Karen Sizemore Powerlifter
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Flower Power! Q & A with Karen Sizemore
by Jason Burnell
Question: Can you give us some background info on yourself (age, education, occupation, funny middle name, etc.)?
Answer: "Karen Sizemore, age 37, originally from Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University) and currently in Cincinnati,
Ohio. I graduated from Miami University in 1986 with a degree in physical education (where I claim fame to being the
first woman to take wrestling class there, got an "A" too) and then went on to Graduate school at Arizona State
University with a Masters in Secondary Education with emphasis in athletic administration and sport organization."
"I currently am an athletic administrator and physical education teacher at an all girl high school in Cincinnati (Mt.
Notre Dame) and am working my 12th year there."
"As far as funny names, it seems as if people have let me know my last name is funny enough seeing I am a large
woman, (laughs) but hey, for my powerlifting I think it's kind of cool. Maybe I need a name such as those wrestlers,
Killer Karen?, Flower Power K? Making my motto saying "My opponents will be no MORE when the SIZE comes to take
them." (laughs) who knows???? Any ideas?"
Question: How did you get into powerlifting?
Answer: "Well I have actually been lifting (not powerlifting) it seems like on and off for forever. I started way back in
high school as I trained with Don Kelly and Barry Parsons for my shot and disk. At that time almost no women were
allowed in our high school weight room unless they thought you were strong. I even helped to start the schools first
weightlifting club and served as secretary and treasurer. By the way, I was not even close to being a champion shot or
discus thrower (if only I was taller, I like to tell myself). I remember walking into a gym with a Muscle & Fitness mag in
hand opened to a pic of Rachel Mclish saying, "I want to look like this." Then I started my true love of lifting in 1986.
Well, obviously, I never made it to bodybuilding stardom heck I never even made it to where a muscle remotely
showed, but I was getting strong and I found out I liked being able to lift those higher weights better than anything."
"After returning to Ohio I took some time off from lifting as my job was becoming my life. After realizing I was
getting bigger again (for the 1 billionth time) I went back into the gym and this time decided I was going to become a
powerlifter however I was NOT going to be called a super heavyweight that would be death, I thought. So dieting I
did, and 120 pounds I lost in basically 6 months by eating 800 calories a day and doing 3 (yes 3!) hours of cardio 6 days
a week and 2 hours of lifting. On my "off" day I only did 1 hour of cardio. Can u say obsessive compulsive??! Anyways, I
got in a local meet and won and since then I have called myself a powerlifter (1995). I didn't just come out of no-where
with my powerlifting. I entered many NASA meets as they were the ones in town. I was the first ever woman in NASA to
bench over 300 in a meet."
"As I began to eat my way back up the scale I got more and more enthusiastic about powerlifting and the numbers
that I was achieving. I was completely addicted to getting more, bigger, and better lifts and keeping up with the guys I
would train with. One day, I happened to come across some old powerlifting magazines at my gym and began reading
the articles and training routines."
"I decided to call the number at the bottom of one of the articles because it was in Columbus which is close to me. I
remember talking with some guy named Lou (laughs) and I even remember being so clueless as to what he was talking
about that he quizzed me on the titles of the articles I was reading to make sure I was for real. But he was very nice
and helpful and invited me to Westside Barbell to see what his type of powerlifting was all about. Well, I found out my
6 training days a week needed to go. I used to be so tired by day six that I never ever trained that day (which was for
my triceps) My squat stance was too narrow and I was just plain awful in the deadlift. I started using some of the
Westside info with my friend Todd Seiple that I had learned but still had no partner that wanted to completely follow the
program and compete. After an initial regression on my stats because of making technique changes, my lifting numbers
began to shoot up. I again went to Columbus after I made a 314 bench in NASA. After that I decided to begin making the
2 hour one way trip to Columbus 4 times a week so that I could learn more and get better. I traveled to Columbus from
Cincinnati for almost 2 years and trained with Traci Tate and Amy Wiesenberger. They really helped me learn the
Westside methods as did John (Chester) Stafford, plus I got to see Mike Ruggeria training. Around Easter of 2000 I
came back to Cincinnati and began training at Terry Bryan's Training Center. Also at that time I went to Quad's Gym in
Illinois (while I was visiting a friend) to see the great Eddy Coan. What a great guy! Just talking to him provided me
motivation I needed to continue to get better when I needed it most. And, of course, he provided me with some much
needed deadlift help. I made several trips to Chicago just to learn from THE MAN."
"I then competed in June of 2000 and got a 405 bench. When I returned after the meet, my training partner, Terry
Bryan, who was always having to spot me during my workouts decided that he might as well try his hand at powerlifting
meets too since he was already devoting so much time to me (and by the way he did excellent by squatting 1,000 in his
first powerlifting meet ever even when I unknowingly sabotaged him by making him put his squat suit on backwards!).
We work well together although there is a lot of plate changing."
"I am currently also training with Big Bill Hays, Mike Holcak (the Weight Wench), and Mike Mattson and I run the
Question: What is your favorite lift? Least favorite?
