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Muscle and training

Weightlifting – all about mind over matter

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Weightlifting is a sport driven as much by mental focus as it is by muscle and technique.

Weightlifters can lift up to three times their own body weight in breathtaking lifts that can go badly wrong if carried out incorrectly. Kiki Andersen is one of a growing number of women taking part in the sport – and she is aiming high for the European Championships.

Putting in the hours

To achieve this goal, she has an intense training programme. Six days a week, she gets up at 5.30am to hit the gym before going to work. Although 28-year-old Kiki has a demanding job as a digital manager, she still manages to train again after work. The only day that she’s not in the gym is Sunday – her day off.

“When you train as much as I do, it has consequences. For example, I don’t have much time for parties. But I have some great friends who I train with and my boyfriend is a weightlifter too.”

Asked what makes a great weightlifter, Kiki is clear: “You need to be strong. You need technique but it’s the mental aspects of the sport that win you medals. People underestimate the mental strength required. In competitions, you’re completely alone on the platform – just you and barbell. You know you have to complete the lift. You can’t make a mistake.”

Getting in the right frame of mind

During competitions, participants do two different lifts and have three attempts at each. The first lift has to be heavy enough to get a place in the competition but not so heavy so it’s unsuccessful . “If you don’t lift on the first attempt, it affects your confidence. Attempting the same lift later in the competition is really tough. You need to maintain complete focus and have a good strategy,” she says.

The sport of weightlifting brings to mind images of men straining and grunting as they aim to lift the barbell above their heads. Kiki takes a completely different approach. “Making a lot of noise and shouting when I lift just doesn’t help. What works for me is being in a good mood. Before I go out on the platform, I try to think myself positive. Sometimes I’ll even sing a song to prepare.”

A diet packed with protein

To build up the muscle she needs to perform at the highest level, Kiki pays close attention to her diet. She has a varied diet and makes sure she gets plenty of protein each day to build up muscle – including milk and dairy products. And she regularly tops off meals with a whey protein shake.

Kiki has always been athletic and has competed at the highest level in sports including swimming, dance, fitness and CrossFit. In fact, it was at a CrossFit competition that her talent for weightlifting was spotted and she was encouraged to take it up more seriously.

“I’ve got a good physique for weightlifting,” she says. “I’ve got broad shoulders and I’m not that tall. All the women in my family are strong. In fact, I’m the tiny one!” she jokes.

Good luck with your training and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the European Championships Kiki!