Becoming a Champion Powerlifter: Game Day Mentality

By: Savannah Kaminski and Julianna King

Does a perfect meet day in powerlifting actually exist?

Every powerlifter plans for the best come competition day. A full 8 hours of sleep even though they had to travel 2 hours to the venue at 5 in the morning. A seamless equipment check where they didn’t forget their left deadlift sock in the dryer. Weigh-ins that go without a hitch. Don’t worry about the fact that you only ate rice cakes and peanut butter. That definitely won’t affect the big PRs. Depth won’t be too high on squats. Pauses won’t be too rushed on bench.  After a 5 hour day you will still have tons of energy to make sure you can hit that final PR on deadlifts. A meet day like this sounds almost too good to be true, and maybe it is. What if I told you though there is  secret to creating a true winning powerlifter who has the consistent and successful meet days?

There are a million factors into making sure all nine lifts go perfectly on meet day. Powerlifters can try as hard as they can to get every little detail right. But they are only human and when it comes down to it, meet day is just one day. A day where lifters who worship consistency are often thrown out of their element in one way or another.  But I mean a perfect meet day is what makes a winner. Right?

A perfect meet day can be rare for a reason. I could go on and on about the thousands of things that can throw off an athlete the day of the meet. Most of them will happen before the athlete even steps onto the platform. The true winners in this sport, the ones that make it onto podiums, are not people who know how to avoid problems.  The true winners are the ones that have learned to adapt. They are the ones that have a growth mindset mentality.

Having a growth mindset may lessen psychological stress associated with competition. Mindsets are the “glass half full or half empty” idea. They help to determine how individuals interpret situations and self-regulate. These results impact performance. A prime example of this happened recently at the 2023 Sheffield.

A Lesson from Sheffield

SBD Sheffield took place in March. Following its announcement, it quickly became one of the biggest Powerlifting events in history.  It was the first event that SBD brought together in Sheffield. The best of the best in powerlifting came from all over the world to break world record totals. With a crowd of 2,000 people, the aura of the event was most comparable to a “rock concert.”

I took the time to listen to every King of the Lifts podcast and Iron Culture podcast that reviewed the meet. They discussed things like its competitors, coaching calls, and any other noteworthy details. The interviews with the lifters (Evie, Jade, Jessica, Jonathan, Taylor, Gavin, Jesus, Noemie, Delaney) all provided insight to the demands, challenges, and excitement associated with this meet day.

One athlete, Evie Corrigan, surprised everybody by cutting into the 52kg weight class. This put her head to head with Noemie Albert. Evie was set to place 12th at Sheffield. Her sudden weight cut from 57kg to 52kg made the odds seem even more out of her favor.

Photo from https://barbend.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Evie-Corrigan.png

For a foodie like Evie being in a cut was not the ideal situation. Despite still hitting big numbers in training, the weights were still under her best. It can be hard to watch strength drop as a lifter. It can take years and hard work to hit certain numbers and losing that can feel like a backslide. The mental strain alone from a cut in weight and strength can be detrimental if you let it get to your head.   I’m sure every powerlifter has had the “to cut or not to cut” conversation at one point or another. By putting faith in her coach Jason Clark, working with her nutrition coach Kedric Kwan, and trusting the decision, Evie successfully cut down to 52kg.

Soon, Evie and her team were landing in Sheffield. This is where a new mental battle started that every lifter can relate to. Evie mentioned a lot in the podcast about her imposter syndrome when walking into the Sheffield. She was among the best of the best and couldn’t help but be aware of that. A sense of imposter syndrome – aka the feeling of self doubt in your abilities – often occurs when you surrounded by peers with similar abilities. This is not uncommon to feel at meets. It can also tend to lead down a rabbit hole of negative mentality.  Evie noted she just wanted to prove she belonged there with all the other lifters.

This is a feeling that a lot of powerlifters will feel come meet day. It can be daunting to be around all the other lifters. Especially when those people have the reputation of being some of the strongest in the world. Despite these challenges along side a recently recovered injury, Evie came in ready to compete.

