GGS Spotlight: Jamie Greubel Poser


JamieGreubelPoser-SochiTrack-450x297Name: Jamie Greubel Poser
Age: 32
Location: A few months in Lake Placid, NY and Potsdam, Germany. Traveling for competitions and living out of my suitcase for the rest of the year.

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Strength, health, beauty, confidence, independence.

How did you get introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
I have played sports my whole life, but I did not begin strength training until the summer before my freshman year at Cornell University, where I was going to play field hockey and run track. I received my training plan in the mail with all the strength exercises that I needed to do before I showed up in the fall. With only a sheet of exercises and no explanation on how to do them properly, I went to a gym for the first time and did my best to complete the training. Without the proper guidance and knowledge of the lifts followed by three competition seasons during my freshman year, I herniated three disks in my low back. A specialist told me that I should never run or lift weights again, and I was not willing to accept that. What I learned, instead, after rehabbing my back, was that when strength training is done properly, it can, in fact, prevent injuries.

When I began to train for bobsled after college, I needed to start lifting heavier weights and more complex lifts in order to gain strength, mass, and explosive power for my new sport. Luckily I began training with a coach who watched my training closely, and taught me how to lift properly.

Weight lifting is a vital part of my training and allows me to be successful as a bobsledder.

What does your typical workout look like?
In order for two women to push a 365-pound bobsled from a standstill to top speed in only 50 meters requires a unique combination of speed, strength and explosiveness. My training is therefore a mix of weightlifting, plyometrics, sprinting, and pushing. In general, my training is split into lifting and sprinting sessions throughout the week in order to build strength and mass, while maintaining speed.

I begin each training session with a 30-minute warm-up:

  • 5 minutes jogging
  • Track drills
  • Activation exercises (i.e. Plyo ball back extensions and planks, monster walks for glute activation)

Example lift (#1 of 3 per week)

  • Back prehab/activation exercises
  • Front squat: 3 x 6 reps 110 kilos (242 pounds)
  • Box Jumps: 8 x 1 maximal effort jumps
  • Heavy Prowler Pushes: 4 x 10 meters with 160 kilos (352 pounds)
  • Weighted Pull Ups: 3 x 6 reps with 10 kilos (22 pounds)
  • Landmine Oblique Twist: 3 x 15 reps each side
  • Cool down, stretching

Example Sprint Workout (#1 of 3 per week)

  • Contrast Sprints: 6 reps each, alternating between sled tows and sprints
  • 15 meter sled tow sprint
  • 30 meter sprint

Favorite Lift:

Most memorable PR:
3 X 3 reps of pull-ups with a 25 kilo (55 pound) weight

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:

  1. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
  2. Break Free by Ariane Grande
  3. Animals by Martin Garrix
  4. King by Years and Years
  5. Intoxicated by Martin Solveig & GTA

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:

  • Lifting shoes
  • Skin Tech Apollo SS training shirt
  • iPod

Jamie-&-Husband-Christian-World-Cup-Winterberg-Germany-450x338Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to train with others. Most of the time I train with my husband (who is also an Olympic bobsledder) or one my teammates. I have found that training with a partner can really push you beyond what you believe your limitations are in your training.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
I was working out on my own at the gym, and I had just completed a set of bench press. I went to put the bar back on the rack and turned my head to the right side to check that the bar was safely on the rack. I thought everything was good, so I did not check the other side. As I went to let go of the bar, the left side of the bar came quickly down towards my face. I caught the bar right before it hit my face, but I was stuck in a very awkward position. A guy training next to me came over quickly and picked the bar up off of my face. I was mortified.

Favorite meal:
Greek food! Grilled chicken with lemon, rice, and Greek salad. Taramosalata and hummus with raw vegetables and fresh bread.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Having a few hours to relax and play and learn songs on my guitar.

Favorite quote:
Nothing worth it ever comes easy.

Favorite book:
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

Photo Credit: Molly Choma PhotographyWhat inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by other athletes and their stories of perseverance and determination. I especially love watching the Olympics. I like to have goals in order to stay focused and motivated. It gives me a reminder of what I am working towards. I set short-term and long-term goals. (Photo Credit: Molly Choma Photography)

What do you do?
I am training full-time for the upcoming World Cup bobsled season and ultimately for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. During the off-season I speak at different events as a motivational and inspirational speaker. However, before I became a bobsledder I earned a master’s degree in elementary education, so I would like to teach and work with children when I am finished with my sports career.

What else do you do?
My husband is from Germany so I have been learning how to speak German for the past four years. I love to play the acoustic guitar, cook, and travel.

JamieGreubel-HowWeTrainWhenWeTravelToBobsledcompetitions-450x338Describe a typical day in your life:

7:30am Wake up, eat breakfast

9:00am Sports medicine appointment (Chiropractor or athletic trainer)

10:00- 1:00 Training

1:30 Lunch

2:30 Stability, rehabilitation or preventative exercises

3:30 Meeting with nutritionist, sport psychologist, or coach

4:30 Eat a snack

5:00 Recovery- Cold tub, massage, foam rolling

6:30 Dinner

9:30 Weight gain shake

10:30 Bed

Jamie&teammateAjaEvansBronzeMedalSochi-450x340Your next training goal:
Power clean 100 kilos (220 pounds).

What are you most grateful for?
I am incredibly grateful to be able to travel the world competing and representing the United States as an elite athlete in the sport of bobsled.

What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
Winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympics.

Three words that best describe you:
Caring, determined, perfectionist

Tell us about a time when you rose to a challenge and how it turned out:
In order to have a chance at making the US National Bobsled Team in 2008...

...the coaches told me that I was fast enough, but I needed to gain 20 pounds. For most woman, that might be an immediate deal-breaker.

