So as you all know I have started powerlifting recently I’m on week 7 and already making great progress. Week 1 my 1 rep max on my deadlifts was only 100kg… this week I did 16 reps with 100kg! I even got a PB last week of 125kg for my deadlift! I have also managed 60kg for my bench and got a personal best of 72.5kg on my squat today.
For me this is massive. I was unable to squat below parallel 7 weeks ago with any weight and now I’m squatting that. I’m surprised at how strong my body is. It is so empowering as a woman to push your body to its limits strength wise.
In my seven weeks on the scene I have already made lots of friends. It’s the one sport where the women are really supportive of each other and build each other up.
As I’ve started learning more about powerlifting I’ve been looking at the top women in the competitions currently and I’ve been so lucky to have the amazing Camille Holland to interview for my blog.
So here’s her interview!
How long have you been powerlifting?
I took up powerlifting in July 2014, so little over two years. I dabbled in weights on and off for a few years after my brother took me to the gym to show me where everything was. I loved the feeling of lifting something heavy and preferred it to cardio, but I had no idea about where I could go with it. Someone asked if I was a powerlifter while I was training once and I admitted I’d never heard of it. I got home and googled it and thought it sounded awesome, something clicked and it didn’t seem to scare me! I found a powerlifting friendly gym in Cambridge and got started straight away.
What can you lift?
My current competitions maxes are 202.5kg squat, 110kg bench press and 185kg deadlift. I’m so close to that 500kg total! I’m hoping to be the first British Powerlifting woman to reach this total raw at the Women’s British Classic this September. It’s one of those milestones I’ve been after this year, so I’ll be very happy when I get it!
Powerlifting has helped with all aspects of my life. Firstly, my it’s positively affected my mental health. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for a number of years. Lifting lets you believe in yourself and keeps you working towards a goal. You have to believe you can lift something: half the battle with lifting is the mental stuff. I’ve found this has carried over into the rest of my life – from my work, to every day thoughts that creep in and try to bring me down. I’m much stronger both mentally and physically because of lifting. Something else powerlifting has helped me with is increase my health. I have a programme from fantastic coach Rhett Milton that I stick to without fail and have built a lot of muscle (naturally). I always wanted to be active while growing up, and I thought cardio was the only way. I tried the treadmill, spinning, military fitness classes. While I got a good pump and feeling from them, I always dreaded going back again as it was so hard and I felt so unfit. Lifting weights is something I can look forward to and use it as a stress reliever! There have been times I’ve wanted to get home to bed instead of training, but I know I will always feel better for it by going. I’ve also made a great bunch of friends while powerlifting. If anyone was to look on at us, we’d look like a weird bunch: young and old with a variety of backgrounds coming together with one thing in common. Powerlifting! They’re the best kind of people to be friends with though. They know the struggles, and the highs of lifting. You can talk about anything with a fellow powerlifter (and I mean anything!). I love how powerlifting has affected the rest of my life. I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been. I love my body for what it can DO, and can use my thunder thighs for some awesome squats. I’d say I’m less flappy now – I’m able to make better decisions, I stress about the small stuff much less and know I don’t have to rely on anyone to get the lid off my jar of Nutella.
Why should someone get into it and how do they?
Personally, I believe lifting weights should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle. Young or old. Male or female. You don’t have to take up competitive powerlifting. You can lift weights just for the health benefits. The health benefits are tremendous for physical and mental well being. Take my 60 year old Mum, for example. She started lifting weights in April 2015 feeling quite down about her age and was anxious about her back ache she’d had for 20 years. A year on, she’s had the confidence to compete in powerlifting competitions and has now completely got rid of her ache as she has strengthened her back. Building muscle can slow and even reverse the effects of aging on the body. Your bones are protected from inevitable falls and conditions such as osteoporosis. If you do take up powerlifting, you will meet a variety of people, all supportive and want to see you do well. You will see a new you: one that isn’t afraid to take up space, or believe you should be a fragile & delicate. To get into powerlifting, I would recommend hiring a good, local coach who can get you started. If you can’t afford a coach, then take a look at online forums to see if you can find a training partner who can give you pointers. It’s very hard to injure yourself while lifting weights if you are following a decent programme with correct form. Lifting weights also means you get to eat. A lot.
My first competition was in November 2014 and I was terrified! I went in with only a few months of powerlifting behind me. I had no belt or weightlifting shoes. Just a singlet, deadlift socks and a pair of wrist wraps as I managed to injure my wrist the week before. Fortunately, I had a good friend with me – Abi Graham – who took me through every step. Little did I know that the people I met there and gave me guidance have gone on to become my best friends! I took first place and finished on 140kg squat, 70kg bench press and 150kg deadlift. There is no feeling like post competition high after your final deadlift! I’ve now competed 7 times since then and I’ve got another 2 competitions in September. Then I’m looking forward to several months of volume training and a little break from competing!
I’m new to it what advice can you give me?
For new powerlifters, I’d start off by saying go and watch a competition to get the feel for it and how it runs. After that, I’d definitely say don’t put off your first competition! A lot of people put them off because they don’t think they’re strong enough. Guess what. It doesn’t matter! No one cares what you’re lifting. If you’re going in for a PB, it doesn’t matter if you’re benching 25kg or 250kg. Everyone is rooting and cheering for you. It’s great to get the experience in and meet new people who can help you out as early as possible. You receive great advice from the referees if you ask for it. The sooner you start making competition mistakes, the sooner you can learn – and you can learn before it matters so much. Also practice the commands on every squat, bench and deadlift. Even if you’re saying them to yourself. You don’t want to be going into your first competition worrying that you don’t know them (trust me – I nearly bombed my first competition on commands!). Also don’t worry about cutting weight for your first competition. Go in feeling strong and well fueled. Oh and no one cares what you look like in your singlet! They’re one of those things you have to wear. No one looks good in them, but equally no one cares.
What are your long term goals in powerlifting?
One day I’d like to be 84+kg World Champion with one world record. Okay, all the world records. Until recently I’ve been afraid to admit this because it seems so far away right now. But that’s okay. I’ve just competed in my first world powerlifting championships where I took 8th place. I’m a very long way off and there are always very strong new lifters coming out of nowhere. But that’s the dream. Girls gotta dream right?!
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing at the start of all this what would it be?
Oooh there are several things! The first piece is STRETCH! I’ve only recently started stretching on a regular basis and I think not stretching or working on mobility has hindered my performance to some extent. In my first 18 months or so, it didn’t feel like I needed to – my lifts were flying up with beginner gains and I was skipping along without a care in the world. Then BAM. “Hey, let’s screw up your shoulder and arm, and throw in a bursitis in the glute for good measure! One month out from two competitions!”. Thank goodness for my excellent sports massage therapist! I’d also tell myself to have fun and stop stressing. It’s important to remember that this is something you do in your spare time and it’s meant to be enjoyable!
Camille will be defending her British title in Horncastle on the 18th September and I’m so excited for her!
Thank you so much Camille for your excellent answers and your time.
Hope my readers have enjoyed this first interview and there will be more to come in the next few weeks!
Thanks for stopping by