Thursday, 10 August 2017 10:57

Powerlifters achieve success at first competition

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Swift Current Powerlifting Club Coach Wayne Cormier speaks to powerlifters Andrea Bregg (at back) and Valerie Lenuik while they warm up at the 2017 Trench Powerlifting Open in Regina, July 22. Swift Current Powerlifting Club Coach Wayne Cormier speaks to powerlifters Andrea Bregg (at back) and Valerie Lenuik while they warm up at the 2017 Trench Powerlifting Open in Regina, July 22.

Two Swift Current powerlifters are preparing for the 2017 Saskatchewan Provincial Powerlifting and Bench Press Championships later this month after successfully competing in their first competition in Regina.

Valerie Lenuik and Andrea Bregg competed in the 63 kilogram women’s open weight class at the 2017 Trench Powerlifting Open in Regina, July 22.
Lenuik won gold with a total weight of 295 kilogram and Bregg finished fourth with a total weight of 250 kilogram. Lenuik made a 120 kilogram squat lift, a 57.5 kilogram lift on the bench press and she did a deadlift of 117.5 kilogram. Bregg did a squat lift of 90 kilogram, a bench press of 50 kilogram and a deadlift of 110 kilogram.
Swift Current Powerlifting Club Coach Wayne Cormier said the two lifters did very well in their first competition.
“The weight class that they were in, is the most competitive weight class,” he noted. “So I knew they were going to be in tough, that the competition was going to be tight.”
He was not surprised with their results, because they were well prepared for the event.
“Their technique was sound,” he said. “Powerlifting is all about technique, and we worked on technique a lot. There were some warm-up jitters, I could see that my athletes were nervous, but we just focused that nervous energy into lifting. … So I was really impressed, really happy with their lifting.”
Their preparation included visualization exercises to help them deal with any nervousness on the day of the competition, and it paid off.
“I have them visualize everything that they're going to do in that lift,” he explained. “So when they do get distracted at a competition and there's nervousness, I tell them go back to the visualization, just visualize your lifts.”
Both powerlifters are university students and therefore not in Swift Current for a large part of the year. Bregg is studying education at the University of Regina and Lenuik is completing a degree in applied human nutrition at the University of Guelph, but Cormier will coach them through video when they are away. He will evaluate their training sessions on video and then provide them feedback.
“We've done most of the coaching via video, but since they came back we've had some training sessions,” he said. “Most of it is video, checking technique. You can read technique pretty good. I'll critique it and send back my suggestions.”
Lenuik, who is currently working as the Summer Fun Program Coordinator at the Swift Current branch of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council, was surprised with her gold medal at her first competition.
“I was not really going in expecting too much,” she said. “I knew that I was pretty strong, but I had no idea that I would get first place.”
She experienced a whole range of emotions during the day, starting with the uncertainty of trying to make her weight class.
“I was very nervous that I wasn’t going to make my weight class and I was only a 100 grams under what my max weight could be,” she said. “Then once that was over, the day was just a mix of emotions really. I was pretty much starving at that point, so once getting food into me, then the nerves started up again for my first lift. It was a mixture of nervous and anxious and excitement.”
She had to limit her calorie intake in the weeks prior to the competition while continuing with her intense workouts, and she stopped eating and drinking the day before the competition to ensure that her weight was as close as possible to the maximum allowed in her class. If she competes in the next weight class, she will be at a competitive disadvantage against other lifters who are heavier.
“I notice when I’m heavier I can lift more weight and when I’m lighter and when I’ve dieted down, my strength isn’t as strong,” she said. “So it’s just a competitive advantage to be at the top of your weight class rather than at the bottom.”
She was a dancer for many years and only took up powerlifting after speaking to Cormier at a gym in Swift Current.
“I never would have imagined that I would be competing in a powerlifting competition,” she said. “I did not even know it was a thing until a few months into going to the gym.”
She became interested in powerlifting because it is a good feeling to be able to increase her own strength.
“It just keeps me coming back to see if I can keep lifting more and more, and keep getting those good feelings,” she said.
Lenuik and Bregg are now preparing for the provincial powerlifting championships, which takes place in Regina on Aug. 26 and 27. It will be an opportunity to qualify for the national championships in Calgary next February, but it will require a total qualifying lift of at least 302.5 kilogram.
According to Cormier, the short time period between their first competition and the upcoming provincial championship will require a balancing act during their preparation. Their goal will be to lift more to achieve the qualifying weight without becoming fatigued before the event.
“We need to make sure they recuperate from all of this training they've done, but at the same time we have to increase their strength,” he said. “So what we're going to do is decrease their volume, but increase their max lifts. So less sets with heavier weight. Really with three to four weeks in-between a championship, that's all you can do.”
Cormier is preparing for a competition at the end of December, when he wants to qualify for the national championships. He will also continue to coach the eight powerlifters who are currently members of the Swift Current Powerlifting Club.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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