Cheryl Chang ’18
When did you start lifting?
I was on the swim team in high school, and they threw us in the weight room to do upper-body conditioning. After a couple weeks, I realized I liked it. When swim season ended, I kept going back. I didn’t start seriously training as a competitive powerlifter until freshman year at Dartmouth. I was one of the first members of the team.
How many students are on the team?
When we first started, it was around eight. Now we regularly get 13 to 15 coming to practices, three times a week. We try really hard to recruit freshmen every fall.
Where do you get funding?
For national competitions, we get $200 per competitor from Dartmouth. For local meets, we are reimbursed for transportation. We do fundraisers as well. Contrary to what our club stands for, we do McDonald’s burger sales—it’s just what college students want to buy at 10 p.m.
What does a competition look like?
There are three movements: squat, bench, and deadlift. You have three attempts at each. Your goal is to start with an opener—the first attempt—that you can hit on any given day. Your third attempt is usually something you’ve never hit before. We call it the PR—personal record—or your “maxing out.” Referees look for technical things, like if you’re hitting depth for the squat or if you’re pausing long enough for the bench.
What do you enjoy about powerlifting?
I think it’s nice to track progress over time. As long as you’re working hard and training the right way, you will see improvement at some level.
Have you improved much since freshman year?
My squat has gone up. Lifting is logarithmic—it shoots up really fast. It’s linear in your beginning as you get started, and then you plateau. Once you realize you’re plateauing, you have to switch it up to get back up.
How much can you squat, bench, and deadlift?
I just went to Collegiate Nationals in Texas, where I squatted 253 pounds. I benched 148. Both of those were New Hampshire records for my weight class in the junior division. I deadlifted 285. I placed ninth this year in my weight class in the collegiate division. I was quite happy.
Photo by John Sherman