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What Moves Me: My Love Affair with Powerlifting

By Alice K.
April 10, 2015
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After my recent entry in the Minnesota State and Midwest Open, I can officially say I am a competitive powerlifter. And I have the medal to prove it: third place in my—granted, not terribly competitive—weight class.

Most people at the Open were members at strength-specific gyms. I, however, have found that training at the YWCA of Minneapolis at Midtown is perfect for me. Through the YWCA, I worked with a spectacular personal trainer to develop my training regimen and perfect my form. My program worked on balancing days of heavy lifting with work on accessory lifts to target crucial muscle groups. And it worked; I hit a 20-pound personal record in my final squat of the competition.

Most gyms have the tools and equipment, even competent trainers, for effectively training in powerlifting, but the YWCA offers something that’s equally important: community. At the YWCA, there’s always someone willing to spot me when I’m working near my max on bench press; trainers on duty watch my lifts and volunteer tips on form or just cheer me on. I can count on my many friends at the YWCA to celebrate with me when I hit a new one-rep max. A big contingent of my gym friends, trainer included, even came to watch the meet.

Why I love it:

  1. Camaraderie – Remember the first couple weeks of college? When it was totally fine to walk up to people and introduce yourself or just join in on their conversation? Powerlifting meets are like that. Also, everyone cheers for you. And you cheer for everyone. It feels amazing.
  2. Quantifiable gains – Working in a discipline like powerlifting means that you have progress you can actually see – last week you were squatting 95 lbs. for ten, this week it’s 100#; two months ago your max bench press was 120 lbs., now it’s 135 lbs. Measurable progress helps me stay focused and stick with my training plan.
  3. Strength – It’s amazing; I am a beast. Seriously, people, I feel like the best possible combination of Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk. And I’m only getting stronger.
  4. Not endurance – I’ve come to accept that some people are not cut out to be endurance athletes, and I am one of those people. Competing in powerlifting gives me something to train for since acknowledging that a marathon isn’t in my future.
  5. Makes endurance endurable – Now, I am not saying that taking to the pavement and running for any length of time has ceased to be boring (for me). But, I’ve found that since I’ve been lifting regularly, I have more endurance, making running longer distances something I no longer dread. Much.