Photo from https://res.cloudinary.com/cognitives-s3/image/upload/c_fill,dpr_auto,f_auto,fl_lossy,g_faces:auto,h_720,q_auto,w_1280/v1/cog-aap/n/303/2023/Apr/17/bcyaF1ihqN0MgtOA2sFq.jpg

Corrigan ended up putting up a 460kg total, which was the largest total ever seen for a 52kg lifter. This total, still under her best ever, resulted in her taking the gold. Evie was one of 3 female competitors to go 9/9 and the only 9/9 female lifter in the top 3.

So how did she do it? How does a major weight cut, the intimidation of the competition, and the fact that she was already ranked in 12th place, equal a near perfect meet day and winning Sheffield? Well of course having a good plan in place and people in your corner plays a larger role, but mentality is what reinforces these supports.

Evie approached the day excited to be there and a mission to prove she belongs. Even knowing she had 460kg in her back pocket, she remained humble and trusted in the plan. In a new louder competition environment, she leaned into it saying she felt like a rock star when she walked on the platform – energy that many of her competitors got distracted by. Instead of watching every lift and trying to compare herself, she focused on the lift ahead of her and enjoyed talking with the people around her.

John Henryism, the concept of “efficacious mental and physical vigour, a strong commitment to hard work, and a single-minded determination to succeed,” is positively correlated to sport performance. 1Similarly, having a growth mindset is positively correlated to sports performance.2

Old school ideas say that mentality doesn’t matter, but this is clearly incorrect. Both in and out of powerlifting, go listen to any high level performer – their success didn’t just come out of thin air. They had a combination of things that went right – and often times this was their strong mentality.

Believing in yourself is important, and matching that belief with effort and hard work is important to success. Evie came in trusting her coach and her strength despite the challenges and became the underdog people wished they would have rooted for. Little old Evie from New Zealand (as she said) won it all.

Athletes must juggle several different factors during competitions and when prepping for them. The ability to cope with these stressors and demands truly does separate winners from losers. Having strong coping skills can mediate the effect of mindset on sport performance. Learning a new mindset may sound easier said than done, but it’s worth it to start putting the effort in to try because you can truly start making a difference in your performance. So how do we learn this growth mindset and become the next Evie Corrigan?

Support Your Game Day Mentality

There are so many variables that an athlete must think about when it comes to game day, so it’s important to streamline that thought process as much as possible to bolster a strong mentality going into the competition.There are three main aspects you as an athlete can focus upon to limit external stressors and foster a growth mindset come meet day.

1.) Trust Your Coach

Coaching during. ameet

The first of the three things and one of the most important is to trust in your coach and the relationship the two of you have built together. A coach is someone you hired for a reason, not only to support you towards the strongest you can be, but you also hired them to put you in the most successful position possible on meet day. Your coach is your strongest ally, and they are rooting for you just as much as everyone else (likely more). They are there to make objective calls that they think will be the most beneficial for you.

A good coach will always take in account your input, but the trust has to go both ways. Trust their input. Just like Evie trusted in Jason and his idea for the weight cut. Everyone else may have thought it was absurd, but Jason saw the potential in Evie and her cut, and their belief and trust helped lead her straight to the podium (along with her nutrition coach, Kedric Kwan).

Having trust in your coach allows you as the athlete more time to focus on your own mental coping skills, thus the ability to look forward, perform, and view the future with potential rather than doubt or concern about the day and plan. The coach is there (whether in person or not) to support you and ultimately wants you to succeed. Trusting the plan the two of you worked together on enables you to purely focus on execution.

2.) Follow the Plan

Growth mindset in action between athlete and client

In addition to trusting your coach, it’s CRITICAL that you stick to the plan on meet day. We all get it, the “meet day adrenaline” can often make you feel like you can lift the whole world, but sticking to the plan is what will set you up for the most successful meet possible. A good coach/athlete won’t walk into meet day blind. There should always be a discussion of the athlete’s goal and the development of a plan to best achieve these goals prior to meet day.

