My interest in powerlifting started about five years ago while I was involved in a practicum placement at the Olympic Oval.  I recall being in awe of the ease and modesty with which the athletes lifted such heavy weights.  My experiences in general gyms were of guys bragging and strutting around and flexing in the mirror to show off their muscles.  These athletes, on the other hand, were lifting quadruple the amount of weight I’ve ever seen, and doing it like a normal everyday occurrence.  I then realized how fulfilling training could be if structured for performance-based goals rather than aesthetic purposes.  Another difference I found in athlete-centered gyms was that females were treated with the same respect as their male counterparts.  The women were serious athletes who were training the same way as the men and not congregated in a separate cardio area. […]

As a personal trainer, being exposed to the fitness industry, I understand how the stigma of women lifting heavy weights has been ingrained into Western culture.  Magazines portray ‘fit’ women in a way that highlights their physical beauty with fashion-like photos, incorporating light weights as props, rather than displayed for function.  On the other hand, it is unquestionably common to see men in action shots, where the context of the photo focuses on physical accomplishments and feats of strength.  I view my role as a female powerlifter, and personal trainer, to help shape a new ideal for women, where strength is considered beautiful and physical functioning prevails over superficial appearance. […]

Having the capacity to lift heavy weights and increased strength also has significant psychological benefits, such as enhanced confidence and feelings of empowerment, which translates into all areas of life.  I find it sad to see the rows of women on the cardio machines draped over the handlebars, reading beauty magazines and getting nowhere, when they could be building muscle, strength, bone density, confidence and stronger ligaments in the weight section. […]

Powerlifting is the perfect sport for women for numerous reasons.  The sport offers women a structured method for achieving body composition goals, physical and mental strength, measurable and scheduled goal attainment, and a supportive social community.  The benefits of powerlifting also exist later in life by building a foundation of increased bone density, stronger ligaments and increased muscle mass. These elements are valuable later in life to maintain a functioning quality of movement and independence in older adults. […]

Regardless of gender, most people will never feel ready for a competition; it is valuable to simply go through the first competition without expectation.  The first competition should be about the experience and to gain a framework of what a competition is all about.  Subsequent competitions can then be targeted for performance-based goals.

Good stuff.

Powerlifting, Not Just a Man’s Game