NoDumbelles 2017

As I write this, I’m crashing. Totally and utterly crashing. I’ve had the best day, but my body and my brain are to put it bluntly, a bit fucked.

And I’ve had a pile of Chinese food and a G&T, so my eloquence may be a little… Broken. But still, I’m getting words on a page. 

Today was No Dumbelles – a ladies only open powerlifting competition in it’s fifth year and, as the interest from women in lifting gets greater and greater, going from strength to strength. Pretty much literally. Now whilst I’m still very much a newbie – I’ve only been lifting for 8 months (and limited by trying to do distance running and lifting), this was a competition I had to enter. I know I’ve a way to go before I’m truly competitive in my category, but the more competitions I enter, the better I get. I seem to have a habit of pulling stuff out of the bag on comp day.

Weigh in was on Saturday – an early start, and after a couple of weeks of restricted calories (which is what happens when you realise you’re over your weight category), an empty tummy for weigh in. Just in case. Three kilos under, all good. Bench and squat heights were checked, and much like a pre-marathon carb up, I spent the day eating and drinking. It’s astonishing the energy you burn through. 

Off to bed for an early night.

9am saw us in the lifters meeting. For many this is the first time they’ve competed, so it’s useful to go through the rules for each lift. For me, it was the first time I’d done squats in a comp and it’s a very different experience to doing them in the gym, and it was the first lift of the day. No pressure then. 

Every lift involves commands from the refs. For squat, you have a specific platform – which you can see in the video.

You’ve already indicated your start weights at the weigh in, and you update as you go. So, immediately after your first lift you pick your second, etc. You’ve also set the bar height at weigh in, so it should be perfectly suited to you. Then you stand underneath, get comfy and lift it.

The metal hooks move, and unlike lifting in the gym, you don’t move. Steps forward or backwards result in red lights. Failing to reach depth (bum below the line of your knee) results in a red light. Once you’re up, you wait for the ‘rack it’ command and rack. 

The best bit? There are a bunch of big blokes to catch you if you fuck it up. It’s one hell of a security blanket.



So my first squats? I’m so pleased. 75kg, 82.5kg and 90kg. All clear (save one red light from a judge for the bar being a bit wonky, but it was still two whites to one red, so passed).

90kg is a complete and utter PB. I’ve never gone that heavy before. 

Sadly, not everything went so well. My bench is stuck at 50kg, and annoyingly, I know exactly what I did wrong. And, given how fast the bar flew up on my final lift, I could easily go heavier. My issue was not engaging my shoulders and lats when I settled in. And I knew it as soon as I had that bar down to my chest. Idiot. 



Luckily again, there’s a bunch of blokes to help you catch it. Phew. 

Deadlift, and I was still worrying about the lat pull I’d suffered a few weeks ago. Even so, my lifts of 90kg and 100kg were spot on. So I went for 110kg. 


And failed. My grip had gone. I felt it during warm up, but thought I’d be fine. My left hand disagreed and I felt the bar scrape across my nail as my hand gave up. 

Even so. Failures aside, I wouldn’t change any of it. The atmosphere was bloody fantastic. Women supporting women is a beautiful thing, and inspiration was everywhere. 13 British records were broken – 8 of these were broken by a 20 year old, who blew us all away.



My PT was on hand to help us, Mr GFB was there to dish out hugs and someone to lean on. And my own team mates were incredible. Lisa and Steph showing me where I should be by the next competition. 

The icing on the cake however was yet to come.

After the incredible Stella take home the trophy, we were all called for our medals and certificates. And I came second in my class.



Now true, there were only three of us. And maybe had Amy felt up to par, I’d have been third (I am bloody realistic). But I will take it. Happily. After all, this is a journey, not an end to an adventure. I’ve not even passed a full year lifting like this, and the increase in confidence and weights is blowing my little brain.

Now to work for the competition in November. And push for better in No Dumbelles 2018.

Thanks Tania, team, and ladies. See you next year.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Leave a Reply