Attempts are laid out, and all the foreseeable issues will have been thought through and accounted for. Of course we are all only human, so it is important to acknowledge that things can go differently on meet day. Athletes can feel better or worse than accounted for sometimes, and exceptions can be made. Once the coach and athlete are both on the same page concerning the game plan, it’s important to stick to that plan. From the warm up room to the platform, put yourself in the mind set that you are there to set yourself up for success. Success is achieving the goals you and your coach worked together to define prior to meet day.

Over at Fortitudo Fitness x The Strength Guys, we equip all our athletes competing with a meet day strategy sheet. On this sheet, we include pre-planned warm up weights, pre-planned attempts, and the athletes goals listed to remind them why they are doing this. For the attempts, there are several options listed out – many of which account for things not going to plan. This means that there are backup plans which can still set up the athlete to complete whatever goal they may have.

Whether they are being handled by one of our coaches personally or by themselves, athletes can assure that they are taken care of to make meet day go by as smoothly as possible. As soon as the plan is made, it’s up to the athlete to use their growth mindset to trust in their abilities and crush it.

It is easy to get distracted by the competition and how they are doing. But altering a whole plan in order to win can sometime lead to a bigger loss. In a meet, sometimes it’s the person that comes out 9/9 with strength left in the tank as the winner rather then the lifter that gave their blood, sweat, and tears to their last squat and ended up missing every deadlift.

3.) Don’t Make Any Major Changes

Coach and athlete photo after a successful meet

The third and final piece of advice is to not change anything major on meet day. This means if you don’t sniff smelling salts for your top deadlift in the gym, don’t decide last minute to sniff it for your third deadlift in competition. If you eat certain things before you lift in the gym, try and stick to those similar snacks instead of loading up on sour patch kids or rice krispie treats.

There are so many things in your environment that have already changed from prep to meet day so try and control what you can control. Don’t throw yourself off if you don’t have to. You need to adapt when you have to adapt, but don’t force it to happen. Trust in the actions you’ve taken up to this point and repeat those.

If there is something you want to try to see how it impacts performance (i.e. caffeine, smelling salts, etc.), try it a few weeks out from competition a few times. See how it impacts your mental space as well as your physical performance. If you find smelling salts pull you out of your mental focus on an RPE 7 single, you’re probably going to find it to be detrimental game day when you’re going for even more.

Keeping consistent from training to meet day enables your ability to complete aspects 1 and 2 above. You are putting trust in yourself, trust in your plan, and trust in your coach – and these three aspects will help support your mental game as you head into your first squat and finish up with your last deadlift.

Mentality is important not only to be successful at a meet but also to have the most fun and the best experience. We all powerlift because we love it. Even though powerlifting meets can often be an environment where you forget to have fun. As much as the idea of lifting heavy in front of judges and other athletes can be nerve wracking, the community is there to back you up. Be like Evie, and make sure you are talking to the other lifters and making new friends instead of worrying if they can deadlift ten pounds more than you.

Make it fun, enjoy the experience, and the numbers will follow.

  1. González-García, H., Martinent, G., & Nicolas, M. (2023). The mediating roles of pre-competitive coping and affective states in the relationships between coach-athlete relationship, satisfaction and attainment of achievement goals. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-16.
  2. Sivaramakrishnan, H., Spray, C., Fletcher, D., & Ntoumanis, N. (2022). John Henryism and fear of failure in competitive sport: predicting competitive standard and mental well-being. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-17.

Breaking the Powerlifting Stereotype: An Inside Look at the Colors

By: Savannah Kaminski and Julianna King

When it comes to strength and fitness brands, I’m sure you can think of signature colors you often see right off the top of your head. Whether it was your first piece of equipment, or maybe the branding of a big strength company, or even just the powerlifting gym you recently joined, you are instantly surrounded with the bold colors of red, yellow, and black. It’s reasonable to assume that these large strength brands have elaborate marketing schemes, but are these stereotypical colors only adding to the negative image of powerlifters at the gym?

