Leslie Look Interview

    Interviewed by: Deepsquatter

Q: Can you give us some background info on yourself (age, education, occupation, funny middle name, etc.)?

LL: I am 28 years old.  I have a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education with a concentration in Health.  I teach at a boyís residential school and love it.  Iím currently deciding which Masterís degree program would be best for me.

Q: How did you get involved in powerlifting?

LL: My powerlifting journey began at age 16.   One rainy day my gym teacher, Ann (Turbyne) Andrews, brought in a video of her winning the World Championships in 1980.  I was intrigued, so I asked her some questions.  There was a State meet in 3 weeks and the gym she lifted for, Gillyís Gym, needed someone in the 181ís.  I was a steady 173 so I learned the basic three, equipment, & rules and entered my first meet, the 1989 Maine State Championships. 

Q: What is your favorite lift? Least favorite?

LL: I can honestly say I donít have a particular favorite.  I have favored the squat or deadlift over the years but having all three lifts is a good balance both mentally and physically.  I think I train my squat the hardest consistently.  I need to make more of an effort with shoulders and biceps.  Although I enjoy training my bench now, for years it was a struggle.  Itís frustrating to be so inadequate at it. 

Q: What are your best lifts? The ones you're most proud of? Titles
you've held/won? 

LL: My best contest lifts come over 3 weight classes.  Here it goesÖ

  • 165- SQ402 BP225 DL451
  • 181- SQ462 BP248 DL473
  • 198-SQ479 BP253 DL473
Ms. Look Knocking Off A Huge Squat! 

       My deadlift is probably my best lift although itís strength has been compromised in contests either because of my back squatting style or grip issues.  I would like to be able to show my true strength in the deadlift.  Iím most proud of my 479 squat at 198.  That was a hard push and I made it.  It also happened at my last Jr. Nationals where I went 9/9 and totaled over 1200, a fond memory.  It would make my day if Mr. Jasper would send me a copy of the video (shameless plug).  Iím also proud to say that Iíve been a consistent, loyal, IPF lifter who understands the value of judging, doping control, and equipment regulations along with lifting with strong competitors.  Iím pleased that I endured a total knee reconstruction & came back to be competitive.  The icing on the cake will be when I get a PR squat & total. 

My titles are as followsÖ

  • 2000 Womenís Worlds in Pinamar, Argentina- Silver, 5/00
  • 2000 Womenís Nationals in Killeen, Texas- Gold, 1/00
  • 1999 Womenís Worlds in Thisted, Denmark- Silver, 5/99
  • 1999 Womenís Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska- Gold, 2/99
  • 1998 Womenís Worlds in Mo I Rana, Norway- Sixth, 5/98
  • 1998 Womenís Nationals in Seattle, Washington -Gold, 2/98
  • 1997 Womenís Nationals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Silver, 7/97
  • 1996 Did not compete due to ACL reconstruction.
  • 1995 Junior Worlds in New Delhi, India- Gold, 7/95
  • 1995 Junior Nationals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Gold, 2/95
  • 1994 Junior Worlds in Bali, Indonesia- Gold, 6/94
  • 1994 Junior Nationals in Parkersburg, West Virginia- Gold, 2/94
  • 1993 Junior Worlds in Hamilton, Canada- Gold, 10/93
  • 1993 Junior Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina- Gold, 4/93
  • 1992 Junior Worlds in Sydney, Australia- Bronze, 9/92
  • 1992 Junior Nationals in Brockton, Massachusetts- Gold 5/92
  • 1991 Teenage Nationals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma- Gold 6/91
  • 1990 Teenage Nationals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma- Gold 6/90
  • 1989 Teenage Nationals in Shawnee, Oklahoma- Gold 6/89

Q: Any meets you'd like to 'do over' or take back?

LL: No.  Iíve learned from my screw-ups.  Take away these and I havenít learned.  Therefore, Iíd have to screw up all over again.  No thanks!  If what youíre looking for are my shittiest moments they would have to be the 1990 Region I (4/9 way too mental), 1997 Womenís Seniors (6/9 way too insecure over my surgery), and the 1998 Womenís Worlds (4/9 totally screwed up my diet). 

Q: What are your future goals in the sport? How good can Leslie Look be? Are you "THAT DAMN GOOD?"

LL: My future goals are to keep my body healthy and make a good transition from training hard to training hard & smart.  As far as weights go Iíd like to squat 485+, bench 286+, and pull over 500 at 181.  As far as how good I can be, weíll see.  I donít like to write checks with my mouth my ass canít cash.  That docket is already full in this sport.  However, I donít lift to be ďNOT SO DAMN GOODĒ.

Q: Let me switch gears a bit. You seem to be the voice of female lifting for USAPL, at least in PLUSA. How do you think we can get more ladies into powerlifting? I see more women at the gym these days but even the ones that venture into the free weight area seem to feel that heavy lifting is for guys. The word "tone" is used way too much. How can we
change their minds? 

