Alright!! We are taking a bit of a detour today! But let me tell you, it’s an awesome detour! Many of you follow me out of the bikini, figure and fitness competition world and many want to just be stronger! Well guess what? I got to talk to this amazing lady who can help us dive deeper into getting stronger and talk to us ALLL about it! And that is because she is a freaking POWERLIFTER! Ladies, this is so much different from where I started but Solana Lewis is bringing us fitness at a different end of the spectrum, and I LOVE IT! How heavy can I lift stuff? How heavy can I get strong as fuck!
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So, a little bit about this bad ass chic!! Solana Lewis is a Junior IPF World Champion powerlifter. She has been working extensively with powerlifting athletes for over 4 years now and has coached them through competitions as well as handled their nutrition. Solana coaches powerlifting athletes online and provides video analysis to educate her clients and improve their technique to ensure success with the barbell.
Her ultimate goal is to advance powerlifters to improve their total lifts while keeping them healthy! And I am so excited for you to read all about what we got to talk about in this latest Fit Girl Magic podcast!
Solana started powerlifting in college, but like many other women, didn’t want to get bulky, but she gave it a shot anyway and she never looked back! After working as a personal trainer for a few years, she transitioned into a full time, online powerlifting coach! She loves helping people and knew that this was how she was going to do it in combination with her passions. “Food is fuel, food is good, and I am teaching people this and how to get stronger.”
For everyone who doesn’t know what powerlifting is, what exactly is it?
Powerlifting consists only of the barbell back squat, barbell bench press, and barbell deadlift. It is either performed as sumo variation with wider legs, hands inside legs, or conventional hands outside the legs. Powerlifting is not in the Olympics. In the Olympics there is weightlifting! The whole point of powerlifting is to lift as much weight as you possibly can for 1 rep! So, you will Squat 3 times, Bench 3 times, and DL 3 times. This gives you a total of 9 attempts and the goal is to build into the 3rd attempt! In the end, they add up the heaviest attempt of each left and that is your total. The person with the highest total wins. There are multiple weight classes, and the highest in each weight class wins.
I work with those women who want to compete, who want to get stronger in those things, teaching them form and so on and so forth. No matter what your goal is, people lose sight of things. It’s more about teaching women the subtle nuances of the form. Many of us have gone to the gym and “muscle” our way through a squat. But many of us feel stuck and we don’t understand that is something as simple as breathwork or pointing our toes out. We don’t realize everything is about form. Having good form is essential. How many people are jacked up for years from the wrong form of powerlifting? The technique needs to be correct in order to not get disqualified in these meets. Once your technique is on point, the build-up starts really fast!
The amazing thing about powerlifting is that you can essentially do it from anywhere. ESPECIALLY at home with your family because you don’t need to spend 2 hours a day in the gym working out! The average woman I work with is over 40 and has children. So being able to do this from home during Covid was a huge thing for my clients.
I wish every woman tried powerlifting! Everyone should experience what it is like to progress and get stronger. You can literally see your progress from 3 months ago to now! You have a goal that is not just to look good in a bikini, it is a bigger goal than that. YOU CAN SEE the progress of that goal, and in turn you are more motivated to keep going! You are going to see more results by lifting heavier and you are going to see it in more acts of daily living. AND as a result of lifting heavier.. I AM SHRINKING!
As I get ready for a show, do I think to myself what weight class do I want to be in?
When you first start, compete in the weight class you are already at. There is no such thing as too big or too small in powerlifting. The classes go from 100 pounds to 242+, so it is a massive range and there is a place for everyone in the weight classes.
Am I chasing a number on the scale or more than my weight numbers?
Your weight numbers. The goal is to GET as strong as possible. Then wherever you fall weight-wise, I say that is where you want to commit. The stronger you get, you can go to the elites, and you can win money or get national records! Even for the elites, wherever your weight is, if you are 5 pounds above a weight class at that point you will want to cut down to that lower weight class. But you are not dieting hard, it’s more water loss.