The psychological aspect of the gym is often an undervalued part of lifting, and I bet many people don’t realize the impact that color can have on this. Colors surrounding you can have an impact on one’s mood. Strength companies picking red and black as their brand colors almost seems like a no brainer. Red is commonly associated with power and royalty – think Iron Man and the wealth of power and knowledge he’s suppose to represent. The color black is commonly linked to strength, success and is used to evoke a variety of emotions; think of all the big box athletic companies (Nike, Adidas, Converse, etc.) and notice how all of their logos are black. 

All of these associations are common attributes which companies want you to picture when purchasing their products. When pursuing their website, you are supposed to imagine yourself in the sleek red and black singlet, dominating the competition. Resulting from that daydream, a few clicks occur and next thing you know, you’ve ordered the matching socks too. For a small price they sell you dream of strength and power all wrapped up in a red and black bundle. 

Unfortunately as much as they try and push the positive attributes associated with this branding, often times there are negatives that come with it. In several studies, red was found to often be psychologically linked to the idea of danger and mistakes which often leads people to subconsciously want to avoid the color more often.1 Alongside the avoidance, in another study red and black were also found to be associated with feelings of aggression, intimidation, and rage.2 All of these attributes can be linked to prevalent issues in the strength community that are apparent today such as isolation, aggression, etc.. This initial impression can often have the potential to drive away prospective strength and powerlifting athletes purely because they don’t feel like they fit in to the stereotype and persona. 

I’m sure everyone has seen and laughed at those gym memes that display common stereotypes of gym members you may see, but when a powerlifter appears in one of those memes, there is usually a pretty consistent image presented for the character. 

Loud. Massive. Male. Immense weight.

That’s normally what the image can be chalked up to be. This image doesn’t leave a lot of room for the increasing diversity in the type of lifters that continue to flow into the world of powerlifting everyday. The space is growing, but these stereotypes have remained – and that doesn’t just happen for no reason. Logically you can’t really blame all of this intimidation or stereotype on the branding of strength and powerlifting companies. You can, however, take note of the prevalence and uniformity of the branding in the strength industry and use their potential underlying meanings to reflect on how you create your own space in the powerlifting community. Do you feel like you fit the persona or do you break the mold?

When I started Fortitudo Fitness, I knew that I wanted to step away from the stereotypical color pallet that is so often presented by other brands and companies. To be quite honest, it felt like branding with those colors was overdone and easy to do. I aimed to create a new space and a new era for strength athletes. Instead of the typical harsh colors, I opted for cooler tones such as blues, greens, and mauves. Colors such as these will often exhibit more feelings such as peace, dependability, and happiness than you typically experience with the warmer tones. People exposed to colors such as red and yellow also report higher levels of anxiety then those surrounded by blue and green2.

Since mental health alongside physical health is such a high priority with FF,  I wanted to make sure I developed a safe space for athletes so naturally picking the colors I did became an easy decision. (Made even easier due to the fact that my favorite colors are blue and green). As Fortitudo Fitness continues to grow, my goal is to create a safe and encouraging atmosphere that appeals to lifters of all identities  so that everyone can feel like they have a place in this community to be strong. While breaking the stereotype of the red and black may just be a small piece of a puzzle, it shows that here at Fortitudo we prioritize the inclusion and the empowerment of every athlete, and we look forward to helping find space for you too. 


  1. Mehta, R., & Zhu, R. (2009). Blue or red? Exploring the effect of color on cognitive task performances. Science, 323(5918), 1226-1229.

2. Kaya, N., & Epps, H. H. (2004). Relationship between color and emotion: A study of college students. College student journal, 38(3), 396-405.


History of Women in Powerlifting

Ladies of Fortitudo Fitness who competed at USAPL MI State Championship 2022

Believe it or not, information on the history of women in powerlifting is difficult to locate. After hours of conducting searches within several databases, the generic Google, and even old newspaper clippings, I was finally able to connect a trail of information about women in powerlifting.

