This 21-Year-Old Was Afraid Of Free Weights And Now She’s A Badass Powerlifter


This profile is part of BuzzFeed Health’s health
transformation series, where we share the stories of people
who have made incredible overhauls to their health, fitness,
and lifestyles. Just remember, you should always check in
with a doctor before starting or changing your fitness
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4.
Marcinkowski has been into sports and exercise since she was
in middle school, but she was always afraid of the free
weight area.

Marcinkowski has been into sports and exercise since she was in middle school, but she was always afraid of the free weight area.

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She ran track and competed in the long jump in middle and
high school. But when it came to lifting weights, she was
inexperienced.

“Our gym teacher would bring the boys to the free weights and
the girls would stay huddled in the machine area. I’d stay on
the stair stepper and treadmill,” she said.

Too intimidated to lift weights and also afraid she’d get
bulky if she did, Marcinkowski stuck to cardio throughout
high school. “For the first two years of me getting into
fitness, I wouldn’t step foot into the free weight section
because of how intimidating everyone and everything was.”

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5. After
she graduated high school, Marcinkowski started going to the
gym with her brother.

After she graduated high school, Marcinkowski started going to the gym with her brother.

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“He was always telling me how great he felt after lifting
weights. I said ‘Please take me with you. I want to know what
it feels like,’” she says. He showed her around the free
weight area and taught her a few lifts.

“I slowly started to dabble with machines and with free
weights. It started to click, and it felt great compared to
cardio,” she says.

When her brother quit the gym, Marcinkowski was on her own.

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6. That’s
when she decided to teach herself.

That's when she decided to teach herself.

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Marcinkowski turned to YouTube to learn some lifting
fundamentals. She watched videos by powerlifter Mark Bell
as well as hours of video tutorials, like Omar
Isuf’s video on
how to deadlift properly.

As she collected pointers from experts, she’d go to the gym
and try to figure out how to mimic their form. “I would watch
myself in the mirror because it was the only way I knew.
There was no one to give me pointers,” she says.

“I kept going till I got it right.”

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7. By
January 2015 she was lifting seriously and following online
programs for workouts.

By January 2015 she was lifting seriously and following online programs for workouts.

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She tried different programs, like Jason Blaha’s
Ice Cream Fitness Program for novice lifters, and
hypertrophy-specific training for putting on size.

After seven months of lifting on her own, Marcinkowski wanted
to train for a weightlifting meet, but she was starting to
stall on her progress. So she hired a coach to write her
workouts, check in on her body composition, and advise her on
her diet. He’s based in Kentucky so Marcinkowski keeps a
detailed training log and sends it to him every week along
with videos of her lifts.

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8. In
December 2015 — less than a year since she started
powerlifting — Marcinkowski entered her first competition.

In December 2015 — less than a year since she started powerlifting — Marcinkowski entered her first competition.

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In powerlifting competitions, athletes perform a squat, a
deadlift, and a bench press. They get three attempts at each
lift and the goal is (duh) to move as much weight as possible
in each lift.

She squatted 261 pounds, bench pressed 127.5 pounds, and
deadlifted 341.2 pounds.

To understand how badass that is, at the time Marcinkowski
weighed 181 pounds, which means that she was squatting
almost one and a half times her bodyweight and deadlifting
almost twice her bodyweight.

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