Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Weightlifting. Powerlifters. Bodybuilders. Olympic Lifters.

At my CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit West Santa Cruz, Leah Lutz practices her back squats, dead lifts, and bench presses all the time. She doesn't only do those lifts, but they are the focus of her powerlifting training.

pow·er·lift·ing
ˈpou(ə)rˌliftiNG/
noun
  1. a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence.

I have taken a particular interest in the sport of powerlifting ever since my team (PlantBuilt Vegan Muscle Team) took on Mike Wolf, Kelly Green, Sara Russert, Scott Shetler, Jason Morris, and Crystal Moulton as their 6 member powerlifting squad.
PlantBuilt 2015 Powerlifters
Powerlifters weren't born freaks of nature, but their training sets them apart from the rest of the fitness world much of the time. Let's see what our Leah Lutz has to say about it!

1) With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with today? 
Hi, I’m Leah Lutz, and my vocation is teaching while my hobbies are family, friends, cooking, travel, and training.

2) What is your Instagram? What does that mean? Can we follow you?
@scteacher (noting the job that I absolutely love: teaching, and the most amazing place to live: Santa Cruz) I am always happy to have followers, and I promise that I try to keep the hideous food pictures to a minimum.


 3) What is powerlifting? 
Competitive powerlifters train for and compete in meets that include the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Each competitor has three attempts for each lift, and records can be set for each lift and the meet total (the best of all three lifts.) You compete in a flight of various lifters in any given competition, but all records are set by weight class and powerlifting type-typically: raw (knee sleeves and a belt allowed), raw classic (knee wraps and a belt allowed), or geared (with lifting suits)

4) How long have you been powerlifting? How did you get into it? 
I competed in my first meet in October 2013, and decided right away that I love it. I never, ever expected to be doing this, for many reasons, not the least being that I have never competed in any athletics before this. 5 years ago I walked into CrossFit West weighing 265 pounds, so nervous and feeling out of place that I could barely walk in the door. Just getting to classes and keeping up with it was incredibly difficult, I would often cry over how hard a workout was or how pathetically out of shape I really was. Every single class and every movement was difficult, but I had been overweight for years, and I was 100% ready to change my life. The coaches and athletes at CFW were and are unbelievably supportive. I am still amazed at their confidence in me and their willingness to encourage me when I didn’t want to finish (or sometimes even start) a workout. Through CrossFit and a switch to the Paleo diet, I was able to lose about 50 pounds, and I felt better than ever. In all of this, I also discovered that I loved lifting weights. I was a decent squatter from the beginning, so I was happy to work on that often. Through a series of injuries, I had shoulder surgery in August 2013, and it was during my rehab from that that I decided to focus more and more on lifting. I still had no desire to compete, I just wanted to regain my lost strength. Post-surgery I was also working to lose more weight, and my coach knew that a set goal would be a great motivation for me. I wanted to reach 165 pounds, a seemingly impossible goal at that time, so he talked me into entering a meet in the 165 weight class. Reaching 165 for that first meet seemed almost impossible, but I just kept working each week, progressing with my training and being consistent with my diet. Really my one goal for that first meet was to weigh in at 165, and any lifts were secondary.

5) Do you coach powerlifting? What instruction have you offered?
I coached several barbell classes at CrossFit West and done a small amount of personal strength training. In the barbell classes, we are able to focus on the 3 power lifts for 6-8 weeks, dialing in technique and really pushing each class member to meet new goals.

6) Can a crossfitter be a powerlifter? 
If they want to be competition-level, can they still do both concurrently? It is certainly something that athletes do. Skilled, trained athletes often have the ability to perform well in a variety of specializations or sports. Now whenever you choose to enter one type of competition, I think you have to decide whether you will really specialize your training for an optimal performance in that one chose sport or whether you will keep up training in several different areas. Spreading out your training will be definition cost you some specialization, but many athletes chose this general approach and do very well. I’m not that level of athlete! I do best in specializing in my chosen sport.

7) Can a bodybuilder be a powerlifter? Can they compete in those two sports concurrently? 
I don’t have personal experience with this, so I can only refer to what I know of other’s experiences. I do know people who have competed in both bodybuilding and powerlifting, but I think they have all switched from one to the other, and then maybe back to one again. Powerlifting will certainly give you a strong base for your bodybuilding prep.

8) What do you think of competitive bodybuilding? 
Competitive bodybuilders are some of the most dedicated competitors I have run into. I have great respect for someone who sets a goal to compete and then keeps up with their very meticulous diet and training plan.

Thank You Leah, and happy birthday! More powerlifting interviews to come. Scott Shetler from Team PlantBuilt and Extreme Performance Training has something to say about vegan powerlifting and I say bring it on!

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