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Client Spotlight: Sue Priver, Powerlifter

Client Spotlight: Sue Priver Powerlifter – 531 Camp & Her TPS Experience.

By Sue Priver and Russ Smith

I am a Powerlifter!

I walked in the door of TPS for the first time in July 2012 and began my journey as a strength athlete at the age of 37.

Flashback in time: my freshman year of high school was a challenging time; I started the year with severe knee problems that among other things caused me to “retire” from ice skating and ended the year being diagnosed with fibromyalgia (connective tissue pain) and many of the concurrent symptoms.

In my teens, twenties, and most of my thirties, I tried various sports and activities: football, floor hockey, dance, swimming, random weight lifting, etc. I was never passionate about any of them and never really stuck with anything for long.

I knew that I needed to move, but I couldn’t find the motivation to do anything for that long.

For the last 10+ years, I have been working with a nutritionist to try to eat better in order to make my gut function more normally. Blinding pain and severe cramps are not normal! Seven years ago, I started eating gluten free and made major strides in gut health, but it wasn’t quite enough.

In the summer of 2011, I started eating more of a whole foods/paleo diet while trying to also eat low FODMAPs.

I am still tweaking this combo, but so far my gut is working so much better & I can usually identify what caused the chaos when things go out of whack. I also gained the added bonus of not being in as much pain all of the time. Unfortunately, I am still in pain/sore every day, but the level is greatly reduced. In the summer of 2012, I was ready to explore physical fitness again in a serious way.

At TPS, I tried 1 boxing class which was not my thing. I also went to several kettlebell classes which were better, but also not my thing as an entire class. I was introduced to Strongman by the women of NEWS (New England Women of Strength) in an August 2012 training day. I can honestly say that I gave it my all, but I hate Yoke and Stones! During the fall, I went to Squat training day and touched a barbell for the first time. By the end of the session, I could squat to a box with significant foam square on it while holding an empty barbell. I knew that I needed to work on hip mobility, but I had no idea how much I needed to work on shoulder mobility as well.

Since I really was impressed with all of the coaches I had worked with at TPS up to that point in time, I signed up for Fit Camp for October and November to see if I could figure out what I wanted to do long term. During that time, I went to another Strongman Saturday day and bench Training Day. At Bench Training Day, I bench pressed for the first time with a barbell. After a lengthy discussion at the end of bench training, I decided to take Dustin Diedrich and Steve Brown’s advice to try the 531 Camp for the month of December. I could not foresee at that time how much my life would change based upon that decision. Thank you so much for pushing me in the right direction!

I started 531 Camp at TPS the first week of December 2012 and have been lifting with this group ever since.

I started with the absolute basic fundamentals for all of the powerlifting lifts. I had been squatting during the fall in Fit Camp but even after 7 barbell sessions, I was still very much a newbie. I had benched once and never pulled a deadlift with a barbell or done an overhead press. It was very quickly evident that I was “born to deadlift”. A lot of my “physical detriments” in my mind are actually helping me deadlift: long arms, short torso/scoliosis, very strong legs, big hands, and apple shape.

After cruising through lighter weights while deadlifting, I started to perceive myself as an athlete and have a more positive body image. I have finally found something that my body is naturally good at doing. In all of the major lifts, I am working to figure out how I can use my body to my advantage to get the most out of each lift. This is a huge change in mindset for me: to start using my body in a positive way instead of dwelling on the negatives. For me, heavy lifting gets me out of my head and into “the zone”—it’s quite a Zen experience. I trust in my training and never get anxious about lifting at meets. I get in the zone and give it my all; it either happens or doesn’t.

During the winter of 2013, I competed in a charity strongman competition and am really happy that I did so. I decided that I love truck pulling, but I really don’t like or hate almost all of the other events. I gave it a fair chance and have decided that it is not for me. By doing this, I have been able to truly concentrate on powerlifting. When I first started 531 camp, Russ Smith worked with me on the fundamentals of all of the lifts. Once I got some of the basics down, we started working on refining each lift. Deadlifting came naturally; I found my stance, and we quickly started working on nuances. Squatting and Benching are not as far along. I have learned so much but still have a ways to go before I am at the fine tuning stage for Squatting. For me, I want to learn very good technique so that I can lift for the rest of my life.

I competed in R.I. at the RPS meet in March 2013. I went 8 for 9 on my attempts and learned some two valuable lessons: if the bar doesn’t feel right before squatting, re-rack and start over & always chalk my hands before deadlifting.

Overall, my lifts were all PRs because it was my first meet, 95 squat/100 bench/265 deadlift with a total of 460. I competed at the Europa in June 2013 and the RPS/TPS meet in October 2013. I was able to increase all of my lifts and totals in this time period, since I was still so new at lifting.

In March 2014, I competed at the RPS meet in R.I. and went 9/9 with 175/125/377.5 and totaled 677.5. After getting 3 green lights for my 3rd deadlift attempt, I commented, “I had to actually work for that lift: not work hard, but work.” I am working toward a minimum of 405lb deadlift for the October RPS/TPS meet. 4 plates, here I come!

I turn 39 at the end of May and my life has changed so much in the last 1 ½ years. I now focus on food and recovery (e.g. sleep and stress management) in terms of powerlifting. Am I hitting my macros today? If I don’t, will I have enough energy at the gym tonight? If I don’t go to bed now, how much pain will I be in tomorrow night as I hike up the stairs at TPS and then while I am lifting? How will this (whatever it is) help or hurt me meet my goals in my workout plan? I am human and don’t always make the best decisions, but at least I have reframed a lot of my choices. I am so thankful that I walked in the doors of TPS 2 years ago and really persisted in finding my sport.

Powerlifting in the 531 Camp has been amazing & and life changing: it’s consistently some of the best hours of my week. I can’t image my life without powerlifting as an essential component for many years (decades?) to come. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey with me!

Here is a video of Sue Hitting a Record Deadlift of 377.5!

We have so many great members here at TPS! We want to hear about your TPS success.

If you want to share your story, please email me at

2018-08-06T10:35:20-04:00May 28th, 2014|Categories: Training, Women’s Fitness|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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