• North Shore Barbell

Body Image & Powerlifting

Updated: Mar 5

'Muscles don’t look great on women' she said to my 5’2, 54kg frame with a tilted head and concerned expression.


It is incredibly common for people who exercise to lose some autonomy of their body image when they begin to compete or visibly exercise. Some comments can be welcome compliments, and some can be a painful reminder that your decision to exercise is seen by some as an open invitation to have an opinion on your body and your lifestyle.


From the casual comments from colleagues when you eat something they deem unhealthy, the age-old 'guess you can skip the gym today’ when you have lifted a box or helped someone move, the weight-check in with your coach and the sinking feeling when you realised you let yourself slip a little too far from the weight class over the festive season.


Your choice to compete in a sport that sorts people into groupings by weight will always ensure that your body is up for discussion to some extent. You must ensure you are comfortable with this and feel that you can speak up or make changes if you are not.



If body image in powerlifting is something that you are struggling with, consider the below:


  • Compete in the weight class you naturally fall in with no cutting. Many novice lifters fall into the trap of thinking that they will do better out of the gate with a cut to a lighter class. Your first few competitions should be about fun, testing your strength and learning the ropes. Weighing in and water cutting should not be a consideration or a concern. Once you have some experience and want to compete at a higher level, seek advice from a professional on safe ways to cut or gain.


  • Find a coach who makes you feel comfortable. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed when discussing your body with your coach if they make you feel this way – find someone else. Women especially have many fluctuations during their cycle, and you should be working with someone who you feel comfortable sharing this information with. If they are professional, they will be able to adapt to suit you and your body

  • Never let anyone dictate your weight. Everyone has an opinion; it is your responsibility only to take the advice of those you trust have your best interest at heart. We have all been told by a ‘gym bro’ that we would get more out of gaining some weight or be more competitive if we lost a few kgs. Everyone is different and every body is different. You are the only person that has to live with your decisions regarding your body. Only do what you feel is right for you.


Article written by Jacqui Larter

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