Women powerlifters train at the LPOON Powerlifting Community — and give back to the community they compete with

This winter, as many as 20,000 women will take part in a cross-country race from Texas to California, known as the “Iron Lady.” Alex Langhofer is not one of them.

A 38-year-old for-profit executive and mother of four, Langhofer joined the Washington team that will compete in the grueling event in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 3. A former competitive weightlifter, Langhofer says she’s just trying to stay in shape and stay healthy. She calls it a “sport, really.”

“I’m a former competitive weightlifter so I knew a little bit about it,” Langhofer says. “I’m never going to lose a fight, I will tell you that much. But what I know about weightlifting, I can easily transfer that into a physical role here at work.”

This isn’t the first time Langhofer has played the powerlifting game. She competed in women’s youth powerlifting in 2003 and 2004, but gave it up in high school.

“It’s not really a sport. It’s a mental challenge. It’s kind of like a mental hurdle to overcome,” Langhofer says. “I got a lot of stigma from being a powerlifter because of the stereotype that you’re going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger with a wig and fake boobs. So I decided to be real.”

Langhofer now participates in the World Masters Powerlifting Championships in Nashville, Tenn., where she places in the top five. It’s the same competition that every year gathers thousands of women who’ve been striving to achieve their goals — powerlifting records, to be sure, but also overall fitness, like female strength-training or ski-jumping competitions.

“It’s probably one of the most out-of-this-world competitions,” says the LPOON powerlifting community’s Middleton Lim.

The approach for the Iron Lady is quite different.

Like football, the sport is all about volume. Women use hand weights and a series of resistance plates to power through more than two-dozen repetitions of a single resistance sequence. The record for that setting, set at the weight of 285 pounds, is 13 seconds.

“It’s the level of power being played,” says Lindsay Vallelluti, who placed 14th in last year’s event. “It’s not like anyone’s losing weight that day. You have to get a good body to keep yourself in shape. You can’t bulk up or add muscle mass and then have fat bulges around your midsection.”

“That’s the challenge of the sport,” Lim says. “We have to consume and energize ourselves.”

Langhofer has hung up her powerlifting gloves, saying she enjoys her job.

“The problem with powerlifting is you have to put yourself in an iron-clad frame, and that’s the most challenging part of powerlifting,” Langhofer says. “I like helping women create a healthy weight.”

With the rest of the LPOON team, Langhofer hopes to take home the Iron Lady trophy and the chance to show off a muscular body, or a lean frame. She says she wants to prove that when it comes to fitness, women can be just as competitive as men.

“I love to see someone else succeed,” Langhofer says. “That doesn’t mean that I’m going to compete with another woman, but I would love to see her succeed. I want someone to say, ‘Hey, that was really good.’ Or, ‘Hey, she’s part of the LPOON powerlifting community.’ We train all the time together. We’re part of one big family.”

Leave a Comment