Given the above note, I will acknowledge this is not all-inclusive. I have done my best to bring all of this information together, but I am sure I missed some information. I encourage any readers to pass along any additional information they may have about women in powerlifting – I will update this post as I find additional information as well. But for now, let’s get to the history.

To talk about women in powerlifting, we must talk about each of these entities separately first. While the origins of strength training in general date back to Ancient Greek and Roman times, we’re going to start our discussion in the 1800s.

As we know today, beauty trends evolve and change due to influence from politics, societal views/norms, economics, etc. – and the same idea applied in the 1800s. Within this time, women had few rights and were oftentimes confined to the home. Women were viewed as more fragile than their male counterparts and all illnesses or ailments dealt with were viewed to be connected to the presence of ovaries and a uterus.¹ Think about the classic Victorian novels – Jane Eyre, The Beautiful and The Damned, etc. – the roles women played in these novels reflect how they were viewed within society at this time.

With women being viewed as fragile, the discussion of women exercising was preposterous. Women were not encouraged to exercise as their duties required them to focus on the home and childbearing. However, there was one movement that brought about more feminine attention: gymnastics.

Books targeting women were titled “Exercises for Ladies Calculated to Preserve and Improve Beauty,” “Madame Brennar’s Gymnastics for Ladies,” and often included the words “beauty,” “gymnastics,” and “art.”² In the mid-19th century, more literature specifically targeting women were published – but it’s important to mention that these books were often published anonymously. One notable publication was that of Dr. Dio Lewis – The New Gymnastics for Men, Women, and Children (1862).¹ Within this text, there was continued warning against rigorous and strenuous training for women. As reflected by the title, women who did venture into any sort of training were often referred to as gymnasts. The discussion normally surrounded a woman’s need to remain safe. The way to do so was to use only 4-5lb weights, if weighted at all.⁵ Athleticism within females was perpetually countered by the societal expectation of stereotypical feminine views.

Around the late 19th-early 20th century, individuals were beginning to look into the use of strength training as a means of athletic improvement. One individual that helped to trailblaze this idea was Bernarr MacFadden.¹ MacFadden was the publisher of a well-known magazine, Physical Culture. MacFadden’s magazine – alongside Strength Magazine – were among the first magazines to begin to accept discussion and images of women’s slender athletic bodies. MacFadden encouraged women to use resistance equipment. There were no workout prescriptions in these magazines for women, but they both did encourage the idea of women weight training. In fact, Strength began publishing more encouraging articles about women training in the 1920s.¹

Part of this was due to the changing climate around women and the encouraged idea that women held agency over their own bodies. A large proponent of that concept was Annette Kellerman, a professional swimmer. Kellerman used physical activity to help her battle illnesses as a child. She focused on the mental aspects of training “for the nervous” versus the physical.⁶ She encouraged women to work their bodies and see themselves as physically able. Kellerman believed in developing the musculature around women’s waists and that developing them would eliminate the need for corsets.⁶ She appeared in numerous magazines and helped pave the way for strength training for women.

In the mid-1900s, a young woman from Great Britain was at the forefront of many publications alongside Kellerman. Ivy Russell gained popularity for her strength and musculature.¹ It was said that she could hold her 185lbs husband over her head in handstand fashion. Ivy was a well-rounded athlete who gave posing and weightlifting exhibitions and ultimately lead to an increase in women’s interest in competitions. She was deemed “muscular, but not manly” and thus was a new archetype for female lifters.

