When she could no longer lift *humans* for fun, she found barbells—and never looked back

By By Alyssa Frey
October 16, 2017

I was a cheerleader in college, and after graduation, I needed a new fitness goal. (Plus, I had just worked hard to lose 65 pounds during my senior year, and wanted to keep that momentum going.) Weightlifting had always been part of our team training, so I kept at it to see how far I could go. I figured powerlifting was similar to what I did in cheerleading, only I'd be lifting barbells instead of people. I wasn't very good at the lifts-the barbell back squat, deadlift, and bench press-at first, but I progressed slowly. Those small #wins and the sensation of getting stronger was totally exhilarating. (Get more powerlifting inspo from Instagram sensation @megsquats.)

Within months, I was squatting 185 pounds, and that inspired me to sign up for a local powerlifting meet, where you do a single rep of each lift at maximal load. I couldn't sleep at all the night before; weigh-ins were at 7 a.m., so I think I only slept three hours. But by the end of my nine attempts, I had set two personal records, and with my top lifts combined, I had lifted a total of 622 pounds. It ignited a new fire in me to get even stronger. I was hooked.

I've competed five more times since that first meet, and in those two years, I've added 111 lbs to my total and set countless PRs. Each time, I learn something new about myself, and every time I miss a lift, it fuels my motivation to come back and avenge them. There's nothing quite like getting stronger and blowing past your own strength. (More from Alyssa: Read her open letter to that Bachelorette jerk who fit-shamed female weightlifters on Twitter.)

Have your own story about conquering a new workout or learning a new fit skill? Email curshedit@shape.com with your name, age, hometown, details about your Crushed It! moment, and photos of yourself. You could be featured in the next issue of Shape.