With the recently-formed Townsville Weightlifting Club hosting the inaugural North Queensland Open next month, we checked in with coach Scott Amies and lifting dynamo Holly Armstrong to see what this sport is all about.
Scott Amies – coach and club founder
How did the Townsville Weightlifting Club come about? We wanted to establish a weightlifting club in Townsville to offer the sport of Olympic weightlifting. We are aiming to attract people who want to get better at the lifts, learn the correct technique, and build a competitive Olympic weightlifting club in the north. I had a lot of equipment at home and we were doing one-on-ones from the garage to start with. We outgrew that and needed some more space, so we moved into the Aitkenvale PCYC, which allowed us to grow a bit further. Since then we’ve moved into the Mates4Mates Gym [Aitkenvale], where there’s plenty more space and we’ll be able to run competitions out of there.
“There are days when you leave the gym and think, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’; while other days you have such a big win. You’ve got to work for every kilo” – Scott Amies
What are the benefits of weightlifting? There’s a good transfer over to other sports. Football players, CrossFitters, rowers, and sprinters (athletics) all use Olympic lifts – basically any sport that needs a fast, explosive movement and the application of power. The movements are very technical and if you have an off day in weightlifting it just shows – there’s no hiding from it. So you need to be mentally tough to do the sport: There are days when you leave the gym and think, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’; while other days you have such a big win. You’ve got to work for every kilo. More about weightlifting here.
How is it different from powerlifting? Powerlifting is bench press, squat and deadlift, whereas weightlifting – or Olympic weightlifting – is the clean and jerk and the snatch like you see at the Olympic Games.
Are you excited about hosting the North QLD Open in March? Yes, people will be travelling here from around the region to compete – it’s all part of the JME Club Challenge and every club in the region gets to host one, but our first JME event just so happens to be the North QLD Open.
Who can compete? Anyone can compete; you just need to be a member of the QWA (Queensland Weightlifting Association). People say they’re not good enough to compete when they start out, but everyone is good enough; they just want to get a big number on the day. I always advise lifters to get that first comp out the way and don’t worry about weigh-ins and personal bests. I usually don’t let lifters go over 80% for their first competition – they get six good lifts, have a good meet and it builds confidence. You’re really competing against yourself: It’s not like a triathlon where you’re there on the day and you can see the guy in front of you and you think, ‘If I can go that little bit faster I can catch that guy’. In weightlifting, if that’s your best lift, then that’s your best lift – if someone is doing better you usually just can’t pull something out of the bag. The elite guys can, but it can take a long time to get to that level.
Who are you hoping to attract to the sport? Anyone, we’d really like to start having kids come along this year. Like every sport, they are the future. Especially if they are kids who play another sport like rugby, athletics or rowing at school – as long as they are ready to learn and they can listen because they are in a gym environment. Although, in saying that, weightlifting is a lot safer than many other sports – they need to want to do it. More info about weightlifting and kids here.
What do you enjoy about coaching? I did 10 years in the Australian Army and I was a Sub Unit Physical Training Instructor/Combat Fitness Leader. When I discharged I went and did my Cert III and IV in Fitness and was hungry for knowledge, so I did as many courses as I could; then specialised in weightlifting. Coaching people is a very rewarding role – whether they are beginners, athletes, or veterans who are wounded, injured or ill due to their service like the guys at Mates4Mates, it is very rewarding to help people achieve their goals. Being based at Mates4Mates now means the members can come along and use the equipment during the day under my supervision and, if they want to do weightlifting, they can attend the classes for free.
Holly Armstrong – Weightlifter and member
When did you discover weightlifting? I met Scott and Laura [Scott’s wife who is also involved in the club] through my sister about 12 months ago. They moved into her street and I’d see their garage with all their equipment and think, ‘Wow what are they doing?’ So my sister had a chat with them and she told me they were doing weightlifting. I started training with Scott once a week when I was home from my job on the mines – that was for an hour or two. Then after the first three months we started seeing progress. At that point I decided to leave work and start uni full time, and that’s when I was able to start training full time. It wasn’t until Townsville Weightlifting Club moved to the PCYC that I really started to see results.
“It’s fun and mentally challenging. You can’t just walk up to a bar and chuck 50kg over your head” – Holly Armstrong
What do you enjoy about it? It’s fun and mentally challenging. You can’t just walk up to a bar and chuck 50kg over your head – it takes time and you need a coach to look at you and watch where you can improve.
Have you competed before? Yes in the JME Club Round in Mackay and one in Airlie Beach – I came third and was ranked 39th in Australia. It will be my third competition in March.
How are you feeling about the comp in March? Do you have any goals? I’m feeling excited about competing personally, but also because this is the first competition for Townsville Weightlifting Club. My goals at the moment are to build stronger legs and add some kilos to my front squat.
Do you have any advice to others looking to give it a go? Anyone wanting to start something different and be surrounded by a supportive and friendly training environment will enjoy it. It can be difficult to learn the correct technique at first, but be consistent and patient with your training and slowly but surely it will all come together. More info about girls and weightlifting here.
Scott’s weightlifting tips
- Train consistently – Half effort will get half results.
- Be patient – No one gets it first go.
- Get a Coach – It’s hard to do it by yourself.
The Queensland Weightlifting Association North QLD Open is on Saturday, March 21 at Mates4Mates Gym. To register, see here.