On Saturday, Nathan and I competed in the 1st annual Fall Open at Empire Strength in Spokane. Weightlifting competitions are rare up here, so we felt like it was important to go down and participate. Weightlifting competitions contest the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. Each competitor gets 3 chances to lift the heaviest weight that they can for each lift. You have to call your opening lift, and you cannot take weight off of the bar. That sounds simple, but there is a ton of strategy that goes into a good plan for the event. You don’t want to start too heavy, because there is a chance that you’ll miss 3 lifts at that weight and be knocked out of the competition. You don’t want to start too light, because then you essentially waste a lift and are going to have a very hard time jumping to your next weight. Lifters go right after each other according to how much weight is on the bar, often leaving a very brief window to go back to the warmup room and get ready for your next attempt. And all of this is to be done wearing a singlet, in front of 3 judges and a crowd of people. There is generally a winner declared in each weight class for the Snatch, for the Clean & Jerk, and for the overall Total.
Neither of us had ever done an official competition before, so we were both a little unsure of how it would all go down. Admittedly, we were both a little nervous, but neither of us had any expectations other than making it a learning experience. We wanted to go make some lifts, learn some things, make some friends and have some fun.
All of those things were accomplished. Nathan make 5 of his 6 lifts and I made 4 out of 6. We both made the mistake of starting too light, which sabotaged our later lifts, but we wanted to make sure and make our first-ever lifts in competition. I was surprised at how nervous I was. I’m generally an athlete that rises to the occasion and thrives off of pressure, but not this time. I was jittery all the way through the Snatch part of the competition. I felt shaky on my opener of 90kg, which is only about 80% of my 1RM. I then jumped to 95kg, and made a good lift. I finished at 100kg, which I missed. I’m a little disappointed in that last attempt because its only about 90% of my 1RM, and I just made a poor lift. I can hit that all day long in a training setting. I learned something though; starting too light means that you may end up getting up to your heavy attempts too fast. I actually think I’ll open around 100kg next competition, because it’ll allow me to get sufficiently warmed up and comfortable under the heavier weights. Nathan easily hit all three of his snatches, and will probably start quite a bit heavier next time.
By the time the Clean & Jerk started, we were pretty well settled in. My nerves settled down a bit, and we were both a little more relaxed. We both went 2/3. I went 110kg, 115kg, and 120kg(x). I got called for a “press-out” on the Jerk at 120kg, so it wasn’t a legal lift. The “press out” rule is something foreign to the CrossFit world. Whereas in CrossFit, it’s generally considered a “Ground to Overhead” however the hell you can do it, in weightlifting, for the Jerk (and the Snatch actually) you must land under the bar with your elbows locked out for it to count. If you land with your elbows soft and have to extend, or press them out, it is not a legal lift. If you’re curious, I have a video that shows mine. As you’ll see, it doesn’t take much for a lift to be disqualified. Keep that in mind next time we test 1RMs.
Again, I’m disappointed, because 120kg is significantly less than my 1RM C&J of 130kg. As in the Snatch part of the competition, I learned something that I can move forward and improve on.
I haven’t seen any results posted, so I’m not sure how we placed.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I’m excited for the next one. Truthfully, I’m just thrilled to have gone down there and done it. Trying to throw hundreds of pounds over your head in front of a crowd of people, in a new gym, and while basically wearing your underwear is kind of an odd experience. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. It helped me as a lifter, as a coach and as a person. I now feel like I’ve got a grasp on the flow of the format, and will be much better equipped to prepare myself and other athletes for next time.