Bodybuilding.com’s 2018 spokesmodel winner Meg Gallagher explains how she used powerlifting to forge the strength and physique that’s taken her body confidence to new levels.
The starter’s blocks
I fell hard off the fitness wagon after competitive sports in high school and college. After years of being unhappy with my body and energy levels, I started walking to work. It was literally the first step I could have decided to take.
That eventually turned into running, and training for a half marathon with my mom. After running, I tried CrossFit and essentially dabbled in everything else – bodybuilding, strongman, weightlifting. I then landed on powerlifting.
Training for power
My offseason programming looks a lot different to my powerlifting prep. Right now specificity is low, while variety and volume are high. I’m having fun with movements and variations I don’t get to play with during certain parts of the year.
Through each week of my micro-cycle, I raise intensity and overall volume, so that each week is varied. In 2018, I’m ending most days with a quick and dirty metabolic conditioning workout, because I’m hoping to sweat a little more in my workouts.
With regard to powerlifting programs, male versus female programming methods look the same. There are slight differences, but not at the beginner level. If you find a program that you like, don’t worry if it’s not specifically targeted towards women.
My best advice though is to find a program that utilizes a clear, linear progression. You might read my routine and decide to try it, but that is just one week in a macro-cycle of dedicated progression.
Play the long game in regards to strength, and never stop appreciating how much you’ve grown. It is easy to look at the barbell next to you, or the one on Instagram, and feel envious, but it’s just a matter of time before you’re right there. Respect the strength you have, and honor the journey you’ve been brave enough to take.
Finding something in the gym that doesn’t revolve around looking a certain way, or becoming a smaller person has really changed the way I approach health and fitness. I do it because I was never taught as a kid strength was an option. I never knew it was something I would grow to value so much.
How to get started
Figure out what does it for you. Try every class, fitness routine, or body movement challenge until you figure out whichever is most enjoyable for you. Longevity will always be the key. Don’t get caught up in the intense stimulus of any type of training. That intensity makes up about 5% of what you need to be successful. Success will come from consistency over long periods of time.
Stoking the passion
Every year I train with the goal of growing into a stronger powerlifter. For now, I’m in the 63kg (138lb) weight class, so in the offseason, I work to gain as much lean muscle as possible, and continue to train to grow bigger. The transformation of my pre-meet physique (where I’m my leanest within each year), is remarkable. I’ve lost body fat and gained muscle while maintaining a consistent weight class.
|High bar squat (+ sets are an amrap set)||2x6, 2x6 +|
|Overhead press||3x8 reps|
|Pull ups (breakup sets as necessary||x35|
|Suitcase walk (each side)||+2 mins|
3 rounds for time: 250 metre row / 21 dumbbell thrusters / 20 rushups
|Bench press||3x6, 1x6|
|Low bar squat||2x8|
|Band pull apart (breakup sets as necessary)||60|
|McGill big three||3 - 4 rounds|
|The curl up (each side||10 secs, 5x10|
|The bird dog||10 secs, 5x10|
|The side bridge||10 secs, 5x10|
Set a 12-minute clock, do 4 rounds of: 1 minute kettlebell windmills (slow) / 1 minute sit-ups / 1 minute lunges
* Wednesday: Early morning snowboarding shred or restorative yoga
|Front squat||x2 max|
|Back down sets||3x3-10%|
|Deficit sumo||3x6 reps|
|Romanian deadlift Row variation||x40|
|Incline dumbbell press||x40|
|Push press||2x4, 1x4|
|Dumbbell Romanian deadlift||x40|
For 10 minutes do as many rounds possible: 10 box jumps / 15 single-arm overhead squats (50lb dumbbell) / 20 glute ham developer sit-ups.
* Saturday: REST
Snowboarding or REST