Could I go for the gold?
July 2, 2008 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Women's competitive weight-lifting: any books or classes in the Bay area that might help me get started?

After reading about Melanie Roach, the petite mother of three who just qualified for the women's US weight-lifting team, I'm interested in learning more about the sport and reading more about what her training regime is like. I saw her in the trials (I'm also petite and buff) and thought, I could do that!

Any suggestions for books on competitive weight-lifting (either practical training books or more biographical accounts of people, especially women, who are competitive weight-lifters) or classes available in the bay area (particularly the east bay) that are an introduction to competitive weight-lifting?

And if there are any competitive weight-lifters out there, I'd love to hear about what your training is like and how you progress. Thanks!
posted by arnicae to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Don't know what you're experience level is, but Starting Strength is a pretty good book. Also, its not geared towards competitive weightlifting but Crossfit has a lot of useful resources (videos of lifts, ideas for training etc). Also, Eva T. is involved in the program, and as a dude I look up to her as something of a weight training deity.
posted by nameless.k at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2008

The New Rules of Lifting for Women comes recommended by my trainer, with some caveats about the mealtime "rules" about when you should eat relative to lifting. (In addition to having the typical personal trainer certifications, my trainer's own training is geared to strongman type stuff, so he's like, really into being strong. I'll ask him if there are other books he likes.)
posted by cocoagirl at 11:22 AM on July 2, 2008

The New Rules of Lifting For Women is a great book if you want to build muscle and lose fat. It also covers all of the important basic exercises - the squat, the deadlift, rows and bench press. The book emphasizes training with the natural movements of the body, which is great because most women will not see great results if they were taking their training advice from the typical guy at the gym. [They respond better to bad training than we do. They just have way more testosterone. Nothing can be done about it.] However, it is not geared towards competitive weight lifting. I've heard great things about Starting Strength, but I've never read it personally.

You might also want to look into 5x5 Beginner Strength program, to get a quick idea, at least, how should a beginner program look like. Your starting program should not be a lot more complicated than this.

However, in my opinion, reading about those techniques is not enough. Competitive weight lifting and power lifting techniques can cause serious injury and should be demonstrated by an experienced person. If you're looking into power lifting [snatch and clean, clean and jerk type movements] you should take the time to find a trainer who works with athletes - not just any "wellness club" trainer - but a specialist.

I suggest you look for a hardcore gym in your area and ask for help there. Hardcore gyms can be recognized by the high density of extremely bulky guys, lots of free weights and no cardio machines.

Good luck on your quest to become a competitive weight lifter.
posted by ye#ara at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2008

Thanks for introducing me to Melanie Roach.

This incredibly dynamic 117 lb. woman has clean and jerked 250 lbs.
posted by jamjam at 7:40 AM on July 3, 2008

If you're looking into power lifting [snatch and clean, clean and jerk type movements] you should take the time to find a trainer who works with athletes - not just any "wellness club" trainer - but a specialist.

That's not powerlifting, that's olympic lifting. Powerlifting is squat, deadlift, bench press. But otherwise, this is totally correct. If you want to do Olympic lifting you should really try to find a coach. The reccs for crossfit are appropriate here. You don't have to do crossfit but chances are you can get personal training from someone affiliated with that who has more knowledge of olympic lifting than your average trainer, and it's huge in CA so finding a convenient location shouldn't be impossible. I would not try to do heavy olympic lifting on your own. Well, maybe you are far more coordinated than I am, but trying to teach myself olympic lifts has been mostly an exercise in frustration and brushes with injury.

If you are reluctant to shell out for a coach but still want to lift really heavy, you might consider trying actual powerlifting. The squat, deadlift and bench press are moves I believe you can master without training, or without a huge amount of training. If you want to jump into this with both feet then yeah, you can hire a trainer and probably progress very fast. If, like me, you just want to get strong on your own time, I would pick up a copy of the aforementioned Starting Strength and spend some quality time on Stumptuous. If you're totally new to lifting you are going to have to spend a lot of time on these basic moves anyway so learning them while you look for a coach will not be wasted time.

FWIW, I am not a competitive weightlifter. But, I have over the course of the last four years, taught myself how to squat and deadlift (so far without injury), and currently squat about 1.5X my bodyweight and deadlift almost twice my bodyweight. Most of my strength gains have actually happened in the past year or so when I started to actively test my 1rep max and try to push beyond it, so there's no real reason I needed 4 years to get where I am.
posted by ch1x0r at 3:08 PM on July 3, 2008

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