Thoughts on Training Like a Powerlifter

Train like female powerlifter

Guest post by Sumita Singh

Build sleek muscle with powerlifting

It’s only week 1 for me on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Program, billed as: “The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength” and I’m already having a blast.

Course, if you know me, it doesn’t take much to get me excited about barbell training, but the combination of simple, effective, and raw strength sealed the deal for me.

As a mom juggling two jobs, simple, efficient, and effective training programs is the only kind of training I really have the time for. In addition, 5/3/1 lines up perfectly with my goals, to get stronger in the big lifts: squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press (OHP).

Although the program enjoys plenty of popularity among powerlifters who use Wendler’s 5/3/1/ program to prepare for meets I see absolutely no reason why I can’t try it! In fact, I’ve always admired the powerlifting culture — it’s somewhat hidden from public view, but full of heart.

Rather than instantly launch into some sort of discussion on how much weight I blasted and how sore I felt in a variety of new places, what I really want to talk about is how much FUN I’m having.

What’s even more fun is when someone says: “Powerlifting? Why would anyone want to do THAT?”, like I was about to take a dive in molten lava or shave off my eyebrows  (I did that.)

Jim Wendler

Big Boy Squats!

Is it because (*gasp*) I’m a GIRL and god forbid I break a nail, mess up my hair, or grow a callous or two? Or worse, I might sprout some giant muskels overnight and be as big as this dude?

Umm… yeah.  Even if I wanted to, that ain’t happening. The point is ladies (and dudes), if you really want to try something different and fun with your workouts, and it matches up with your goals, this is the year you ought to go for it.

I can take one look at my small frame and long limbs and dismiss my chances of succeeding at powerlifting program because I might not have the typical build for it.

To put it in the simplest terms–engage in a great fitness endeavor because you just WANT TO. Not because you’re necessarily training to be competitive body builder, or powerlifter, or elite marathon runner or whatever.

It reminds me of a brilliant post a friend’s daughter did on (read the short article and scroll to the comic.) The link has NADA to do with powerlifting, but everything to do with the heart and attitude you might choose to put behind your fitness goals.

Picking up barbells, getting stronger, running faster, building muscle or whatever is a deeply personal challenge. You don’t have to walk the competition stage or run in every single race to prove some sort of deep, meaningful point.

Every time I wrap my hands around a barbell and step under is another creative and expressive moment for me and only ME.

Does that sound selfish? Good, because it was meant to be. Do it for you, and more importantly, because it’s f*cking awesome!

Sumi Singh

Sumi Singh

Sumita “Sumi” Singh is a wife, mother, and all around fitness badass. Go check her out on


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15 Responses to “Thoughts on Training Like a Powerlifter”

  1. Alyse says:

    Oh I loved power-lifting when I was doing it, I want to get back into it. It’s soo awesome.

    Good luck!

  2. Anne says:

    Oh my goodness, that is just awesome. Thank you, Sumita (beautiful name BTW). Do you have a coach that you use?

  3. I LOVE hearing about a woman who is strong, healthy, and not afraid to mess up her hair!

  4. Todd says:

    @Susan, I feel the same way. I’m married to one of them. :)

  5. Rick Kaselj says:


    Great post.

    Most women go light in the gym, great to hear stories of women going hard.

    Rick Kaselj of


  6. Todd says:

    @Rick, I couldn’t agree more. I’m a huge supporter of the idea of women training like a man.

  7. This article is the bomb. I can’t wait to read more if this becomes a series. In fact I’m dying to get a serious and sexy female powerlifter to post on Project Swole. There can never be enough proof online for women to lift heavy. The women-must-use-high-reps myth will never die without more posts like this! Sumi, if you want to write a guest post for Swole, please let me know.

  8. Todd says:

    Steve, her contact info is on her site. If she does one for you, we can cross link them together.

  9. Complete and total ditto to what Steve said!

    My wife was just saying that I should include more women on my site(well, if she says so).

    Very inspirational, and I truly hope that you inspire more women to adopt your attitude, desire, and drive.

    You rock!


  10. kohy says:

    I’m not much for following programs but two things about this article convinced me to implement more power lifts are 1) I need simplicity and efficiency in my life and 2.) I can tell the author is having fun with the program.

  11. Todd says:

    @Matt, having a female perspective on strength training is a pretty awesome thing. I think that as more women make it look sexy, other women will pick up on it–in theory. :)

    @Kohy, thanks for stopping by. I think this goes to show that programs aren’t created equally. A certain lifting regimen such as Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, or Stonglifts 5×5, are not designed to be your typical “fat busting” workout. Instead they’re designed to make you stronger. I’m a firm believer that interweaving a strength program like this is a smart move, and is what I am doing.

  12. Lisa says:

    Fantastic post! Love Sumi’s quote “Every time I wrap my hands around a barbell and step under is another creative and expressive moment for me and only ME.” That is *exactly* how I feel. Lifting heavy is definitely f’ing awesome! I do it for me and how it makes me feel, but honestly, after 20 yrs of marriage the looks I get from my husband don’t hurt my motivation either :-)

  13. Sumi says:

    Hey Anne!
    I didn’t have a coach, but I am a trainer and (I like to think!) a smart one so understood what proper and safe lifting technique should look like. I also trained and read a bit about it. I think a coach is a GREAT idea, if you have the means.

  14. John P says:

    Awesome post. I wish more women out there had more courage to strength train like you do, instead of trying to get ‘firmed’ and ‘toned’ with ineffective programs.

    Ironically they probably would be more firmed and toned if they had stronger bodies via the big lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, OHP)!

  15. [...] is all about strength, and that’s what’s reflected in her shape. Other female powerlifters I’ve seen on the web follow suit with these dense, tight little muscles rather than the big [...]

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