Tag Archives: Powerlifting

Well I’m back folks.

A combination of illness in myself, my kids and my hubby, a lack of motivation, and a muddle in our schedules  has kept me from the gym for quite a long time.

And I’ve been feeling it.

And I’m not just talking about in my low energy, foggy brain and achy back. I’m talking about literally I can feel the squishyness of my muscles. Oh sad day.

It’s not fair how fast that happens.

Anyway that’s all behind me now. Because I’m back.

And it feels good. Oh how I missed it.

I actually thought to myself while at the gym today, “I wish I could stay here all night!” But alas the hubster was waiting to go and get his workout in.

I am excited to see that I still have my little traps! These muscles are super important to me for my particular back problems. But they definitely could use some more strength.

I hope I never have to go this long without working out. Having a trainer at the gym waiting for you and working with you was a huge positive so I have to either find another one or find a way to do this alone. It’s tough!

But like my shirt says,

Solo Yo

This is how you do a top set on bench to a board when no one is around to hold it for you. Insert sad face.  Doin’ my best to have that good attitude.


But really working out alone…stiiiiiinks! It is super hard for me to push myself as much as I know Atticus would have. But I’m grinding.

This week I added a bit more weight to my bench and I feel like my form has gone to a whole new level and my sore back is a testament to that.

Well say a little prayer for me that I don’t kill myself while lifting alone! What a terrible way to go eh? She got squashed beneath her squat bar. Too bad.


Tragedy in Logan

No, there wasn’t a devastating earthquake or fatal shooting. No one tragically died (that I know of) and I’m not talking about the welfare of humanity. Well not really.

No I’m just talking about the End of Blacksmith Barbell as we know it.

Technically Blacksmith Barbell is still open but it’s under new ownership. It’s not the same.

Our trainer Atticus for reasons I wont discuss had to close up shop and move on to different paths, paths that took him to another city and state.

As it was happening I was sort of in a state of shock and I couldn’t believe that it would really happen. It couldn’t happen!! Could it?!


It did. We came back from our sunny California vacation to the cold (literal) hard truth. We (me, mom, sis in law, hubby and brother) had fallen in love with Powerlifting so much we were forced to look at our options for other gyms. It was a terribly depressing week. Nothing was good enough. It wasn’t going to live up to what we had. What we were used to. There were a lot of tears.

Ya I know. Again no one died. Yet for us he may as well have. So dramatic. Us here with our cushy first world problems.

Anyway, Blacksmith Barbell did open again under new ownership and it was a really big blessing. Because now we could at least work out with the equipment and the surroundings that we knew and were comfortable with.

Except the problem is it’s still terribly depressing because each time I go it’s a reminder of how great it used to be and how un-great it is now.

I really don’t know what I’m doing unless I have a trainer helping me and pushing me. Man, we were spoiled with Atticus. And now it’s over.

Have I complained enough?

So the short story is I have to decide if my love of powerlifting can overcome this little, no this big hiccup. Because I have had days where I just don’t go because I don’t have the motivation or desire. What?!

Was my love of powerlifting that closely connected to my trainer? Can I find that happiness again?!

I think so.

I just need to find that thing that gets me going again. Navigating change is hard. I don’t know what it is yet but I have to find it.


Road to 300#

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I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I couldn’t tell you why exactly but I believe it has something to do with the fact that I’m off social media. I’m going through a transition period.

About a week ago I went through an epiphany of sorts, a personal crisis where I confronted the reality that not only am I addicted to social media but that I actually sincerely dislike it.

I noticed that every time I logged off social media I always felt worse. Darker. Lower. You get the idea. It was not uplifting.

Yes of course there are benefits to social media. Marketing for businesses, missionary work and the spreading of good news, and others. Social media is not the same for others as it has been for me. I realize that. But FOR ME these benefits did not outweigh the injury.

Not only was I addicted to constantly checking at the ease of a button on my phone, the endless scrolling and mindless activity of ‘connecting’ with those around me but it left me feeling like I was losing who I was and what was important.

When I would feel ‘confident’ enough to post something myself it was always at the expense of my pride and vanity. Meaning it made it worse. Somewhat unknowingly I was trying to portray a certain lifestyle and picture of who I was. And yes everything I did post was of me and my life but in a weird sort of twisted way. Instead of feeling more connected with those around me I felt farther away and that my ‘friends’ didn’t really know me at all.

