I’d imagine a lot of skills would transfer from throwing to weightlifting. Was there anything that you found particularly challenging when you shifted your focus to weightlifting, and what did you do to address it?
Strength training was a big part of my program when I was throwing, so transitioning to weightlifting was not that tough since I had a lot of the foundations down. We already trained the snatch, clean, and jerk from rack, so I wasn’t really at any disadvantage in that respect. Because I had abstained from any kind of strength training for about a year, I took sort of an unconventional route into weightlifting. The biggest challenge for me was re-gaining body mass and building up my squatting strength. This was actually pretty strange for me since leg strength had never been an issue before. After losing so much weight, though, I found that even previously trivial weights presented a challenge.
Did you stop lifting over the time that you lost 75lbs and trained for a 50k? How long did it take you to get your lifts back to where they were? How did you approach your training?
I stopped lifting entirely while I trained as a wannabe distance runner. I think the most I was ever able to run in a week was 40 miles, but that wasn’t sustainable and my body often rebelled. I really wasn’t able to run at all for about a month prior to the 50k I did with my wife, and I’m sure I set some kind of record for slowest finisher. After I recovered from that experience, I knew that I would only be satisfied with running if I was training for something bigger and better.
Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that it would do me more harm than good to run 50+ mile races, but I needed a challenge in my life beyond school. Since I was back at ASU, I thought it would be fun to start throwing and lifting again. My lifts progressed fairly quickly to a certain point, but my leg strength stalled with my bodyweight. It has been a slow climb, but I am learning how to balance my desire to lift heavy weights with the recognition that as an older athlete I can’t recover the way that I used to.
Training has been a real hodgepodge since I like to experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. What I have found is that I like to lift according to how I feel, so if I am feeling good I will go heavier but if it isn’t there, I’m not going to push it. The good thing about my approach is that it is infinitely flexible, which is necessary when training is a luxury that you don’t always have time for. The bad thing about the way I train is that I am probably missing out on a few kilos, but at this point I am more concerned with longevity than maximal performance. I like conditioning, but conditioning is subordinate to weightlifting so if I only have time for one thing it won’t be conditioning.
Could you speak a bit about the journey to your first national meet? How long had you been training, and what was the experience like?
I was pretty lucky to step back in where I left off with the lifts, meaning I was back to a 150kg snatch and 180kg clean and jerk within a year of starting back up. Unfortunately, injury curbed further progression. Right now I am focusing on leg strength and bodyweight so that I can hopefully stay healthy longer. I am pretty light for a superheavy, I think I lifted at 106kg at my first national meet. I would like to get up to 120kg again, at least for a little bit so I can surpass some lifetime personal bests, but I will never be 140+ like a lot of lifters in my weight class.
What are your goals now for your lifting career?
The thing that keeps me going are a few nagging personal records that I haven’t been able to get past. I have beaten a few of my old records, but there are still some left that I won’t be happy to leave in place. It would be great to medal at a national meet, but doing that will probably depend more on finding a balance between weightlifting, professional, and family responsibilities.
Outside of lifting, what do you like to do with your time?
Most of my leisure time is spent with my wife and my dog, but I also try to read as much as I can.
Is there a place people can go to find you? (Social media, websites, etc)
My Instagram is @jdlewis6.