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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 03, 2012

Powerlifter Goes Primal, Lifts Very Heavy Things for the Win

By Guest
149 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

On Primal I’ve gained about 10 pounds – 10 pounds of muscle that is.

Over the two past years, I’ve been trying to increase my strength and add muscle mass.

The first year, even though I was lifting heavy weights, I didn’t add much, if any, muscle. I was eating a low-fat, low carb diet (which was extremely flavorless and hard to maintain) and just got plain old skinny. Not toned. Not jacked. Just skinny.

I then of course fell off that diet and put on a bit of fat, which is when my fiance and I decided to start Primal.

Since starting Primal about a year ago, I’ve seen the scale jump up 10 pounds, but I look lean and more muscled than I’ve ever looked before. And my strength has also really increased over the past year.

It actually increased so much that two months ago I decided to train for my first powerlifting competition.

When I started training, I was told by another trainer at the gym, that I would need to eat carbs, like bread and stuff, if I expected to really see results.

I just shook my head and kept eating Primally and my numbers just kept going up. And actually the couple of times I did cheat, I had my worst workouts EVER the day after!

Although throughout the two months I planned to compete, I didn’t actually enter the MA/RI Powerlifting State Championship meet until right before the deadline. I was super nervous and could think of a bazillion reasons why I wasn’t ready.

One of my reasons not to compete was because my training wasn’t true powerlifting workouts. The second reason was that I’d gained a bit of weight throughout the training and especially over Thanksgiving.

But I’d committed to doing it, so I refused to back out. That last week before the competition, I threw in some longer fasts and only ate meat and vegetables. Everyone at the gym told me that I shouldn’t fast and that I needed to eat “real” food.

I didn’t listen to them when it came to fasting because I was eating real food just later in the day. Delicious meals like pulled pork, oxtail, rib-eye and chili.

And I dropped every ounce of fat that I needed to and felt super strong on the day of the competition. (I also did throw in some potatoes the day before and the day of the competition just to feel extra energized.)

Anyway, on the day of the competition I sat there in my wrestling unisuit, with no equipment and no belt, eating my Primal snacks (potatoes, apples, macadamia nuts and 100% grass-fed whole milk yogurt and protein) while everyone else sported some sort of equipment and chowed down on peanut butter banana sandwiches, protein bars, candy and Gatorade.

I definitely felt slightly out of place, but my fiance thought it was pretty “gnarly” and “bad-ass” that I didn’t wear a belt or use chalk or anything that lifters were supposed to use.

And the meet was a success even though I didn’t lift as much as I had in practice. I won both my weight class and received the MA/RI Powerlifting State Championship award for Best Lifter – Women’s Raw Division (PDF).

The Best Lifter award is a measure of relative strength, which means that this Primal Powerlifter, weighing in at 118, was the strongest woman in the Raw division at the meet!

I was thrilled to receive the award! And so was my fiance. He also ended up loving the fact that I kicked all of their butts while eating Primally. He liked it so much that he encouraged me to send my success story in to you! Actually he was SO excited that he told you I’d won when we saw you in the Boston airport. 🙂

(Here is a video of the competition if you want to check it out!)


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149 Comments on "Powerlifter Goes Primal, Lifts Very Heavy Things for the Win"

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Garrett
Garrett
4 years 7 months ago

Awesome!

JennF
JennF
4 years 7 months ago

You are seriously bad-ass! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Maureen
Maureen
4 years 7 months ago

Is it bad that when I first started reading I thought this was a man posting? Then I scroll down and I swear I have never seen a cuter powerlifter! And that is totally meant as a compliment! You go girl!

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

haha thank you!

Kari
Kari
4 years 7 months ago

I did the same thing, just reading along thinking this was a guy, and Pow, Right to the Kisser! You go girl!! Congrats!!

Trish
Trish
4 years 7 months ago

I totally did the same thing! Awesome girl.

Deanna
Deanna
4 years 7 months ago

I did the same thing! Awesome!

Dollface
Dollface
4 years 7 months ago

Wow that’s impressive and super inspiring! I too thought initially I was reading about a man, Awesome work!!

Frank Sabia
4 years 7 months ago

Haha me too…but I have come to learn the hard way that plenty of girls at my gym are stronger then me! They are some strong as primal females!!