I knew something had to change.  So I logged off. For good. If I’m being honest I’ve had one slip up since then. I logged onto FB for about 30 seconds. It was meaningful however because it solidified what I already had been noticing. I DON’T MISS IT AT ALL.

Ironically this was all just after I had decided with the help of my trainer to ‘document’ my journey to a 300# squat. I was going to do videos, pictures, posts galore on what I ate, how I trained, sleeping etc.  Sorry Atticus. Hope I didn’t disappoint you too much.

Which brings me to my point here for this post. No, I wont be doing a document my journey to 300# on social media. But I would still like to do a bit of it here on my blog.

If you haven’t already noticed I love powerlifting. I should specify. I love powerlifting at Blacksmith Barbell. I know I wouldn’t find the same progress, the same soundness and integrity anywhere else. My body is achieving things that I didn’t think it was capable of doing.

Do you know how fun that is?!!!!

Atticus, my trainer believes that I can reach my goal of 300# by Halloween. I’m not sure that’s true although he does have a weird way of always being right about these things. We are however taking two 1 week vacations before then so I wonder how that plays into it.

Nevertheless I will get there eventually. I don’t really care when I just care that I do. Learning more and more each day….like how to not brace the deadlift bar on your knee on the way down…whoops.

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We’ll start at my 230# rack pull last Friday. Sort of like a deadlift but instead of pulling from the ground, pulling from the pins near the shins.

This picture isn’t my max but it’s all I got.


I feel like I can finally make progress unhindered. My shoulder which was causing pain for the last 3 ish or more months is finally subsiding and now my wrist which I hurt in a non gym related way is making progress too. This means my bench will improve which means everything else will too.  As long as I take care of myself and keep loose.

That’s a whole other post.

300 here I come.






“Is that a snake inside?”

I’ve always been pretty active. I played soccer a little when I was in middle school, tried my hand at ballet (which I loved and still have a passionate love for) then horseback riding was the next biggest thing in my life (which if you’re thinking,”that’s not a sport or an endurance activity Anna”, well then I’d say you’ve never really ridden a horse before). Then I hiked a bunch and ran off and on until I came back to Logan in 2009.

That’s when I met and married my husband, worked fulled time, got preggers and had a baby then another one real quick and then come 2014-ish felt like a normal person again and started to dab my toe into being active again.

The reason I tell you all this is because even though I’ve been active most of my life I’ve never experienced what I’m experiencing here and now.

I’ve mentioned in my previous post that Blacksmith Barbell is the ‘hole in the wall’ type gym with no air conditioning. Really, it’s not that bad, the big bay doors are opened up and you can catch a breeze and they’ve done a nice job at insulating it so it’s really quite nice. Some even prefer it hotter as it helps you train harder and become more ‘hard core’. Also, have you heard of a little thing called HOT yoga where people pay a lot of $$$ to do yoga in an insanely hot room? Interesting maybe?

Anyway something you probably didn’t know about me is that when I work out in the heat, even bearable heat I turn into a beet face. A really scary looking beet face. People are concerned for me and waves of heat just pour off me. The thing others don’t understand is it’s not because I’m dying and can’t breathe and am about to fall over. Even if I’m just fine and not out of breathe at all I will still have beet face going on.Ya, it’s super fun.

I guess I just overheat pretty quick and I don’t seem to have the ability to sweat from my face as much as I should so it doesn’t cool down like the rest of my body. No biggie. I have learned how to compensate and alleviate some of the beet face syndrome.


#1. Apply water to face consistently throughout my workout, a fan is a super awesome plus.

#2. Apply water to every other area of my body, amap (as much as possible – I just made it up)

#3. Wear headband that is kept wet.

#4. Wear the least amount of clothing as possible while still trying to be appropriate (darn all you men who can go shirtless!)

This last one is what I mean to write about today.

Sooooo….I have varicose veins(thank you Stephenson genes). Up until I got pregnant they were always fairly unnoticeable. Pregnancy and age just had a magical way of making them reach a whole new potential of hideous. So, I in turn felt obligated to cover them so as to not upset little children or make people squirm (if you’re lucky you’ll get to see my two little boys slowly running their tiny hands up and down them because it feels so awesome or squishing them with their fingers innocently asking, “what are these bumps mama?” or “What’s inside your leg?”) Pride and vanity (or is it shame) were my constant companions in regards to my legs. I never let it stop me completely from wearing capris or knee length shorts or skirts but I was always self conscience and would rarely expose them completely (swimsuit cover ups etc).