Magazines continued to play a prominent role in the encouragement of women’s strength with the creation of Strength & Health magazine in 1932. Bob Hoffman, a weightlifting competitor and owner of York Barbell, encouraged women to train their bodies just as men do.¹ In 1936, Hoffman attended the Berlin Olympic Games as the U.S. weightlifting coach and observed the ways in which other countries, specifically Germany, trained their athletes.¹ The athletes – including female athletes – trained with weights and took training very seriously. Upon his return, he began to encourage general strength training even more. With the overall success of Strength & Health, the advocacy that Hoffman provided only continued to encourage women lifters. His own wife appeared in the magazine highlighting the benefits of women training.*³

Throughout the next three decades, appearances and discussions of women lifting continued to grow in the magazine. In the 1950s, Abbye ‘Pudgy’ Stockton became the poster girl of women’s weight training.¹ Pudgy found herself on over 40 magazine covers, wrote a column in the magazine called “Barbelles,” and featured other women athletes within these columns.¹ Her goal was consistently to show women the benefits of muscles. She ultimately ended up running a gym in California and opened one of the first women-only gyms in Beverly Hills.⁷

We’re now up to the 1950s with the views and prominence of women in strength training. The acceptance only continued to grow with the expansion of resistance training programs in schools. In 1959, Eastern Washington University opened up its weight training classes to women, and by 1961, these classes were full.⁸

The 1960s was about the time that powerlifting began to show up on the world’s radar. The American interest in Olympic Weightlifting began to wane partially due to the political climate, and the concept of powerlifting began to grow. Previously labeled the ‘Odd Lifts,’ powerlifting grew and began to be sanctioned. In 1964, Bob Hoffman put on the first, “unofficial” powerlifting called The Powerlifting Tournament of America.² It should be noted that this meet did only include men. This was governed by the American Amateur Union (AAU) at the time.

Powerlifting today is fractured in several ways, but in the 60s, powerlifting federations were in an uproar when the Olympic Committee voted to have the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) control powerlifting. The ADFPA (what is today the USAPL) was anti-drug and protesting, the APF was anti-testing, and the USPF was somewhere in-between.² Eventually, the IWF did release the rights to control powerlifting and in subsequent years, the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) was formed in 1972. After its formation, the first World Championship took place in 1973, and 7 years later, the first Women’s Powerlifting World Championship was in Lowell, Massachusetts.¹² Ironically, this was prior to the first Women’s Weightlifting World Championship, which took place in 1987. Women were allowed to compete in weightlifting earlier, but only against men. In 2000, a women’s Weightlifting category was added to the Olympic Games.²

It’s interesting that once we get to the 2000s, the documentation is rather cloudy. It’s clear that powerlifting has grown immensely since 2000, and with that, the number of female powerlifters has also increased. In 2004, USAPL implemented the Women’s Hall of Fame.¹³ The first women to be inducted were Jan Todd (who actually wrote several of the articles I found historical information from), Ruth Welding, Mabel Rader, and Judy Gedney. Each year after, one to two individuals were inducted – some notable names being: 2011, Priscilla Ribic and Sioux-z Hartwig-Gary; 2013, Jennifer Thompson; 2021, Jennifer Rey Gaudreau.

The age of social media has significantly impacted the growth of powerlifting – with many of my own female peers hearing about powerlifting for the first time from Megan Gallagher, or better known as ‘MegSquats’ on Youtube. On an anecdotal level, I personally found out about powerlifting through Instagram in 2014, which today is the platform you often see lifters of all genders highlighting their accomplishments and sharing their goals.

Even with the various divisions in federations (particularly in the USA), there are so many notable female lifters from nearly every federation. I was going to list them, but honestly, I feel like I’d be going on forever. These lifters may not all compete against each other, they may not all be in drug-tested federations, and they’re certainly not all exclusive in their achievements – but they all do have one thing in common: they have helped support the sport of powerlifting for the better for female lifters.

From 2012 to 2016, there were 6,038 individual women and 15,856 individual men who competed in the USAPL.¹¹ That’s 27%. Year after year, this percentage has oscillated around 30%, with a high of 36% in 2019. As powerlifting grows, more women share their experiences with the sport, not only on the competition side, but their roles as coaches, volunteers, meet directors, etc. The number of male powerlifting coaches far outweighs the number of female powerlifting coaches. Of the 64 USAPL state chairs, only 18 of them are female. My guess is the trend is similar for female referees.

