Introduce yourself to the GWPL community

My name is Ellen Stein-I am a 65-year-old retired (since 10/2010) Verizon employee and self-proclaimed crazy cat lady! born and still living in Brooklyn, NY

When did you get into lifting and why?
In 1994 after a successful 15 year running career (every distance from the mile to the marathon) I joined a local gym and saw a bunch of big guys covered in powder and chalk yelling and lifting heavy ass weights and was immediately intrigued. I needed something different to challenge me athletically

Best meet total to date?
983 lbs RAW (sleeves), 1025 lbs RAW (wraps), 1050 lbs (single ply) all in the 132 lb (60kg) class

Which of the big 3 is your favorite and why?

The deadlift because squats scare the crap out of me since more things can go wrong during them and benching is not my best lift given my long arms and narrow grip-it is, however, my MOST IMPROVED lift

You have a nickname, "949 Ellen Stein", how did that come about?I historically always make smart attempt selections thanks to awesome coaching by Matt Gary (2009-2015) and Swede Burns (2015-present) however the name was fondly given to me by Matt when it became a regular occurrence-the fact that it rhymed certainly helped!

What is your greatest accomplishment in powerlifting?
Totaling over 1000lbs twice at 64 years old and now again at 65!

What gets you through the tough training sessions?
Lots of coffee, 12 hours of sleep daily, great training partners and the positive gym atmosphere where I currently train (Harbor Fitness). I also drink VITARGO which is a high carb fuel mixed in with a half dose of SSP pre-workout

What advice do you have for women getting into powerlifting?
Get a coach (not an online one either), stay away from PED's until you at least reach menopause and even then under a doctor's supervision! -follow a program for a LONG time-get a group of people to support you in the gym and even at meets -limit your time on social media

As all women know, as we get older our bodies change. How has your training changed to combat those changes? (i.e. frequency, mobility, rest, etc.) 
I get more sleep now that I am retired so I recover really well. I train smarter now and don't push the envelope by maxing out constantly. I train in the 70-80% range until it comes time to peak. I only train 3 days a week with my volume being mostly in my assistance work

You've been around powerlifting for some time, how have you seen it change over the years. 

Well, the most obvious change is that social media has had a tremendous influence on and presence in the sport. When I began all the info we were able to get was through the magazine Powerlifting USA. Also, the first meet I ever did there was 2 women competing (I came in 2nd place :( ) Now there are meets (think USAPL Raw Nationals ) that have sometimes 500 women competing in them. I think part of that has to do with the influence Crossfit has had on bringing back barbell training. Women are stronger than ever I think partly due to the availability of coaching and support from their peers and even the men in the sport. It is not unusual to see men supporting their women at meets and the men have accepted our strength and encourage us-we are not outliers anymore.


  • faith yunitis: May 30, 2019

    You are awesome? I have seen you lift at a show. I am 67 yo and it’s so true how our bodies change as we age. My recovery time is longer at 67 yo. I will continue to push and pull until i cant do it anymore. You are a great inspiration to us older women. Hat off to you.

  • Denise Moore: February 02, 2019

    I am 55 and just started strength training a year ago. I have an awesome coach in Huntsville, AL. Just listened to your podcast with Heidi. You have inspired me to keep working. My numbers have stalled, but hanging in there!!!

  • Gigi Cappelletty : July 28, 2018

    Hi Ellen, thank you so much for your inspiring story! I’m 63 and started lifting seriously last year. I did my first meet last November with bench and deadlift..I was scared of the squat 😝. This November I’m doing my 2nd meet with USPA and doing full raw. Deadlifts are my favorite too! I work out at Chalk it Up Strength in Cotati, CA and have an amazing help with trainer Rob Hager. Rob and Allie own the gym and are sponsoring the upcoming meet. Super supportive gym members! I love the powerlifting atmospher and camaraderie 💪

  • Nancy Lowther: May 01, 2018

    Great story, Ellen! I am also a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and I am a 59 year old powerlifter. I’ve been lifting for about 6 years now with a best meet total of 675 lbs. My goal this year is to hit a 300 lb. deadlift, and your story has really inspired me to keep reaching for that goal!!!

  • Dianne Shay: May 01, 2018

    I’m a 71 year old crazy lifter too. Your numbers are awesome. I’ve been lifting for 16 mos. love the sport, Wish I would have started 40 years ago but never going to quit. When I first started my kids would say “mom, you’re too old, you’re going to get hurt”. Now my daughter has joined my journey. Love the community, Love the spirit!

  • Mary Beth Dawson : April 27, 2018

    Ellen! You are amazing I live in Rockaway and am the dept chair of bio at Kingsborough…we were practically neighbors!! I lift on my own but am thinking about getting an in person coach…have to check out harbor.

  • Ellen ferra: April 25, 2018

    Awesome insight and advice! Amazing accomplishments!

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

GWPL - Gift Card

Regular Price
from $ 25.00
Sale Price
from $ 25.00
Regular Price
Unit Price
Translation missing: en.general.accessibility.unit_price_separator 


Explain the benefits of subscribing

More posts

Quickly Breaking Down Training Volume

by Gage Reid of Nova Strength In the following article I'll be covering training volume, Minimum Effective Dose (MED), Max...