 lb) single (she recently bested this with a 78 kg /172 lb pull), and Wayde warms up with sets of four at 70 kgs(154 lbs).

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Meet Recap: USAPL Empire Classic, January 2018

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Meet Recap: USAPL Empire Classic, January 2018

Francesca and Amanda traveled last weekend to Spokane, WA for the USAPL Empire Classic. It was the second powerlifting meet this year for both women, and they came away with successful results and a positive experience. 

Travel plans interfered with Amanda’s training leading up to the meet, but she went in with a great attitude and enthusiastic outlook. She made her opening attempts at 90 kg in the squat, 47.5 kg in the bench, and 130 kg in the deadlift. After getting on the board, Amanda pushed her capacity and reached for big numbers, coming up just short of setting a new state record in her age and weight class for the deadlift. Overall, a wonderful learning opportunity with lots of positive take aways for Amanda. 

Francesca pushed her total from the last meet by a significant amount, and set big personal records in all three lifts. After a strong opener at 150 kg, and a technical foul at 157.5 kg, she set a six kilo PR in the squat with her 160 kg third attempt. She was very successful in the bench as well, coming away with a 65 kg competition PR. Her biggest improvement was in the deadlift, where she eclipsed her numbers from last meet with a 160 kg pull. 

Next up for both - the Washington state regional meet will be held later this summer. Francesca is aiming for a total that will qualify her for October’s national meet, while Amanda will continue to use competition as a way to push herself and test her limits. We are excited to be supporting both in their individual journeys!

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Why We Train: Health and Strength for Life

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Why We Train: Health and Strength for Life

Seventeen year old Steph recently had a strong PR squat at 120 kgs (264 lbs). Steph has been training with barbells since the age of twelve. On her third day in the gym, back in 2012, she squatted 12 kgs for sets of five across. Five years later, she regularly squats over 100 kgs for multiple repitions. 

Unlike many trainees her age, Steph isn’t working with barbells to support goals in another sport or athletic endeavor. She has been able to fulfill her physical education credits for school by writing about her experience with barbell training, but for the most part she trains just for the sake of training. Steph’s time in the gym is not just about numbers - she is developing skills that will enable her to train for health and strength for the rest of her life. #strengthmatters

Left: Steph squats 100 kgs for the first time, in May of 2016.

Right: Steph sets a new PR at 110 kgs, in May of 2017. 

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Above: Steph squats a life time best 120 kgs (264 lbs), in November of 2017.

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True Competition

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True Competition

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       The root word of “competition” is a Latin word meaning “to strive for” and a preposition meaning “with”. In the words of Joe Ehrmann, “Competition therefore is not defined by winning or losing, but by the degree to which all competitors realize their fullest potential. True competition is a mutual quest for excellence”. In this context, we never work against our competitors, or look to conquer or depose someone else. We strive towards excellence in conjunction with, and because of, our competitors. Competition is a wonderful opportunity to work with others - your coaches, your teammates, your opponents - to learn, develop, and grow into the best possible version of yourself. 

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The Flow State

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The Flow State

     

     In all of athletics, there are quiet, sacred moments where an athlete must make the decision to stay present in their body. Upon choosing to be fully immersed in the moment, time slows down and the athlete feels rather than knows what to do, where to go, how to move. The athlete returns to this choice over and over again, practicing the feeling of sinking deeper into themselves, deeper into what psychologists call “the flow state”.

     Flow state is the idea of being so fully present in the current moment that actions happen naturally and automatically. Distractions, anxieties, fear, and the ego fall away. Preparation takes over. The athlete is absorbed in the activity for the sake of practicing the skills required to perform the task. This is the flow state, the present moment, the place we strive to train from all the time. 

     Barbell training lends itself well to the practice of finding flow state. There are many quiet moments in barbell training, many times that it is just you and your breath and the weight in front of you asking you to show up as your whole self. These moments are found in other sports as well - in this context, barbell training can have a profound impact not just on the body, but also on the mind.

     Any athletic or performance endeavor will include unquestionable brushes with the flow state. Can you hold your focus to recognize where you are? Can you re-frame your experience with the bar to apply what you are learning out on the field, court, mat, or competition platform? Will you stay with your breath and chose to remain present, or continue to let extrinsic distractions siphon away your potential? 

