I had the pleasure of meeting Bonica at USAPL Raw Nationals in 2016, in fact we walked a block or so back to the hotel #namedrop. Bubbly Powerlifter is the best way to describe her! She is as sweet as she is strong and I had the honor to get to know one of my lifting idols a bit better. Hope you enjoy!
Introduce yourself to the GWPL community:
My name is Bonica Lough, I’m 29 Years old originally from Battle Creek, Michigan. I started powerlifting back on November 25th, 2002. My last meet was Women’s Nationals in February 2008. I stopped lifting for 5 years, because of life, school, and work. Got tired of having multiple jobs and wanted to what made me happy. I changed jobs in February 2013 and decided to start working out again. Some lifters cought wind that I was lifting again. I got peer pressured into doing a meet in April 2013. I did the meet and the ultimate flame came back to me full force and I haven’t stopped since. I have 9x Open National Titles with raw and equip. 6x IPF Open World Champion, Raw, Equip, Raw Bench Only, 2x Sub Junior World Champion. Own records in Michigan, Nebraska, American, and World.
When did you get into lifting and why?
When I was in junior high, I was one of the good volleyball players on the team for 7th and 8th grade, but when it comes to high school, you have to fit the perfect mold of the typical tall cute skinny little thing or even have the right last name. Tryouts was during thanksgiving week and I didn’t make the team. Of course as a girl, you go home to your parents and let them know what happened. Mom wasn’t to happy, went to the athletic director of the school and found out that I could go for cheerleading or powerlifting. Well of course you know which I picked =] So Thanksgiving weekend I was sad and also nervous as my mom told me that I’m going to try out powerlifting. November 25th, 2002. Was day one of powerlifting. I went to the weight room after school everyday and learned how to lift. I learned how to lift in a small classroom sized room. I want to say around 250 square feet? I remember always having to ask every single set…..how to load the weight for my sets. Gosh I was horrible at it. Weeks later I squatted 135 and I was told that the sky is the limit for me. I did my first meet on December 21st I did my first powerlifting meet. Of course it was raw back then 205-115-205. I don’t know about if it was 9/9 or 5/9 or 7/9 anything but that’s what I did that day.
What is your best meet total to date?
652.5 kg/ 1,435.5 lbs Raw American Record
763 kg/ 1,678.6 lbs Equip World Record
Which of the big 3 is your favorite and why?
Sqauts!!! I think it started because when I began powerlifting, I would hear all the guys complain about squats and how they are hard, it kinda grew inside that I didn’t want the lift to be hard. Maybe that’s when the fierce competitiveness began and I wanted to beat them lol.
What's it like being on Team USA?
Being on Team USA is different than going to a meet. When you go to a world meet, you are around the best of each country. You are around the ultimate warriors. When's its your day to lift, it your time to fight in the battle. You gotta show that you are the best of your class and you show why you are there.
I will be honest that when I was on the open team in 2004-2007. It was closer, more intimate. We were around each other more and bonded more. We would have team dinners together, put in more effort for team pictures, team tables at banquets (kinda 50/50 with that now), closer feeling. With the social media now a days, everyone is so spread out.
But even with it being different, from then to now. It's still amazing to be one of the seven to represent USA. To reflect on the previous years of up and downs and you finally made it to the big stage.
What advice do you have for young women getting into powerlifting?
Don't be intimidated. Everyone starts at square one. No one is a freak starting out with 4 plates on the bar. My first day of lifting was 45-50-55 on squat. When I came back to lifting, after 5 years off, I started low weights. I didn't write it down so I don't want to quote anything. But didn’t give myself crazy high expectations. I was just thinking to slowly get back into the sport.
Also…..Don't compare yourself to everyone!!!! Your body, your story, your future and no one else's. You are your own competition more than anyone can ever know. Powerlifting is a sport of journey and patience. It's a sport you can do your whole entire life. It's an individual sport and it's also a team sport. It's a sport that you can see yourself change, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, it's the ultimate catch all sport. You meet new people that become lasting friends, you get to travel, you fulfill that competitiveness that you have from high school sports, you can show people how much of a badass you are on the platform, you get to lift heavy things! Prove to people that you can do it! Sorry I got into it a little bit there =] There will be good days and bad days in training, you take one day at a time. This sport is nothing like other sports. I love the people of the sport more than anything. To me, you meet the friends that'll last a lifetime because of this sport. I look forward to powerlifting meets. They are my holidays, not the real holidays on the calendar.
Take me through a typical meet day for you? What do you eat, when and do you have a pre-meet routine?
The day before the meet, I prefer to be away from the venue and just rest and relax. It's good for the body and mind. I love to play my game Skyrim if I can. Sleeping is nice also. I need to stick to it better! Per coaches orders! Day of the meet. It depends on how and when weigh ins are. If the 84 and 84+ are together, I really don't care getting to weigh ins right away. I rather sleep more and I don't want to sit on the hard floor...yuck. They always start with 84 kilo so it's like why? My coach Kimberly Walford knows I won't arrive on time and even Arian knows that.
I don't eat anything when I lift. I know how tight that belt is on me and it gets tight and my stomach can't have food in it lol. If I lift late in the afternoon I will nibble on something in the morning, but it;s not much. I have a set playlist of goofy happy songs for warmups, and my songs to keep me amped during the meet. I have a warmup routine of my goofy shoulder warmup, and even started to do a silly dance routine before warmups to feel good. Just like in the Move Creed, when Rocky agreed to FINALLY train Adonis....that morning, Rocky played a goofy song, Adonis is like wtf. Well Rocky and I think alike, you gotta have a song that makes you feel good and get moving. That's exactly what I do. You don't want to start the meet negatively, you want to be positive. Even when there are road blocks along the way, still start out with a good mood. Currently right now I like to listen to Shake it off and Same Ol’ Two Step. My warm up is about 3.5 minutes long and it’s game on.
How do you manage and balance training and "regular life"? (i.e. work,relationships, me time, etc.)
Now newly single…...I basically just work and go to the gym. I have a Lincoln crew of some awesome ladies and we try to do ladies nights every once in a while. I’m a pretty boring person. I haven’t been trying to find anyone to be by my side for all my adventures lol. He has to be able to keep up with all my trips of powerlifting, Iron Sisters USA, and any other random trips I want to do. When it comes to me time, I listen to my body. I know when it needs rest, sleep, food, and I just do it. I will sit and find a guilty pleasure show on Netflix or even play my Xbox to unwind. See I’m boring hahaha
Do you have any specific goals in powerlifting? (i.e. totals, PRs, specific records you want to break)
I would like to hit top 5 wilks in the IPF, that would be awesome for a SHW. There are so many strong 52’s and 57’s, but it’s a cool goal to go after. I want to improve my World Records as well. Definitely go to another World Games. There’s way to many to list! It depends on what my mind is thinking about for what meet I am in.
Get to know Bonica better on Instagram