Enter Blacksmith Barbell. Pride and Vanity not allowed. Only survival.

It’s been really really good for me in many ways to be fully exposed to the world (dramatic eh) and to lose the pride (or is it shame) that has been with me for too long.  I literally cannot care what people think because if I did I guess I would be wearing pants every day and that would just be really dumb because you would find me either on the floor about to have a seizure or in the hospital post seizure, heatstrokin it up. Not smart. Not smart. Thank you short shorts!!!

My veins are ugly, yes they are, but my legs are not, in fact my legs look better than they ever have in my whole life! So instead of focusing on something I can’t change I am going to continue to focus on things I can! Again I am grateful for finding Blacksmith Barbell. Add this life lesson learned to the many others (although I KNOW they were not aware of this lesson being acquired)!  Our bodies are temples and they are beautiful!!! Varicose veins and all! And I just can’t care if they make you squirm! Squirm away I say!!

ps. If you would like to you can come rub them down like my kids do and then maybe they wont be so scary. You know, cause things we are familiar with aren’t as scary right? Plus they really do feel cool.

pps. Just so you don’t think I’m a hypocrite in the future you should know that as soon as I’m done having babies and we have the extra $$$ I do plan on having them removed. Because they are hideous but also because with time and pregnancies they have gotten more painful.

ppps. I did hot yoga once and you’d have thunk that they had to take me out on a gurney but guess what my face wasn’t even red!  Ya, the humidity of the room helped me sweat so my beet face was minimal. Funny!

Then end.


What the heck is powerlifting?!


Early October 2015 I was at our animal food warehouse refinishing a headboard my mom found at the D.I..  I was so perfectly unaware of this world called powerlifting, weightlifting, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting etc …until I turned my head down the alley to where a bay door was open in our same complex and silhouettes of people were working out.

When my mom was near by I showed her what I saw and we wondered together. But soon our wondering became stronger and turned into full blown curiosity. She wanted to walk down there and see what it was about. I was hesitant. Who knows what they were…a private gym, or something else. I’m always a bit reserved when it comes to approaching people (save the 18 months I somehow did this everyday) so I really didn’t want to just pop in on them but my spontaneous, fun mother convinced me to anyway.

We took the short walk down there and when the silhouettes turned into full people with faces and full dimensional bodies we saw what was a few extremely strong (and gorgeous) human beings. The owner of the gym walked over to us and asked us how we were, we said something like, “What are you guys?” “What is this place?”


He then began to explain more about his gym and I wish I could remember this conversation but I can’t. It was significant enough that I decided then and there that I wanted to join. One of the gorgeous men working out I recognized as a trainer from the Sports Club that we had memberships to for the last year which had just expired.

I found it very curious. He was an employee (taught yoga and other classes) of this sports academy and no doubt got access to the equipment and amenities at his club, why was he paying extra money to work out in this hole in the wall place with no air conditioning?


When he was in between sets we got his attention and I asked him why. In a manner that was as loyal to his employer as he could be he explained that this place was different because 1. he felt that it wasn’t about appearances here (for example there are no mirrors) and being haughty and macho like it tends to be at hoity toity clubs like his. The biggest difference though was that the trainer who introduced himself as Atticus knew his stuff and since working with him has had no knee problems which is something he’d suffered from for a long time.

Ok! It was more than enough for me! Add on that Atticus was going to let me come try it out a few times for free to see if I liked it and I was sold.

Well……I didn’t just like it.  I looooooved it.


For the next several months I would pull up to this ‘hole in the wall’ (it’s really not that bad but you get the idea) place lift heavy weights and push my body to it’s limit for 1.5 hrs and leave with just a little bit more confidence and strength. It became apparent very quickly that Atticus truly did know what he was doing and that was very refreshing. And not just about the right way to execute each movement so as to maximize growth but also how everything was connected in the body and how it affects the other. Ailments that were brought to his attention didn’t make him squirm or falter. You could tell he was working thru it in his mind and then he’d figure it out and make it better. He knew(knows) what he was doing.

Since middle school I have suffered from a bad shoulder. When I would type at a computer or carry a backpack it would burn and ache and all I would want to do is take a spoon and dig out the pain. I visited massage therapists and even had an exercise therapist who told me that I needed to build muscle back there but wasn’t really successful at doing so with me. It persisted throughout my whole life off and on….until now.

