Buffy Shover’s Ventures into Powerlifting

by Buffy Shovers

As skaters we have all been told the importance of cross training. Over the four or so years I have been involved in roller derby, there have been times that I have picked up some sort of cross training but eventually my schedule got in the way and it fell off. A few months ago I decided to go searching out a cross training program yet again and found powerlifting. It’s been about five months now, but I’m pretty confident that we’re goin’ steady.

I have never described myself as physically strong. If there was something heavy to be moved, I had no issues admitting that I was too weak to take on the task. Prior to this program, I had never touched a barbell. My idea of a workout was cardio and maybe some work with light dumbbells. I was intimidated by a squat rack and had no idea where to begin.

Three days a week I pull myself from my bed at 5:30am and head to my neighborhood CrossFit box, where I spend the next hour with about ten other women picking up heavy stuff and putting them back down. We have great coaches that have created a program that challenges us while offering feedback through each of our lifts.

Since beginning powerlifting I have learned how to properly lift and have an understanding on how the programming aims to build strength. In terms of how it has impacted my skating, I am very excited whenever my teammates comment on how they notice I am getting strong but my biggest takeaway has been awareness of my body. Having a lifting coach ready to tell me when I wasn’t sitting back in my heels and pointing out how obvious it was that I didn’t fully engage my core, I am much more aware of what my body is doing on the track. I’ve found myself more interested in self-checking that I’m staying low, keeping my chest upright when blocking, and pointing my toes when driving an opponent off the track. (This doesn’t mean I’m always successful!) Since so much is happening on the track during practice and scrimmage, our coaches and teammates can’t offer constant feedback. With powerlifting being a more slow moving sport, feedback on form is readily available.

As we experience with roller derby, I’ve met some setbacks with powerlifting. Some days the weight feels like a feather, other days my knees are ready to give in. I’ve also seen other women make greater gains than I do, which can be extremely frustrating. It’s hard to stop yourself from comparing yourself to others, but I think I am doing a decent job in reminding myself that we all have different rates of progression. For an athlete I am not very competitive, I usually just give things my best shot and if I don’t come out on top I don’t beat myself up. While sometimes the negative thoughts creep up, I’m aiming to prove them wrong. It might not be in the immediate future, but I am committed to this new sport and am excited to see where it takes me.

I love the skating in roller derby and the lifting in powerlifting, but there is one thing that keeps me going back to both: community. I can go on and on about how important community, particularly women-driven community, means to me but I’ll keep this short. There are no words to describe the feeling of having friends cheer you on while you push your body to its limits. And nothing beats having a badass friend tell you that too are a badass.

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