Marquette Powerlifting Club open to everyone

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(Photo courtesy of Marquette Powerlifting Club.)

High fives, concentrated looks, loud music and the sound of weights crashing to the floor assault your senses as you enter the practice of the Marquette Powerlifting Club in the Marquette Gymnasium (ROTC gym). This competitive sport helps students build physical and mental strength while forming a sense of community.

Powerlifting is more than just physical strength but has a large mental component to it, said Noah Radka, senior in the College of Health Sciences and president of the club.

“It’s a really good thing to have in the back of your mind while you’re lifting; you convince yourself that that weight is not as heavy as it is. And when you can do that, it ends up looking pretty easy,” Radka said.

Powerlifting is an umbrella term that encompasses two types of sports.

The sport of powerlifting consists of the squat, the bench and the deadlift, while weightlifting is the clean the jerk and the snatch it. 

Radka said there is no typical powerlifter stereotype in the club, as anyone is welcome to join.

“We welcome all experience levels from people who have never been in a weight room to people who have been lifting for over 10 years. You don’t have to compete, but we urge people to train in a bodybuilding style that includes cardio and progressive weight weights,” Radka said.  

Chris DeLeo, a senior in the College of Business Administration, said that there is a lot more to powerlifting than just picking up a heavy weight and putting it back down.

“For example, in a bench lift, you have to lock out your arms fully with the weight above your head and then bring it down to your chest and pause,” DeLeo said. “After a certain time, they’ll say lift. Then you repeat. Powerlifting is a lot more technical than people think,” DeLeo said.

The club practices three times a week for two hours and team members participate in at least one competition a year.

“It is a progressive overload-based training, which means you do not start heavy right away, we start you with weights and rep ranges and volume that you can handle so nobody comes in here and gets hurt,” Radka said.

Elle Engelke, a junior in the College of Arts  & Sciences, said that the club is open to everyone and that she is one of three women who are consistently practicing with the team.

“I have been on the team for two years now and I feel secure and know I belong here and that is a huge feat for women in the weight room. And sometimes I get looks from people outside the team as I don’t have a social media conventional body type which sometimes is really hard,” Engelke said.

The team recently competed at a powerlifting meet in Appleton, Wisconsin, called “Gainsgiving,” where Engelke qualified for Powerlifting Nationals after out lifting other women at the meet representing Marquette.

“At the competition, you are compared with all the other female lifters and whoever has the greatest amount of weight that they can lift will end up winning. The winner is based upon the weight you accumulate in proportion to your weight and the weight that you lift,” Engelke said.

While Engelke showed the competition with the team motto of “make it look easy”, DeLeo said it was a learning experience for him.

“I just competed in my first meet. I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to but it was a great experience and a learning tool for future events,” DeLeo said. 

Engelke said powerlifting is something for everyone and it connects people around the world.

“I have a professor that does power lifts and she tells me that this ‘gym bro’ community is all over the world.,” Engelke said. “She said I could go to Italy, I could go to El Salvador, and I could find a gym and I’d be accepted anywhere that I went because we power lift,

Radka said while the team is currently open, starting next semester, there will be tryouts to join the team due to the Rec closing limiting workout space for non-powerlifters.

“I think the hardest part for us is trying to figure out how to keep this space (ROTC Gym) for powerlifters. We want to encourage new people to join in the environment that we love but make sure they aren’t joining because the Rec Center is closing,” Radka said.

DeLeo said it is not just about the competitions but the camaraderie of the people in the club.

“It’s a great chance to make friendships that will last you the rest of your life as well as challenge yourself not only physically but mentally building up that confidence in all other parts of your life or life, “ DeLeo said.

This story was written by Catherine Fink. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @CatherineFinkMU.