Raclbaby2000
Raclbaby2000
4 years 7 months ago

I thought the same thing! LOVE that it is a woman kicking some ass out there!

PN
4 years 7 months ago

Really glad I wasn’t the only one… the pictures are blocked for me at work so I was just reading thinking it was a man until the 3rd to last paragraph.

I always like reading these success stories every Friday at work without pictures and then getting to put a face to the story once I go home.

Congrats on being primal and kicking ass!

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago
hahaha me, too! Exactly! Big Congrats, Cori – you do us women proud! When I was reading Cori’s description of her body pre-prlmal, I thought – “that sounds just like my husband and his diet – he doesn’t seem to be carb intolerant. He is super healthy, no meds, perfect blood work. If anything what he might benefit from going primal is to preserve/add lean muscle mass and strength – and at age 60 that is really important.” So, of course I am mentally adding Cori’s story to my list to share with him. Then, I see – oh, its… Read more »
Joy Beer
Joy Beer
4 years 7 months ago

Ditto for me. Cori TOTALLY surprised me. And I just smiled watching the video, because yes, I’ve never seen a cuter powerlifter, either. I’m also totally inspired!

Abel James
4 years 7 months ago

Yaaaa that is awesome! Primal powerlifing.

mommymd
mommymd
4 years 7 months ago

I love how this story unfolds…my preformed impression after reading the title and first paragraphs was that this was about a lifter who is a man. LOVE that you had so much success, and that you are a woman. Congratulations!

Ryan Allie
Ryan Allie
4 years 7 months ago

Good job! What does raw mean?

WS
WS
4 years 7 months ago

“Raw” means the lack of any gear. No belts, gloves, bench press shirt, squat suit, etc…

Great job on your meet! Congratulations.

Erica
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t know any raw feds that ban belts, but otherwise the rest is true, hehe 🙂

Mike
Mike
4 years 7 months ago

Raw allows belts and gloves, and some bodies allow wrist wraps under the theory that the wrists are static in all the lifts they recognize (squat, bench press, deadlift, strict form curl).

Belts are debatable and the studies are inconclusive, but I swear to grok if I have one more crossfitter with torn up hands try to explain to me that not wearing gloves is somehow good for you I’m going to choke myself on one of the gloves I wore every day when I did manual labor for a living.

Erica
4 years 7 months ago

Which federations allow gloves?

Ande
Ande
4 years 7 months ago

So impressed this story is about a women, I mean really. If that isn’t motivation, idk what is. Good job for shunning CW!

Ande
Ande
4 years 7 months ago

Oh, and it’s also awesome you do not look like a man with big bulky muscles. I guess I had to see to believe. Great job again!

Alison Golden
4 years 7 months ago

Yeah, I have to agree. She looks great!

Russell
Russell
4 years 7 months ago

This is so encouraging! Thank you for posting. We have a particular hour during the week in my CrossFit gym called “Power Hour” which is dedicated to lifting heavy things and I’ve started going to this class.

BTW, I’m surprised gloves are frowned upon in CrossFit because my gym allows them.

Keep lifting! 🙂

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago

That’s another way that Cori defies CW! Makes me almost want to turn the clock back so that I could take up competitive powerlifting! LOL

Alyssa
Alyssa
4 years 7 months ago

Agreed!! You are gorgeous! I absolutely love this story! Who says women can’t power lift?? (other than rob below…)

rob
rob
4 years 7 months ago

It’s a woman … thought it was going to be about a powerlifter who lifts very heavy things … it’s cute when women lift weights.

Dave
Dave
4 years 7 months ago

Cute?! She is moving almost 2.5x body weight my friend. “Very heavy things” is a relative term. She’s not out there doing bicep curls with 2.5 lb dumb bells, she has put in some serious work to get where she is…I don’t think cute is the word you are looking for.

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago

No kidding!

SmokeFan14
4 years 7 months ago

She IS a powerlifter who lifts very heavy things. Probably heavier than you can lift, buddy.

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago

Yeah, rob sounds a little threatened or envious.

Carlo Coles
Carlo Coles
4 years 7 months ago

I love Fridays. Your story and the others before you really keep me honest and inspired. Keep Grokking Power Cutie!!!

