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Althie lifts...sometimes (the lockdown edition)

Many who know me will automatically ask me a lifting related question when we communicate - usually along the lines of: ‘how’s the lifting going, you must be hella strong now?’, ‘what’s your 1RM* now?’, ‘when we gonna hit the gym together?’...

*1RM - the maximum amount of weight that a person can possibly lift for one repetition.

Althea James curling with an EZ-Curl bar
Gymwear: (IG) @tnb_activewear

I once managed to juggle work, studying, personal projects, BJJ, model portfolio building and gym almost effortlessly. Any of my tight colleagues will be able to tell you that they would be on at me to come to the pub after work for ‘just one drink’ and I would hardly ever as it was usually training day.

Gym was a staple that determined whether I’d join the team for lunches (high protein options only please) or even attend social events.

Althea James lifting a kettlebell
Gymwear: (IG) @tnb_activewear

So what happened?

Along came lockdown 1.0. [please insert extremely unimpressed straight face here]

At first I was like ‘ok I have some stuff at home - I can do home workouts’.

But working from home changed the dynamic of my personal space completely - I couldn’t switch off and zone out as I was in my place of work.

It was then that I realised that my motivation was linked to the location in which I usually lift. Almost like a habitual connection - my mind didn’t associate this space with pumping metal so I couldn’t get into the required frame of mind.

Then there was the scarcity of gym equipment *at non-extortionate prices*. Gym equipment prices went through the roof. I found it difficult to workout with kettlebells etc. There are many alternative ways to workout using alternative equipment but I wanted to slap plates on an olympic barbell and lift that. Simple as.

I totalled 2 home workout sessions during lockdown 1.0, and 1 pushup challenge (which I might try again as it goes).

Of course in the absence of one priority, another 10 seem to pop up - so I became demotivated and way too busy. So by the time lockdown 1.0 had ‘eased’, I was stacked. I started going to my gym after around 6 months’ loss in gains, but by the time I got around 3-4 sessions in, guess what happened...

Lockdown 2.0

By this lockdown I had a different setup. I was still spinning what felt like a million plates but I was bubbled with a lifting partner. He had a setup that was conducive to me lifting and he kept my lifting motivation up without even realising.

When you’re used to lifting alone, it is amazing how much a spotter can change your lifting game - never underestimate the value a spotter adds to your gains.

So there I was again, lifting weekly, oftentimes frustrated at my loss of gains but nevertheless lifting. It was tiring juggling everything but the (circa.) 2h a day that I gained from working from home was valuable, and I was able to get some good sessions in.

There was a short period of time where we could gym again but this was very very very short lived.

Lockdown 3.0 (please be the last in a trilogy)

By this lockdown my squirrel tendencies came in useful - I had started to gather gym bits one by one. I had even started selling cast iron plates during the gap between lockdown 2.0 and 3.0 - but many had become complacent as gyms were open again and were now hollering at me when I could no longer obtain them at a good price. Snooze you lose.

A heavily tattooed woman carrying a weights platee
Pic by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

So by now, a setup conducive to some good lifts was in place. Again, I attempted to lift at home (but not in the makeshift office space), and with low motivation due to being overstacked.

Overstacked: if you know me you will know that I like to seize opportunities and saw many during the lockdowns, so time was my issue.

Never being a midnight lifter (not wanting to lift when i’m too tired - like waaaaay too tired), lifting once again got pushed to the side for 4 ½ weeks (the ½ counts).

So I decided that as I am going to be part of the top 1% anyway I may as well develop their habits - so I started the 5am challenge. GAME CHANGER! (I’ll cover in a separate post).

I began to start my day right - prayer, reflection, lifting, working on what I call 'Project Me'.

I started getting my sessions back in and started to enjoy lifting at home. I thought I’d be sluggish at 5am but that's not the case (provided I rise right).

Now that I am in a swing of things again, I’m going to start the Juggernaut program again (I should be on week 1 of 16, session 3 of 64 by the time this post is published) - yep, it's that regimented.

For those who don’t know I had started it previously but had to tap out due to an unrelated wrist injury. So watch this space as I’m sure to update you guys on that too.

What’s my point?

With Lockdown 3.0 easing (God willing), now that I have found a way to get the sessions in I am chasing the improved 1RMs that await me on the other side of the Juggernaut program.

A chart of the Juggernaut lifting programme
Image credit:

My advice to you is to have a no-nonsense gym partner in your bubble - it gave me a boot up the rear-end. Also buy gym equipment when it's available - don’t get complacent and end up having to buy ridiculously overpriced equipment during the lockdowns.

I could blame the lockdowns for my decline in motivation, but I’m from the I am responsible for all things me school of thought. But nah. The demotivation tendency had to be there in the first place in order to even come to the surface - I just happened to end up in the environment that would facilitate its surfacing. What's important is that it gets addressed, and demolished, so I can keep going.

Watch. This. Space.

Today’s not So Random link

Not all 1RMs are determined by a single repetition. Example being my deadlift - my PB is a double at 110kg - but that can’t be my 1RM as I did 2 reps. So what is my 1RM as I haven’t done a single rep beyond that weight? Fret not - the 1RM calculator is here. You’re welcome.

Keep up with my selfie shenanigans on my modelling profile on Insta: @althie_model

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About the author [that would be me]:

I am a Senior Project Manager and Independent Travel Agent by day; by night (aka any other time) you can find me lifting heavy metal things (aka powerlifting), threatening to dust off my belt in the name of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (I will make myself re-worthy of my blue belt), or finding ways to get in front of a camera and labelling it as modelling in some way shape or form.

I put this blog together as an add-on to my modelling portfolio, and it reminded me of how much I love to write. I will continue to write as my model portfolio grows, just so that you can get to know the real me x


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Apr 09, 2021

I love your determination to keep pushing yourself, it's inspiring! Keep up the great work 💪🏾

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