Girls benchpressing

Photo by Adam Palmer

Have you ever met one of those people whose smile could light up the world and energy is just electric? Well Stacy (Bama) Burr is one of those people. I started following her well before GWPL started and then actually met her at my first meet and my love for her just grew. Even through adversity, this amazing girl’s strength inside and out exudes from her body. I was honored to speak with Stacy a bit and learn more about the girl they call Bama and why she started the Bama Brick Squad. Enjoy!

Introduce yourself to the GWPL community

My name is Stacy Burr. Commonly referred to as Bama hence "Bamaburr!" I am 24 and from small town South Carolina. I am a competitive powerlifter with an International Elite total. I am a certified personal trainer with a degree in Physical Education/ Exercise Science. 

When did you get into lifting and why?

This could get interesting to discuss:  I have always been athletic. I played sports in high school and Division II softball in college so athletics was what I knew. I also made the parallel that being stronger and faster would make me better- so I began "working out." And by working out I mean doing speed drills, running, curls, know the rest. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to get better. I wanted to find that competitive edge. If there was something out there that was completely accessible to me, that could make me better- why not use it? I set small goals for myself. The first thing I ever wanted to accomplish in the gym was to be able to curl the 20lb Dumbbells for 20 reps. That's it. But then, when I finally accomplished it, I wanted began like an insatiable hunger. I just wanted more and more. To be better and better-stronger and stronger. So I have been "working out" since I was in high school but as far as actual training goes I would say I have been at it for about 4 years. I made the transition to actually start training and minding close attention to my diet in college for the sheer reason that I constantly found myself going to the gym. If I was stressed, I would workout, if I was hungry, I would workout. Bad day? Gym cured it. And it made me realize that was my happy place. The gym had always been there for me as a place where I could go and freely be myself. No rules, nobody telling you what you have to do for yourself. It is simply you and the weight. Nothing else. You decide how much you're going to put in and you realize that you're going to get exactly that amount out. To me that is empowering. I mainly did hypertrophy style training up until about a year and a half ago. When I ventured into the realm of powerlifting because someone suggested it to me- because I was "strong for a girl." I decided I was going to show them, I wasn't just "strong for a girl" I was just strong.

Best meet total to date?

My best total at 132 is 876 and my best total at 148 is 900. 

Talk to me about Bamabricksquad? 

Bamabricksquad is the program that I founded along with my other half, Jillian Lewis and several of my clients. The name "Bama" refers to me as their fearless leader, while bricksquad has quite a story behind it. To me it is actually a two part idea. Squad usually refers to a group of people with similar interests and values who are assigned a specific task or duty. The bricksquad is on a mission to continually improve their lives and lives of others via self improvement and empowerment. Now, the leading "brick" in front of squad as expected, can be seen as a building material. Bricks are viable pieces that make up parts of a whole. You build walls one brick at a time, just as you build strength and confidence one rep at a time. Bricks make up foundations and create a sturdy stronghold for you to build off of. That is what it is all about, building yourself up and the others around you brick by brick. And we are Bamabricksquad.

What is it like being a female powerlifting coach in such a male dominated industry? 

It is challenging to say the least but that is what makes it so profitable and so enjoyable. Of course, so many male powerlifters want to learn from the super heavyweight male lifters deadlifting 900, but as a 132lb female competitor you have to make yourself marketable and relevant amongst giants. That means I have to gather all the knowledge and experience I can in order to better teach and coach others. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to avoid stagnation as a coach. 

You recently had a pretty severe injury. What happened? and how's your recovery going?

In January I suffered a pretty severe lower back injury...surprisingly enough not from lifting but from trying to be proactive and preventative. I was abrasively adjusted by a chiropractor and it resulted in a fracture in my L5 vertebrate. It took me from doubling 385 in training on my deadlift to a poverty sub 300 pull in a matter of days. 

Recovery is going well. It has been slow. But it is actually looking optimistic. After about 6 weeks of doing no kind of true spinal loading movements- Just today I was able to deadlift 365 semi pain free and squat 300 for 6 reps without pain at all. On the bright side of it all my bench has been on the rise since injury! Bench has been the only one of the big 3 I could do! So there is always something to be excited for! 235 PR!  Credit goes to my triceps solely. Lol. 

Talk to me about the recovery process... What tips do you have for someone going through an injury? Any advice on how to get through it?

