Off Season Training (Guest Post)

by Sandi Conrad

The throwing season ends in the September/October time frame, and starts again in the spring.  The heavy events are so much about technique, but it’s tough practicing in the off-season.  The weights tend to dig up the ground, and we need a lot of space for throwing, so indoor practicing is not much of an option.  With the cold weather we’ve been having, only the diehards will go out in the minus degrees and practice.  This means we need a different focus for the off-season.

Lifting is the answer to the off-season training. Although the only real variable for weight is the caber, and the heaviest we throw is 28lbs, getting stronger will help to throw further and help with sustaining energy through a full day of competition.  We never know the size of the caber going in and I’ve picked up a few very heavy sticks.  The extra strength isn’t going to hurt at all.

We cover the basics like bench presses and squats, but also do a lot of weight training to mimic some of the movements in the sport to help build muscle memory.  I bought the book “The new rules of lifting for women”  to get started with the weights, but once I got up to speed switched over to the same rotation of the guys at the gym.  I’ve been meeting and setting new goals regularly and have some new goals set up to hit before the season hits again.  My muscle mass is slowly increasing and I’ve got more muscle than ever.  I’m pretty amazed at my strength, despite the late start of waiting until my 40s.  Even up to a few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I could bench press 135, now that is an old goal and I’ve set my sights higher.

Why do I love lifting weights?

I’m getting older and need to pay more attention to my health.  It’s getting harder to lose weight and as I start my menopausal journey I realize that my chances of losing bone density and getting osteoporosis is higher.  Lifting weights will improve bone density and is making it easier for me to fight off weight gain.  The last time I had my cholesterol checked it was super low and even in times of great stress, my blood pressure is low.

I’ve eliminated many of my “quirky health issues”.  When I eat healthy and work out, I have more energy so I can work out more.  In my 20s and 30s I was frail, dealing with dangerous dips in blood sugar, general weakness and dizziness, especially during hormonal changes, digestive and elimination issues.  Now that I’ve made a few changes to my diet (including minimal wheat) and am lifting weights, these issues are gone.  It’s been over 3 years since I’ve nearly passed out due to low blood sugar. My energy levels and ability to adjust to hormonal changes has improved significantly.

I’m stronger than ever.  Despite the fact that I’m not a kid anymore, I can open most jars, carry all my luggage when I travel, grab a massive bunch of groceries to make only one trip from the car, help others who need it.  I love the independence I get from controlling my own personal strength as well as the ability to help out others when they need it.

I’m genetically programmed to be accident prone.  OK, I might be exaggerating that a bit, but the women in my family would side with that statement. I feel like my improved balance, strength and newfound body awareness are all contributing to fewer accidents and less injuries.

I’m more confident.  My posture is better, my capabilities are increased, my focus is no longer on my waistline, but is on building strength.  I could lose more weight, and have started to focus even more on food to reduce it.  I don’t have the toning that would make my arms look like Michelle Obama’s, but I don’t care as much anymore, because I know the muscles are there and that my strength is continually increasing.


Sandi is a feminist in the throes of what some would call her mid-life crisis, having gone from exercising only her mind to lifting weights and throwing heavy objects.  Her natural curiosity and need to know everything serves her well in a career in research as well as all things health, science and well…life really.

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