girls deadlifting, powerlifting girls

Written by  Cristina Guerra

I went to school for what feels like forever, and I went because one) it was expected and two) we’re told that we are going to learn everything we need to know to succeed in life from formal education. From high school I went to college where I studied exercise science and from there, I went to graduate school to get my Masters in Public Health. With six years of upper education under my belt, one would think that somewhere along the way I felt well equipped to enter the “real world”. Wrong. I was ready to take on a career, but for all those years in school, I didn’t have the option to take any classes about how to handle life and the crazy ups and downs that come with it. 

I moved back to my hometown after college right before grad school during which time I broke up with my boyfriend of two years, had to put my dog down, missed the care-free college life and had no job, no self-confidence, and a negative body-image. I subsequently fell into a mild depression and felt completely alone. I was faced with incredible challenges that required, not textbook knowledge, but skill sets that were not taught at any point in my academic career. These struggles tested my mental toughness, power to get up when I was kicked down, and ability to cope with loss. Sometimes I even questioned the love I had for myself.  It was not until a few months prior to graduating from grad school that I picked up CrossFit in hopes that this new workout would give me a super model body and solve all of my problems… I’m not joking, this was my mindset. Within 4 months of the new journey I had set on, I was introduced to and amazed by the GWPL community and chose to cash in WODs for a powerlifting program. Without realizing it, it was from that moment that I would learn some of the most important life lessons that I never learned in school.

  • The competition is between you and yourself. We are all at different places in our journey– some of us are just starting out and some of us have been at this a long time. It’s okay to be a beginner and it is okay to feel lost, just so long as you never give up.
  • Only when you accept yourself for what you are, how you look, how you sound, and how you carry yourself can you begin to make sustainable changes.
  • Always root for your teammates, and even those that aren’t your teammates. Building others up and empowering them does not hinder your own performance, it actually builds you up too! My favorite example of this is at a powerlifting meet where 60+ strangers are rooting for you to lock out that deadlift you’ve been training so hard for.
  • Not all girls are catty. When females come together, we are a driving force. Never have I ever been so appreciative of a group of women. What an honor it is to be part of a community that places such value on one another and believes that being strong is beautiful.
  • It’s cool to keep up with the boys. It’s even cooler to be stronger than them.
  • Food is fuel. Food is necessary for performance. Food is our friend. Food is life.
  • Being a size 2 isn’t nearly as satisfying as being able to squat, bench and deadlift heavy AF.
  • It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to miss a lift or have an off day of training. We learn more from failure than we do from success. We can look back and see where we went wrong and how we need to improve.
  • The barbell is non-judgmental. The barbell will never wake up one day and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore. It’s always there for you when you need it most.
  • I love myself, my body, and my flaws, even when for years social media has been telling me not to. After all, powerlifting made this body.
  • I can overcome any negativity in my life because I know my worth isn’t dependent on how others view me, but how I view myself. Powerlifting has been a source of strength for me and a “place” I go to when I am happy, sad, or angry. It is my safe haven from all of the things in my life that have tried to break me.

Powerlifting is more than just a sport; for me and for so many others it has been a complete game changer. It has undoubtedly made me a stronger person than I ever thought I could be, not just physically, but mentally. The GWPL community has reassured me that I’m not alone and that I never truly was. We are all on this adventure together, improving and overcoming one training session at a time. It has provided me with unofficial teammates and lifelong friendships. All of these lessons can be applied not just to our lives as powerlifters, but to our lives in general, whether it be relationships, careers or what have you. We are 61,000 strong and still growing. What an amazing movement to be a part of. I am thankful for you all and the lessons you have taught me- don’t ever stop breaking your own boundaries.

Follow Cristina's powerlifting journey on Instagram


  • Chrissy: December 07, 2016

    I started lifting 6 years ago. Lifting has helped me through depression an abusive (physical and emotional) relationship, addiction and a lot of excess weight.. I was a little over 200 lbs. I’m am 170, but solid muscular and I compete in powerlifting and I hold 2 state records in Virginia..
    You become self confident, strong mentally and physically and the changes in how people treat and respect you are the best feelings.. I’m gonna keep training and competing for as long as I can.. I am blessed to be able to still lift at my age let alone competively.

  • Despina Belle-Isle: December 07, 2016

    57 to powerlifter here. Started a few years ago, but only just starting competing last year. Love it so much, wish I had started earlier! Love seeing my mature sisters here!

  • Dianne Castanelli: September 17, 2016

    I started at 57 am now turning 69 just love it so much cannot wait yo go to training

  • Becky : September 15, 2016

    All that she said is true as a 63 years young I was not encouraged to be strong. Women were not strong. My son was a powerlifter and I started going to watch him at meets and was inspired by him and the women who were lifting. I had worked out for some time. As my son as my trainer I have set world records. I love the sport and it is so empowering going to compete at Worlds in October. Never imagined doing this. Never say you can’t do it you can!

  • Lori Hughes-Pedroli: September 05, 2016

    I am powerlifting at 63! feel like a beast! proud and strong great message

  • JB : July 07, 2016

    Great post! Thank you. I’m 52 and got turned on to lifting heavy 6 months ago. Life changing. I’ve lived 40 years hating my big body and feeling like it wasn’t good for anything. Last week I picked up 235# twice on a deadlift! I love and respect my body now. Xoxo

  • Dawn: July 04, 2016

    Love love love this post. I found powerlifting later in life (at 52) and it was a game changer. I may not be the strongest and that’s ok. PL changed my whole attitude about life and appreciating me for me. Since I don’t train in a PL gym or have a training partner, I am usually training with the boys. That has done a lot for building my self-confidence…although I wish there were some powerlifting girls at my gym. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us have learned.

  • Tabitha: May 16, 2016

    Thank you so much for posting this. At 48 years old I just found powerlifting. I am so happy to have found GWPL. I love this community.

  • Maria: May 16, 2016

    Without a doubt, powerlifting has changed my attitude towards life and my selft image. This is the one thing in my life were it is me against me, period!

  • Jacqueline : May 16, 2016

    I totally agree powerlifting has changed my views on all aspects of my life how I see my self, and how I approach life…

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