Valerie Smith - Powerlifter Interview

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

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

I am 43 years old and live in Atlanta, GA. I work as a personal trainer with a background as a crossfit instructor. USPA has been my federation of choice for most of this year but I have also competed in USAPL, APC and SPF. I currently hold all the state records in the M1, 148 division in all of these Federations except for squat with USAPL. I have several National records with USPA in the Drug Tested division and 3 World Records for my deadlift (370) with IPL Drug Tested Division. I will be competing in my first world competition next month at IPL Worlds (Drug Tested). I have been competing in powerlifting for almost 2 years. Prior to powerlifting, I did crossfit, multi day endurance events, trail racing, and was an elite obstacle racer.

2. How did you get into it?

I had a previous crossfit trainer that suggested I enter a competition in 2015. I had always been naturally strong but with some training, we saw my lifts increase really well.

3. What are your best lifts?

Squat 292 which is my weakest lift. Bench, 200 and deadlift 400.

Right leg some hitching but for a non competition lift, I will take it. Finally in the 4 plate club with 405. Now I know I cam do it as a clean lift. Staying on my work with lower back cause it seema to be helping.i #ironbeastgym #gutsnglorytraining #eoeapparel #powerlifting #deadlift #marenasports. #womenofpowerlifting. #womenwholift. #barbellbabes #teammarena

A post shared by Valerie Smith (@valerie_smith_powerlifter) on

4. In a strength sport such a powerlifting, which factors dictate how well you perform in competition?

In my past few meets, I have had my trainer from Guts and Glory Athletic Performance go with me. He plans my numbers and I never know how much I am lifting. He just tells me to go lift it and I do. This is best for me since I do not focus on the numbers, just lifting what I am told.

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

I eat a lot of protein and stay away from bad carbs and sugar. This has helped me maintain my weight in my weightclass, even though it has still been difficult to build muscle and not go out of my class. I don't really count my calories.

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

I train 4 days a week for about 2 hours each day. 3 of those days are spent on my major lifts and the 4th, I spend on accessories and/or cardio. I pick a major muscle group each week that is my focus as well as accessory exercises that compliment my lift I am doing on that day. Once a week, I try to hit a 2 hour boxing class at my gym.

7. What were the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?

The biggest challenge for me is being patient in building y strength when I hit a plateau. I tend to see big increases quickly and then I have to be patient to stay at a good training weight to see those gains again. It does happen, but not always as quickly as I would like.

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

My most memorable moments have been hitting new PR's in competitions that I have maybe only done once in the gym or never before. Certainly, when I set my world record in my deadlift, I was floored. I had only lifted 370 once before in training and in my competition, I lifted it up easily. That was in USPA drug tested Nationals this year. Another big one was in my most recent meet where I benched 192. I had never even lifted this much so to get it in a competition was a huge moment for me. Every meet is a memorable moment for me though. I get to share my success with friends and my family who are there to cheer me on. Also, finally seeing my name on Powerlifiting Watch was a hugely exciting moment for me.

#Repost @gutsnglorytraining (@get_repost) ??? @valerie_smith_powerlifter with 16 lb PR of 292 lbs on squat. Defending her records nicely today. #marenasports - - #personaltraining #athleticperformance #stayhumble #Bodybuildingnation #powerlifting #savagenation #fitness #motivation #gymlife #grind #Fitnessaddict #Fitnessfreak #Workout #Fitnessmotivation #Gym #Fitnesslifestyle #Fitnessinspiration #train #flex #Eatclean #strength #muscle #shredded #bodybuilding #ifbb #womenwholift #girlswhopowerlift

A post shared by Valerie Smith (@valerie_smith_powerlifter) on

9. Depcik & Williams (2004) found that women who strength-train experience greater reduction in body-image-disturbance than women who do not lift weights. How do you successfully grow your mental strength in addition to physical strength?

This is a great question, since powerlifting is so mental. I train most of the time solo and learning how to push yourself for 1 more rep is something that you have within you. I try to remember why I train and what my ultimate goal is, which keeps me motivated mentally. I always have a goal or number I am trying to reach and I don't stop once I hit it. Once I meet 1 goal, I set another to keep pushing myself. I am naturally a compeittive person, so my goal is to win a meet, not just show up.

10. What do you like doing away from powerlifting?

I stay very active. If I am not training in the gym on the weekends, I get out with my husband to the North GA mountains to hike and explore the trails. Before powerlifting, I was a competitive obstacle racer but now I will do the occasional one for fun. I will also do some trail racing or a 5k road race.

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

Be relentless. This is from my days of doing multi day endurance events but I still think this when I am powerlifting.

12. Future goals?

My short term goals are to go to IPL worlds and take home 4 world records in November. Long term - I want to start getting into larger, high profile, competitions and doing some traveling for them. I am still newer to PL so I have more room to grow and more experience to get under my belt, but I am ready to start testing the waters. On a much smaller scale, I have 20lbs to go until I hit 3x bodyweight on my deadlift, which has been a goal of mine for a while.

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