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Whether you’re a recreational lifter who exercises to stay in good physical condition or a competitive powerlifter, you can be expected to spend many hours training every week. Most people don’t have their own gym, so your training includes travel time to and from the gym, training for an hour or two or three and time to get your sweaty duds off, get cleaned up and make your way home.

Having the support of fellow lifters and training partners is really significant to progress in your lifting career. However, having the support of your family is especially important. Imagine trying to train and get ready for a meet if your spouse or significant other resents the fact that you spend so much time at the gym.

“Are you going to the gym again? How many f*cking times do you have to train every week?”

Or, “You love spending more time training in the gym than you do with me?!”

Believe me! This happens! How difficult do you think it would be to progress in your lifting if you're constantly being criticized and made to feel guilty when you train? How can you progress if you’re always trying to rush through your workout, get home and try to snivel your way back into his or her “good books” so you can go through the same shit tomorrow and the next day and the next? It’s difficult to make it work.

On a more positive note, it seems that more and more people are getting into lifting and competing together, encouraging and helping each other train, getting ready for meets and competing together. This is an incredible support system and is an environment that everyone can progress together as a team.


Barzeen and Kristin Vaziri train together and compete together as multi-ply lifters. Barzeen lifts in the 308-pound and super heavy weight classes and has totaled 2550 pounds with a squat, bench and deadlift of 1020/780/750, respectively. Kristin lifts in the 132-pound and 148-pound classes and has totaled 1000 pounds with a squat, bench and deadlift of 450/230/320, respectively.

Barzeen says"In order to put in the time needed to be a serious competitor, you either need to put lifting ahead of your personal relationships or you need to find relationships that can share that time with you. I have been very lucky to find the sort of relationship where gym time is quality time and not something that takes me away from my relationship with Kristin. At home, we both hold each other accountable for training and diet and being able to discuss whether to box squat or free squat this week as our nightly pillow talk is pretty fantastic. She’s been my best training partner and one of the few people I trust to handle me in a meet. There’s no doubt that we’ve both pushed each other further than we each could have come on our own."

Marshall Johnson and his wife Kathy both compete in multi-ply powerlifting. Marshall lifts in the 275-pound and 308-pound classes and his best squat, bench and deadlift are 1102/750/815, respectively. Kathy competes in the 165-lb class and her best lifts for the squat, bench and deadlift are 515/400/435, respectively. (Marshall’s nickname is “Freakshow,” but if you’ve ever had the opportunity to meet him, he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.)

marshall kathy

Marshall says, "I think it is extremely important to have a family that at the very least supports what you do. Not necessarily participates but supports what you do. And this isn’t limited to powerlifting. This is anything that you have a passion for. But when you can be fortunate to have a family that both participates and supports your passion, you are truly blessed. I know so many people in this sport who have their marriages ruined...some have had multiple marriages...because there is no support or understanding of that person's dedication to competition. Or maybe it's a good thing. Clearly, if your spouse can't support you and be confident enough to let you have something of your own, maybe it wasn't meant to be. Maybe this is a problem that would come up later in life in another situation.

I'm extremely fortunate to have an extremely supportive wife who just happens to be a world record powerlifter as well. It's something that we can share. I'm willing and fortunate to be able to spend more time together than a lot of married couples. Now that our daughter Freya is here, she too accompanies us to the gym. When you're in a relationship with someone who isn't supportive, eventually something is going to give—the relationship or the training. I know a guy right now who, I shit you not, could be a 1200-pound squatter, but his wife makes him feel horrible for spending a few nights at the gym away from home. He sacrifices his dream to keep his marriage happy or happy-ish. I feel that your family or spouse doesn't need to participate in what you do, but I do feel that they need to support you in order for you to accomplish your goals and keep a healthy relationship."

Ken Sheri Worlds

Tom Waldrep is a bench specialist, having benched over 800 pounds at the age of 51. Tom’s son Cameron has recently started to compete in powerlifting at a young age with the support and guidance of his dad.

Tom says, "I'm thankful for my family and how much support they give me. Having the support of my better half, Wendy, and my children, Stormy and Cameron, makes it easier to power lift. When you have family backing you, it makes it easier because it takes so much time away from home. Lifting with my son Cameron encourages me to do my best because I want to be a good role model. With my limited success in powerlifting, it gives Cameron the opportunity to work with some of the best powerlifters in the game. This gives him access to programming and learning proper technique."

Personally, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the support from my wife Sheri, who has become very successful in powerlifting in a very short period of time. Without her support, it would be extremely difficult to put in the time necessary to progress at a competitive level. We are fortunate to have our own gym at home with a monolift, bench, power rack, glute ham raise, reverse hyper, belt squat and lots of bars, plates, chains and bands. We don’t go away on “normal” holidays. We travel to eastern Canada for the Canadian Nationals and to West Palm Beach, Florida, for the WPC World Championships, where we both won gold in our divisions. A weekend away for us usually consists of traveling to Ohio to the elitefts™ S4 compound to train with some of the best lifters in the sport and other members of our extended family through Team elitefts™.

It’s wonderful to be on the receiving end of so much family support to fuel your passion, but it also is extremely rewarding to support family members when they compete. My son Austin competed in his first powerlifting meet at age 17. There’s an overwhelming sense of pride and fulfillment as a father to encourage your son to push past previous limits and witness him beam with a sense of pride and accomplishment through being a positive role model and leading by example. It’s exciting to compete and reach personal goals, but I feel more of an enormous sense of pride and fulfillment helping my wife train, handling her at a meet and watching her compete. To witness her smash world records and watch her confidence grow is empowering. (I think I’ve created a monster!)

marshall steve sheri ken

Austin says, "My dad has been a positive influence in everything I do. He supports me in all the sports I participate in, and he helps drive me to work harder than everyone else to put in a solid effort all the time and be the best I can be. I'll definitely continue to strength train for the rest of my life. It keeps me focused, helps my performance in sports and makes me feel happy, healthy and confident. Strength training will always be a part of my life."

Sheri says, "This is a tough paragraph to write. I wouldn't even be powerlifting if it wasn’t for Ken. He got hooked, became passionate about it, encouraged me to try it and I became hooked. With 11 world records and 24 national records in just over one year, I guess it was meant to be. With the hours of commitment it takes to become an athlete at this level, it would be impossible to say the least without the love and support of your partner. If you can’t share the same passions, you have to find a way to accept the other one and find a happy ground somewhere. I don’t need to worry about that. We train together and compete together, and from what I hear, I’m a pretty good handler and knee wrapper, too. It’s great to be able to help each other live, learn and pass on."

Having a spouse or “significant other” who understands and supports your passion and drive to compete has to be in place to have a great training life and a happy home life. Success takes sacrifice. If somebody else regulates your ability to make necessary sacrifices, you will never reach your goals and, at some point, it will fuel resentment toward that person for holding you back.

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