Lindsay is 31 years of age and has been involving in weight-training since high-school. She was one of two females to sign up for her high-schools strength and conditioning class, and since then her love for lifting and training has never wavered. Anybody who knows female powerlifting knows the name, Lindsay Gray, as she continues to make her mark on the sport. Lindsay describes powerlifting as a “sport like no other,” and it has been through the sport of powerlifting that Lindsay has made everlasting relationships, found world-class coaches, and most importantly, a community she can call family.
What type of training program/method do you use? Why have you found this specific program/method to be ideal for you?
Ryan Sylva is my coach and does all my programming. I run a conjugate style program, but not your traditional “westside” conjugate method. I enjoy this type of programming because I enjoy the variation and the opportunity to perform heavy lifts fairly frequently. I think that the variation and constantly bringing up my weaknesses has made all the difference. This type of programming also keeps me from getting bored and antsy to take an off-program single for a ride.
There will be many women reading this article who are trying to balance their powerlifting career with motherhood; two things you have been able to maximize. What advice do you have for mothers who want to remain competitive in powerlifting (strength sports) while also being the best mother they can be?
I don’t love the term “balance” because I think a perfect balance is a myth in a lot of ways. But, we can prioritize time management (mothers have an advantage with this after juggling life around nap schedules, ha-ha). I try to take the approach that training is non-negotiable. Sometimes that means getting up at 5:30 am to go train or dragging my children to a gym that has childcare. Time is precious and life is messy, but I know I am going to train at some point. It is just a matter of planning where it will fit into the day.
There is a ton of give and take but remember as you hustle your children around to practices and school, you are still a living, breathing human with goals and aspirations. Motherhood just adds a very rewarding layer to your life and shifts priorities around. You will always put their needs first, it is a given, it's instinctual. Stop thinking you’re taking something away from them by investing time in what excites you outside of motherhood. My best advice: ACCEPT THE HELP. When Camilla was discharged and we finally got home to Florida, I was so worried about troubling someone. My husband worked roughly 12-14 hour days, I had no family nearby, it was just me and this incredibly fragile little human who was discharged with a medical record thicker than a snicker and who still had wires & tubes all over the place. I was too proud to ask anyone for anything, EVER. Eventually, you realize that when someone offers to help you, it is because they WANT to help you. Accept it. It is okay.
The sport of powerlifting brought you into the powerlifting community. What impact has the powerlifting community had on your life? Talk about the relationships you have developed, the mentors you have found, and how the powerlifting community has impacted your life for the better?
I came into powerlifting with very little understanding of the sport itself. Even after my first competition, I did not have a great grasp on it in its entirety, but I knew I liked it a whole lot. I trained alone and thought of it as an individual sport. When I came to Perfect Storm I slowly realized what it meant to embrace powerlifting from a community aspect. You get to train around people who deadlift your total, so you can be intimidated out of your mind or you can adjust and rise to meet their tone. In those people, you have endless knowledge. Those strong people have probably screwed up a lot and they can probably save you some time. It is a community where whatever caliber lifter you are, everyone around you wants to see you be better and they won’t co-sign your BS. They will tell you when a squat looked high and they will call you on the carpet if your deadlift PR wasn’t locked out because they CARE to hold you to a better standard.
Last summer I had a fantastic meet, my favorite ever, The IKG Treasure Coast Classic. I did not have a handler last minute and I got a message from Amy letting me know she & Emery would be there and they took care of me the entire day. They did not have to do that, he had lifters of his own to worry about, but when squats came up Emery was wrapping my knees and after my second bench was an absolute grind Amy helped me make the call to pass on the third to save some gas for pulls.
At the end of the day, we all have a goal of strength and a common respect for a loaded barbell. We all make our best attempt at controlling an extreme stimulus for about ten seconds. What may very well make or break your best meet is who you have in your corner.
A quote from your Instagram reads, “I hope you don’t apologize because someone else doesn’t appreciate that you aren’t afraid to exist as you are. Bring them up with you. Be kind. Stay weird. Exist loudly. Be bold.” To you, what does it mean to “exist loudly” and to “be bold?” Further, please talk to individuals who want to “exist loudly” and who want to “be bold,” but are having a difficult time finding ways to do just that. What advice would you give them? How can they start existing loudly and living boldly as you do?
