Four Weeks of Strongwoman Training – Lessons Learned

I’m fast approaching the one month mark of my Strongwoman training and I’m quite proud of myself.  These are some the things that I’ve learned:

  1. That Oly lifting is not easy. I might feel like a total boss because I’m the only one in the gym doing it, but chances are I’m not doing it right.
Practise, practise, practise!

Practise, practise, practise!

2.   Related to 1. – patience! I realised I can’t expect to learn everything about Oly lifts in a month, and even if I did know everything it’s going to take a while for my body to catch on.

3.  That sometimes I’m going to miss a lift for absolutely no reason at all.

4.  That my time in the gym is better spent focusing on bettering myself, rather than making snidey inside-my-head remarks about the douchebro doing quarter squats.

5.  I get my training done quicker and more effectively when I go to the gym alone (sorry gym buddy!)

6.  Sure I want a washboard stomach, like, yesterday – but I can either get stronger now or lose BF, but not both.

7.  Related to 6. – When I’ve lifted before, I never ate enough.  Now I eat a lot consistently, even on my rest days. 

8.  That some of my clothes won’t fit as well as they used to, and that’s ok. It’s part of the deal you make with the Gods of Iron.

9.  Getting to where I want to be (being a contender in a Strongwoman competition) is going to be harder than I ever though possible.  I’m sure this sounds incredible naive, but it’s just that I never had a reference on what the training would actually be like.

10.  I’m looking forward to dealing with ‘No Pain No Gain’.  I can be a slack-arse sometimes (ok, a lot of the time!) and I lack motivation.  If I can compete, I can do absolutely anything!

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What to do when you fail a workout.

With my Tough Mudder looming (26th!) I’ve been meaning to get out the weight room and get some quality at least a tiny bit of running in before then, so I’m less terrified by the 19km course. I hate running, but I find sprinting slightly (slightly!) less terrible, so I headed out this lunchtime with a few workmates to tackle Perth’s biggest monster – Mount Street. True to its name, it has a gradient of 14-16% and is swarmed with runners every lunchtime.

Mount Street, Perth - Source

Mount Street, Perth – Source

We decided to sprint only the top quarter of the hill (believe me this was more than enough!)

My first sprint, I felt great!

After the second I started to get a stitch on the walk down.

At the top of the third climb I really felt rather vomit-y. But no quitting!

Half-way up the fourth sprint I was all pretty much:



I had a stitch, I wanted to puke and I had terrible cramping. My workout buddy told me that if I didn’t feel like I wanted to puke I wasn’t working hard enough. I gave them stinkeye. And feeling sick and sad I dragged myself back to the office.

Once my stomach calmed down I was super tempted just to eat my bodyweight in candy, but once I started feeling a little more sensible I realised that my ditching the workout was hardly so terrible. I don’t want to work out until I puke. Crossfitters can do what they like, but it’s really not my M.O. I train because it’s enjoyable – yeah sometimes it hurts, but the most important takeaway from all this is to know the difference between good pain and bad and knowing when to call it quits.

I haven’t had any big failures in my Strongwoman training so far, but I’m sure there will be a day (or days) when I just can’t stomach training, when I just can’t move the weight. I’m not one of those girls on the fitspo posters, I won’t work till I puke and that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or a quitter.

When was the last time you had to give up on a workout?

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Paleo Chicken Liver Pate

Prep time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 10 minutes 
400g organic chicken/duck livers – chicken has a milder taste than duck
2 slices bacon, cut into pieces
2-3 tbsp butter (or ghee)
3 shallots, roughly chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Thyme, parsley S&P, to taste
1 tsp seeded mustard
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Rinse the chicken livers (yes, they are supposed to look gross) and trim the gristly parts and connective tissue and feed to your grateful dog/cat/pet rat.  Chop roughly into inch square chunks, and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.

2.  Over a medium heat melt the butter and fry up your shallots and garlic in the butter until translucent. At this point add the bacon, if using. 

3. Add thyme, parsley, S&P and mustard (be careful, these will make the oil spit!)

 4. When everything is looking soft and delicious, add the livers and ACV, stir and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. We want the livers to be lightly cooked and still pink on the inside.

 5. Throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth (you can leave this slightly chunky if preferred).  If you don’t have a blender, dice your ingredients before cooking and stir well.

 6. Your pate is done! I serve mine hot, straight out the blender like an animal, on cos lettuce topped with red onion and red capsicum as a wrap.  Or you can press firmly into a ramekin and seal with a little melted butter, chill in the fridge until firm and eat cold.

 7. To avoid discolouration of any leftovers, smush cling film into top of the pate like you would with avocado.

 I find pate a super easy and tasty way to get my fill of organ meats, as I am not a big fan of fried whole liver. Please experiment with the herbs and spices you use, and if you have sherry or brandy handy you can swap the ACV out for an equal amount of alcohol.




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Workout Video Competiton – Zombies Arg!

This is a workout video I created for a competition over on Mark’s Daily Apple – check it out, let me know what you think!

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Training Week Two – Gym Buddies and Concern Trolling

Chillin' all nice and relaxin' all cool.

Chillin’ all nice and relaxin’ all cool.

