CUPLC lifters smash Junior Nationals, bringing back 2nd place in the Men’s 83kg class

CUPLC's Suzanne, left, 'medalling' in All Englands Powerlifting's business ;)

CUPLC’s Suzanne Goulder has earned the coveted Half-Blue Cambridge Sporting Award after putting in her best-ever performance at the Great Britain Powerlifting Federation (GBPF) All England’s’ competition earlier this month (13/08/16). Suzanne, who competes in the junior 63kg category was able to lift personal records on all three powerlifting movements; the squat, the bench press and the deadlift - a rare feat.

In the competition, she finished with an impressive 105kg squat, beating her previous competition best by a huge 10kg. She was able to benchpress 62.5kg, which was not only 2.5kg above her previous competition best, but incredibly, more than her body weight, thus surpassing one of the classic ‘strength benchmarks’. Finally, she was able to deadlift 132.5kg(!) sumo-style, which was even more impressive when taking into account her training cycle, which only focused on a conventional set-up. All in all, she totalled a colossal 300kg, with a WILKS score of 328.98, which was enough to earn her the Half-Blue Sporting award.

In light of this amazing feat, we approached Suzanne to find out the story behind her success and there were plenty of lessons to take home.

Suzanne joined the powerlifting club in October 2014 after starting her Engineering degree at Cambridge. However, it was not until March 2015 when she finally decided to quit rowing that she focused fully on powerlifting. Aside from rowing, she also had an athletics background and had done long-distance running.

“I used to be a runner and always wanted to be smaller. After going through a stress related period where I dropped to 42kg I realised it was becoming an unhealthy obsession.”

Following this realisation, she was able to re-direct her discipline from the treadmill to the squat rack. Her desire to learn more about lifting weights, alongside the focus on strength rather than appearance drew her to powerlifting. But naturally, after a period of time following the start of something new, that initial surge of motivation can wear off, so how does Suzanne remain so focused? For her, it’s simple;

“Setting new PRs/having short term/long term PR goals to hit, having competitions to train towards and training with friends.”

And that last point is important. The social value of powerlifting cannot be underestimated. Whilst the performance is individual, the amazing people you meet in the club, and the motivation you get from watching their progress is one of the biggest benefits of the sport.

Suzanne’s consistency is in itself inspiring and she is one of the most dedicated athletes in the club. She follows a demanding 4-day weekly programme and while most powerlifters appear to have a phobia of cardio, she throws in an extra treadmill session for top-notch cardiovascular conditioning. Whilst it is true that powerlifting places great demand on a dedicated athlete, for Suzanne, the benefits far outweigh the very modest costs.

“I have so much more confidence, particularly in relation to body image. I enjoy being a part of the powerlifting community and have made some great friends through it. Also I have to eat a lot more food now to maintain weight which I can’t really complain about.”

She also has advice for anyone looking to get started,

“Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and film yourself lifting to check form. Try and set short term and long term goals to work towards (helps with motivation). Don’t underestimate the importance of enough/quality sleep”

She stresses the need for more women in the sport and has been a passionate advocate of greater female participation. One of the greatest barriers has been the perpetuation of myths, particularly gendered ones around body image. As someone who has experience in the sport, Suzanne is keen to dispel them.

“Women shouldn’t be afraid of hitting the weights room, you won’t bulk up into Arnie overnight so don’t worry - sadly we don’t have anywhere near enough testosterone for that.”

Looking forward, Suzanne is considering competing at the British Juniors as well as making the Varsity squad where Cambridge will take on Oxford next year.

CUPLC would like to celebrate Suzanne’s ever-growing list of achievements. We cannot stress enough how proud we are to have a top class athlete in our midst. Congratulations on your Half-Blue - you deserve it!

For motivation and inspiration, follow Suzanne’s instagram where you’ll see her impressive bench press arch (it has its own hashtag #archlikesuzanne) agitating the gymnasts ;).