I had the opportunity to chat with Desiree Thompson during one of her workouts several weeks prior to the Arnold Sports Festival.
Sidebar: Desiree Thompson stated she is working up to heavy. She started with nothing on the bar then, 35lbs on each side, then 125 lbs. She said 125 lbs. was light; but, it looked heavy to me. I was impressed with what she considered light. She told me her process is to work up to 80% to 90% of 230 lbs.
Tell me about your journey as an athlete.
I did gymnastics growing up until I was a sophomore in high school. Then, I grew out of it. I would be swinging on the bars and hitting the mat. I thought that was a sign that this isn’t the right fit for me anymore. I ran track for the remainder of high school and earned a track scholarship to Ohio State. I competed in the heptathlon. The heptathlon is a combination of events. The winner is determined by your total score.
Sidebar: The heptathlon consists of the high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter run, the long jump, javelin throw, and the 800-meter run.
How tall are you?
After I graduated, I got married, had kids, then started trying to get back into fitness. Previously, I worked out on my own, then I joined a cross fit gym. With cross fit, they combine Olympic lifting as part of the workouts or WADs (Workout of the Day). I was trying to get better in the Olympic lifts. I did a little bit of it in college; but, not a lot. I started working with Rich, the coach, who had a club at the cross fit gym. I decided I liked this a little better. Rich encouraged me to compete.
Tell me about the event.
It combines two different lifts. It is the snatch which you take from the floor. You bounce it off your hips and take it to above your head. It has a wide grip. Where the clean and jerk is taken from the floor. It has a closer grip. You stop on top of your shoulder. Then you do another movement called a jerk to take it above your head. When competing with Olympic Lifts, you get three opportunities to do each lift. The objective is to get the most weight that you can on both of those lifts. They take your total amount of each of the two lifts. The highest score wins.
Are there weight classes? Seems like larger women should be able to lift more that smaller women.
Yes. I am in the 76 kg-weight class (168 lbs.). You compete against people who are about the same weight.
Do you have a special diet?
I watch what I eat because I also compete in physique competitions. My main objective is the physique that I will be doing in July. With Olympic lifting, you don’t always weigh the weight that you compete at. Right now, I am 3 or 4 pounds above that. I must watch what I eat until the Arnold so I can make the weight.
How many times a week do you work out and how long are your workouts?
I work out about 6 days a week. I try to take one day completely off. I am doing Olympic Lifting 2 days a week and other body work like legs, back, bis (biceps), and tris (triceps). Because I am old, I can’t handle the volume of a younger person. I am competing at the master’s level which is the older people. You don’t train like you are 20 when you are 40. It just doesn’t work.
Sidebar: The master’s level class is for competitors 35 and older.
Do you also incorporate other disciplines in your training like yoga?
I stretch 20 minutes every time I work out. That is an opportunity for me to check in with my body to see what is working that day and what is not working that day. That is how I dictate what I can and can not do. I also teach cycling a couple of days a week. That is part of my cardio. The WADs also include cardio. I do a little bit of everything including boxing.
My best total is 176. I will try to beat that at the Arnold. When I did get my personal record (PR), I was training more heavily in Olympic lifting. I am feeling strong. Hopefully everything goes well.
What are the criteria to compete in the Arnold?
On the entry form, when you register, there is a qualifying total that you must have to get in.
Can fill out the registration form and lie and get in?
I believe USA Weightlifting has a record of all the meets you competed in. They know if you try to slide in there.
Is this all natural or can you juice it up?
Yes, this is all natural.
I know you have a coach, but when I see you, it appears like you are working out by yourself. How much of your success is being able to work out by yourself?
For me, I think it is a lot. I typically work out at 5:00 am. It is a stress reliever for me. I can work out as hard as I need to and not worry about anything.
Sidebar: Desiree lifted 69 kilos in the snatch and 91 kilos in the clean and jerk. For her weight and age, she finished first in the snatch, clean and jerk and total. Congrats!