Powerlifting | How It’s Going, My 1 Rep Max & People Who Don’t Get it.

I have been working on the “Big 3” lifts for a few months now, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I decided to switch completely to a powerlifting split and pursue that. 

It’s been quite the crazy ride already and I am only a month and a half in. My body hurts in ways I have never known it could hurt, I am realizing that I never TRULY knew what it meant to “struggle” to lift something, and I am spending the same amount of time I used to spend on my entire workout doing one lift.

And I freaking love it.

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Let’s talk about my 1 Rep Max’s!

Bench 1RM:

January: 95 lbs

Current: 105 lbs

Squat 1RM:

January: 185 lbs

Current: 225 lbs (BARELY. Let’s just say, it wouldn’t pass in a competition)

Deadlift 1RM:

January: 195 lbs

Current: 225 lbs

First, let me just say that my deadlift should be quite a bit higher than my squat. It’s definitely my favorite lift and I’m improving rapidly, so I think it will increase quite a bit in the next few weeks. My squat on the other hand…. I don’t see that moving much for a while. I hit 225 with my trainer (he wanted me to “feel” that heavy weight), so I felt secure having a good spotter, but it definitely wasn’t perfect form.

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Second, the reason that my 1RM’s are increasing so drastically is because, as I said, I never before really knew what it felt like to hit my max. I was so used to doing 8-15 reps that I continually amaze myself with how much I can lift just one time. I will pull a deadlift and think it was really hard, but everyone around me will tell me how easy it looked and how I could definitely up the weight. They’re right, too. My deadlifts are definitely continually improving, I’m happy to say.

Clearly, deadlifts are my favorite. By far.

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So as I mentioned above I hired a trainer! Best decision I have made. I wanted to hire him to help me work on my form and learn to lift heavier for less reps (believe it or not, that takes more getting used to than you might imagine!). Each week he has helped me with a different lift. So far we have worked on bench, deadlift and squat.

Next week (the fourth and final week I have paid for so far!), we are doing bench again because it is my worst lift. I am least comfortable with my form on bench press and it’s the hardest lift to go heavy on without a spotter, so I’m happy we’re working on that twice. I think I will most likely pay for another four sessions because I still see myself benefiting from it. Even if I know what the correct form looks like, it’s easy to miss something doing it alone and nice to have an outside, expert opinion.

Something else I am looking into is joining an actual powerlifting gym. My gym is definitely powerlifting “friendly” but not many people there are training for it and they don’t have as many squat racks, platforms and benches as a powerlifting gym would. The issue is there aren’t all that many true powerlifting gyms and the closest one to me is not doable during the week. That being said, I truly think that being in that type of environment around people lifting like me with plenty of equipment I need will be worth it even if I can only go there once a week or a few times a month.

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A few things I’ve learned while powerlifting too… For one, if people aren’t into it, they won’t get it. For example, when I tell my mom about my latest training session, her first question is “did you do cardio?”. She doesn’t get it. It’s probably the same thing for me when it comes to running. I have run outside a lot…done races… I just don’t “GET” it. That being said, unlike running, most people haven’t even tried powerlifting and don’t get the appeal of it. For me, I love powerlifting because I get the most amazing rush from it, love seeing myself get stronger, and love the mental challenge. It’s okay that most people don’t get it, only I have to 🙂

Another thing I’ve learned is powerlifting draws a lot of attention to yourself. I used to HATE that. If you’re not 100% confident in your form, getting an audience at the gym is a sure-fire way to make start questioning it! For example, I used to try to control the weight while going down on deadlifts. I thought it was so stupid to drop the weights so loudly (I would always think of that obnoxious “lunk alarm” at Planet Fitness), I thought it was all for show. Well, turns out, when you lift heavy enough, you just sometimes have to drop the weights. And hey, whatever, I’m strong– I should attract attention 😉

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As for actual powerlifting competitions, my goal was to do 2 this year, but I think I will reduce that to 1. I want to wait until I know I will do well. I’m too competitive to do it any other way 🙂

I am racking my brain trying to remember what else I wanted to update y’all on. I think that’s all for now! Did I ramble enough? I’m pretty sure I did. Can you tell this topic gets me excited?

