SWEETWATER COUNTY—Sweetwater County resident and Green River High School agriculture teacher Liz Withers took first place at the FitCon IPL Powerlifting World Cup in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 6 and 7.
Withers has always been a “fitness enthusiast”, but she started powerlifting four years ago when her fiancé introduced the sport to her.
“He was doing it when we first met and going to the gym was our thing together. He switched me over from just doing cardio and lifting light weights to doing way less cardio and more heavy lifting.
“I had the chance to see him lift in a few competitions and finally decided I should try it out and see what I was capable of, and I have been hooked ever since,” Withers said.
Her first competition was in June of 2017 and she has participated in three competitions since then.
Overall Best Lifter at FitCon
At the FitCon IPL Powerlifting World Cup, Withers lifted a total of 1,008 pounds, which is a combination of her squat at 385 pounds, bench press at 214.9 pounds, and deadlift at 407.5 pounds.
This earned her first in her weight class, which is the 132 to 148-pound weight class, and the overall best lifter title out of about 30 women.
“For the overall best lifter award, a calculation is done with all of the lifters’ total weight lifted and their body weight to determine who is the strongest pound for pound. Out of all of the women, my score ended up being the highest,” Withers said.
Withers recorded personal bests in all of her lifts and surpassed her goal of lifting 1,000 pounds.
“Taking first at FitCon was a huge honor. There were many strong competitive women that have been doing this sport for a while at this competition, so it truly meant a lot to me to place first,” Withers said.
What is Powerlifting?
Withers explains that whereas Olympic weightlifting is made up of two lifts, being the Snatch and the Clean-and-Jerk, powerlifting is comprised of three lifts: the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift.
Athletes are categorized by sex, age, and bodyweight, and each competitor is allowed three attempts at each lift. The best lift in each discipline is added to their total score.
The athlete with the highest total is the winner.
Goals for the Sport
When Withers got into powerlifting, her goal was to get stronger, but she also wanted to be able to perform her lifts with correct form.
“There is a lot of technique that goes into the sport of powerlifting. It is one thing to be able to lift a lot of weight, but it is another to lift a lot of weight and do it properly,” Withers said.
“Slowly but surely I am perfecting the form I have on my lifts. This I know will take time and a lot of practice.”
She hopes to continue to increase her numbers without sacrificing her form. With every competition, she has been able to increase the weight she can lift in all three lifts, and she hopes to continue increasing weight as she competes.
She also wants to start competing at higher level meets.
Accomplishments and Training
Withers holds the Wyoming State records for Squat, Bench, Deadlift, as well as the record for the 148-pound weight class for the United States Powerlifting Association in the raw division. Raw division means she only wears knee sleeves and a lifting belt when she squats.
She is also ranked in the top 25 nationally for her Squat and Total among all powerlifting associations.
“When we are training, we cycle through our core lifts, doing one each day: squat, bench, and deadlift, and then repeat.
“We will start a training cycle with higher reps and lower weight to work on form and endurance, but as we get closer to a meet, we will lower the reps and increase the weight and still work on form.
“With each core lift, we will do two or three accessory lifts as well. We usually take one to two days off during the week to rest,” Withers said.
“Strength is Empowering”
Withers trains hard because she loves the sport and the challenge it presents.
“It truly pushes you to your limits and tests you not only physically but mentally as well,” Withers said.
“I feel that for all women, strength is empowering, and I love that I can accomplish that through powerlifting. I always tell people, ‘I don’t want to look skinny, I want to look strong’.”
Withers loves the adrenaline rush that competing gives her. All of the work she has put in day after day is put to the ultimate test when she competes.
“There is an immense sense of satisfaction at the end of a meet, when you know you have left everything you can on the platform,” Withers said.
She also likes that in powerlifting, she is her own greatest competition.
“If you can beat yourself and progress with your lifts, then you win either way,” she said.