Answer: "Of course the bench is my favorite, cause I am doing the best in that lift. I am beginning to really like the
squat as I get better, however I just dread leg day! And that awful deadlift, my biggest fear will be out-benching my
deadlift in a meet (and I have come close). When Eddy Coan looked at me and said, "You will never be really great in the
deadlift," I felt a sense of relief or at least like now I had an excuse I am still working on it though, and I will never
Question: What are your best lifts? The ones you're most proud of?
Answer: "Well my best lift is my 410-pound bench press. I also currently have a 575 squat, a 440 deadlift, and a 1420
total. As far as titles go, I am really not sure what ones I have. I have always just looked to make a personal record at
every meet. If it had not been for Chris Taylor of Iron Island Gym that was helping at the meet I would have never even
attempted a bench over 400, thank heavens he TOLD me that's what I was going to bench! The lift I most proud of has
to be the Arnold Classic bench meet that I just competed in (Mar 4, 2001). I had just finished the Iron meet on February
10th and the following Saturday learned that my father was very unexpectedly seriously ill and had been admitted to the
hospital. I spent 9 days basically with out sleeping or eating to stay by his bedside until he passed away the Saturday
before the Arnold. I am most proud of this lift because I still had the strength to go out there and try my best under
those circumstances, which I did, without training for basically 3 weeks and after losing 24 pounds since the Iron Island
Meet (and I still almost made a 402). Just being around all my powerlifting buddies and their encouragement and help
made it a great meet. And of course, I got to see Joel Toranzo and Glen Chabot (laughs)"
Question: What are your goals in the sport? What do you want to achieve?
Answer: "Well that's an easy question; I want to be the best in all the lifts (SHW), tee hee, nothing like planning for
VERY long-range goals in the deadlift eh??? Ha! I teach in a high school and if time were permitting I would also love to
start a powerlifting team & find my protégé."
Question: What do you eat. Do you follow a special diet?
Answer: "Well as far as a diet, that is something I constantly have to work on. I love sweets and could live on them but
I do really try to get in a lot of healthy food & some days I do better than others. I have been in a constant weight battle
all my life and have finally given up dieting. After you lose a lot of weight a lot of times then gain it all back (and then
some) dieting is not the answer. By just making sure I got in a whole lot of quality protein every day I haven actually
managed to drop some fat and get stronger (still working on it too). I take a lot of quality supplements too, good
multi-vitamins, glutamine, joint care, protein powder, amino acids, anti-oxidants, flax seed oil, ZMA, and liver tabs to
name some. It is great to have a friend that sells supplements and helps me out (Phil Henson of Pinson's Fitness
Products)! Terry set me up a supplement/nutrition program and tries to have me consume approximately 5000-6000
calories a day (wow)."
"My training partner encourages me to be better by always telling me that he doesn't give a (bleep) how much I weigh
as long as I move the most weight. And thanks to Josh Burdick, my bodybuilding friend (yes bodybuilders can be our
friends too), who will feed me at the gym his last steak just because he knows I probably haven't eaten all day."
Question: What training methods do you follow and what are your favorite movements?
Answer: "Well obviously by now you know I am using Westside methods for my training. My favorite day is bench and
the best thing is to hit those triceps hard. What a difference in my bench when I picked up the tri volume. My favorite
bench activity is the reverse band press because you get to put up some big numbers."
"And for the squats, wow, those bands really will help you to learn to get out of the hole!"
Other Secrets To My Lifting Success:
"I must admit, I will make time for the things that may help my success. My good friend and chiropractor, Dr. Dave
Zipko, promised me that when I benched 390+ he would give me free adjustments and active release as long as I
continued lifting (he has kept his promises). I also see a massage therapist, Bill Neff, weekly (ouch!). I got that idea
after seeing Boris in Chicago, who told me that he knows if someone is strong if they can handle his massages. I
thought if it's good enough for Eddy, I had to try it too (I call Bill Neff "Boris Jr.")."
Question: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Answer: "I have the greatest fan in the world my mom. She threatens me saying she will never come to another
powerlifting meet, as we get lost every time finding the location, however, she always comes to support me. Thanks to
all the members of Iron Island gym (folks the powerlifting community is great), that have come to help me during many
of my meets (Mel Diamond, Michelle Bader, Chris Taylor, Joel Toranzo, John Bott, Richie, and Paper M). The first time
they were all there to help me and had never even met me. I had been chatting with Chris Taylor on the internet and he
lined it all up for me WOW! They have come through for me many times since then too. Special thanks to Desmond
Phillips who encouraged me for many years and has helped me during that time with my lifting. He was able to see my
potential and motivate me when I could not. Thanks to Karin Klein for seeing that my shirt is fitting me right. And,
thanks finally to my brothers Chris and Mike who say I would not be where I am today if they had not fought with me and
made me tough when we were young (laughs) And lastly: I'M AVAILABLE! Love those big powerlifting men! Email Karen
DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and
informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.