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How It Feels to Deadlift Twice Your Body Weight

Just imagine, for one second, lifting up the weight of two humans (each about your own size) off the floor at once. For Bethany Erskine, a competitor at the Iron Maidens Raw Open female-only powerlifting competition, that was just part of her Saturday morning.

"Deadlifting twice my bodyweight, it's incredible," says Erskine in a video for Salon. Erskine suffered a childbirth injury and thought she'd never lift heavy weights again. But at the competition, she squatted 215 pounds, deadlifted 260, and benched 95. "Feeling strong is part of who I am now," she said in the video. (See how Weight Lifting Transformed This Woman's Body Image.)

The Iron Maidens Raw Open, hosted at CrossFit South Brooklyn, is in its fifth year and had 65 competitors from age 25 to 70—but you'd never guess that all of them were weight lifters. Linda Lempert, the oldest competitor, lifted a total of 227 pounds in what was her first weight lifting competition ever.

"I've been told that there are younger women who can't do what I do, which I just can't believe," Lempert told Salon in the video. "I think women lifting weight for their own health and also to get rid of the stereotype that they can't is very important." (These 5 Weight Lifting Myths to Stop Believing might be one reason why.)

The powerlifting event consists of three traditional lifts: a back squat, deadlift, and bench press. Competitors would try to max out the amount of weight they could lift for one repetition, and the woman with the largest total pounds lifted (which was, at this event, a whopping 845 pounds for the highest weight class) would win for their group.

"It's really kind of a scary and crazy thing to do. I mean you're attempting to lift heavy weights in front of a crowd of people," added Erskine, who lifted a total of 570 pounds during the competition, placing sixth in her weight class. But the part that makes this event extra special? Doing it in an all-female environment.

But you don't need to go to an all-female meet to feel like a badass lifting in the gym. Try adding weight lifting into your routine with the basics (here's how to squat, deadlift, and bench press) and we bet you'll be feeling more powerful than ever.


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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