“Control,” booms trainer Adam Yawrenko. “You don’t want to follow through, you want to keep that back locked. Just up and down… Like a piston.”
We’re at the Northcoast gym in Terrace and I’m learning how to bench press – an idea that sounded fun when I pitched it, but is becoming less and less appealing as the session goes on and I begin to realize that I’m probably not going to be able to move my arms for a couple of days.
“You’re going to hate yourself tomorrow,” Yawrenko says, gleefully, as my arms begin to shake, the 45-pound bar wobbling back and forth above my chest. I breathe, steady and get my form back, remembering to keep my arms straight, my shoulders back, my core tight, my legs locked. With Yawrenko’s coaching, I manage a couple more sets – and come to the conclusion that cardio only isn’t going to cut it anymore.
My workout partner for the day, Angela Zanardo, is much more impressive with the bar. After only training for a few months, she’s able to lift 90 pounds, and is serious about lifting more.
She’s in training crunch time right now – as are the other 40-plus competitors getting ready for the gym’s May 25 weightlifting competition, which will see athletes from Terrace, Kitimat, and Prince Rupert take over the gym to compete in bench press and dead lift. There will be smaller competitions for members of the Terrace Northmen Rugby Club and of Terrace Minor Hockey, and seven out of the 40 people signed up are women – a solid number, says Yawrenko.
It’s technically the sixth time the gym has had this competition, but its been on hiatus for three years. This year, people around the gym started asking about a competition and the decision was made to bring it back. If everything goes to plan, Yawrenko said he wants to see Terrace-based judges trained so that there can be official competitions here in the future.
“It’s like practising hockey your whole life and never having a game,” explained Yawrenko, of why the competition is important. “Some of these kids want to have a chance. And you’ll find that their personal records, their personal bests go up under a meet like this.”
Northcoast Fitness owner Ashley Whittington said the competition, which will be one of the biggest events the gym has ever had, is for everyone and gives people at all levels of training an opportunity to set and achieve a new goal.
“It’s not just for powerlifting people,” he said. “Anybody. Youth, females… It’s about setting goals for people.”
“Achievable goals,” adds Yawrenko. “Set achievable goals, obtain that goal, and set another achievable goal.”
The weightlifters who competed three years ago have at least one goal – a most improved award will be given out at the competition, and the 40 people who compete will be up for the award next year.
And while it gave a good idea of what competitors do to train before a competition – a lot – the crash bench press session I experienced isn’t how one would seriously go about learning how to lift, cautions Yawrenko.
Typically, one would train on machines and build up strength before trying out the bar. And it’s important to get the help of someone who knows their way around the gym for a few sessions to minimize the risk of injury.
There’s an art to gaining strength and testing the limits, and it’s something that is built up over time.
“You don’t get stronger by lifting something once, you get stronger by doing it repeatedly,” said Whittington.
The competition gets going at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 25 at Northcoast gym.