Chloe Lansing began training for powerlifting in 2013. She has been eating her way through weight classes and climbing the rankings since; currently, she is ranked # 3 all-time in the 148lb with wraps class. Chloe was born with macrodactyly affecting her right arm and hand which required the amputation of the right index and middle fingers. This led her to join forces with Disabled Girls Who Lift where she is now a partner.
You were born with macrodactyly, an incredibly rare condition, which required your right index and middle digits to be amputated. However, you didn’t let this affect you and now you are ranked in the top-10 all-time in the 148lb class. How can others keep moving forward and progressing as you did? Further, you mentioned the public in general needs to change its language when describing disabled or differently-abled people, please talk about this further.
When I started training 6+ years ago, I originally didn’t have intentions of competing; a small part of that hesitation was because I didn’t know how I would be able to hold onto the bar for deadlifts. My first coach introduced me to the Rex’s Grip strap and that was a game-changer because it allowed me to grip the deadlift bar. Once I decided I would get on the platform, the next hurdle was getting approval to compete with my strap. I still face this hurdle today because anytime I want to compete, I have to personally contact the meet director and/or the federation. Over the years I’ve had great interactions with the following federations: UPA, RPS, USPA, and WRPF. My advice for people with similar conditions or other conditions that are interested in strength sports would be to be persistent, be prepared to adapt movements to what your body can do and don’t hesitate to reach out to federations to ask for modifications. You can also follow @DisabledGirlsWhoLift for more ideas and information. Lastly, I think enjoying the process is integral to success in any passion you have.
As far as society needing to change its language regarding disabled or differently-abled athletes, it is common to hear their conditions described as “tragic” or “unfortunate”. Word choices with a negative connotation behind them perpetuate ableism and imply that “different is bad”.
You are a Partner at “Disabled Girls Who Lift,” an incredible organization. What has been the most rewarding part about being a Partner at “Disabled Girls Who Lift?” What are your biggest takeaways that you can share with the reader? How has this organization impacted your life and made you into the person you are today?
The most rewarding part of Disabled Girls Who Lift (DGWL) has been the unity. There were times when I was growing up where I felt isolated because I didn’t know anyone else like me. DGWL enabled me to build relationships with people who had similar struggles. I am grateful Marybeth Baluyot took the opportunity to build this empowering community and asked me to be a partner of it. Marcia Darbouze has been a fundamental addition to the team as well. I encourage readers to check out @disabledgirlswholift on Instagram. We also have a website and podcast!
You have been described by many as one of the most “technically efficient” lifters in the sport of powerlifting. What are some strategies, methods you have used over the years to become so technically efficient in all three lifts? What advice do you have for those reading this who want to become more technically efficient in their own movement patterns?
Technique has not come naturally to me, so I am still caught off guard when people describe my deadlift or squat as technically efficient.
I experienced a sacroiliac (SI) injury about 2 years ago which forced me to take a few steps back and rebuild my lifts. Two key changes during that rehab process were when I stopped dive-bombing my squat and got rid of shoes in my squat and deadlift. No shoes allow me to better root into the floor which serves as a powerful foundation in the squat and deadlift.
During my SI rehab and to this day, I find social media to be useful in studying lifts. One way I learn is by watching other people lift. I also enjoy Instagram as a place to get free information from coaches. I’ve been able to incorporate information into my training put out by Kabuki Strength, Trevor Jaffe, Tony Montgomery Jr., and Calloused Hands.
While this isn’t directly related to technique, I have to credit changing my mentality about weight classes as a reason I’ve improved as a lifter. Once I started eating to grow, I got stronger (duh, right?!). I think it’s crucial we expose this topic to lifters, especially women, early on in their powerlifting venture.
When it comes to the deadlift, a common mistake lifter’s make is they rush their set-up, resulting in poor upper-back positioning. I know this is something you have continually worked on over the years. What advice would you give to lifters who find themselves continually rushing their set-up and failing to get in a proper position prior to the initial pull?
It is hard to not get too caught up in the excitement and adrenaline before a big pull! This is something I have to check myself on because there are times I want to revert back to my “grip and rip” days. What I mean by “grip and rip” is when I was a beginner, I would go up to the bar and put little effort into setting up correctly which would result in either missed lifts, very poor technique or both. As I have progressed, I realized the importance of taking my time and thoughtfully setting up. I have found it helpful to approach the bar with the same setup and same thoughts/cues every single time in training, no matter if it’s a warm-up or working set. I am primarily a sumo puller and have two cues that are mandatory. One cue is to generate tension from my feet up and think about driving my hips toward the bar. The other cue is to be patient. Sumo pulls can be slow to break the floor, but it’s necessary to stick with it and be patient.
In one of your Instagram posts, you mentioned the need for “mental reps.” What exactly do mental reps entail? What does implementing mental reps mean to you and how has this benefited your career?
Visualization is when you vividly picture how you want your performance to go (whether in training or on the platform) so when I reference “mental reps,” I am talking about visualization. When I first started competing, I would get so nervous on the platform that I would consistently miss lifts that I had hit in the gym. This went on for my first five or six meets and I seriously questioned whether competition was for me or not. I knew I could be competitive if I could overcome my performance anxiety. I was desperate to conquer it! Eventually, I came across the book, “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain. The exercises in the book felt absurd to do, but they mentally guided and shaped me in a way I am forever thankful for because they allowed me to overcome my meet anxiety.
Let’s talk about horses. You have always had this incredible love and passion for horses. Horses have always been a part of your life and they always will be a part of your life. Please talk about the impact horses have had on your life, what they mean to you and talk about the importance of having an “outlet.” Has having an “outlet” such as your horses, made a difference in your life?
Horses were my first passion before I ever touched a barbell. My grandpa bought me my first pony in fifth grade and then riding became my outlet through my middle, high school and early college years. At this time, I no longer own horses or ride, but I still enjoy them. I wanted horses to be a part of my life, so I studied to become an equine bodyworker and opened my own business. Most of my clients are performance horses with demanding training and competition schedules. My job is to help keep their soft tissues “happy” so they can perform their best.
You spend a great deal of time during your training using the SSB. What benefits do you believe the SSB has provided for you and do you believe using the SSB has helped enhance your traditional barbell back squat technique?
The SSB is a big part of my “off-season” training. There are multiple reasons I find it beneficial and why it’s a staple for me. For one, it gives my upper body a break from the stress of a straight bar. Two, it builds my back strength and I know whenever my SSB squat numbers go up that my back squat and deadlift are going up too.
What is the most underutilized exercise in the gym that you think should be a “must” for any powerlifting/strength program and why?
Universally we could all benefit from strengthening our core and doing cardio. I always warm up with planks and dead bugs before squatting or deadlifting (I took the idea from Dr. Stu McGill when I was working through my SI injury). The thought process behind adding core work to your warmup is to get your core engaged and spinal erectors primed for work. The key with cardio would be to not do so much that it negatively affects your training, so I like walking or short duration bike sprints. Cardio helps with my recovery and definitely my conditioning.
Barrett Snyder is a CSCS and personal assistant for Swede Burns, Julia Ladewski (Anto) and Christian Anto. He is currently enrolled at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business.