If you’re asking this because you only see well-muscled men in their singlets sauntering over to lift gigantic weights in powerlifting competitions on the television, I forgive you.
The answer is yes. Yes. While female powerlifters have obviously existed for a long time, it’s only recently that they’re starting to come out in droves – a lot of women still shy away from lifting very heavy weights and looking very bulky or muscular, certainly at a disproportionate rate than men wanting to look very bulky or muscular.
But they are certainly out there. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Stefi Cohen: 22x All Time World Records
Kim Walford: 7x IPF Wrld Champ/Recs(63kg/72kg), USVI Recs, USAPL Nat. Champs/Recs, USPA DT Nat. Champ/Recs
And for me, the most inspiring:
Shirley Webb, the 82 year old Powerlifting Champ.
If you’re especially impressed by the last one, you should be. She only started when she was 77 years old, proving to all of us – regardless of age or gender – that it’s never too late to start your fitness journey!
These women are all hoping to inspire more women to come out to the gym (or is it to come in?) and pursue whatever fitness goals they want to, even if that means powerlifting. The beauty about it is, unlike a lot of arbitrary standards for beauty or what people think “physically fit” looks, powerlifting is refreshingly objective.
It’s who can lift the most in the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Now if you’ve looked at the women I’ve mentioned above and you’re now intimidated, don’t be! Nobody starts out a champion. If you think the entry requirements are pretty daunting – I mean we’re talking about titans here, after all – think again.
Of course it depends on which competitions or federations you’ll be joining, but for example: for the USA Powerlifting Rulebook, the absolute minimum weight a competitor needs to be strong enough to lift in a powerlifting meet is about 25 kilos or 55 pounds – that’s the empty bar plus the collars. So probably not as much as you might have expected.
These meets are also organized by gender, age, and weight class, making it pretty fair for all classes or categories.
Another reason why women may shy away from powerlifting is because of their own weight – I mean, we see it on social media, on the television – women get touchy about their weight. It just seems like the thing to feel, baka. Female powerlifters not only look muscular, but they’re probably also very heavy, right? Not necessarily. Remember, people are also grouped by weight class – so while yeah, you need those muscles to lift heavy weights, you don’t have to bulk up more than you want to, you can just compete against the other people in the same current weight class. In the powerlifting world, anyone, of any size can complete.
So if you’re curious about powerlifting, check out the women mentioned above and get inspired!
If you’re new to weightlifting, check out our blog entry on Weightlifting for Beginners.
Don’t forget to wear gym accessories and gear that help prevent injury so you can perform these exercises safely.
And when you’re ready to compete in a powerlifting meet, simply search the Internet for one in your area. Good luck!