By Rebecca Drew
MEET the powerlifting mum-to-be who has been keeping up with her training regime despite being eight-months pregnant and even says it’s helping her build endurance for her upcoming labour.
Personal trainer, Sarah Strong (29) from California, USA has been powerlifting for two years and credits the sport for helping her achieve the best shape of her life and preparing her for childbirth. Sarah has had no complications through her pregnancy and knows that she can lift safely, listening to her body and adjusting her routine when she feels she needs to.
At the moment, Sarah can deadlift an impressive 120kg, bench 56kg and squat 84kg. Pre-pregnancy she could deadlift 137kg, bench 61kg and squat 113kg.
Sarah trains four times a week and has even attended two powerlifting meets during her pregnancy, at 14 and 17 weeks, where she came first and qualified for the nationals. Sarah says her four-year-old daughter loves going to see her compete and cheers her on.
“I started in personal training in 2012. I lifted and did a lot of cardio for the first few years. Then in 2015, I was working at a gym owned by a former powerlifter,” she said.
“She watched me lift and noted my strength and she encouraged me to get into the sport. I signed up for my first meet and fell in love with the it.
“The stress relief and confidence boost are huge for me. Knowing that I can lift heavy weights gives me the confidence to handle anything life throws at me.
“Physically, I’m in the best shape of my life. Throughout this pregnancy, it has helped me maintain a healthy weight and build the endurance needed for labour. It will also help me recover faster.
“Because I had been powerlifting for two years before this pregnancy, it is safe for me to continue lifting heavy. I am a low-risk pregnancy with no complications. So, for me there is no danger.
“I listen to my body and adjust numbers when needed, and I take more rest days now that I’m further along.
“I would not advise someone new to lifting to begin powerlifting while pregnant. The decision is very personal to each woman.”
As well as being an excellent stress booster, Sarah says it would be awesome if her children wanted to pursue the sport too and even gets people joke that her baby will come out ‘swole’, meaning extremely well-muscled.
Despite this, the reaction she receives from the public is often mixed.
“My four-year-old loves watching me lift and she comes and cheers for me at meets. People joke that this baby is going to come out ‘swole’,” she added.
“Whatever either child wants to be, I just hope they value health like I do and learn to take care of their bodies.
“People either love me powerlifting or hate it. I get a lot of encouragement that I’m doing great. But, I also get criticism. Sometimes it’s little comments like, ‘be careful’ or, ‘should you be lifting that’.
“Other times, I’ve had people tell me I am killing my baby or I don’t deserve to have a baby. Those comments hurt the most. When the negativity is too much, I simply don’t respond.
“I try to focus on the positive. I am a certified pre-natal fitness expert through ACE and AFPA, so I do my best to educate people on what is safe and what feels good for me.
“I also started a second Instagram, @StrongMomsLift, to highlight other pregnant moms lifting and post prenatal fitness facts.
“If you want to get into powerlifting, find a coach or mentor. Form is so important, especially when you’re learning.
“What you do in the beginning will set you up for bigger lifts in the future. Also, don’t be afraid to compete. You don’t have to already have huge numbers to go out on the platform.
“Competing will allow you to meet other people in the sport and gain some experience.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/strongsarah