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 Why we Train: Strong is Healthy

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Why we Train: Strong is Healthy

The "Why We Train" series IS INTENDED TO Showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

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Father and son pair Wayde and Michael connect by sharing a training session. Michael has trained with barbells for years. Recognizing the far reaching benefits of strength training, he has encouraged those closest to him, including his father, to develop a regular training routine as well. This multi-generational effort to preserve health and strength is an exciting concept to observe. Without health, without a physically capable body to carry us through the world, it becomes difficult to spend quality time with loved ones. Time spent together is richer and more full of life when individuals are safe, strong, and secure in their own bodies. #strengthmatters  

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Why We Train: Independence

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Why We Train: Independence

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

Meryl trains to maintain her independence. Many women look to others to support them physically through the last third of their lives. While Meryl has a wonderfully supportive husband and family, she is still exploring her own path of being strong and capable. Her pursuit of physical independence has lead her to a variety of resources for training, tissue therapy, and nutrition. She credits this holistic support system as integral to her current state of well-being.

Today she has more energy, stability, and control over her physical self than she did ten years ago. She squats over 30 kilos for multiple repetitions. Initially entering into training  to improve her bone degeneration, her bone scans show no decline in bone density since she began training, despite the fact that she is on no medications to ward off osteoporosis.

She describes weight training as cathartic, empowering, and fun. It not only supports her activities of daily living, but the extracurricular activities she participates in. An avid cyclist, swimmer, and dancer, she feels more positively about her ability to engage in those activities as a result of her time spent training with barbells.

Meryl continually pushes the limits of her demographic, challenging the labels associated with her age, gender, and history. She pushes into societal categories often reserved for younger individuals such as athlete, dancer, and free spirit. At the unlikely place where all of these demographics meet is Meryl, joyfully cherishing the independence she has earned. Strength matters if you want to be in charge of your own life, and have fun along the way.

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A Skeptical Physician Embraces Weightlifting After Retirement

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A Skeptical Physician Embraces Weightlifting After Retirement

Dr. Michael Soules deadlifting 120 kilos (264 pounds). 

Dr. Michael Soules deadlifting 120 kilos (264 pounds). 

This piece was written by a client in his own words about his personal experience with the Fulcrum Training Hall community. This story is meant to inspire, educate, and testify to the fact that strength matters for everyone.

A Skeptical Physician Embraces Weightlifting After Retirement

By Michael R. Soules, M.D.

I had a wonderful medical career as a Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility (REI) specialist. The first in vitro fertilization (IVF) pregnancy in 1978 occurred while I was doing a REI fellowship at Duke University, but it took 30 years to develop and mature IVF to the standard treatment it is today.

I was fortunate to be in the forefront of the IVF maturation process while spending the bulk of my career in academic medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. My work led to roughly 9,000 new pregnancies over 35 years, which was incredibly gratifying. I retired in 2014 at age 68 when I was simply too tired at the end of the work day. Interacting with infertility patients is intense.

Before, if someone had asked me to envision my life after retirement, it would have never included formal strength training. At retirement, I was at a normal weight, but out of shape. I was relatively weak and had a hunched-over posture from too many hours bent over an operating room table.

I asked around for a personal trainer, but my enthusiasm was low when I pictured boring half days at a regular gym, using the various exercise machines under the tutelage of a taskmaster.

By a circuitous set of circumstances, I found Michael Street at Fulcrum Training Hall in Redmond, WA. Michael is a strength coach who believes that, “the bar never lies.” Meaning, the best way to gain strength is to use a standard 20 kg steel barbell to perform various lifts using free weights. At first, I was skeptical. I thought I might be too old to gain any real benefit from strength training.

Instead of machines, the “training hall” has floorspace and steel weight racks for performing squats, dead lifts, bench presses and overhead presses. All of this occurs in a controlled—yet raucous—environment where I was introduced to loud hip hop and other new genres of music. (The beat does seem to facilitate the lifts.)

Each type of lift requires learning the proper technique under the watchful eye of a coach to both maximize your gain in strength and to avoid injury. As Michael pointed out, first-time lifters quickly realize they are consciously incompetent.