For a typical person, how much time would I spend on average at the gym?
This all depends on the person. But if you can dedicate 3 days a week training for up to 2 hours, that is 6 hours grand total a week, you can set yourself up for powerlifting! There are people who have more time and that is great, but we can spread it out and make it 4 times a week and have shorter sessions. 5 days a week? – a little over an hour each day! That is, it! Most people have time for powerlifting, they just think powerlifters are in the gym for 3-4 hours a day. No one needs to be there for that long!!
If I decide to do this, how much lead time do I need for a show? How long is prep depending on fitness level?
This does depend on the fitness level. If you’re coming to me for coaching, I’m assuming you’ve already done a barbell back squat, bench and a deadlift, it may not look great, but you are not coming to me saying I’ve never exercised before… Most of the people coming to me have never done a meeting before but they’ve done all the other stuff. That person can probably get them ready for their first meet ever in 4 months.
We have to get that technique down in order for it to be at competition standard. Then once we get to that point, let’s take 10-12 weeks to do the first official meet prep!
What am I judged on with the technique at these meets? Are there rules that you have to get away with certain things?
For powerlifting squats, you have to squat with your hips below the level of your knee at the bottom of the squat. Below parallel. Your hips have to get lower than the knee crease for it to count.
We get hate for it all the time and that is from the people who see we are arching in the gym. The stigma of arching will hurt your back is false. It’s only if you do something wrong. Your back has a natural curve, we are just pushing a little more into it. The bar has to stop the chest, stop moving then push it back up. You have to arch so you can use your knees to give you lift and there is no limit on an arch in your back.
All you have to do is lift it up, lock out the shoulders, lock the hips, and fully stand up.
Then when they say bring it down, you bring it down without dropping it. If you can do this, you are good and you have a competition-ready deadlift.
Mindset: I come to powerlifting and I say let’s get this done! You are providing me with my nutrition. What is the main focus for you when you are starting something on their nutritional journey toward powerlifting?
It is all about what can we add more to your diet? The issue is they are trying to eat less, and I am like, “okay, let’s add more vegetables and protein!” We see what vegetables they are missing, and we make sure we eat carbs and protein before you train so that way you can have a nice feeling session!
I usually start women up on maintenance. And that includes increasing their calories because most of them are not eating enough. (And this not eating enough definitely plays into their mindset.) But if you do want to lose weight, IF you are fueling yourself well with everything you should be, and you want to lose weight, we’ll do a little calorie deficit! What it ultimately comes down to is we want to make sure that you are eating enough and fueling your body well enough. Many of us go into a session underfed. And if I am trying to get to my max and I am underfed, it is going to be impossible to even think about going heavier! I used to not eat enough before a session and it’s awful! You have no energy to do what you need to do.
So, we have to shift that mindset from not eating enough and not eating enough before a workout to fueling yourself properly!
What are some mindset shifts that you are helping your clients overcome?
One big thing is that I need to “eat less” like we talked about above. We’ll check how your energy is throughout your day and we’ll shift from, “oh, how much did I eat and am I losing weight to… how do I feel?” If I feel good and my training is going well, you are going to start to feel better and get stronger. We are shifting from what your weight is to how you are progressing throughout the process together.
Many of us don’t understand this food, workout, continuum. Without the proper fuel, you are going to have a bad training session!
What is your favorite thing about the powerlifting community?
The thing I love about powerlifting is the support of this community! In this atmosphere, everyone just cares about how strong you are! This is the most supportive sport! The community is insane. Everyone will cheer for you! There is a weight class for everyone, We see body types of allllll sizes! And no one cares!! We just support each other! And when you have a community like this, it makes you want to just do this over and over again!
What is one thing that makes you feel magical?
Accompanying my online client to a meet and watching them hit a PR. This is way above me PRing myself. I am helping someone who never thought of making it to the platform. They are intimidated with this, and they go from there to hitting the platform, competing, hitting numbers they never thought they would because they dreamed too small! And now look at where they have come!!
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