Friday, April 22, 2016

Six Weeks Until My Competition, My Passion is Back!

Image result for powerlifting   As of this Saturday it's six weeks until my powerlifting competition!  I have to admit that I'm a little nervous and I've been asking myself why am I doing this?  The answer is to challenge myself to be better and to inspire others to challenge themselves.

It's the challenges in life that get us out of the ruts of routine living.  After 3 weeks of training on a new program at a higher intensity, I realize that I have been in a rut with my exercise routine.  I have been working out on a regular basis but, I had lost the passion of pushing my mind and my body to another level.  Isn't that just like life?  You don't realize you've lost your passion for living until something forces you out of your daily routine.

I'm pretty pleased with my progress up to this point.  My maximum lifts so far are: a 305 lb bench press, a 425 lb deadlift, and a 455 lb squat.  Quite a ways away from the what it takes to win my class, but I'm excited about pushing myself to new levels, and I'm so happy I decided to do this powerlifting meet.  The true lesson in this is not about whether or not I win my class, it's about competing with myself to do my very best.  Now I realize that I am the toughest competitor that I will ever compete against in anything that I do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tennis Elbow Causes and Prevention

Along with the warm weather of spring comes an increase of springtime activities like tennis, golf, and baseball.  While getting outside and playing a challenging tennis match can be fun, you can over-do-it and end-up with elbow pain also known as tennis elbow.  Tennis elbow is a common sports condition that affects more than just tennis pros and weekend tennis warriors.  This condition occurs as a result of repetitive twisting and torquing of the forearm and elbow from activities such as tennis, golf, throwing, racket ball, and bowling.

Tennis elbow is caused by an overuse of the extensor and supinator muscles of the forearm and wrist; in other words, the muscles that turn your palm upward and that straighten your elbow.  While many activities can cause tennis elbow, the most likely culprit is the backhand motion of the tennis swing.

Certain risk factors make getting tennis elbow more likely.  Studies find the incidence of tennis elbow increases in people over 40 who play more than two hours of per week.  A racket grip that's too small or too large can cause poor swing mechanics that also leads to tennis elbow. Playing with a wet, heavy ball, or a racket that is strung too tight can cause more stress on your elbow also leading to tennis elbow.  Lastly, people who are improperly conditioned are at a higher risk for injury because their muscles are not strong and limber enough to withstand the stress of the tennis swing.

Treatment of tennis elbow is typically nonsurgical.  About 95 percent of the people who develop this injury achieve excellent functional recovery in about three to six weeks with rest, and over the counter anti-inflammatories . It's important to refrain from playing tennis during this recovery period.

A proper strength and conditioning program is the best preventative measure for developing tennis elbow.  Exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles that stabilize the upper body and reduce strain on the elbow should be emphasized.  The following three exercises are excellent choices to accomplish this goal.  I suggest you perform these exercises two times each week (never on consecutive days) for best results.

Exercise 1.  Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is a great exercise for strengthening and developing the upper back muscles that are critical for good posture. People whose shoulders are slumped forward most likely have underdeveloped upper back muscles.

First, sit down and adjust the thigh pad to a position that firmly fits over your thighs. Then select a resistance with which the last three repetitions are difficult to complete. If this is your first time doing this exercise, it may take experimenting at several weights before you find the right resistance. Next, grip the bar a little wider than shoulder width, sit down on the seat and place your knees firmly under the pad. Start with your arms fully extended and your chest held high. This is your start position. Now, pull the bar slowly down to the base of your neck while squeezing your shoulder blades back and together. Slowly return the bar to the starting position. (It should take about three seconds to pull the bar down and about two seconds to return the bar to its starting position). Proper breathing is very important, so remember to exhale as you pull the bar down and inhale as you return the bar to the starting position.

Exercise # 2 - Dumbbell Rows

The dumbbell row is a for developing the muscles of the mid-back.  Hold a dumbbell in one hand, and place the opposite knee on a bench. Lean forward, and place your other hand on the bench. Step to your side with the other leg bending your knee slightly. Proper form is very important on this exercise, so be careful that your lower back is not rounded. Hold the dumbbell fully extended beneath your shoulder. This is your starting position. Now, slowly pull the dumbbell to underarm height, squeeze your shoulder blade toward your spine and return slowly to the start position. The breathing pattern is to exhale as you pull the dumbbell toward you and inhale as you return to start.

Exercise # 3 - Lateral Dumbbell Raises

The lateral dumbbell raise develops and strengthens your shoulders. Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of you. Position your feet shoulder width apart, slightly bend your knees, and hold your chest high. This is your starting position. Bend your elbows slightly and raise your hands out to your sides about shoulder height (with your palms facing down). Then return to your starting position. Be careful to keep your forearm and your elbow at the same level at the finish of this movement. Your breathing pattern is to exhale as you raise your arms up and inhale as you return to start.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Powerlifting at 57, I've Selected a Competition

Image result for powerliftingAfter deciding to do a powerlifting competition, I've done a lot of research this past week on different organizations and the meet I want to compete in.  I found an organization called USA Powerlifting that caters to natural lifters (competitors who don't use anabolic steriods, growth hormones, and other performance enhancing drugs).  After reading the USA Powerlifting Organization's rules and guidelines I feel good that's I've selected an association in which the competition will be fair.  There's nothing more dis-heartening than competing against someone who uses performance enhancing drugs.

Good news is I've found a good organization in which to compete, not so good, is the the meet is in 8 weeks and it's The North Carolina State Powerlifting Championships (not the small local show in which  I wanted get my feet wet).  However, I've always believed that if you are going to do something, you may as well do it big, thus, I'm jumping into this competition with both feet!  So, this morning I signed-up to become a member of the USA Powerlifting Association and registered to compete in the meet. The competition is Saturday, June 6th in Apex, North Carolina.

Now I'm off to find a good coach and a good powerlifting program!  I will keep you updated on my progress.  Thanks for following me.

PS, someone overheard me talking about competing in a powerlifting meet and they asked me why I wanted to do such a thing being that I'm in my late 50s?  To which my reply was, that I want to be an inspiration to people and show them that they are never too old to dream and accomplish great things.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

My First Powerlifting Competition at the Age of 57

Image result for powerlifting

I've written many posts about inspirational people over the age of 50 and now I'm trying to become one.  I plan to compete in my first powerlifting competition at the age of 57.  Although I've competed in many bodybuilding competitions, powerlifting is a whole new venue for me.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

Powerlifting is a sport that involves the following three lifts;  bench press, deadlift, and squat.  You do each lift with as much weight as possible and the combination of all three lifts is totaled for your overall score.  The person with the highest total weight of the three lifts is the winner. 

The competition is broken-up by age group, and weight class, to give every competitor an even playing field.  I will be competing in the Masters 55-59 age group in the 100 kg (220 lb) weight class.  Being as competitive as I am I have already researched the State Record for my age and weight class and it's pretty hefty; a 347 lb bench press, a 545 lb squat, and a 524 lb deadlift  for a grand total of 1416 lbs!  However, that doesn't frighten me because my goal is to set a new State Record.  I will keep you informed of my progress and the date of the competition.  Wish me luck!