I contemplated the following titles for this article:

Cheerleader powerlifting

Cheerleader gone powerlifter

Cheerleader powerlifts… for real

Cheerleader turns beast

Cheerleader TURNT powerlifter.

The last title was quite possibly my favorite. We all know how hype the word “turnt” is… and turnt is precisely the word to describe the way powerlifting has taken my life vibe to a whole new level.


I haven’t actually been a cheerleader since 2011 but as the saying goes, “once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.”


The fact of the matter is in the five months after college and cheerleading I began lifting weights and learning about strength via kettlebells. Following those five months I spent another five months doing [mainly] body building style/split and isolation training. Some kettlebells were in the mix. I gained a lot of muscle.

However, after those short five months I fell back into the loving arms of kettlebells and got incredibly high on SFG training.

As soon as I completed the SFG, I told my coach, Jason Pak, that I wanted to start learning all things barbell.


It wasn’t long before I became not only competitive with myself, but also began researching all things powerlifting.

Furthermore, by December my boyfriend (who is a powerlifter) convinced me to compete with him at a meet in January.

Long story short: I will be competing in ONE powerlifting meet this month.

The title of this article is “Cheerleader powerlifts,” as in a ONE TIME thing, because I am powerlifting for the experience, to test my new found strength and to have FUN– not to begin a life in powerlifting.

I would rather go join a gymnastics team and train for the Olympics than powerlift competitively on the reg.

However, I have five things I want to note about my [short] experience thus far and also mention before I compete:

1. Weight gain

2. Injuries (or lack thereof)

3. Mental attitude and mental blocks

4. The singlet

5. The singlet part II


Quick Stats:

Current weight: 120

Weigh-in goal: 114

Deadlift stance: sumo / TBD

Deadlift goal: 250

Squat goal: 165

Bench Goal: 105

1. Weight gain

To begin, I will note the obvious.

Powerlifters do not look like runners.

Runners do not look like powerlifters.

Powerlifters have mass to move mass.

I do not look like any of the aforementioned.

I am strong and relatively lean and I eat as much as I want. The first time I noticed my weight increase through training was around August when training for the SFG.

I was hovering around 118-119 pounds and literally in the two weeks before the SFG, my weight shot up to be around 122 pounds. I had to –or wanted to– weigh-in in the 123 pound weight class. That was a bit scary.

Recently, mid-competition preparation, I went on a lovely ski vacation and lifted nothing but my skis and poles for 10 days.

My weight went down. But not too far.

I came back from my trip at 118.

I now weigh around 120.

I will be weighing in at 114 for the competition, or at least that is the goal.

It will be tough, but I think it is do-able. More to come on that.

2. Injuries (or lack thereof)

I had some groin and hip issues from cheerleading in the past. Now, when I get tired, overworked etc, the pain will start to creep up on me.

Throughout the powerlifting training I am concurrently teaching three spin classes a week and attempting to take one HIIT class at Barry’s Bootcamp once a week.

It is a lot.

I know that if any pain is coming my way it is most certainly not from my powerlifting. In fact if it wasn’t for my thorough program with specific mobility and stretching drills, I am sure I would neglect to take the time to efficiently stretch.

Thus, in a way, my strength training is preventing injuries that could have possibly happened while also rehabbing some sporadic pain.

Last Sunday, my abductors were incredibly sore. Sumo deadlifting (with a very wide stance) can be tough when these are exhausted.

While hanging out with my boyfriend, he was curious to see what my conventional deadlift set-up and pull looked like (standing with a more narrow stance)– he thought maybe conventional would feel easier than sumo.

It went well.

I pulled 225. Here’s the video:

The next day I woke up feeling okay, but after warming up with double 20 kg swings in my training session, I felt an immense  pain and fatigue in my back muscles; a 115 pound back squat warm-up felt like a house fell on top of me.

Not cool.

I am still unsure of whether or not it was the conventional DL, the kettlebell swings or a combo of the two in 24 hours– but either way I needed to relax and with the meet approaching I knew my mindset mattered. I was determined to stay happy and confident.

3. Mental attitude and mental blocks

I like to typically express my attitude the following ways when it comes to lifting:

I am either uber competitive


I embrace the “hakuna matata” saying.

Meaning, I work really hard, but only for pleasure and fun. No worries.

This process, however, has not been all positive and worry-free.

The deadlift was the first barbell lift I started learning. It progressed quickly. In the beginning of November I pulled 225 sumo style.

I began working heavy sets of 3 for a while and then the worst happened. Some may call it over-reaching, some may say I was tired, some may call it a mental block– but twice in my training sessions, 165 felt hard off of the floor.

What’s worse, 165 felt hard when I was supposed to be doing 5 sets of 5 at 185. I tried really hard NOT to get down.

Mental attitude, or POSITIVE mental attitude rather, is crucial in this sport and it reminds me entirely of tumbling in cheerleading.

Tumbling was always mental for me. The full twisting back lay-out scared the crap out of me and seldom did I find confidence to attempt it– or to do it correctly in an attempt.

Because I know what a crazy game that can be, I have tried so hard to stay focused on how I feel, and confident in my own power, strength and endurance.



4. The singlet

Think about nails on a chalk board, a bad splinter, a horrible wedgy, or food that makes you want to hurl.


That’s how I feel, or how I cringe, rather, when I even THINK about a singlet. I have asked my boyfriend repeatedly if I could wear the following:

booty shorts and a tank top (tucked in)

a leotard

a uni-tard from lululemon

a jazzercise outfit

leggings with footie parts

a shirt and or leggings OVER the singlet

a wetsuit

Apparently none of the following apply.

Just to be sure, I checked with his powerlifting friend, Adam.

Then my boyfriend told me I could wear his singlet. But, last night, the week (and a half) before the meet I am realizing his singlet has NEVER been washed– not even since high school wrestling.

No thanks.

Let’s hope I find something to wear.

5. The singlet part II

The other day my boyfriend wanted to learn a flip. The bet was, if he did a back flip on his own that day, I had to put on a singlet…

…he did a back flip on his own.


Luckily, but also to my misfortune, I got practice putting a singlet on and I cried through the process.

Wrapping Up:

There are a few other things I want to bring up– but I am going to save them for Part II, after the meet.

The bottom line is: I am STOKED to compete. I love training for a “sport;” and I am having fun.

Having fun is important to me.

Right now I am going to work hard on resting up, making weight and nailing down the technique, (which will also be in Part II).

Wish me luck!




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