GGS Spotlight: Stephanie Powell


Name:  Stephanie Powell
Age: 29
Location: Las Vegas

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
To me, being a Girl Gone Strong means identifying your fears and weaknesses, then putting forth an effort to overcome and strengthen those fears and weaknesses (in the gym and in life).

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I have been strength training for about nine years. I started in 2009 as a weight/hammer thrower in college. My coach recommended I try powerlifting when I completed the track season. In 2011, my sister Brittany and I moved to Hawaii and stumbled upon Team Mana, a powerlifting team. They welcomed us into their ohana and it was time to hit the platform. I competed in my first powerlifting meet in August 2011 and have been lifting competitively ever since.

What does your typical workout look like?
I train four days a week. My days are split into two upper body days and two lower body days. I start each training day with 30 minutes of stretching and rolling out. Then I move on to my “main lift” for that day:
MONDAY: bench
TUESDAY: squat
THURSDAY: standing overhead press
SATURDAY: deadlift

After the “main lift” I do five to six accessory lifts. As far as accessories, I tend to target my weaknesses. I have a lot of them.

Favorite Lift:
Deadlift baby!

Most memorable PR:
My most memorable PR was when my boyfriend Micah Marino took me back to Hawaii. We spent most of the day on the beach soaking up the sun then headed to Mana Barbell to get. I expected to be completely drained and weak by the time we made it to the gym. I started my session off trying to squat. Though I expected it, I was disappointed when 225 pounds felt heavy. I noticed two of my teammates on the deadlift platform and suddenly I felt like the kid in the sandbox, “I want to play.”

I started warming up trying to keep up with the men, one plate, two plates, three plates, four plates. From there, I went to 451 pounds, then 496 pounds. That weight moved much quicker than expected, and by then I was feeling pretty good. My thoughts: “My current PR is 515. Do I barely break my PR with 518, or do I really go for it with 529?” With a confidence boost from my teammates I just had to go for it, “529 it is!” As I was setting up all I could think was: “Just break the floor, just get it off the ground.” I tried it once, I got it off the floor but I couldn’t lock my hips out. I knew I could do it, I just had to get in the right position. I went for a second attempt, as I was pulling, I could hear every single person in the gym screaming for me. There was no way I was going to let them down. I DID IT. I threw the bar down and sighed with relief. I will never forget that day. The energy in that gym was unbelievable!

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:

  1. Disturbed: Stupify
  2. Disturbed: Dropping Plates
  3. Drowning Pool: Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
  4. Nicki Minaj: Did it on Em
  5. Nicki Minaj: Roman’s Revenge

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
Yikes, my gym bag has to weigh at least 50 pounds. I literally carry everything with me. I have my rumble roller, bands, collars, four pairs of shoes, two pairs of wrist wraps, two pairs of knee sleeves, knee wraps, two lifting belts, tape, pre-wrap, three training notebooks, etc. If I had to choose just three things they would be: my rumble roller, my chucks, and my belt.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Honestly, I like both. I don’t mind training alone because it gives me time to focus on me and my technique. Often times I like training with others because the right people with the right energy can be extremely motivating.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
This stays between us right? My most embarrassing gym moment was of course during a deadlift session. It was my first time deadlifting 500 pounds on a rack pull. Well um, I may have piddled at the finish of the lift.

Best compliment you’ve received lately:
Lately, both men and women have been reaching out to me, telling me that I have been an inspiration to them.

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
Every week we take turns making a family dinner. This week was Micah’s turn. It was his first time making these things called “buffalo chicken bombs.” They were tasty.

Favorite meal:
Pizza and wings! I am originally from New York. Needless to say I am extremely picky when it comes to my pizza and wings.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Good food. I try to maintain a pretty clean diet.

After all that hard work, I love treating myself to good food.

Favorite quote:
In the midst of a hard training day my high school track coach would say “Mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” To this day, I hold on to those words during my hardest moments in life and in training. If you can suck it up and push through the struggle, you will make it.

What inspires and motivates you?
In April 2013, I spent a week by my father’s side hoping for a miracle. I took my 25 years with him for granted and I completely and utterly regret it today. You always think you have more time until it’s just too late. As I sat by his side, day in and day out, I was emotional wreck yet he was in great spirits. The usual: funny stories and cracking jokes. He had watched a video of me deadlifting 400 pounds. He was so proud! He showed every nurse on staff and told them that “if they screwed up, he would bring in Daddy’s Little Bodyguard.” I told him that I would lift 500 pounds. Though it seemed nearly impossible it was the one thing in my control. I’ve hit that goal and striving for more. I dedicate my deadlifts to the strongest and bravest man I have ever known.

What do you do?
When the opportunity presents itself I like to spend my time on the beach. I do live in the desert, so it doesn’t happen very often. Karaoke, I love singing. I never said I was good, but I do enjoy it. When I am bored I dig up my flute and try to play a few songs. But my favorite is volleyball.

Your next training goal:
I am your typical powerlifter; I’m always striving to hit a new PR. I have attempted a 535-pound deadlift and just missed it at the lockout. As a perfectionist, my next goal is to perfect 535.

What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for my strong, loving, and supportive family.

What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of obtaining two college degrees. I earned a bachelor of science in kinesiology as well as a master of science in athletic administration.

Which three words that best describe you?
Perfectionist, Candid, Stubborn

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
This “thickfit” body!

How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has changed my life in a way that I would never have imagined. When I became serious about heavy weight training it was all about advancing in the world of powerlifting. To my surprise, I have inspired men and women around world. My next plan is to put myself to use. I want to be more hands-on in terms of helping individuals reach personal goals, whether it is meet prep, fitness programming, diet, technical advice, etc.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just one piece of advice, find yourself a knowledgeable coach to guide you. Not only can it be unsafe to blindly jump into strength training, but it can be discouraging. Proper guidance will ensure longevity. Now get to work!

Feeling inspired?

If you’re inspired by Stephanie, read on to learn more about — and join! — our community of strong, supportive women…

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