There are many reasons Cindy Leighton loves powerlifting.
There’s the discipline and consistency required to achieve excellence. There’s the focus necessary to make a plan and stick to that plan to build your strength. There are the friendships forged when competing against other like-minded athletes.
But perhaps the most powerful reason for Leighton is the impact she has on her two young sons.
“I bring them to the gym with me sometimes and my boy Jacob says ‘mommy I can’t wait until I can workout too,’” she said. “That’s when I realize that this is really making an impact on my kids. Competing is time away from them but the time away from them is to be healthy and fit and strong.”
Leighton competed in Western Canadian Regional Powerlifting Meet on Sept. 8. Competing in the open 125-pound division, Leighton —who stands at 5 feet, 3 inches tall — won a gold medal while competing against some of best powerlifters in the west.
Powerlifting competitions test athlete’s strength in three basic movements: the bench press, squat and deadlift. Leighton pressed 181.5 pounds in the bench press, lifted 286 pounds in the squat and pulled 341.2 pounds in the deadlift for a provincial record 809.7 pounds total.
A true perfectionist of her craft, Leighton said she was happy with the result, but felt she could have done even better with some of her lifts.
“I was happy with the gold, but not super excited about my numbers,” she said. “I was going for a 363 pound record for the deadlift, but wasn’t able to lock it out.”
Leighton was introduced to powerlifting in 2014. She had just given birth to her second son and was looking for a program to help her get back into a gym routine.
The gym where she started working out had a bench press and deadlifting event, and Leighton decided to enter. Despite not having a lot of experience, Leighton won the competition and fell in love with the sport.
“I thought ‘wow, maybe I’m strong and pretty good at this,” she said. “And I kept going.”
Leighton started training by herself, but as she began to enter more competitions, she began to train with coaches. Today, she puts in five, 2.5 hour training sessions per week. Despite the grind of preparing for competition, Leighton said she loves how it feels to know she is getting closer to her goals. One of her fondest memories was lifting more than 315 pounds — more than double her own body weight — in a meet.
“I cried and jumped up and down,” she said. “It’s just cool when you see how much stronger you’ve got.”
Leighton says she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. She said she is proud when she here’s how excited her sons are to see the medals she wins.
Also, powerlifting is a sport that people compete in until later in life, as long as she can lift, she’ll continue to do so.
“The strongest women in the world are in their late 30s, early 40s and have been competing for 15-20 years,” she said. “That’s the neat thing, there’s not an age cap on being successful in the sport.”
Leighton’s next meet is next February at Nationals.