Ms. Shirley Webb took the world by storm. This 78 years old grandmother made headlines when she set the Illinois record for deadlifting at 237 pounds, and the Missouri record for 215 pounds, both in age and weight groups. I had the pleasure of talking with Ms. Webb and learning why she started powerlifting and how it changed her life.
How did you get into powerlifting?
My granddaughter, Dorian, asked me to join Club Fitness (a local fitness facility) with her just for the physical exercise. I had not been really physically active for the past 20-25 years, other than just walking. Once we started exercising I found it fun and invigorating. My trainer, John Wright, took notice of my strength and ability to lift heavy weights. Then he introduced me to powerlifting and I’ve been working on it for approximately 2 years.
What advice would you give women new to the sport or maybe apprehensive of their age?
Before starting training I was having difficulty negotiating stairs and arising from a floor when down. Hindsight says these problems were due solely to a lack of physical exercise. Physical exercise is a must for a healthy body. Age should not be a factor for doing physical exercise and if you choose to live, lift what you can. Start where you are. Anyone can powerlift, as long as they are supervised by a trainer.
What are my personal records?
Squat: 132 lbs during competition.
Bench press: 88 lbs during competition.
Deadlift: 248 lbs during competition but I got 255 lbs while at the gym.
What is your typical week of training?
It consists of the following an hour session with my trainer 2 days/week. However, when I know I am going to compete I meet with my trainer 3 days/week. Starting with a typical warm up exercise is usually 10 mins of walking on a treadmill. Then I lift weights as controlled by my trainer. After that, I proceed with overall body exercises, like floor exercises, machines, etc.
Why do you powerlift?
I was born on a small farm in Kentucky. My parents were poor, they had a large family and gardening was a necessity. All family members had to work hard. My Dad and brothers were strong men and I have my Dad’s genes. I have always been a strong woman and I soon discovered that my strength gene was still there and willing to work. At the suggestion of my trainer, we started working on powerlifting and the rest is history.
It's amazing women like Ms. Webb that set the bar really high for all of us and for that we salute you!