Lift Like a Girl: Q & A with Melissa Malone
What does strength mean to you?
Confidence! For me, strength doesn’t just mean lifting heavy weights and pushing numbers. It also has helped the way I see myself.
How did you first get involved with strength training?
I was always a soccer player up until I finished college. After I finished I had no idea how I would stay in shape since soccer was my life. I think the thing that first got me into lifting was my internship in the Performance Training Center 7 years ago. That’s where I learned the basics of training! Aaron Hague would write me programs to do while I was there! It even took me years after that to get more into lifting on my own. I would say it wasn’t even until a few years ago that I seriously got into lifting and more specific programming. Before that I was kind of just winging it.
What caught your interest about powerlifting competitions?
Ever since I started strength training I have always loved the 3 main lifts: Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts! I had been watching some girls I knew on social media who were into powerlifting and thought that my lifts were pretty comparable. I thought that if I had something to prepare for, it would bring more meaning and motivation to my training. So I hired a coach and put something on the schedule right away!
What’s the process like to prepare for a competition?
Depends how far how out it is. But really it’s just making sure you are staying on track with your programming and not doing things that interfere with your lifting. Nutrition definitely becomes more key as it gets closer, especially when trying to make weight.
What is the hardest part leading up to a competition?
I would say just making sure you are doing everything you can to be ready for the big day. The last 3-4 weeks you are peaking to get ready for big weights. So making sure you are hitting your percentages and also keeping your body healthy and injury free! Rest is also key the week before!
What’s more difficult: Following your workout plan or your meal plan? Why?
100% Meal plan! For my first competition back in June I made the decision to cut weight. It was a tough 9 weeks, but I made the decision to stay mentally tough because I wanted to not only feel good but also to be ready for the competition! The second one I didn’t stay so strict and did a quick water cut the week before, and it made it harder to make weight! Also, whatever you put in your body directly affects your training. Fuel your body for how you want to perform! For me it is always easy to workout, but being strict enough to follow a meal plan and not fall off track is difficult. Especially when you love donuts ;)
What does a typical day of eating look like for you during prep?
Really it’s just measuring everything out. I always know how much protein, fat and carbs are in each meal. And depending when my workout is, those portions will change, especially for the carbs!
Have you faced any obstacles you’ve had to overcome to continue on this path?
Nerves! Currently I am still following a program, but I have taken a break from competing, or at least putting anything on the schedule because my last competition didn’t go as planned. I let my nerves get the best of me on the platform and it affected my performance. So I’m taking some time to focus on some weaknesses and getting my mind right!
What’s your favorite part of competitions and in general, strength training?
Seeing the constant strength gains. It is so cool to push weight on a training day that you had a hard time pushing months before. That’s part of the reason I video everything too, so I can see how I’m progressing and making sure that my form and technique is on!
What is your favorite body group to train? Your least favorite?
That is tough. I would probably say Squats are my least favorite, just because it is the one I’ve felt stuck on. But I’ve adjusted my position of the bar on my back, which should help me push more weight. So probably Bench and Deadlifts are my favorite to train!
What are your current strength goals?
For me it’s all about increasing my maxes. So right now my goal is to Squat 300 or more, Bench 180 and eventually get to 200, and 350+ on my Deadlift!
How do you find a balance between fitness as a hobby and also your career?
That is tough, especially when your workout space is also your workplace. For me, if I want to have a good workout where there are no distractions, I have to go to a different club to lift!
In your experience, how has gaining physical strength crossed over to your mental and emotional strength?
Oh man, they definitely all intertwine for me. Lifting is what I look forward to and can be a great mental and emotional release for me. On the other hand though, a bad lifting day can easily put me in a bad mood. I’ve just learned that those days happen and they are just part of process. I think gaining physical strength has definitely helped control the other two, but it will always be something to work on!
Why should girls strength train?
Because it’s bad ass! Haha! Nothing better than seeing a girl push some heavy weight in the gym! It’s extremely empowering!
What is the best piece of advice you could give women who are hesitant to lift weights?
Ask for help! I always thought because I was a trainer I should know everything about lifting and be able to write my own programs. It was so humbling to see that I didn’t, and it has helped not only with my lifts, but also with my career and my own clients. Learning from others is key!
Also, everyone starts somewhere. I remember when I didn’t feel super confident about doing my own lifts in the gym because I didn’t know what I was doing or what to program for myself. I started working out with fellow coworkers that knew more than me at that time and it helped tremendously! Start with a workout buddy! Then from there, if you feel you are stuck with a routine, ask a trainer. Even if it’s for just direction on how to mix things up!
What is a lifting myth you’ve heard that you’d like to debunk?
Most girls who come into lift or do training with us say “I don’t want to bulk up, I just want to tone.” Unless you are on an extreme training/nutrition program and are on certain types of supplements, this definitely won't happen. Yes, you will gain muscle mass and start to see definition, but bulking is a very specific process.
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