Reps For Dayz


Gratuitous picture of Lidia Valentin

I had a nice birds eye view last weekend in the warm-up room before I lifted. We had 13 girls (lucky 13 on Friday the 13th;) lift and three of us were opening in the Snatch after the other lifters were almost complete with all three of their attempts. That means that there was a lot of downtime for me while others were warming up.

Now, I remember last year at my local meet when I noticed one woman in my group who started warming up a half and hour before our session was to begin and her opener was a couple of kilos under mine. Uhhhhhhh, dudette, we won’t be taking our first attempt until around 10:30…whaz up?

At that meet, I got on the Airdyne around 15 minutes before our session was to start. From there, I didn’t touch a bar for another 25 minutes. My warm ups take about 7 minutes and from there I take about four lifts before my opener. Now (hopefully) this may change as I increase my lifts. I may throw one more light one in there. Time will tell.

But just as in Milwaukee, the amount of reps taken by most lifters in Savannah shocked me. Now, there were a few lifters who were very deliberate in their warm-ups. One woman in my class who has just finished cancer treatment (yeah, have I said yet how amazing these women were?) was lifting very conservatively and was coached by Michael Cohen (lucky girl.) They were across the gym from my platform and he had tight control of her warm-ups while remaining very positive and supportive (again, lucky girl.)

Another girl was lifting without a coach and while I didn’t see what she was doing the whole time, she seemed to have her reps put in place. At the very least, she wasn’t pulling every time I looked over.

But OyVey, some of the women took more reps in their warm up than I even take in a training session. One woman next to me worked up to just one kilo less than her 1st attempt and came right back to the platform to take reps in between her attempts.

Now, yes, I understand that it’s necessary at times to take a rep in between attempts. I saw Michael Cohen do it earlier in the day during his session. However; as most of us lifters (seems coaches haven’t realized this yet) know, that rep is taken at a much lighter weight and we know we have at least “x” minutes before our next attempt. We’re not going to go back to the warm up area and start lifting higher than our first attempt when our second is going to be in about 90 seconds. Yes, I’m serious.


Melanie Roach always looks so happy when she lifts!

The woman on my platform took reps in between her attempts and by the end of the session, she looked like she’d been through a war. Congratulations, you’ve just lifted the equivalent of three weightlifting meets, how the fuck are ya?! As nice as both she and her coach were, I wanted to scream SIT DOWN FOR GAWDS SAKES! 

After we were done and Matt and I were driving to dinner (The Crab Shack on Tybee Island was the place Michael Cohen sent us and he was spot on. It was fun and delicious and perfect.) Anyways. I told Matt about how many reps the ladies were taking in the back and he said, ‘It showed. People were tired.’ I imagine they were.

And since I’m bagging on coaches a little bit…


I adore watching Jim Harbaugh lose his shit on a regular basis but no way would I want to be coached by him.

…let’s talk about intense coaches.

In general, I’m a pretty calm coach. Sure, I’ll get stern and may bark a bit if the weight is heavy enough and the cue is important enough that I need to ensure my lifter hears my voice but I approach competition as relaxed as I can. Throwing has helped me with that. The tighter and more intense I feel, the crappier (it’s totally a word) I throw. So I relax, the power is there and it will be drawn upon when needed. I can get myself fired up without the band aids of music or pacing or being a cunty bitch to others. It’s how I roll. It’s funny to me when people in the throwing world tell me I’m so intense (like it’s a bad thing?) How I interpret that is that I give a shit on how I throw so I may not join in their reindeer games along the sidelines and that’s seen as a bad thing. *Shrug*

So when I see coaches in a warm up area pacing back and forth so tense it seems their heads are going to pop off at any second, I stay far away from them. I want no part of that energy, it sucks the life out of a room. I’d rather be uncoached for the rest of my days than put up with something like that. This is a meet, the ground work has been laid, it’s go time. I’ll watch the monitor/table for you and tell you calmly when you need to take a rep. I won’t stalk over to you like Big Deloris and tersely say, “NOW, go NOW.” JHMFC dude, sit down and have a sammich, you’re wound tighter than the lifter who already is looking nervous.

So here’s my observation; warming up at a meet is approached the same was as training in a commercial gym, head down and focused on your own shit. I was pleased I got to meet some very nice ladies and even give some ‘atta girls’ when they did well and they did the same for me. That’s cool and not very common in my experience of weightlifting. I stayed relaxed, kept my warm ups to the minimum and went 6 for 6 for the first time in a meet.

But I only took 5 snatch warm ups before my first attempt and three of those were very light. I took five warm-ups for my C&J opener of 75kg and two of those were 45kg. That’s 16 lifts overall on the day and my body was extremely tired the next day. I have no clue how the women who took about 40 attempts (think I’m exaggerating?) felt. Uff.

Ask any athlete: We all hurt at times. I’m asking my body to go through 7 different tasks. To ask it not to ache would be too much.

Jackie Joyner-Kersey

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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