Finding strength is not just a physical journey.
In powerlifting I have to train my body to lift increasingly heavier weight each week; To do so I must add a few pounds to the bar each week. For example, the deadlift is my strongest lift so I increase the weight five pounds each week, from 150 pounds to 155 pounds and so on. There may come a time at the end of the six week training cycle that I have to make 2 pound jumps. The idea is to keep increasing weight each week.
The strict curl on the other hand is harder for me because my left arm is much weaker than my right, and my left hand doesn’t turn all the way over. I usually keep with increasing in two pound increments no matter how well I’m curling. It’s tricky because increasing the weight too much too fast risks not making the lift, and in turn psyching myself out. It is so easy to say: I can’t lift that.
Week after week an attitude like that will make you miss more than a lift….
“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes.” ~Psalm 108:13
The truth is, we are our own worst enemies. No matter what there will always be times of doubt. In those times you have to say to yourself, “I’ve done the training, two more pounds is nothing.” Think about it, what weighs two pounds? A snack sized bag of potato chips, that’s what. Most people can lift a snack-sized bag of potato chips. I know I can!
Powerlifting is not just about being physically strong; it’s about mental strength strong as well. If you tell yourself, “I don’t think I can lift that” or “that is so heavy”… you won’t lift it even if you are physically able to. Getting mentally strong takes just as much training as getting physically strong. They go hand in hand. A positive outlook takes discipline especially in a day and age where photo-shopped images of perfection are everywhere ready to challenge our best image of strength.
When I first started powerlifting I wasn’t able to squat the empty 45 pound bar. It was way to heavy, and when I squatted I fell backward every time. After a while my coach, Jill, increased the weight very slowly, at first a quarter of a pound each week and as time went on my balance got better and I wasn’t falling backward anymore.
It took me about eight months to be able to squat the 45 pound bar with a few added pounds on it. Then I worked on getting in the “hole”–the term used when there is at least a 90 degree angel in your leg at a squat. I was getting physically stronger and my balance was improving, but I wasn’t consistent in getting deep enough. That was mainly because I wasn’t mentally strong enough yet. I had to train my mind to outright know I wasn’t going to die if I got in the hole. I had to get over the fear of being crushed to death and know I could really do this.
That whole process took me at least three or four more months. I hit the hole each and every time now, when not totally exhausted and my legs are not Jello. When I started strict curling my arms had to be tied to my side with a truck strap because my left arm would wing out making the lift very difficult to perform. Curling was extremely painful because my of my left arm. In the beginning my left arm was exceptionally weak. Its been just over a year now and I’m curling 27 pounds without being tied up.
“He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.” ~2 Samuel 22:35
It has taken the same amount of time to mentally “untie” my brain and train myself to be a pretty “ok” powerlifter. Right before every lift I tell myself, “you got this. Come on, Linda get it done.” Then… I think of everything and anything that pisses me off.
That usually seals the lift.
I hold a first place win in a National championship in deadlift. My winning lift there was 143.2 pounds in June of 2016. This past January I entered a Virginia State championship. I won first place in deadlift and bench press. My winning pull for deadlift was 181.7 pounds and my winning lift for the bench was 70 pounds all of these lifts were in the 114lb weight class.
I have noticed mentally training to be a powerlifter has made me more confident, more resilient, and, dare I say more grounded.
I put in the hard work and my coaches have pushed me and believed in me sometimes more than I believed in myself. I cannot praise and thank them enough. I couldn’t ask for a pair of more dedicated coaches.
I give all of the glory surrounding this whole endeavor however to God almighty. I am nothing, I can do nothing without Him. He put me on the right path to meet all of the wonderful people I had to meet to help me to become a National champion. Keep in mind ALL of the people involved are Christian. Kind of funny huh?
Definitely a God thing.