Feel the power

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Bridget Boyle is a relative newcomer to the sport of powerlifting. The 42-year-old is relishing the challenge, having never been involved in sports as a teenager.

She began training for powerlifting as a complete beginner and quickly realised ‘that this kind of training was for anybody and everybody – there was no need to be a “natural” or talented athlete. If you are motivated and put in the work, the results start to come’.

How did you become involved in resistance training? I was training with Vonita White at Get It Fitness, with overall fitness as a goal. She introduced me to strength training and I loved it straight away. I could see and feel changes in my body and in my strength. Working on proper technique for all the exercises, compound and smaller movements, was challenging and I loved that.

When did you decide to compete and why? One of my friends who I was doing group fitness training with is very strong so I suggested that she take part in a competition. She was pursuing other goals at the time, so I asked my trainer if she thought she could get me ready in time for the competition. She said yes and set me a strength training programme.

What success have you had? I measure my success by what my own personal bests are for each lift. For me, a competition is a success if I make weight and make a total, but I always try to do better than that and get a personal best. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but there is always another competition to aim for. I won my weight class in my Masters 1 category last year at the NZ National Classic Powerlifting Championship and came second overall in the Master 1 Division.  I am also currently the Waikato Bay of Plenty record holder for squat, bench, deadlift and total in my weight division in the Master 1 category. And the Waikato Bay of plenty record holder for squat, deadlift and total in the open women’s category in my weight division.

What is your greatest challenge of power lifting? My biggest challenge at the moment is learning how to bring the best attitude possible to the weights, every single rep. I have found that this has a big effect on how much weight you can lift, how many reps you can get. For me it is a work in progress, trying to find the right blend of focus, technique, belief and aggression.

What aspect do you enjoy most? I love training. The hard days for me are the higher rep days and I’m glad when they are over and I am always pleased to have gotten through them. Learning what your weaknesses are and how to fix them is a big challenge and one I really enjoy working out with my trainer. I enjoy discovering what kind of training each lift responds best to and what kind of training to avoid. For me training is a continual learning process and that is the most enjoyable and challenging part of powerlifting.

What is the most common misconception people have about powerlifting?  The misconception I come across is that someone is not strong enough to do a first powerlifting competition. If you would like to try it out the only requirements are technical (basic apparel requirements and technical rules). There is no minimum qualifying total for a novice powerlifting competition.

What are your short-term goals? To improve technique on all three competition lifts and remain injury free.

Long term goals?  Compete in November in the Waikato Bay of Plenty Classic Cup and achieve personal bests in all three lifts.

What are the most common mistakes people make with resistance training?  Not seeking advice on proper technique and getting help with setting up a progressive programme. You need to ensure you increase strength all round and remain injury free.

What do you advise someone wishing to become involved in resistance training?  Go for it! Resistance training will change the way you feel, the way you look and if you stick with it and increase the weights you will obviously get stronger.

For powerlifting, find a good trainer; someone you can talk with and who will push and encourage you. Set your own goals for your first competition, don’t look at what anyone else in your gym is doing.

My experience with the powerlifting community has been totally positive, everyone is helpful and encouraging and your first powerlifting comp will be exhilarating. Look up the technical rules for the lifts online (New Zealand Powerlifting or IPF websites) and, if possible, talk to someone who has competed before.

Who is the team around you?  My trainer Vonita, who I have trained with for six years. She uses her expertise to find ways to improve on my lifts and fix my weak spots. My partner Warren is incredibly supportive and helps me with the mental side of training and competing, and he shows me the kind of intensity and attitude I need to bring to the weights every rep.

How has being a competitive power lifter changed your life?
For someone who did not play sports in high school or university it has enriched my life and challenged me to grow as a person. There is so much to learn about the physical side of weight training and the mental attitude that you need when training and on comp day. Powerlifting is a challenge and you are always striving to increase your lifts and trying for another personal best.

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