To exist loudly you need to look inward and embrace what you find there and go against the grain as it suits you. I like what I like; I am who I am and I do not care if it is trending or not. When I turned 30, my gift to myself was to stop saying yes when I wanted to say no. Stop living to please people and stop feeling the need to offer an explanation all the time. I do not think people always realize the power that they yield when they stop letting fear dim their light. Energy is best spent going after whatever it is that makes your heart feel full, opportunity follows passion. Remain unbothered by anything other than what YOU deem worthy of your precious time and pour yourself into what stirs your soul. My turning point was learning not to take every interaction so personally and allowing yourself to explore things from more perspectives than just your own.
I would venture to say, most individuals, at one point or another in their life, have been bullied, made fun of, and made to think they are not worthy. Although this is incredibly unfortunate, it leads to an interesting question, how does someone develop “thick skin?” When others try to tear you down, how we can be resilient and develop thick skin? How can we mentally and emotionally prevent hurtful rhetoric from derailing our dreams and pursuits?
Bullying weighs heavily on my heart as the parent of a special need’s child. It keeps me up at night. The internet has made it so easy for people to anonymously take a jab and it sucks when you are on the receiving end of it. Furthermore, it is almost as if people will tear someone down for ANY little thing these days.
I think developing thick skin is protecting your energy. I am a firm believer that hurt people, hurt people. And I take the approach that other people’s opinion of me is none of my business. There are still people in this world who think highlighting your weaknesses or flaws will hide their own. Their issue probably has very little to do with you and everything to do with how they feel about themselves. If you would not go to them for advice, take their criticism with a grain of salt. In other words, you do not leave the high ground to run with rats. Deal with it directly in whatever way empowers YOU, either a witty clap back or ignoring them completely. Block buttons aren’t just for the internet, don’t be afraid to cut people off in any platform of your life.
What is the most underutilized exercise in the gym that you think should be a “must” for any powerlifting/strength program and why? What exercise does not get the love it deserves?
Hack Squats. Hack Squats set my quads on fire and big powerful quads make big squats. I would add that I think accessories get neglected in general. I think especially as a beginner it is important to remember that while aesthetics are not your goal, building muscle is still important. Do not just do the fun main movements and then skip out. Look at accessories as the details, and if you are sloppy with the details in training, you will be sloppy in the details on the platform.
Over the years how have you been able to hone your deadlift technique? For those reading this who want to continue to improve their deadlift, what advice can you provide them? What have been some of the biggest breakthroughs you have experienced that have helped your deadlift?
The first cue that put me at a turning point was to push the floor away. After months and months of trying to rip the bar off the floor, one day it just clicked…you push the floor away from you! Cues are worthless unless you know how to use them and I tend not to know how to use them until I feel them and then the lightbulb turns on. Therefore, make sure you communicate specifically with your coach regarding how you learn best so they can give you information in the proper manner for your process. Sylva taught me how to be patient off the floor and build tension. I still have to actively think about turning my elbows out (this makes a huge difference in my chest positioning) and setting my chin before I start my pull. Sumo is so technical. I know that the range of motion is shorter, and everyone will joke about it being cheating until the end of time but the fact is, if you are starting in a bad position, the barbell will not even leave the floor.
As a mother, what are the most important lessons you continue to reiterate to your children day in and day out? What “life lessons” have you found to be most impactful in your own life, that you are routinely trying to pass on to your children?
As cliché as it sounds, I am big on the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. I think it is important to walk that fine line of allowing individuals to mess up, because living your mistakes goes a long way in helping you appreciate the lesson in them. Admittedly, I was a helicopter mom and I boiled every pacifier that so much as touched the floor when Camilla got out of the NICU. However, there comes a point when you cannot sterilize the world for them anymore, but you can help them grow into making good choices by showing what it looks like mess up and own it, to fall down and get back up, and to work through frustrations (albeit maybe a little dramatically, ha-ha).
In your opinion, what is the key to living a good life?
When your time on this earth comes to an end. How do you want others to remember you?
I want to go out swinging, as someone who walked her talk. I would want to be remembered for being kind, and maybe moderately funny.