Hollie is a competitive IPF powerlifter in the -63kg division, with a background in parkour and circus arts. She holds regional records in benchpress and total, and won Silver at the 2015 Commonwealth Benchpress Championships, and Bronze at the 2016 World Benchpress Championships. She is currently studying for a PhD in Statistics and loves going on adventures.
For any IPF powerlifter in the UK, the British Classic is pretty much the highlight of the competitive year. It is the main opportunity to get on a platform and lift alongside the very best powerlifters in the country, whilst testing yourself under strict competition conditions.
From the moment I stepped off the platform at my first British Classic in September last year, I knew I wanted to return this year with bigger numbers. After all, that’s what every powerlifter aims for! In the past year I have trained as hard and as smart as I could manage, always keeping this competition in the back of my mind. I have added a decent amount of muscle to my frame and my understanding of the way I respond to training, nutrition and recovery has increased significantly. I have done a number of other competitions in the past year, from regionals to internationals, and have gained so much from the experiences.
Through all this, I have learned three main lessons which guide me as I enter the last eight weeks of preparation.
1) The little things add up
As a fan of cycling, I have seen the incredible successes of British Cycling in recent years, particularly under the leadership of current coach and ex Performance Director, Sir Dave Brailsford. Brailsford strongly believed in the idea that if you could improve everything you do by just 1%, those ‘marginal gains’ would add up to a significant improvement in performance. Bringing this into the context of powerlifting, this can include nutrition, hydration, injury and illness prevention, sleep...the list goes on. The concept applies throughout your usual training but especially so in the lead up to a competition.
For example, something as simple as ensuring you get enough sleep, enabling you to recover properly and get the most out of your training sessions. Or making an extra effort to avoid any illnesses or injuries that could impact your peaking cycle (we all know that gyms can be pretty bad places for picking up bugs!)
All these small actions add up. Although alone, they may not make a noticeable difference, the sum of them all might be the difference between getting that PB total or not!
2) Stick to the plan
I am a worrier. I am an overthinker. I get caught up in every little detail. This can be a good thing, as I discussed above, these little details are actually quite important. The issue arises, however, when the plan changes every day. I used to be very guilty of this - the more important the goal, the more I would want to constantly alter and fine tune my training and nutrition. But we all know, consistency is key.
At a competition earlier this year, I was certain I wasn’t going to be able to make weight. I decided to give it my best shot, and put together a plan to do a serious water cut. In the week and a half before the competition, I had no faith I was going to make it, in fact I was pretty certain I wouldn’t, but was keen to see how close I could get. At 4pm the evening before the competition, I weighed 66.2kg. It was tempting to give up, but I stuck with it. By 9pm I was 63.75kg, and in the morning I weighed in at 62.6kg. The water cut actually worked!
Now i make a plan and stick to it, especially when it comes to competition prep. I learned the importance of having confidence in my past decisions and not wasting energy trying to double think everything along the way.
3) Do it because you enjoy it
I have talked about how to improve performance and maximise achievement. We all want to be the best we can be. But it is also important to remember why we began the journey in the first place. I love lifting, I love training but mostly I love competing and the preparation involved.
Talk to people, make friends, make mistakes, learn new things and most of all, enjoy the journey.