Step aside, guys; women are having their turn in the weight room.
Female powerlifter Tamara Walcott of Laurel, Maryland, US, has raised the bar, literally and figuratively, and shown the world she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Despite only entering the sport four years ago, Walcott has climbed to the absolute top of the powerlifting world.
Between 29-30 July 2022, Walcott was recognized at the 2022 World Raw Powerlifting Federation American Pro in Manassas, Virginia, US, for the heaviest cumulative lift for bench/squat and press in competition (female) after lifting a total of 737.5 kg (1,620.4 lb) across three compound lifts – the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift.
By comparison, a female adult giraffe weighs about 680.3 kg (1,500 lb).
Walcott’s record-breaking achievements have not come easy.
Before becoming one of the world’s strongest women, Walcott struggled with food addiction and obesity.
Weighing 188.2 kg (415 lb), Walcott knew she needed to make a drastic change to her life.
“When I looked in my kids’ eyes, I wanted to make sure that I was there for them, so I had to start taking care of me.” – Tamara Walcott
As a divorced mother of two, Walcott knew scheduling conflicts would interfere with her ability to play baseball or basketball, so in 2018 she took charge of her life and decided to search for a sport she could practice independently.
“I walked into a gym, and at that time I did not know what powerlifting was,” she said.
“I saw people moving heavy weights, I saw people screaming loudly, and I saw people doing extraordinary things and I was like 'Hm, let me try this.’”
As soon as Walcott racked up 102 kg (225 lb) on the bar and attempted her very first quarter squat, she knew she had found her passion.
With dedication and perseverance, it wasn’t long before Walcott built up her weighted squat, which she initially admitted wasn’t the “best squat in the world,” to an impressive 183.7 kg (405 lb).
“That took me two and a half years to get to,” she admitted.
“Having 405 pounds on your back is not an easy task. A lot of things can go wrong.”
During her record attempt, Walcott placed 272.5 kg (600.7 lb) on the bar, representing her personal competition best.
Increasing her weighted squat wasn’t Walcott’s only obstacle.
To become a true powerhouse, she had to overcome her fear of benching.
The bench press involves lying on a bench and pressing weight upward using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.
“When I first started benching, people were like ‘Women shouldn’t bench, you shouldn’t bench,’ so I was scared to bench heavy,” said Walcott.
“It took me two years to get over that fear.”
Despite calling the bench her weakest lift, her 172.5-kg (380.3-lb) lift is the highest any competitor has attempted at the WRPF Pro competition.
The deadlift, which involves lifting a loaded bar off the ground to hip level before placing it back on the ground, is Walcott’s favourite weightlifting exercise.
With 290 kg (693.3 lb) on the bar, the exercise represents an increase of 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) from her own previous deadlift competition best.
Walcott admitted that most of the time she’s training at the gym, her weightlifting counterparts tend to be men, but powerlifting has allowed her to reinvent the expectations of what women can do.
In fact, during her weight training sessions, Walcott says she often thinks of her grandmother, who she described as powerful, strong, relentless, driven, and determined.
“My grandmother took care of all of us, not just our household, but the community as well. Everything that I am today is a true representation of who she was,” said Walcott.
“When I hold that weight and I pick it up, that’s me proving that no matter how hard things are, you’re always going to find a way. And that’s what my grandmother did.”
Although Walcott’s future as a sports icon has practically just begun, she holds an additional record title for the heaviest elephant bar deadlift (female) after lifting an astonishing 291 kg (641 lb) at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, US, on 6 March 2022.
She hopes to continue raising the bar and breaking records, showing the world that the impossible is in fact possible.
Walcott urges those that want to give powerlifting a try to move past their insecurities and take the leap.
“We can be whoever we want to be, because you got me and the powerlifting community, arms wide open,” she said.
“We are about cheering each other on and building each other up, so when you walk out into the world, you are so built up, that no one can tear you down.”
“So, girls, get it done. Come on over.”