From Kilos to Kettlebells: My Journey in (and out of) Weightlifting

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From Kilos to Kettlebells: My Journey in (and out of) Weightlifting

A few years into my Crossfit journey, I discovered my love for the sport of Olympic weightlifting.

And to be honest, it was first the sounds of weightlifting that lured me to the platform: the pop-clang of a barbell, the smack of lifting shoes on a wooden platform, the slam of the plates.


So in 2014, I began training with three other guys in a race to reach our lifting goal:
Who would be the first to snatch 100 kilos (220 lbs)?


At that time, we were all lifting about 90-95 kg, so we weren’t too far off. We were on a mission to hit this milestone within six months, training five days per week in 1.5 to 2-hour sessions.


The color-coordinated kilo bumper plates went from being more than just numbers — a red plate (25 kg) and yellow plate (15 kg) became a hamburger with cheese. Add a green plate (10 kg), and that’s the lettuce on the burger. Red (25kg), white (5kg), and blue (20kg) plates on the bar became an American flag lift. This is the type of visualization that made redundant training more interesting, more sustainable, and more fun.


The programming was influenced by the Bulgarian method which is most commonly described as “adapt or die” as the prescribed weight percentages are most consistently above 90% of the lifter’s 1RM. I was eating a lot more protein and carbohydrates to keep up with the energy expenditure from each session, and put on 25 lbs as part of this new lifestyle.


Maxing out my snatch and clean and jerk on a weekly basis became the norm and was called “Max Out Friday.” I would train at a bodyweight around 175 lbs to keep up with my lifting goals. As training progressed, I dove deeper into the sport of weightlifting where I attended seminars facilitated by national-level lifters and became a member of USA Weightlifting (USAW), competing as a 77 kg lifter (169 lbs).


In 2015, I completed the USAW coaching certification course and Crossfit L1 simultaneously to improve my proficiency and share my knowledge of strength, conditioning, and general fitness with others. However, over the next three years, I strictly defined myself as a weightlifter and identified with the amount of weight I could lift from ground to overhead.


And yet… in June 2018, I competed in my last weightlifting meet, one month after my son was born. And it was at that point that it became clear to me that my priorities needed to change from performance to lifestyle and longevity. My training returned back to Crossfit, and my weight returned to a more sustainable, walking-around weight of 150 lbs. With this shift, I went from maxing out my snatch and clean and jerk every week to returning to a more well-rounded training system – broadening my fitness to facilitate new goals.


While in my lifting phase, I learned a lot about what my body can do. I learned even more about my mindset, my grit, and my ability to drill and skill my way to success. If it weren’t for this chapter, I never would have learned as much about my strength capacities as I did, and I honestly would not have been able to appreciate all of my top priorities today: yoga, stretching, breathwork, and rotational movement training. As my mindset has shifted from competition to becoming a more holistic athlete, I have gleaned a deeper appreciation for the sport of lifting, which has certainly made me a better coach and athlete.

Who wrote this post...

Tim Dancy

Tim Dancy

Tim has worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and CrossFit coach since 2014. Though he’d dropped in a number of times at Renew over the years, in May of 2022, Tim formally joined Renew as both an athlete and a coach! When he’s not helping people hit their fitness goals, Tim enjoys going on adventures with his family and riding around Austin on his e-Bike. Though there are many barbell benchmarks to choose from, his favorite is Isabel.

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