While so much growth has already occurred, it’s important to note that this growth of an empowering and supporting community is never over. It’s important to work towards creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all women who are interested in powerlifting – including but not limited to women of color, women with disabilities, and women of all religions. We must advocate for inclusivity and work towards breaking down barriers that may prevent women from feeling welcome in the sport.

If you’re a supporter of female powerlifters or are a female powerlifter yourself, I encourage you to share this history with others. Acknowledge the women prior who broke barriers to get where they did. Keep pushing to break more. 

Happy Women’s History Month.

*Note that there is concern with regard to the exploitation that Bob Hoffman had with many girls.


  1. Todd, J. (1992). The origins of weight training for female athletes in North America. Iron Game History2 (2), 4-14.
  2. Warpeha, J. (2015). A History of Powerlifting in the United States: 50 Years after York. USA Powerlifting Minnesota.
  3. Fair, J D. (n.d.). Fitness innovation or sexual exploitation? Bob Hoffman and the women weightlifters of Muscletown USA. Sport history review. United States.
  4. Todd, J. (1995). From Milo to Milo: A history of barbells, dumbells, and Indian clubs. Iron Game History3(6), 4-16.
  5. Todd, J. (1993). Strength Is Health: George Barker Windship and the First American Weight-Training Boom. Iron Game History3(1), 5-6.
  6. Osmer, L., & Todd, J. (2020). “It Is Now Within Your Reach”: Annette Kellerman and Feminine Agency in Physical Culture.
  7. McCracken, E. (2006). Pudgy Stockton: The Belle of the Barbell. Iron Game History, 10(1), 1-3.
  8. Todd, T. (1994). The expansion of resistance training in US higher education through the Mid-1960’s. Iron Game History3(4), 11-16.
  9. Latham, D. (2019). A short history of women in competitive strength sports. Medium. https://medium.com/@Laynadatham/a-short-history-of-women-in-competitive-strength-sports-b788c65c4bc1
  10. Huebner, M., Meltzer, D. E., & Perperoglou, A. (2021). Strength in numbers Women in Olympic‐style weightlifting. Significance18 (2), 20-25.
  11. Ball, R., & Weidman, D. (2018). Analysis of USA powerlifting federation data from January 1, 2012–June 11, 2016. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research32(7), 1843-1851.
  12. History – international powerlifting federation IPF. IPF – International Powerlifting Federation. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2023, from https://www.powerlifting.sport/federation/history
  13. USA Powerlifting Women’s Hall of Fame. USA Powerlifting. (2021, June 28). Retrieved February 25, 2023, from https://www.usapowerlifting.com/womens-hall-of-fame/

A Year in Review: From the Coach

Athlete and Coach on meet day

I’ll start with the disclaimer that Fortitudo Fitness (FF) was indeed founded in August of 2020, and that is well over 2 years ago. The name was claimed then – but my position as a powerlifting coach wasn’t realized yet. I started working as a personal trainer at a local gym with plans to use the name one day, but was not sure when.

January 2021, I established some trial online clients under the Fortitudo Fitness name.

April 2021, I gained my first powerlifting-specific client.

November 2021, I coached my first client at a meet.

However it is States 2021 that I consider the official start of Fortitudo Fitness. 

I prepared for the meet as well as possible. I met with my mentor to go over my client’s attempts that I had chosen and walked through these with my client. We practiced commands and worked together to prepare her for the best meet day experience possible. 

I competed in the morning session and coached in the afternoon session at this meet. It is nothing new to me to be nervous on the day of meets. I’ve had to work through “meet trauma” that has brought me immense anxiety years prior – but the nerves were much more channeled into coaching this time. I can still remember people asking me if I was okay because of how much my hands shook the entire time. In almost every photo of me from the meet, I appear as if I am checking my pulse or upset to be there.

I was nervous because I cared. I cared about the outcome, and more importantly, I cared about the athlete. I feel And this feeling is something that has stuck with me through this way at every meet, because of the high regard I have for each of my clients and I want everyone to be the best they can be when they compete.

