Meghan Scanlon - Powerlifter Interview

Author: Jonathan. L, owner - Models Observer
November 2017

1. Tell us about yourself and how long have you been powerlifting?

I am Meghan Scanlon, 29 years old, born and raised in Boston, and owner/ coach of Foster Fitness Online. I have been powerlifting for almost 2 years now. I compete in the USAPL and my first meet was January of 2016!

2. How did you get into it?

This is a question I get a lot and don’t have a specific answer for, there was no one moment in time that made me get into powerlifting but a few different things. About 5 years ago I rented space out of a gym where many people happened to train the big three and was told many times I should try powerlifting. At the time I was running marathons and doing Ironmans and not really interested in training the big 3 but it stayed in the back of my mind. Around the same time, I met my husband’s friend, who is a strength coach at Princeton, one of his first questions was, “can you squat 300 pounds?” At the time I said, “no way!” I had never even squatted two plates, but that questions stayed with me and in reality I saw it more of a challenge then a question.I got to a point that I was feeling a bit burnt out from endurance events and needed a change. I had lifted in college with my soccer team and always loved the feeling of being strong. After my first meet, I was hooked.

3. What are your best lifts?

My best lifts in a meet are 396.8lb/180kg Squat, 226lb/102.5kg Bench, 380.3lb/172.5kg Deadlift.

???? High Bar 4x9 @ 290 #quadzillatraining

A post shared by Meghan Scanlon (@megscanlift) on

4. What is your lifting technique like and how did you develop it?

Having solid technique is something I think is super important and will always drill technique first, weight second as I think it is key for longevity in the sport. I developed my own technique over time, with a lot of patience. Being in the strength and fitness world I understood the basics, studied by reading and watching videos, as well as picking minds of coaches and athletes who have been in the sport for a while. I played around with what would work best for me and have taken a lot of videos during training to critique myself. In general I am a low bar, close stance squatter, a big arch bencher, and a modified sumo deadlifter :).

5. How do you utilize your diet as a way to maintain your weight while increasing strength? What is your caloric intake?

Diet is huge. Not just to increase performance but for health. For me, diet has always been my bigger struggle as I love to train! This past year I found the groove of what works for me personally. Just like training there is an event and flow. When I am 3-4 months out from a meet I will not track my nutrition but eat healthfully while allowing myself more indulgence and less structure. I likely average 2200ish calories a day. Once I get 2-3 months out I will start to measure and track at this point I will aim to eat about 1800-1900 calories. I do track macros and aim to eat 120g protein. I have played with my fat and carb macros more and have found my body reacts best with a higher fat/moderate carb diet keeping carbs around my training. When I am —2 months out I will take my calories down to 1700-1800. When I am under 1 month I will adjust as needed to hit weight. My last meet I made weight with ease eating 1600-1700 calories to the end. I compete as a 63kg (138lb) powerlifter. When I first started powerlifting I cut down from 160lbs to get here. Now I will hang around 140-145 when not competing. I am pretty lean when I weigh 135-138 and think it is important to gain a bit of body fat while my volume is super high to take the stress of a strict diet of the body and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

6. Please describe your daily/weekly training. Which muscles do you target to improve lifting?

I generally train 6 days a week. I do it because I enjoy exercising. I train the big 3 4 times a week. I currently squat and bench 3 times and deadlift 2x. I will do more of a bodybuilding workout 2x a week. On my bodybuilding days I am sure to work movements such as upper body pulling and overhead pressing that do not get hit during the big 3, I also focus on any weaknesses I have at the time(usually hamstrings and hips!). I will do some type of HIIT twice a week and low intensity cardio 2x a week. I do not program specific cardio into my plan and will do what I feel like on that day. It is fun to have something that is not scheduled. One thing I have embraced over the past year and truly think has helped my improve is recovery, a huge part of this has been walking for active recovery.

7. How do you monitor your strength building process in squat, bench and deadlift?

Track! This is something that I have gotten better at. I take a lot of videos, track my training weights, and try to take notes about each session. I am a visual/kinesthetic learner so seeing the progress in videos always surprise me the most.

8. Which lift is easier for you, and why?

The squat. It just is the most natural movement for me.

A post shared by Meghan Scanlon (@megscanlift) on

9. Tell us about some of your most memorable moments in powerlifting so far.

This year was my first Raw Nationals and the whole experience was amazing. Two of the most memorable from that meet was breaking the Americans Record for the Squat by 7.5kg and hitting a 172.5 on the deadlift with relative ease, which was a huge PR for me.

10. How do you successfully grow your mental strength in addition to physical strength?

I think mental strength is something that needs to be intrinsic. I think each experience you have is an opportunity to grow your mental strength. I also believe that your physical strength is largely tied to your mental strength. As you get physically stronger, you get mentally stronger and vice versa.

11. What do you like doing away from powerlifting?

Away from powerlifting (and my clients!) my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family and dogs. I also LOVE to be outside and the beach.

12. What is your favorite motto/quote in life?

Dreams and dedication is a powerful thing. - William Longwood

13. Future goals?

This is a great question! In 2018 I am working to break those 400# barriers on my squat and deadlift, that would make me the happiest! I also have my eye on breaking the world record for the squat, something I have had in the back of my mind for a while but am just starting to admit out loud :).

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