I was about 145 pounds when I started the sport, and I needed to be 165-170 pounds to be competitive.  The reason I needed to weigh more is because we have a weight limit in the sport for the two athletes and the sled, and a weight minimum for the sled. Ideally, you will have two big and strong athletes pushing a minimum weight sled, instead of two smaller athletes pushing a heavy sled. You want to be as close to the maximum weight as possible because heavier things go faster downhill. If you don’t meet the maximum weight you can add lead plates to the sled. Since we are the only power pushing the sled before racing downhill, you want to have the fastest push possible.

To me, if it was the only thing holding me back, I had to go for it. It was not easy, having to completely change my body without a guarantee that I would make the team. It took a lot of hard work training and eating an uncomfortable amount of food. Most people think it would be a good problem to have, but it really is not any fun. Of course, I want to gain the right kind of weight, so the food is pretty plain. For example I eat a ton of grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, protein shakes, oatmeal with peanut butter, more shakes. Eating is no longer enjoyable, it is just part of the work.

JamieGreubelPoser-PushingProwler-350x375It also took some time to get used to my “new” body. I had to buy all new clothes! Today, however, this body is my new “normal.” When I look back at old pictures of myself, before I started to lift, my perspective has totally changed, and I can’t believe how small I look! Every season for the past nine years I have had to eat and train this way in order to maintain my body to fit with my sport. I would say that it has definitely been worth the challenge, and strong feels great!

Did you always envision competing in the Olympics? How did your path lead to where you are today?
I never dreamed that I would compete in the Olympics. Of course, I always had a passion for sports and was ultra-competitive. To me, Olympians were like movie stars. I knew they were real people, but I never saw myself as one of them. I was always great at sports, but no one ever encouraged me or told me that I could compete at a level beyond collegiate, so it never occurred to me as a possibility. After college, I was not satisfied with ending my sports career. I continued training, but did not really know what to do next.

JamieBobsledLakePlacid-450x253One day, one of my former college teammates suggested that I try out for bobsled. He had made the national team, and said that when he met the women’s team, he immediately thought of me. I took a trip up to Lake Placid, NY and went for my first bobsled ride. It felt like I had been put in a tin can and kicked off of a cliff. It was nothing like what I expected. It felt like a car accident. The g-forces and speed were so intense the first time. Bobsled was not for me. I had gotten into grad school at the time so I decided to go to school. While I was in school, one of the bobsled girls convinced me to come out again and race with her. I though, here was this opportunity knocking at my door again. What is the worst thing that could happen if I try it again, I still don’t like it?

Once I competed in the sport, everything that I loved so much about competing and being part of a team came back to me.

I knew I had a new passion to pursue. It sounds crazy, but I still didn’t realize that what I was deciding to do could lead to me going to the Olympics. It was only in 2010 when I was on the national team, and just missed out on going to the Vancouver Olympics as a push athlete that I realized that I could actually have a shot at becoming an Olympian. In this moment I knew I needed to do everything and anything I could to get there. I thought about what I needed to change to do that, and the answer was switching to the driver’s seat. Four years later, I finally achieved my goal of becoming an Olympian.

If someone wanted to try your sport, is there somewhere they can do that?
Photo Credit: Molly Choma PhotographyBobsled is a very unique sport, and one of a few sports that you don’t need to do you whole life to have a chance at going to the Olympics. We are always looking for new bobsled athletes! Most athletes actually start the sport after college and after having a career in a different sport. If you would like to find out more about what it takes to try out for the team, check out the USA Bobsled and Skeleton website. We hold combine tests throughout the summer in different parts of the country to test if athletes have potential for becoming bobsledders. Check out the website for more information. You can also go for a public bobsled ride from halfway down the track if you ever visit Lake Placid, New York or Park City, Utah. It is actually a lot of fun! (Photo Credit: Molly Choma Photography)

What do you do for recovery and to stay healthy and feel good between training sessions and competitions?
There is so much more that goes into being an athlete than just my training. Recovery comes in many forms, and is vital for training, performance and overall health! Sleep and diet are number one. How you fuel your body and the recovery you get during sleep are so important after pushing yourself hard in training. I always try to plan ahead with what I am going to eat during the week. I find that when I wait until the last minute, that is when I tend to eat what is convenient and not always the healthiest. I also always start my day with a full breakfast, and always have access to healthy snacks. My favorite bars are called brüks bars. They taste like they were freshly baked, and I can name every ingredient in the bar. They are also allergy-conscious and vegan.

Your training plan is also important because your body cannot go 100 percent all of the time.

Having a prescribed plan will help you reach your ultimate goal, injury-free. Above all, listen to your body! If you have a reoccurring problem, ask for help.

I use different training modalities to protect my body while I am lifting. Lifting shoes provide stable support during difficult exercises. The Skin Tech Apollo SS is a lightly padded training shirt that protects you while doing activities using a barbell. I don’t have to worry about the bar hitting my collarbone or rubbing on my back while lifting. I also like to use a weight belt and knees wraps for the really heavy weights I lift.

The recovery modalities that I use are stretching, foam rolling, the cold tub, recovery pants (such as NormaTech), dry needling, cupping, graston, ART, muscle energy, chiropractic care and massage. A combination of all of these techniques allow me to train as hard as I do six days a week, while minimizing injury and maximizing performance. It is incredibly important that I take the best care of my body that I possible can since I ask so much of it everyday.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
I love challenging myself physically. Sometimes I surprise myself and lift a weight that I never thought was possible.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
Strength training has allowed me to take my athleticism to the next level. Without lifting weights, I would never have the opportunity to do what I do today.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Training will make you feel fantastic and accomplished. Make sure that you make it part of your daily routine so you stick with it. It is also a great way to spend time bonding with the people you care about or even making new friends!

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