Moshen
Moshen
4 years 7 months ago

Very cool. You would kill me on the squats. That’s some serious below-parallel you’re doing!

Graham
Graham
4 years 7 months ago

Bad ass! That is some inspiration, right there…

Brook
Brook
4 years 7 months ago

this is awesome, as a crossfitter turned mixed powerlifter i can agree to this 100% eating a nearly 100% paleo/primal diet i have seen strength increases almost nonstop as well as size and definition increases with minimal to 0 fat increases

Scott
Scott
4 years 7 months ago

Fantastic story. Congrats. Job well done!!!

LizMc
LizMc
4 years 7 months ago

More than just about anything I’ve read or seen, this makes me want to start lifting heavy things. I weigh just about the same as her, and couldn’t come close to doing that. Awesome job Cori!

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

Thank you!!! Definitely start heavy lifting. It honestly makes you feel wonderful and so empowered!

LizMc
LizMc
4 years 7 months ago

Thanks Cori! I will definitely look into an avenue to turn my serious envy into muscle mass 🙂

LizS
LizS
4 years 7 months ago
Cori, First, congratulations and you look awesome! Second, I have been a regular in the free weight section of my gym for 10 years now, and it frustrates me that it’s such a boys club. I love that not only do you lift, you lift heavy, and you look great. I always feel stronger, emotionally and physically, after lifting. I have heard tons of other women in the club say they feel like they’re “in the way”, or more typically, they’re afraid to get “too bulky”. While you definitely are cute, it is NOT “cute” when women lift weights, as… Read more »
Tasha
4 years 7 months ago

That is completely badass!

Alvaro
Alvaro
4 years 7 months ago

Bad-ass indeed!!!!

Samantha Moore
Samantha Moore
4 years 7 months ago

Great story (and video)–thanks!

Danielle
Danielle
4 years 7 months ago

Awesome!!

Primal Toad
4 years 7 months ago

Congrats! Continue to inspire!

Deana
Deana
4 years 7 months ago

Great story Cory! You’ve inspired me to get back to olympic weightlifting! I started lifting 15 years ago but the last 4 or 5 years I haven’t lifted or competed. I’ve been primal for a year now and looking back on the training that I did with my coach years ago, it was really crossfit with the classic lifts thrown in! I miss the workouts and the competitions.
Keep up the good lifting girl!

Alison Golden
4 years 7 months ago

Wow, you *are* bad-ass! Good for you. I bet the power you get from lifting transfers into the rest of your life, too! And wonderful you have such a supportive fiance. Sounds like you’re on the same wavelength – bodes well for the future. 🙂

Diane
Diane
4 years 7 months ago

Great story. I feel like quite the chauvinist, though, since I, too, was expecting photos of a guy! But now I see how really impressive a 10 pound muscle gain can be!

Kustom
Kustom
4 years 7 months ago

Kick Butt! Way to go!!

ChocoTaco369
4 years 7 months ago

I find this story kinda hot.

Andy
Andy
4 years 7 months ago

Wow. Great job. That’s a legit deadlift (not that you need my validation). Also, it looked like you could have squatted about 10 more kilos no sweat!

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

haha thanks! We went light on squat just because I was so nervous!

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago

Hey, just think what you might do now that you are over all the nervous self-doubting about being ready and all!

Ashley North
Ashley North
4 years 7 months ago

You are seriously my new hero. Awesome story, you rock!

Oh, and lol, that guy sitting in that second photo is totally checking out your behind. 🙂

Maureen
Maureen
4 years 7 months ago

OMG I thought I was the only one who saw that!!! He’s totally oogling your primal goodies

Trish
Trish
4 years 7 months ago

Lol, I was waiting for someone to call him out.

Melissa
Melissa
4 years 7 months ago

Wow. I’m super impressed.

Linda
Linda
4 years 7 months ago

Wow! That was my first thought and second, and third. Super impressive. I bet you’ll have some people in your gym wondering if they should go primal so they lift more. Thanks for sharing!

Skateman
Skateman
4 years 7 months ago

259 deadlift at your weight is insane.

Why sumo vs. conventional, though? Is there a benefit?

