10 Questions with Sarah Menzies
Updated: Mar 5
10 questions is a blog series hosted by North Shore Barbell aimed at giving exposure to some of New Zealand's top powerlifters & coaches.
Sarah has been on the NZ powerlifting scene for a relatively short period of time but she has certainly made an impact, snagging a New Zealand record in the incredibly stacked 63kg class as well as a national title in 2019.
Based on her rate of progress, we reckon she'll be one to watch out for on a world level in the next couple of years.
Best lifts in competition:
152.5kg Squat / 92.5kg Bench / 185.5kg Deadlift | 425.5kg Total at 63kg
Visit Sarah's OpenPowerlifting profile for more information on his lifting history.
Tell us a bit about yourself
Hey, I’m Sarah Menzies, I’m 27 years old and I was born and raised in the mighty Waikato. I moved to Auckland to study after high school and aside from taking a bit of time off to travel and study abroad in the USA, I’ve lived here ever since. I work as a nurse in the Emergency Department at Auckland City Hospital which I absolutely love. Despite the challenges that come with shift work, the work-life balance of a nurse is, on a whole, pretty awesome and it allows for lots of free time to go to the beach, hiking and of course training on days off.
How did you start lifting weights, at what age and why?
I’ve played a variety of sport for as long as I can remember, I’ve literally tried it all; I played soccer for 15 years, I got my junior black belt in karate, I was on gymnastics, athletics, cricket teams etc but once I got to Uni and subsequently started doing shift work, I realised how difficult it was to attend regular scheduled team practices and games. I floated around for a few years, just doing endless hours of running for fitness (which I absolutely hated) because I thought that was my only option in maintaining a healthy lifestyle (how naive I was) and I eventually got so fed up with how boring cardio was that I gave weights a try LOL. This was only about 3 years ago at age 24.
Sarah about to hit a squat at New Zealand record breakers 2018
What drew you to Powerlifting specifically?
Once I got the hang of the basics in the gym, I was hungry for more but wasn’t sure where to look next. My mum has always weight trained and had competed in powerlifting before so I knew a bit about what that would involve but I had always been adamant that I didn't want to try it because I “didn’t want to get bulky” and “didn’t want to be too muscly” (god, if only I knew how hard it was going to be to put on muscle back then) so instead, I gave Crossfit a go. I soon found out, Crossfit involved a nauseating amount of cardio and so I quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me. I caved, and asked for a recommendation from mum for a powerlifting gym and she mentioned one called Getstrength. I sent an email to John Strachan, asking for a trial and off I went.
Little did I know, I had hit the jackpot and was walking into a trial with a world class powerlifting coach and was getting involved in a sport that I would come to absolutely love!
Sarah with coach John Strachan at New Zealand record-breakers 2018
Who or what are your biggest influences when it comes to lifting and anything related to it?
My biggest influences when it comes to powerlifting are firstly my coach, John Strachan, who has taught me everything I know about the sport of powerlifting. Literally everything from how to properly un-rack a bar from a squat rack to the fact that the white stuff people put on their legs when they deadlift is talcum powder, not chalk. Secondly, my mum, dad, and partner, Luke. They influence me daily to work hard, persevere, and give everything to each training session. I’m lucky to have such a solid support network in these people, they keep me accountable and motivate me to train when it’s the last thing I want to do. Thirdly, I love watching other members of the NZPF posting their lifting videos on social media, knowing that everyone’s out there and putting in the effort, which makes me want to work just as hard.
What’s your best lifting memory or moment?
My best lifting memory would have to be pulling a 185.5kg deadlift at Nationals 2019, securing a new NZ record and best overall female lifter. I had gone into that comp with those two goals in mind and to reach them was such a highlight of my lifting so far!
Sarah's 185.5kg deadlift at New Zealand Nationals 2019
What has been your biggest lifting fail?
Probably my performance at the Asia Pacific champs 2019 haha.. I had been sick with a flu the week prior to the competition and didn’t want to tell anyone including my coach at home, John, or the meet day coaches (what was I thinking?!).
Somehow I thought I could pull it together despite feeling weak as hell, depleted, feverish and sweating out all my electrolytes. I still don’t actually think I’ve told John about this so he may just be finding out now (sorry!!). As you can imagine, my opening squat that day was an absolute grinder, I was struggling to rehydrate all comp and I had to switch from sumo to conventional *face palm* for my final deadlift as a last-ditch attempt to lift something respectable.
What a day.
What’s the best gym you’ve ever been to and/or trained at?
Getstrength - Hands down.
They've got great equipment and it’s an awesome space but the people are what make a gym great and GS has some of the best.
What are your top 3 songs to lift to?
I honestly couldn’t give you a list haha. You’d probably be as surprised to know, as I am embarrassed to tell you, that I listen to country music when lifting HAHA (probably why I never really hype up for a lift). Sometimes I will literally lift a gym PB to absolute silence.
Strange, I know.
What is your “guilty pleasure” exercise?
Lateral raises, seated shoulder press, anything to blast the shoulders really. Bicep pumps are over-rated, I’ll take a juicy shoulder pump any day thanks.
Kiss, marry, kill - Squat, Bench & Deadlift and why?
Kiss - Deadlift
My deadlift can be awesome at times, but man it can also cause me a lot of grief. It’s naturally a strong lift for me but I have trust issues with how my technique is gonna hold up on any given day. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with deadlifts so can’t quite commit to marrying it.
Marry - Bench
I love bench. If I could only do one lift for the rest of my life, it would be bench. Don’t come at me with how boring bench is because bench is loyal and I will happily walk down the isle with bench.
Kill - Squat
Easily the easiest option here. I’ve gotta kill it before it kills me.
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