So that’s me in my filthy gym pants chillin’ between sets of a clean deadlift. I don’t have weightlifting shoes hence the plates to put my heels on. With straps my 5RM was 60kg, so I was pretty happy with that.

Had a really terrible start to the week and was grumpy like all hell until Tuesday night when I forced myself to get out and pick some heavy shit up. Unsurprisingly, by the time I left the gym I was in an excellent mood.  Also made a gym buddy ie: the only other person in the gym who actually uses the power cage (gymbros don’t even curl in it!). He’s a cool guy (a Queenslander, he’d talk the hind legs off a donkey) and bonus, he generally gets to the gym before me so he’s finished all his big lifts before I need the cage.

 Last night there was a gymbro squatting with a too heavy kettlebell – his heels were up and his knees were twisting in towards each other, turning the whole shin – it was excruciating to watch.  I very nearly stepped in to express my concern.  The last time I came close to asking a gym goer to reconsider their exercise was a girl I saw stepping up onto a high squishy box with a barbell on her back – she could have easily twisted her ankle.  But I hesitate, because I’ve had a concern troll tell me my squat was good – but I shouldn’t be pushing my knees over my toes.

 So, a question! When, if ever, would you stop someone doing an exercise at the gym that could seriously hurt or injure them? Only when there is immediate risk? What if the risk is more of a long term injury?

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Interview with a WA Strongwoman


Jade takes on the log

On Saturday I was lucky enough to catch the WA qualifiers for the Australian Strongman competition.  It was an awesome day, the weather held out and the crowds were really supportive of all athletes taking part. I didn’t expect an equal number of ladies to gents, but I was surprised to find only 3 Strongwomen competing! Fortunately their gusto more than made up for what they lacked in numbers.

I managed to corner one of the competitors, Jade, during a break in the comp and she was nice enough to answer a few questions for me.

Q: How long have you been training for Strongman?

Jade: Only two months.  Basically I started Crossfit, and I thought I’d try something new.  The boys [at my box] knew I had strength in me, and suggested I try Strongman.  I’m the only girl who does Strongman at the gym (Crossfit Armed). I just got into it from there, and found out that lifting weights is a great way to get through things mentally, and physically.

Jade destroying the competition during the Farmer’s Walk

Q: As this is your first, what’s been the worst part about the competition so far?

Jade: Probably the injuries. I’ve sustained an injury today, during the yoke. So that’s restricted me during all my other events. And it’s just taken time off, and once you lose your time, you lose your strength and get behind real quickly.

Q: What’s been the best part of the competition so far?

Jade: Probably the weight that you lift. When I do yoke I do 200kg, and it’s just an amazing feeling.  That 200kg that you lift it’s almost like the weight that pulls you down, you’re pulling that weight straight back up. You feel like you’re on top of the world, like you can lift anything and no one can stop you.

Q: Would you be happy if more girls got into Strongman?

Jade: Definitely. Me and other female competitors talk about it all the time. We’d love to get more girls into it. This year is the first year that females have competed.  So it’s still new, but we will definitely try and get as many females in as we can.

Let’s get angry!

Q: What advice can you give to a newbie Strongwoman like myself?

Jade: Keep at it, just don’t let anything stop you.  When you train make sure you’ve got some anger.  You need some anger to get  stronger, so if you feel like something is weighing you down,  use that to your advantage.  I wouldn’t recommend you train anymore than three times a week.  You just need time and patience and you’ll get there!

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Top Ten – The Worst of Paleo

Too cute for bacon?

Too cute for bacon?

1. You will be overcome by the urge to humblebrag to everyone you have even a passing acquaintance with;

‘What do I have for lunch? Oh, just some Kalua Pulled pork, homemade sauerkraut, sweet potato fries and sautéed brocollini.’

2. You will judge the contents of stranger’s shopping trolleys at the supermarket. Lean Cuisine for dinner? Sucks to be you my friend.

3. You will go to your local butcher with increasingly bizarre requests. They will inquire whether you are doing some kind of witchcraft with the pig’s blood you ordered (true story).

4. For the first six months or so of your shiny new paleo life you will exist on a plane of smugness somewhere in the ether.

5. You will drop a kettlebell on your vibramed foot. Gymbros will see you do it, you will have to pretend it like, totally didn’t hurt at all.

6. You will get frustrated that the local grocery store doesn’t stock unrefined, cold pressed and organic coconut oil. You will realise you have become a douchebag.

7. You will try paleo baking aka: faileo. You will eat it anyway, because almond butter is freaking expensive.

8. You will scoff at your colleagues’ lunches of low-fat cream cheese, rice cakes and steamed spinach. This will not help you professionally.

9. You will stay up at night worrying if X is paleo.  The lack of sleep is not paleo, which will stress you out. Stress is not paleo!

10. You got super upset that you woke up this morning and still don’t have visible abs. OMG BUT I’M EATING FOUR SPOONFULS OF COCONUT OIL EVERYDAY, DAMN YOU MARK SISSON!!

Bonus – You will get into flame wars with vigilante vegans in the comments of YouTube videos.

Any more suggestions? Please let me know in the comments!

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