Erica
4 years 7 months ago

IDK what Cori’s reason is but I also pull sumo, there are two reasons:

1) Almost every female powerlifter I’ve seen pulls sumo, and I think it’s because there is more posterior chain involvement. We ladies tend to have more PC strength as relative to upper body.

2) The wider stance artificially shortens your legs so if you have long legs as relative to your back, or short arms, it may be useful biomechanically speaking.

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

I do it because it allows me to use my legs more than my back and my legs are stronger!

It was funny. Actually most of the women at the meet pulled conventionally.

Erica
4 years 7 months ago

Awesome!! Cheers from a fellow primal female raw powerlifter. And yay for sumo DL, for some reason almost every female powerlifter I’ve ever seen (myself included) pulls sumo 🙂 I think high-carb is way overrated for powerlifting.

Primal Texas
4 years 7 months ago

Awesome story! And cheers to your fiance for supporting your efforts.

They say “Behind every strong man is a strong woman.” It’s good to know that someone is behind strong women.

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 7 months ago

Amen!

Jessie
Jessie
4 years 7 months ago

That is extremely cool, good for you!

chocolatechip69
chocolatechip69
4 years 7 months ago

This is so bad-ass!!!

Beth
Beth
4 years 7 months ago

One of the most impressive personal posts I’ve seen! Loved the video.
I’m working on my pull-ups. (And I thought they were tough!)
Congrats on you win!

Lynn
Lynn
4 years 7 months ago

You Rock Cora! Way to follow your intuition, your understanding of your body and what works for you. You are a an example of how conventional wisdom isn’t always wise.

AustinGirl
AustinGirl
4 years 7 months ago

WOW! That is really impressive!! Congrats on the win and for being such a bad@ss, in general!!

Reiko
Reiko
4 years 7 months ago

Holy crap, Cori! You make those look so easy! I’m 123lbs and my 3×5 max on all those moves are lower than all your first attempts! Haha, I guess I better cut out the chocolates…

Kohhal
Kohhal
4 years 7 months ago

Well done, fair play and keep it going!

justin
justin
4 years 7 months ago

I like those shoes you’re wearing. What kind are they?!

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

They are Saucony Hattori…essentially Vibrams without the individual toes.

spincycle
spincycle
4 years 7 months ago

Great job Cori! I was planning on Lifting Heavy Things tomorrow, you’ve inspired me to lift even heavier! And I love that you stuck to Primal despite all the bad advice from your fellow gym rats- are they believers now?

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

Haha I have one convert, but sadly no, not all of them are believers.

marika
marika
4 years 7 months ago

What a fantastic way to go. Congrats Cori. I also thought I was reading about a man initially. You are an inspiration.

Jessica
4 years 7 months ago

Congratulations! Way to kick-ass!! 🙂

Condor
Condor
4 years 7 months ago

Fantastic story – very impressive! You have earned the right to be proud of your powerful primal efforts!

Nia
Nia
4 years 7 months ago

I haven’t posted in months but I had to come out of my shell and say that you are an absolute beast and my hero of the year thus far. Totally an inspiration! Lol I finally did my first pull up today without jumping… can’t wait to be stronger like you are though 🙂

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

Just keep lifting heavy things! Pull ups are hard and to be able to do one is awesome! 🙂

Sarah Martini
4 years 7 months ago

Great inspiration for someone like me just starting out.
I look forward to that kind of power coming my way from strength training.
Keep up the good Primal work 😉

Butch
Butch
4 years 7 months ago

cool. I’m a martial artist and been teaching for 10 years now. It’s always awesome and soooooo HOT to see when a LADY can kick some serious ass. And what those guys doing in the picture. They did not think that this woman can lift. booyaa…..

becky
becky
4 years 7 months ago

super inspiring! I’ve been wanting to start lifting but haven’t gotten off my butt to do it.

also, manbicep.com is a hilarious url!

Cori
4 years 7 months ago

haha thanks!!!

Definitely start lifting. You just feel so good when you do!

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 years 7 months ago

I thought it was going to be a guy who didn’t know how to spell “fiancee.” =) Great work!

Katerina
Katerina
4 years 7 months ago

Cori, you are my inspiration. I have started lifting heavier — and I love how it affects the rest of my life. Cheers from Sydney, Australia.

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