The recovery process was and still is hard. I can't lie and say it wasn't and still isn't. I traveled to see an Active Release Therapist several times, I was given an injection in my back that made it almost impossible to walk for a day or two, but mainly staying out the gym was the hardest part...apart from the "I can't bend down to tie my shoes pain" of course. Jordan Wong gave me several pointers and tips that he used for recovering from his back injury which I found most helpful. (Love nice people as a side note) But watching my athletes and clients at the gym and knowing I physically couldn't do much of anything was a confidence crusher for me. I just wanted to lift. But instead of being bitter I decided that all the positivity and determination I had towards my training before the injury, I was going to give that back to my clients. I focused on becoming a better coach. That to me is the main thing I would advise anyone on when going through an injury is to find something else to channel yourself into. Find another positive distraction! And take your time. Rest rest rest. With powerlifting you have years and years to get better and stronger but you cannot build strength on a faulty base. You must take care of yourself and listen to your body. Be vigilant in your recovery! Do your therapy and give that your attention as well because that will be a game changer. I had several meets already planned for this year (USAPL Nationals being my main event) but I had to dispel that notion and focus on getting healthy first. If anything now, I am more determined than ever to come back better than ever. The next time I compete I will be looking close to a 1000 lb total. *Feel free to place any bets on when and where to amuse me

Favorite go to post workout meal?

Anything that is edible! Joking! I actually try to eat relatively clean- with a few burger challenges and milkshakes here and there, but one thing I love post workout is sushi! And even better....half priced sushi 

If you could do anything with your powerlfiting career what would it be? Do you have any records you want to break?

I am not concerned with being the all time world record holder in anything honestly. I don't really even care if I see a #1 by my name on powerlifting watch. My goal as a powerlifter is to continually get better over time. To learn more from more experienced lifters and find out how I can improve my lifting and my clients lifting as well. I want someone to look at where I end up and realize that they can do it too. My first competition was in December of 2014 and I competed in a belt from Walmart, no knee sleeves and chuck Taylor's. I had no idea how to use a monolift, what baby powder was used for, or what nose torque even was...but I still totaled 810 at my very first meet. I want people to know that you don't have to have the right last name to compete in this sport. You don't have to have the most expensive equipment or coach around. At the end of the day all you have to have is desire and the will to work. I want people, especially women to see that it is okay to be strong. It is okay to push yourself to reach new levels. Being strong does not only mean wilks scores and totals, it means never giving up no matter what- it is pushing through that last rep you just knew you couldn't do (whether it is with 95lbs or 905lbs). I want my career and my presence in powerlifting to help blaze the trail for people to challenge themselves to use power training to become a better person in every single aspect of their lives. I want to make a difference in someone's life.  

3 tips for newbie lifters

  • Keep it simple:

Do not over complicate things, do the main moves: bench, squat and deadlift. Don't waste energy and time doing 1 armed push-ups off bosu balls because Joe Shmoe said it helps your bench lockout. Keep your nutrition simple as well. Eat your proteins and veggies. Treat your soul. 

  • Never compare yourself to anyone else:

It is your journey and yours alone. We look at social media and creep until we can determine what weight class a lifter is in then think "wow! I am so much weaker than her, why do I even try?" Or think "man I wish my deadlift was that good" then we start to beat ourselves up. Remember, social media doesn't highlight the behind the scenes or show you how many lockout drills that particular girl had to do to finally perfect her deadlift. Social media doesn't show you the days when she trained and "everything felt heavy" and she had to bail on her squats. We never see anyone's behind the scenes so we never need to compare others to ours. We are all unique and come from different circumstances and situations. Simply focus on making yourself better and good things will happen.

  • Never ever give up...ever:

I went a solid year without making any progress on my deadlift. When I finally did and I was on the verge of pulling my lifetime goal (405lb) I was injured by something outside my control. The doctor seeing me told me I might just want to give up powerlifting because of the potential injury or reinjury that could happen. I was devastated but you better believe I wasn't and am STILL not giving up. It would be easy to trust me, but easy doesn't yield results. Things may not always go your way, you will have sessions that suck, you will have bad lift offs, and bad meets but what matters the most is how you respond to the bad things. You can't give up. You have to keep fighting. If it was all about doing things once- you wouldn't get three attempts per lift. You get 3 shots to make something great happen. 9 overall chances to shatter your records and to become stronger than before. You can never let one bad circumstance stand in your way, or even. 37 bad circumstances. Remember that there is never going to be a perfect time. There is never going to be any better opportunity than the moment you live in right now. Make the very best of it and if you go down- always go down fighting. To this day I have never gone 9/9 in a meet and it is okay. It is okay to fail, but it will never ever be okay to give up. 

Give me some Fun facts:

  • Fun facts- i have competed In various obstacle races, earned my trifecta in Spartan races. 
  • I have two dogs which Jill and I love. 
  • I have an undefeated track record against burger challenges. 
  • My secret pleasure is bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. 
  • Growing up I was bullied and teased about my weight(I was overweight and had bleached blonde bangs but we won’t go there)( I will gladly attach a picture for you if you'd like lol)  and look at me now. The hungry caterpillar turned into a less ugly but still hungry swole caterpillar.

Get to know Stacey and Follow her on Instagram

1 comment

  • Jess: June 17, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your story. I especially loved your advice about coming back from an injury since I am dealing with a back injury currently (4 months of no lifting and counting! Might be going crazy over here!). One doctor suggested giving up lifting forever just because it MAY reinjure again, but my PT now says the goal is to get me back to doing things I love like lifting. Never giving up, and your story inspired me to keep going. Thanks again.

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