Female powerlifter who used to be 'SCARED' of weights reveals how she transformed her now-ripped physique after conquering her fear and learning to lift MORE than her own body weight
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A student who can lift more than her own body weight has admitted she used to be frightened of the sport before she took it up.
Jenna Marcinkowski, from Chicago, used to stick to cardio equipment such as the stair stepper and treadmill because she felt 'intimidated' by the free-weights and was worried it would make her body bulky.
The 21-year-old's attitude to powerlifting changed after she was inspired to take up the sport by her brother and has transformed her body in the process, she told BuzzFeed Health.
Transformation: Jenna Marcinkowski, 21, from Chicago, pictured left nearly three years ago before she started powerlifting,said she used to be afraid of using weights
Restricted: Jenna, pictured lifting, said she used to stick to cardio equipment such as the stair stepper and treadmill when she went to the gym
Jenna, who has two part-time jobs, was wary of the free-weights area ever since she got into exercise when she was in middle school.
But since conquering her fear she has started entering powerlifting competitions and she can now squat 303 pounds, benchpress 148.5 pounds and deadlift 358 pounds.
She said: 'For the first two years of me getting into fitness, I wouldn’t step foot into the free weight section because of how intimidating everyone and everything was.'
But when she started going to the gym with her brother, who was a fan of lifting weights, and she asked him to give her an introduction.
'I slowly started to dabble with machines and with free weights. It started to click, and it felt great compared to cardio,' she said.
After her brother gave up going to the gym, Jenna started teaching herself with the help of videos she found online.
Strong: Now she can lift more than her own body weight and takes part in powerlifting competitions
At the beginning of last year she started following online workout programs and when she found her progress was slowing down started working with a coach.
After less than a year lifting weights, she took part in her first powerlifting competition in December.
In her first competition, when she weighed 181 pounds, she deadlifted 341.2 pounds, squatted 261 pounds, benchpressed 127.5 pounds.
Since then she has got even stronger and in her last competition came first for her age and weight.
As well as training, she puts her success down to mental stamina.
She said: 'You have to convince yourself, "I’m going to do what I need to do."'
Her new-found passion has transformed her life - affecting everything from her eating habits to her career plans.
Open to all: She said she does not want women to feel 'uncomfortable' in the weights area at the gym
After seeking dietary advice from a coach, she now eats an average of 2,600 calories a day - including 200 to 300 grams of carbohydrates on a day when she is doing heavy lifting and protein.
She said: 'I’m convinced that that amount of food will help me train and recover for that day or for the week.'
Jenna said regular features of her diet include grilled chicken, steak, protein shakes and vegetables as well as Pop-Tarts and cookies.
She plans to take a break from studying for a semester when she will work on getting stronger and consider her career options - including opening a gum, becoming a nutritionist or a strength coach.
Urging more women to take up lifting, she said: 'I want all girls to know they can be strong.
'I don’t want girls to feel uncomfortable in the free weight area. I feel great about myself.'