My strength sessions are three days a week for about 90 minutes each. Each participant keeps a logbook that can be referenced at the next session. For each type of lift, the standard is to do about three to four sets of five repetitions, resting for about five minutes between, while gradually increasing the load by 1 to 5 kg with each set. A good coach, like Michael, constantly observes and keeps track of the weight on my bar and my performance. Often, he does this from across the gym where I wonder how he was able to see the glitch in my technique.

Week to week, there has been a gradual, but steady, increase in my strength. Since the load is increased judiciously, I am rarely sore afterwards. Usually, I just have some, not unpleasant, muscle fatigue for the rest of the day. This just lets me know I did some real work. As for diet, the main recommendation was to increase my daily protein consumption to match my body weight (185 pounds = 185 grams of protein).

Michael considers the squat with the barbell on your shoulder to be the single most important lift that a person can do, as it engages most major muscle groups and builds core strength. My core strength initially was abysmal where the bare 20 kg (44 lbs.) barbell was all I could squat.

It has been very gratifying to gain a significant amount of strength over the past 18 months, which is summarized in the below table. My personal best lifts as of December 2015, when I turned 70, were:

Squat: 101 kg (222 lbs.)    Bench press: 61 kg (134 lbs.)   Deadlift: 120 kg (264 lbs.)

Also included in the table are the results of my weight, muscle mass and percent body fat as measured by periodic hydrostatic (underwater) testing, which determined I have gained 8 pounds of muscle in the span of a year and a half. However, my percent body fat only went down slightly as I haven’t lost my penchant for desserts.

Candidly, I am pleasantly surprised at how strong I have become. It is wonderful to be able to say that I am currently the strongest I have ever been in my entire life. My balance is good, my spine is straight and I walk with a confident stride. Day in and day out, I feel great. Gaining strength at my age has had a positive effect on my ability to focus and has increased my general confidence as well.

My original goal at retirement was to “get healthier,” but now, I realize that getting stronger is the foundation for overall good health. Strength training not only builds muscles, but also has positive effects on the whole body including bone density, mental acuity and the cardiovascular system. At a time when most people my age have lost a significant amount of muscle mass, it looks and feels good to be gaining it instead. This can only serve me well as I get older.

Golf is my passion and I have gained about 20 yards on my drive secondary to this improvement in my core strength. Heavy chores around our cabin, like pushing wheelbarrow loads of gravel uphill, are no problem. Maybe best of all is the fact that I have found weightlifting to be fun. I enjoy not only the results, but the process and the camaraderie, as well. I would highly recommend formal strength training for successful aging. I plan to keep doing it for as long as I am able. 

This personal account was written as part of an article published by Healthy Aging magazine.

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Why We Train: Dreams and Aspirations

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Why We Train: Dreams and Aspirations

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

Strength matters in the pursuit of excellence at any chosen task. Daveon Collins,  a sprinter with Seattle Speed, began a serious strength training program in mid-2014. Since then he has taken his best squat from 40 kg (88 pounds) to 180 kg (396 pounds). An incredibly self-sufficient and hard working individual, Daveon’s success in the gym is mirrored on the track, where it counts the most. Shown here is a commanding win in the 60 meter dash at his most recent indoor track meet. His ultimate goal is to represent the US in outdoor track and field in this summer's Olympic Games in Brazil. With continued perseverance, he is well positioned to make that dream a reality.

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Why We Train: Health and Longevity

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Why We Train: Health and Longevity

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

         Peter is a regular client who brings a positive energy and enthusiasm to our morning sessions. Peter has made remarkable transformations in his time at Fulcrum, not only in terms of strength and body composition, but in his attitude towards his own health. At the age of 55, he had difficulty lowering his center of mass through a full range of motion (squat with no external resistance) and three years later squats an amazing 85 kilos (187 pounds).  Strength acquisition improves the quality of life of individuals in this demographic by warding off the supposedly-inevitable-effects-of-aging through natural means. Training with barbells improves bone density, balance, brain function, well being, and the quality of tissue of all the underlying biological systems that we are bound to in this time of our existence. Another strong case for strength training is to maintain or reclaim our independence of living.  Our gym environment provides a space for humans to take charge of their own health. Peter is a great example of why strength matters at all stages of life.

 

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