Stephanie Mahan

June 2015  - Stephanie Mahan


Please introduce yourself. Who are you? How old are you? Where were you born? Etc. Give the readers some background about yourself.

Hello, my name is Stephanie Mahan, and I am a powerlifter and chiropractic student. I am 22 years old. I was born in California, grew up in Texas, and moved to Georgia to go to college at Life University. I lift here in Marietta, Georgia with Team Pretty Strong, and my coach is Vanessa Gale.

Do you compete equipped (squat suit, bench press shirt & deadlift suit) or unequipped (no suits) or both and what weight class(s) and divisions(s) do you compete in?

I currently have only competed raw (unequipped) in the 84 kg weight class within the Junior division.

What was your last competition and how did you do?

My last competition was the 2014 USAPL Raw Nationals, and I won the Junior 84kg National Champion title. I went 8/9, missing my last attempt on squat because of downward motion. I PR totaled 815lbs, which included a PR deadlift (347lbs) despite having an injured hand.

When was your first competition?

My first competition was in March 2013, about six months after I started training.

How did you improve from your first competition to your most recent?

Since my first competition a little over two years ago, I have put 63 pounds on my squat, 44 pounds on my bench, and 65 pounds on my deadlift. I have had some injuries throughout my training cycles, which put me out for long periods at a time, but I always feel like I come back stronger than ever once I recover.

What is your next competition?

            I will be competing in the 2015 Raw Classic World Championships this summer in Salo, Finland.

What do you plan on doing differently for that meet if anything?

This will be my first competition without a coach present with me, so I will be more apart of choosing my next lifting attempts than I have in the past. My coach Vanessa Gale has always been a fantastic handler at competitions, and she really helps me relax as a lifter. I’m excited to see if my attempt choosing skills will serve me as well as hers, but we will see!

Where are you located in Georgia and where do you train at?

            I live in Marietta, and I train at Crossfit on the Square with team Pretty Strong.

What are your hobbies (other than powerlifting)?

I am currently in school to become a Doctor of Chiropractic, so I spend the majority of my time focusing on becoming the best chiropractor I can be. When I do find that I have a little free time, I like to spend it relaxing with friends, or sometimes I will paint or play music as a creative outlet.

Who is your role model and why?

My role model is definitely my mother. If I have learned strength from anyone, it’s her. She has been through so much in her life, and still continues to be one of the most passionate, loving, hardworking, and happy women I know. If I grow up to be as successful as her, or even a fraction of that, I will have a full and wonderful life. I owe everything about who I am and what I have accomplished to her and my father. I am very grateful to have the parents I do, and I look up to them so much!

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I had never lifted weights before I moved to Georgia. I played sports when I was younger, but I mainly focused on music in high school.

 Is there anything about powerlifting you would like to change or wish was different?

The only thing I can think of that I would like to change is to add more weight classes for women. I honestly feel that there could be very competitive weight classes if we were to open up a 200lb and possibly a 220 or 230lb weight class option. The men have higher weight classes going up to 264, so why not the girls too?

What is your occupation? Does it interfere with competing or visa versa?

I am currently a full time chiropractic student at Life University. Luckily, there are many of us on Team Pretty Strong that attend Life as well, so training times are scheduled at night so we can go to classes during the day. We are on a quarter system at school, so that means we are in class year round, and that does make it hard to compete. I missed an entire week of school last year for the World Championships in South Africa, and I will miss another week this year to go to Finland. Every year we miss 2 or 3 days to travel to Nationals, and depending on other competitions we will miss a day here or there. A lot of my professors are very understanding, but it is hard to keep up with all of the work I miss sometimes. But I sacrifice it all for the love of the sport!

How did you get into powerlifting and how many years have you been competing?

I got into powerlifting when I moved to Georgia in fall 2012 and met my coach and teammate Vanessa Gale in a class we were taking at school. I had no idea what powerlifting was, but I saw her wearing all of her Pretty Strong Powerlifting t-shirts, and she looked strong, so I introduced myself and asked about what she does—and the rest is history! I have been competing for a little over 2 years now, and my 6th competition will be the World Championships in Finland.

 Are you involved in powerlifting in any way besides as a competitor?

I try to be involved as much as I can as a volunteer at local meets. I have recently been learning to expedite, and run the Next Lifter software on the computer, and I think it’s a lot of fun! I eventually want to become a judge so I can help even more at meets, but that can be hard with how much time school takes out of my day—soon though!

What are your biggest squat, bench press, deadlift and total numbers? And how do your best training numbers compare to your best competition numbers?

My biggest squat is 315 in the gym and 314 in competition, but I am hoping for a 10lb or more PR at Worlds this summer. My bench PR is 165 in both the gym and competition. My best deadlift has been 347 in competition, and due to my hand injury I have not tested my max on deadlift in the gym in over a year.

What advice would you give a new lifter just starting out?

My advice would be to not try to rush into lifting super heavy weights. I think it is very important to establish proper form, and get your body’s nervous system used to bearing a lot of weight. If you don’t have a coach, find one, and let the gains come as they may!

What are your short term goals now as a lifter?

My short term goals are to go 9 for 9 at Worlds, and to add at least 10 pounds to every lift by Raw Nationals this October.

What are some long term goals you would like to achieve?

Some long term goals I have are to have a good enough Wilks score within the next year to qualify for the Arnold Classic, and to continue to be present in the USAPL as a judge and volunteer.

Who is your favorite powerlifter of all time?

YouTube Video

My favorite lifter is Sioux-Z Gary. Every time I have the privilege of watching her compete I get so inspired. She stands up for what she believes in, and is so strong! She is a great person and lifter, and I am happy to call her my friend.

Can you describe your training philosophy and/or a typical training session?

My training philosophy is to not over train. My team and I work off of the “rate of perceived exertion” method, so I have learned to listen to my body. Some days I can go heavier than the prescribed weight, and some days I have to lower the weight. I find that this method works well to prevent exhausting my nervous system, and I can see the improvements in my lifting each week. A typical training session consists of static and dynamic warm ups, squats, bench, and/or deadlift. I will finish with accessory work to assist my lifts, i.e. pull ups, ring rows, GHR, sprints.

What is your favorite lift, squat or bench press or deadlift or all three and why?

My favorite lift is definitely squat. I have my moments of weakness with all three lifts every now and then, but I feel like I can always keep improving on squat. I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with my lifts sometimes, but for the most part it is love!

Who is the most impressive lifter you have competed against?

I have to say that all of the girls I competed against last summer in South Africa were impressive. There were 6 of us- two from America, two from Poland, and two from Russia. All of my competitors were fierce, and I know we carried ourselves with respect through the whole competition. It was an honor to compete with girls my age from all over the world, and I look forward to doing it again.

Do you have any rivals in powerlifting?

            My only rival is myself.

If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what would be the reason?

I would be celebrating the fact that I am alive, almost done with chiropractic school, had a successful competition at the 2016 Arnold Classic, and I’m still hitting PR’s in the gym and on the platform.

Anything else you’d like to add?

            Nope!




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