Do any of you powerlift? Can you relate to others just “not getting it” when it comes to your favorite form of fitness? 

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen @ Fit in France says:

    I think working with a coach would be a great experience. Glad to hear it is going well.

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Yes, it’s been great! Helps me feel more confident in my form.

  2. Wow! I started lifting weights in 2014 and fell in love with it! However, powerlifting is a whole other level! Way to go! I love seeing women participate in sports like this! Good luck with your competitions!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Right! I fell in love with lifting a few years ago too and I just recently started realizing that I might actually have a shot at being a decent powerlifter (I’m no bodybuilder haha). It’s fun! Thanks 🙂

  3. Very cool, those are some impressive numbers!
    I haven’t done anything like this since High School, but even then I never tried a deadlift. I’ve just never had that kind of upper body strength.
    My sister has gotten into it a little, she’s a triathlete and has found powerlifting has been one of the best cross training workouts she does, she swears by it.
    That is awesome you get into competitions too, very cool. Not that I know much about it, but with numbers like that I imagine you do quite well in them!!!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Thank you! I NEVER did deadlifts before and once I tried them, I fell in LOVE and knew I wanted to do powerlifting. They surprised me! Thank you, I am definitely looking into competitions at some point!

  4. mommygorun says:

    Your numbers are fantastic! I love lifting also, but I’m focusing on running right now. Next year will be a different story! It’s such a rush to discover how much power you have in those lifts!
    Keep up the great work and I love connecting with other fit focused ladies!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Thank you! I really don’t know how to compare them all that much, so it’s hard for me to know how I compare. Good for you, I cannot make myself focus on running haha 🙂

  5. What a great update. I’m impressed by the weights you can lift and how much you have improved. It sounds like joining a dedicated powerlifting gym will really help, especially if it has more space and equipment.

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Yeah, I’ve been improving fast, I hope I don’t get discouraged when I plateau a bit. Yes, finding a powerlifting gym is my next thing on my to-do list!

  6. I love, love, love this post for SO many reasons! One, because you are such an inspiration! Two, because my mom is the same way! Three, because I’m WAY more into strength training than anything else {though I’m no power lifter}, Four, because before I understood what lifting was all about, I totally thought like the Planet Fitness commercials! Ha! Excited to watch your power lifting story unfold!!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Yay! So glad you can relate. So many people I talk to don’t even venture into that part of the gym! Yes, I definitely did not understand those loud obnoxious guys in the back of the gym before I got into it… I actually can’t believe I used to go to a Planet Fitness. I sometimes complain about the rude guys in my gym, but honestly, I much prefer belonging to a more weightifting oriented gym where it’s okay to grunt and be loud and get excited if you hit a PR haha.

      Your comment makes me so happy, I could keep blabbering, but I won’t!

  7. cassi9879b says:

    Awesome stats! I don’t go to a gym so I’ve never powerlifted.

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      You run outside? I should do that more but I am such a gym person. My family doesn’t understand why I can’t get into working out outside, but I just like a gym environment!

  8. So inspiring! I need to do more strength training…for sure! I lifted when I was in high school and I was fairly strong! Seeing your images makes me want to start weight training a little more – I could surely use the extra strength!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Do it!!! I’m hooked and like getting other people into it haha.

  9. Wow! Your numbers are really impressive! Very cool that you do competitions! Good luck!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Thank you! I haven’t actually done any yet, but I want to. A lot to learn though.

  10. Congrats on all the progress you’re making! That’s awesome! I’m a trainer and you’re right, the power lifters get A LOT of attention at the gym, especially the females. Rock on, girl!!

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Thank you! Yes, lots of attention. I hate it, but I’m starting to get used to it.

  11. Wow, you are doing great. I don’t know anything about power lifting at all but being able to see your progress like that must feel amazing! I’ve never even been in the “that” part of the gym before! I am looking forward to reading about your training and your competitions! I am feeling so weak now lol

    1. Sarah Mears says:

      Go into “that” part of the gym!!! It’s so fun! Haha

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