(Ultimately, that athlete went on to have her first 9/9 meet, qualify for collegiate nationals, and reinsert herself into the world of powerlifting after a hiatus.)

Caring about my athletes and their goals has been at the forefront of my decisions. After that meet, I sought out additional professionalism for myself. This improvement came in the forms of new meet-day shirts, more streamlined meet-day plans, and continued therapy/growth for me to improve my nerves to best support my clients on meet day.

Between January and April, I coached at one additional meet, handled at another, and volunteered at a third. All with the intention of learning meet day in and out and supporting individuals towards their goals. 

Handling and volunteering gave me different perspectives – allowing me to observe other coaches, athletes, referees, volunteers, spotters, etc. Despite at this point competing in 10 different meets by this point, I actually had never had the role of handler or volunteer. These experiences reaffirmed my care for prioritizing the athlete experience overall. As I observed other experiences and compared them to my own, I empathized with just how much the meet-day experience can impact one’s perceptions of the sport and thus their longevity.

My second meet I coached at was a much different experience. It was much more hectic – multiple athletes, cramped space, qualification goals on the forefront – and I attempted to prep for this. I had another client and game day coach, Savannah, help me with loading warm-ups. The result was that game-day preparation was better than before.

This meet was the first time I’d had an athlete miss an attempt. Now, powerlifters miss attempts all the time – we all know how 3rd benches notoriously go. But, this also led to  my selfreflection and self  doubt started to creep in  as a coach.

How could we have prepared better?

Should I have done X instead?

What could I have done better?

Should I be even coaching? … You can see how it spiraled.

And this is when I learned my second lesson: Missed attempts happen – make it better the next time – but you know you have full capability to be a coach here just as much as the other coaches.

My third meet as a coach was ironically the 2021 USAPL Collegiate Nationals. I say ironically for a multitude of reasons… 1) I was supposed to compete at this meet but had dropped out due to needing to prioritize my well-being 2) I had a Motor Control exam that morning before the competition. I drove from Ann Arbor to Chicago and made it to the meet just in time for squats.

I was lucky to have support from another coach who helped my athlete warm-up for the meet. As frazzled as I was to be walking in post 4 hour drive right when my athlete was about to go, this was the first meet any element of calm and composure settled in. This was a new demand of a meet – but national-level meets were also my personal favorite, and I was used to the atmosphere a bit more. 

This was the meet I learned the importance of matching the client. You see, different clients/athletes need different things on meet day – some people want you to talk their ear off, others want the coach for affirmations, others want minimal conversation – and all of which are okay. But given I had coached this athlete once before, I learned to fine-tune my support. 

Between April and July, I took a hiatus from coaching at meets. During May and June, I was on a study abroad trip in Italy. I learned the value of planning and streamlining operations due to this experience. During this time, I focused on my clients while balancing my requirements while abroad.

We’re going to make a big jump forward now all the way to the marathon that was September to December 2022. During this marathon of Rookie Rumble, my own meet, States and an Ohio December meet, I learned the importance of taking care of oneself. This semester (era) of life was exciting for several reasons but chaotic to the point of exhaustion. Getting ill multiple times, prepping almost 10 athletes, doing a full class load, being on meet prep myself, working, managing multiple organizations, etc. beat me down. I indeed did this to myself – however, sometimes you need to hit a low before you realize how important certain aspects of self-care can be (at least in my experience).

But, with all of this going on, my favorite memories from that semester were the smiles and excitement that my athletes exuded post-respective meets. It sounds cliche – but seeing athletes put their all into their training for weeks on end and then go out and see achievements they’ve sought after is something that is more exciting for me than any competition I have competed in.

Overall, each meet has brought about several lessons for me, but most of all reaffirm that this is no hobby for me. Meets are when the work all culminates together, but it all depends on the work outside of those meets – both by my clients as well as myself. Having been in powerlifting for so many years, this work is not new, however, the novelty comes from working with clients and expanding the reach of powerlifting as a whole. I am excited to see where the next year takes FF. I could not be more proud of all the highs and lows I’ve been through so far.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.