Fresh off U.S. Nationals, TuHS students prepare for fall state championships
When it comes to fitness, there’s nothing like making your workout simply another step on the way to the next competition.
Athletes who participate in competitive sports have a bigger incentive to maintain their fitness, diet and sleep regimens. It helps maintain discipline and consistency; and, let’s face it, competing in the sport of your choice is just plain fun.
For Tualatin High School students Rylie Joers, a soon-to-be senior, and Jordynn Sauer, who is entering her junior year, that is absolutely the case. The two young women are competitive weightlifters and recently returned from the USA Weightlifting National Junior Championships, which were held in Detroit, Mich., from June 25 through July 4. It was the first in-person national level event for both of them, and only their second nationals ever. Their first came last summer and was held virtually, which meant performing in their home gym and connecting to the competition via video connection.
“We were there for four days,” said Joers, who competes in the 55 kilogram (121 pounds) class. “The competition only lasted a couple of hours, even though they have multiple sessions for your age and weight.”
Sauer competes in the 76 kg (167 pounds) class, which features fewer competitors.
In the end, both reached personal records (PR) in various lifts, as well as in the cumulative total of weight lifted, which is how the competitions are judged.
“It couldn’t have gone any better for me, personally,” Joers said. “I went above my goals; my goal was to meet my (cumulative) PR, and I did that.”
Sauer, meanwhile, performed nearly as well.
“I did miss one of my snatches, which would have been a PR for me, but I matched my competition PR for the snatch and got a new comp PR for the clean and jerk.”
Both athletes got their start in Olympic style weightlifting at CrossFit Tualatin, where they first started working out several years ago in order to get stronger and more competitive in team sports that included gymnastics and volleyball.
They work with coach, Kit Brown, who is also an active weightlifting competitor who is a Masters World Champion, 2x Masters National Champion, and current National record holder.
Brown has the girls on 12 to 16-week workout cycles that prepare them for competition. They work out Monday through Saturday for two to three hours a day. Two days a week are dedicated to weightlifting. The rest of the time, their workouts combine a variety of lifts with gymnastics, running, pull ups, handstand walks, running, rock climbing and more.
The beginning of the competitive cycle sees them spend more time on technique and less on sheer strength. As they reach the end of the cycle, however, they build toward trying to reach personal records in the various competitive lifts.
“We spend a lot of time on the technique in the beginning, we take 20 to 30 minutes just warming up,” Joers said. “After that it depends on what the goal is for the day, either technique or more weight on the bar.”
Toward the end of the cycle, specific preparation for the competition is also brought in.
Right now, they are at the beginning of a new cycle that they hope will propel them to titles at the Oregon State Weightlifting Championships in October. And given their achievements at the national level so far, the odds are in their favor.
“We’ve never done state before, so we don’t really know who all the competition is going to be,” Joers said. “Before the nationals we’d only done local meets.”
Throughout their competitive workout cycle, the girls’ diet is monitored for both calories and protein. Because they compete in different weight classes, Joers and Sauer have varied dietary requirements.
“I eat 2,000 calories a day and about 180 grams of protein a day,” Joers said. “Doing that consistently has made a big difference in my performance. Right now, I’m trying to gain muscle, so that’s why I’m eating so much protein. I don’t see myself wanting to cut weight anytime soon.”
Sauer is doing the same and said she got guidance from Joers in this area.
“Rylie was the one to help me figure out my diet before nationals,” she said. “I eat 2,500 calories a day and 220 grams of protein.”
Fortunately for their food preferences, protein comes in a lot of different forms. Joers prefers chicken or fish, while Sauer doesn’t like to eat meat if she can help it.
“I try to get it from cottage cheese or protein shakes,” Sauer said.
While Joers and Sauer love music, they surprisingly don’t have a favorite band or performer when it comes to working out. They do insist on having music, but they aren’t too particular about what they listen to.
“For motivation, it’s the community there at CrossFit Tualatin,” Joers said. “Having someone there is a big factor. But we do have music blast every single time we work out.”
“Yeah, it’s whatever is playing,” Sauer said with a laugh.
“We play country a lot,” Joers added. “It’s not really a favorite, but it’s just fun music. Just not silence. We’ll listen to anything loud with a good beat and that’s fine. If it’s slow then I can’t do it.”
There’s not a lot of specialized equipment involved when it comes to weightlifting. Of course, there are the traditional leather weightlifting belts used for back protection and purpose-built weightlifting shoes, which feature thin soles and Velcro straps over standard laces. Joers prefers Nike, while Sauer really doesn’t care. In fact, she can’t remember what brand she’s wearing at present.
“I have no idea, just regular lifting shoes,” she said.
For clothes, Joers prefers to lift in tight leggings so that the weight bars don’t catch on loose clothing. But other than that, they simply throw on whatever comfortable clothing is at hand.
For competitions, however, they wear the traditional singlet that has been used for generations.
“The neck is not super low,” Joers said. “It’s basically a tank top and shorts combined, but tight.”
Since weightlifting is largely an individual sport, they don’t really have teammates to turn to for advice. Some of their fellow CrossFitters ask for lifting tips, but not too often.
“I think other people in the gym are interested in it. They ask about techniques or the competitions and what we’re doing for it and stuff like that,” Joers said. “So, I keep it simple. Most people are starting out and not super advanced and I don’t want to pressure them. I share our goals, and if they are working on form you give them simple form tips.”
In turn, the girls look to Coach Brown for the same.
“She’s amazing,” Sauer said. “She helps us with everything from what we should eat and drink to warming up correctly.”
What’s Your Workout?
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