Sometimes our Get Glutes members are motivated to work toward new goals with their training. Some of our members have competed in figure competitions, and others have discovered a love for powerlifting.
Author Keeley Novotny and Members Kristen, Emily & Shelley
Here is my experience traveling to a powerlifting meet in Toronto, Canada to cheer on Kristen, Emily, and Shelley, three friends I met through the Get Glutes forum who have recently joined this sport. They have all developed incredible physiques with Get Glutes and you can read their testimonials here: Kristen's HERE/ Emily's HERE/ and Shelley's HERE/. Through their Get Glutes training these women discovered a love for heavy lifting and training for strength goals. To prepare for this new challenge and take their training to the next level, Kristen and Shelley followed Bret's 2 x 4 Maximal Strength Training Program (http://2x4strength.com/). Check it out if you may be interested!
In a nutshell, powerlifting competitions divide competitors into weight classes, and they may be further divided by other factors such as gender, age group, and experience level. Each lifter waits his or her turn for each of three chances to complete one rep of the squat, benchpress, and deadlift, for nine total lifts over the course of the day. After each attempt the lifter decides how much weight they will try for their next chance, with a goal of reaching a PR at the meet if possible. Three judges watch each lift, and it is successfully counted if the judges determine all the rules were met. The competitors must wear a "singlet" and shoes during lifting and cannot wear supportive or technical undergarments which may give them an advantage. (It is indisputable that Get Glutes training improves the look of this not-particularly-flattering singlet!)
I boarded a plane with excitement to meet my friends in person, with little idea of what to expect at the meet. I arrived in Toronto on Friday afternoon, and caught up on the drama I had missed with the "weigh-ins". If a competitor finds herself nearly in a lower weight class it can be possible to cut water to get there fairly quickly. Kristen found herself in that situation Friday morning, so she spent several uncomfortable hours sweating it out in the car (which was accurately dubbed "sauna car") with the heat cranked up until she made her desired weight class- right on the dot. This trick is only to be used as needed, with rehydration a priority afterwards. Thankfully I avoided the sauna car experience, and we were all in good spirits!
Friday evening we explored a few sights in Toronto, accompanied by our cardboard Bret-on-a-stick made by Shelley. I forgot I was carrying him around a few times and only realized when people were looking at me quizzically, trying to place his face! "Bret" was our guest of honor, and accompanied us to dinner, although he sadly kept falling over. Our waiter was amused although I don't think he quite understood. We had a fabulous pub dinner. The competitors enjoyed their meals with water but I enjoyed mine most, because the locally brewed nut brown ale was delicious! I wasn't even jealous of all the carbs my friends could scarf in fueling up for the meet. In conversation Emily and I appreciated the Canadian expressions we weren't accustomed to hearing, and I realized that I use "wicked" as an adjective far too often. After dinner we drove to our hotel and got to bed early to be ready for the big day.
A view of the gym before the meet
We arrived with cardboard Bret Saturday morning at the powerlifting gym to find a crowd already preparing for the day. Junior men were first, and then two full flights of women. The competitors ranged from teenagers to a 61 year-old woman participating in her first meet. I noticed there was no stereotype here; it seemed to me all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities were represented.
As the meet got underway, the first lift of the day was squats. Everyone was full of nervous energy and ready to get started, but there is a lot of downtime and waiting your turn at these events. Shelley was in the first flight of women, and Kristen and Emily were in the second. Shelley's first squat attempt of 115.5 pounds (52.5 kg) was good, but unfortunately she had a family issue come up and was unable to stay for the rest of the meet. She was happy to have completed her training and to successfully experience her first lift, and is confident she will try another meet soon. Before Shelley left, Bret-on-a-stick was recognized by a lifter, who found his presence very amusing- and we all had our picture taken together.
Kristen's best squat was 225.5 pounds (102.5 kg), and Emily's was 198 pounds (90 kg). The heaviest successful women's squat was 352 pounds (160 kg)! *(See note)
We had a long break before the bench press, because at this meet some lifters were bench pressing only, and special gear was allowed in its own category. There was one man I found especially interesting to watch as he worked very hard to get himself into his tight and stiff lifting shirt, and then benched over 500 pounds! I couldn't help wondering how much he could lift raw (without assistance attire). Personally, I find that more impressive. We spent our break times watching other lifters, running out to Starbuck's for the mandatory-in-my-world coffee, eating snacks, and prepping for the next lift. My prep involved wiggling my way into the front of the viewing area where I could film unobstructed.
The women were halfway through their bench presses when a problem came up - it was discovered the barbell was five pounds heavier than it should have been. This meant that all the lifts attempted before this discovery were five pounds more than planned and expected. Many lifters had surprisingly failed their second attempts, but now it all made sense. When lifting resumed, Kristen's best bench press was disqualified, because the judges determined her backside didn't stay down on the bench as required for a successful lift. She was credited with 93.5 pounds (42.5 kg) for her best qualified lift and Emily's best was 143 pounds (65 kg). *
The final lift of the day was deadlifts. This is my favorite lift to watch! It was amazing to see some of the men's successful and incredibly heavy lifts, and their excitement at making them. One young man lifted over three times his own bodyweight. The place exploded with applause! The heaviest deadlift of the day was 698.5 pounds (317.5 kg). The strongest woman lifted 363 pounds (165 kg)! Kristen and Emily had very strong deadlifts. Kristen's best was 247.5 pounds (112.5 kg) and Emily's was 269.5 pounds (122.5 kg).*
The weight moved during this event was certainly impressive- but what impressed me most of all was the sportsmanship I witnessed. Whenever a lifter was struggling to lock out their toughest lift, the whole room erupted in cheers and support. Not only for the elite lifters, but for everyone who was obviously maxing out their effort. I absolutely love that.
And finally -- more waiting! It took a long time for the meet organizers to tally the results, which was more complicated because of the bench pressing fiasco, and an apparent misunderstanding of Excel. We were tired and hungry but it was worth the wait, because Emily took second and Kristen third place in their weight class!
I am very glad I was able to spend the weekend with these amazing and inspiring friends I have made through Get Glutes. I also liked learning more about the sport of powerlifting, which was much less intimidating than I had expected. It was naturally impressive to witness the feats of strength attainable with proper training, nutrition, and hard work, but it was even more fantastic to be part of the fun they are having while getting it done! These ladies leave no doubt that strength and physique go very well together- as do feminine and badass!
Kristen loves this expression!
* Important Note: I recorded the weights lifted here from the official results posted on the website. However, these totals do not match what Emily and Kristen had recorded for themselves after each lift. Due to the problems during the meet in recording and tallying accurate results, it is quite likely the list is incorrect.
Here are the numbers Emily and Kristen recorded for their best lifts- Squat: Kristen 226 lbs, Emily 209 lbs Bench press: Kristen 99 lbs, Emily 143 lbs Deadlift: Kristen 248 lbs, Emily 270 lbs Meet total: Kristen 573 lbs, Emily 622 lbs