LL: There are many voices in womenís powerlifting.  Mine does not exemplify all of them.  Iím unsure how to ďsellĒ powerlifting to the female population.  I think that as a general rule women associate lifting heavy weights with being a thickly muscled brute.  Although this seems to be socially desirable for men, for women itís not always so well received.  Big, strong women have their place in powerlifting but they certainly donít portray everything womenís powerlifting is about.  No one weight class or body type could do that.  Strong women come in all shapes and sizes ranging from petite to robust.  When society realizes this and stops pigeonholing strong girls into a negative misnomer Iím sure strength sport will be seen as more desirable. 

Q: What about supplementation? What kind of diet and supplement regimen do you follow? 

LL: Iím not on a special supplementation program. Diet is probably the weakest area of my training.  This is my next area of attack.  Some of the good choices I make are getting enough protein, about ¾ of a gram per pound of body weight a day.  I keep my protein levels high by eating bars and drinking shakes.  Iím currently looking for a nutrition sponsor.  Iíve been working on my water intake, trying to increase it to 100 ounces daily in addition to other fluids.  I take a multi-vitamin each day along with glucosamine and chondroitin for my joints. 

Q: What is your out of contest weight? Ok, you don't have to answer that but do you stay at or near your weight class limit year round or do you train above it and cut weight for meets? I know we're not supposed to ask women their weights but hey, it's for training. 

LL: My out of contest weight ranges from 183-192.  I tend to train above my weight class limit and cut weight for contests.  This parallels my response to your earlier question.  It would be better to train lighter.

Q: Who has influenced you in this sport? Helped you the most?

LL: There have been many influences to my training.  The people that have helped me the most are those that have stuck by me.  My mom and Nan are two of the strongest, toughest women Iíve ever met.  Although they are not directly involved in my training, their contribution to my personality and life have been tremendous.  Their genetics arenít too shabby either.  Other, more gym-related influences have been the Gillyís Gym atmosphere, very hardcore and encouraging (in my early years); my many training partners and helpers over the years: Guy, Heather, Tammy, Johnny G, Glen, Michael, Mike, Chris, & Sean;  Shelby Corson- a strong, emulator, Carrie Boudreau- an unbelievable athlete and true encourager;  John Mathieu- a caring supporter and incredible knee wrapper;  Pete Alaniz- a super sponsor;  Hammond Lumber Company- a valuable contributor;  Larry Maile- a super coach with true respect for womenís powerlifting;  and Lizzy Willett- one hell of a cool lady. 

Q: The Strength Site is about training. Would you share some of your training ideas with the readers? 

LL: I keep my routine pretty basic.  I lift 4 days a week.  Day 1- Squats/legs, Day 2- Bench I (bench press, chest, triceps), Day 3- Deadlift/back/ light legs, Day 4- Bench II (shoulders, biceps).  On off days I train abs and do cardio to stay healthy and maintain weight.   My newest idea is to train my upper back and chest on Day 4 (with shoulders and biceps on day 2) to try to balance out some postural issues that have developed after years of training.  I also plan to flip my deadlift grip to develop my back more evenly. 

        I have been referred to as uncoachable.  That may be true, I certainly donít do what Iím told, when Iím told to do it.  However, I think this makes me a discerning learner.  Some key training elements that have worked for me over the years are as followsÖ

  • Reducing training weight in the off season but keeping the intensity high.  This type of training is exhausting but effective.  Itís just as difficult as heavy training.  My favorites are 5x5 in the squat with no belt 90 seconds apart and 3x8 in the bench and deadlift, 90 seconds apart with no equipment. 
  • Start training a week or so after a contest quite light, this time period has a high risk of injury, especially for trained athletes.  Itís good to get in the gym and feel the motion.  Save the CRANK for 2-3 weeks post contest. 
  •  Sets of five are a great base, however, you body needs to neurologically prepare for your eventual 1 RM.  Donít be afraid to take a heavier (not max) singles after your normal routine.  CAUTION, if this is abused it leads to overtraining. 
  • Give yourself time in your training cycle to adapt to equipment. 
  • Commit to life-long learning.  No one person will have whatís right for you.  Donít expect anyone else to make your program work.  Otherís can be a great source for new ideas, but be a good strainer.  There is a delicate balance between changing with every new fad and being stuck in the same routine.  Find out where your fulcrum is.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?


  1. Train hard.  Donít take time off for stupid reasons (the summer, you donít like that lift, boys, etc.)
  2. Pay attention to your body.  Search out ways to fix the problem, you know your body better than anyone Ė find what works.
  3. Stay positive.  Donít let yourself be negatively influenced.  If you fall down, get back up.

  4. Lift for a federation you can feel good about.  Check out their rules, equipment guidelines, & doping control.  Be educated. 
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