Turns out I have terrible posture (duh) and my bad postural habits have caused these and other problems. But Atticus has shown me that there is hope and that by building muscle in the right spots (my back and my neck) this will fix itself eventually. Specific movements and workouts to target those spots have changed my life.


I came home each day and told my husband how impressed and amazed I was and it wasn’t too long before he was signed up too.  We knew that Atticus would probably be our last resort at being able to fix his back.

We’d been to chiropractors, massage therapists, spinal therapists had x-rays done and found a herniated disk. Spinal therapy was expensive and not really working. Surgery was to be avoided at all costs. This gym and Atticus Smith could not have come at a more crucial time.

The journey of Atticus with David is something that I wish I would have recorded somehow. It’s been fascinating and incredible. It’s in explainable. David has been like the jumbo rubix cube from hell and Atticus the patient steady handed geek trying to put him right again. Or maybe David’s a humpty dumpty that been smashed into a million pieces and Atticus is a kings men who COULD put humpty together again. Or the man trapped at the core of a huge layered onion trying to get out and Atticus the master chef shedding each layer one by one.


The journey is not yet over but the amount of layers that have been shed, the number of pieces that have been placed back where they belong and the twists and turns that have been made to set the colors in place have been life changing so far.

Picture this: In October 2015 a 35 year old(healthy) man slowly moving both legs over the threshold of his car to slowly and painfully stand up, I’m talking like 20 seconds this excruciating process took. And once up on his feet painfully trying to force his back and hips to straighten out and then slowly starting taking painful steps…groaning with each one. He would have to be extra careful to not trip or get his toe stuck on a ledge or curb(which was hard because he couldn’t bring his feet up as high as he should) as this would cause pain to pulse through his whole body.  Fast forward a year to that same 36 year old man who is SPRINTING up Old Main Hill in the morning, zig zagging his way thru to dodge the sprinklers all around him. Picture him bending over and picking up 400# off the ground!!!! With no pain! Amazing right?!


October 2015


August 2016

It’s been a painful and long process as you can imagine for poor humpty dumpty.  An experience that most people would give up on and say “just leave me here in pieces!!!” But my incredible husband has bore it with such a positive disposition that any outsider would never know he’s only gotten on average 4 hours of sleep at night for 2 years or that he hasn’t been able to relax and sit on a couch or a car to visit family for over 2 years and thru it all been in such excruciating pain that it makes him sweat and groan.  Yet come morning sun he still has smiling face though his eyes be sleep deprived and puffy.  He always has a kiss for me and  warm hugs for the boys. He still works harder than most men I know especially when it comes to healing his body. His dedication and hard work for this cause alone is inspiring. And thank God for Atticus Smith.IMG_20160213_180555

Now it’s been 10 months since I’ve been with Blacksmith Barbell and 9 for David. It’s become such a big part of our lives (my awesome mom too)! When Lucie comes she knows that mom and dad will be going and enjoys going herself sometimes! Now we look back to our life before that October in 2015 and wonder what we ever did before we were powerlifting. How did we cope? What did we look forward to? Where did our energy and strength come from? What hope did we have of becoming stronger as we age instead of weaker. How does anybody live their life without powerlifting with Atticus Smith? Sound silly? It’s really what we think….that’s how incredibly life changing it’s been.

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Wikipedia defines powerlifting as this:  Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squatbench press, and deadlift.

Powerlifting at Blacksmith Barbell is so much more than that however because Atticus has taken the knowledge he has gained throughout his training career and life, from Westside Barbell and others and tweaked it to concoct the perfect formula and program. And it’s not about being big and looking sexy or lifting more than your neighbor (although these things are just natural consequences) , it’s about being strong IN THE RIGHT PLACES for the benefit of your own body. Forget big pectoral muscles, quads and biceps…that’s not functional nor does it make sense physiologically. It’s all about the back, the triceps and the hamstrings. Physics and optimal health are what’s important at Blacksmith.  Not just looking strong…actually being strong and having full range of motion and flexibility and working for loose tendons and ligaments so everything can be where it’s supposed to be and stay there long term.

This is my very basic understanding of it anyway in the short time I’ve been there. I love learning more each day I go. My pre 2015 self never thought this sentence would come out of my mouth but I LOVE POWERLIFTING. Yes I do.