Strength Training Over 50

Weight classes, diets, water cuts, bulking, cutting – it can all get very confusing. There is an unbelievable amount of information and “gym talk” that discusses these things – some of it dangerous, some uninformed and some very helpful. I could probably go on for ages about this  but many clients will be competing in their first comp this year and I have been asked a lot of questions and heard some ridiculous things that they have heard from a “friends brothers friend of a friend” etc!


All I can really comment on is my own experiences and opinions, they are not everyone’s, and if I don’t cover everything or you have any questions – feel free to message me.Weight classes are slightly different which ever sport and the federation you compete in. I have competed in Olympic Lifting Competitions and Powerlifting, all of which have different classes. The differences in ABPU and IPF (powerlifting federations) also differ.I have found it interesting before certain comps listening to the chatter – men tend (on average) to be desperate to get bigger, bulking up into weight classes and often worried they will weigh in under weight, whereas women are usually worried they are too heavy and most have not eaten breakfast.


24 hour weigh ins and 2 hour weigh ins can make a big difference. I believe the 2 hour weigh in is probably fairer when it comes to what you can lift. You cant stray too far from your actual body weight without putting in a dreadful performance 2 hours later, whereas 24 hour weigh ins – if you know what you are doing – you can manipulate all sorts to gain “competitive advantage”. This can then become more like that of MMA/boxing and makes cutting “part of the sport” and “everyone does it”. We’ve all seen Ricky Hatton in the off season, and we all know that people have actually died during the dehydration process for fights.


Which brings me on to the subject of cutting weight for comp. If you are a novice, or never competed before – don’t do it. Just don’t. Compete, have fun, learn about the day, your own responses to competitive lifting compared to gym lifting and enjoy the experience. If you have not dieted, cut weight, water cut before then you have absolutely no idea how it will affect your performance and you do not want your first experience of comp to be bombing out because of a couple of extra kilos you lost for no reason at all.I won’t go in to too much detail about water cuts as I will post about this and my experiences of it at a later date, but in layman’s terms it is where you over hydrate the body and then “trick” it into losing water. Basically you spend an awful lot of time on the toilet! If done responsibly an extra 1-2kg, they can be relatively safe, but dehydrating your body always comes with risks and it is certainly not recommended (and ladies – there are certain times of the months where it just won’t work – trust me!)
For those such as myself with a history of disordered eating weight classes can be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand – it keeps you focused, you cannot under eat or live off Slimfast or the cabbage soup diet because you wouldn’t be able to lift bugger all. But at the same time – it means you constantly have to keep an eye on the scales, and suddenly if you find yourself over eating and not in your weight class the pressure or anxiety to get back can be extremely distressing and triggering.


It was voted not to add an extra weight class to the +84 IPF women which to be honest I find ludicrous. 84kg is hardly excessive, especially if you are a taller woman, and from a practical point of view you could easily find yourself a slim 84kg competing against women with a huge advantage with many more kilos of body weight leverage – making a slight mockery of all the weight classes below and encouraging diets and water cuts. In my opinion this is a lifting sport, there should not be a cap based on pushing women into some sort of ideal societal weight, it should purely be for groupings and fairness – or there should be none.
Weight classes have been said to be “height classes in disguise”. You should lift at a weight that is comfortable for you. It may take some time to figure this out, I have competed in both the 63kg class and the 72kg class, and found that ultimately I was actually a better lifter in the smaller weight class, I wasn’t particularly stronger being bigger and had no noticeable changes in my lifts. Whereas I know for some people, when they have gone up a weight class it has been an enormous and notable positive change in the progress made and the weight lifted. You should lift at a weight where you feel the most natural, and try not to worry too much about the classes, especially if you are a newbie to competitive lifting.

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