I met Sue Metcalf a Strongwoman competitor from Queensland at the FitX Expo in Melbourne this year. We have spoken several times since and she kindly offered to do this interview to give an insight into her career in Strongwoman.
PB: Where were you born?
SM: I was born in South Australia, Adelaide
PB: What sports/ interests did you have as a child?
SM: I played local and played for the Adelaide hills representative netball team – we travelled a lot for this. I played once a week and trained three times a week as well as played school sports such as athletics – sprinting, basketball, touch football and AFL football. This probably set the foundations for my love of routine and training.
PB: Growing up who was your sporting idol?
SM: I loved Michael Jordan – such an entertaining athlete! I started weight training about 15 years ago and about this time, I read a lot about Melita Jagic and her training – I am a massive fan of Melita – such an amazing physique and she does some amazing training – sprints, polymeric training.
PB: How did you get into Strongwoman competition?
SM: I was introduced to Strongman/Women in September 2009 and I am genuinely thankful to Alan Kliese for introducing me to the sport – I knew Al through powerlifting – I had been training for strength for 3 years prior and competed in the CAPO state titles in May 2008. The first time I trained in Strongman I LOVED it – I loved the ability to training for strength AND Power and it is fun! Strongman training really came to me – I was in the right place at the right time and the “punishment” set by the big boys in the gym for not attending the national power lifting championships was that I lift the 80kg atlas stone – which I did with ease….
PB: When was your first Strongwoman competition?
SM: My first strongwoman competition was in October 2008 – about 3 months after I started training. Chris Andrews ran the Springwood Strength Challenge and I came first (admittedly I was the only female competitor but a win is a win!)
The results were:
45kg log press for 10 reps
45kg farmers – 50 metres – 30 seconds
165kg Super Yoke – 25 metre – 13 seconds
70kg Atlas Stone – 8 reps – over yoke 1.2 metres
It was so much fun and the guys were all so supportive of me!
PB: Are there many Strongwoman events in Australia?
SM: There are occasional local competitions held however strongwoman competition in Australia is really yet to take off. There are so few women in Australia participating that to get 1, 3 or 3 women at a show would be very special. Unlike America where they have enough women competitors to do weight categories – thus why I loved competing in the US last year! Very structured, very organised and there were about 10 women in the light, middle and heavy weight divisions.
PB: What is your best strength related achievement?
SM: My best strength achievement to date has been travelling to the USA (Reno, Nevada) to compete in North Americas Strongest Woman (November 2010) which is the US Nationals and competing in the Middle weight division and placing 5th place. The American girls were AMAZING, so strong and determined and were so welcoming.
- June 2010 – National Record – Heaviest Atlas Stone loaded by a Woman – 113.5kgs loaded to 44 gallon drum (at QLD Strongest man)
- October 2010 – National Record – Heaviest Atlas Stone loaded to height by a Women – 109.5kgs loaded over 1.125 meter yoke bar (at Lawnton Genesis Strength Challenge)
- February 2011 – Heaviest natural Stone loaded to height by a Woman – 88.5kgs loaded over 1.4 meter bar (at South Australia’s strongest man)
Gym/Training Best Lifts
- Deadlift – 175kgs @ 66kg bodyweight (April 2010)
- Squat – 140kgs @ 66kg bodyweight (March 2010)
- Farmers Walk – 100kg a hand x 6 meters
- Yoke – 210kgs over 20 meters
- Atlas Stone – 113.5kgs
- Axel Clean and Press – 60kgs x 3 reps
- Frame Carry – 140kgs over 20 meters
PB: What is your best strongwoman event, if it isn’t obvious by your facebook name!?
SM: Haha definitely the atlas stones but I am determined to become a champion presser too – I have been training fortnightly with Damon Kelly (Commonwealth Gold Medalist) to improve my clean and press technique! – look out!
PB: Who do you respect the most in the world of strongwoman/strongman?
SM: Meeting Jamie Reed-Kovac in America was pretty amazing – she has an amazing competitive history; Olympic bobsled team, figure competitor, American Gladiators. Such an amazing physique and she absolutely smashed the middle weight division – powerful, strong, determined and crazy!
Sharon Waters and Freda Mazzon are also two people I turn to for support and advice! Such amazing accomplished women – both powerlifters, strongwomen and bodybuilders!
I train with Eben LeRoux, Marc Wells and Jordan Steffens who are all such humble crazy strong athletes! They are three guys who are totally focused on doing good for the sport and avoid the nasty politics – they have had a huge influence on my success and motivation.
I also LOVE two of the best under 105kgs guys in the country; Casey Snodgrass and Dave “Naparm” Parmiter. These two guys go to prove that you don’t have to be a huge freak to be super strong and powerful!
PB: Pound for Pound or Kg for Kg who’s the stronger Man or Woman?
SM: I would never want to make any decisive statement about this because strength changes from a comp to the gym and really I don’t know what a lot of the other men/women are doing in the gym – I’m pretty focused on myself really!
BUT – I would say that there are definitely women who pound for pound are as strong as or stronger than some men… men are lucky as they have testosterone on their side!
PB: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
SM: A very experienced Bill Lyndon gave me some advice about paving my own path in Strongwomen; influencing the sport to do what I want to do, developing a profile and thinking of new exciting ways to show off strength and ignoring the negativity that might come my way.
PB: What is the funniest thing you have seen in the world of strongwomen?
SM: Aside from my massive keg stack – while running with a 63kg keg tripping over…..I did see a hilarious video of a south Australian strongman (I will not reveal names) dropping a 160kg stone on his mid section….it was only funny because he was not injured! I’m still laughing about this, so so funny! Love you Case! hahahahha
PB: What advice would you give to young girls who want to get into strongwoman competitions?
SM: Don’t be scared to have a go and get dirty. Train smart AND hard and NEVER forget the criticality of diet.
A great start is to build a strength base in the gym – squat, deadlift and bench. Don’t think this is just for the big boys – it is the most challenging training you will ever do and is heaps of fun.
PB: What is your goal this year in strongwoman competition?
SM: I will be competing in the US nationals again this year – to be held in November in Memphis. I will compete in the lightweights or middle weights and would LOVE to improve ion my 5th place from last year!
PB: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
SM: Strength gains are not made in the gym – they’re made by the things you do outside of the gym. I’ve come to realise you MUST follow a regime outside of the gym too; I eat for my training, get regular massage and chiropractic work, stretch (I do Bikrahm twice a week), sleep heaps and I rarely drink alcohol…. This seems to be working a treat!
PB: If you could only do one exercise what would it be and why?
SM: If you’d asked me 6 months ago I would have said Deadlift as it is such a taxing full body compound movement! HOWEVER I’m now thinking perhaps a clean and press (from the floor) because it is so much harder and using strength AND power!
PB: How many times a week do you train?
SM: I train 6 days a week – usually twice a day. Morning I mix up between sprints, kettle-bells and power training every second day I do a light walk, stretch and sauna. I do weights 4 days a week in the afternoon, Bikrahm yoga twice a week and event training once a week. Sundays I totally rest, sleep and eat
PB: What would a chest workout routine look like for you, in the off-season?
SM: Incline axel presses! Some floor pressing with my trainer (Simon Colley). Dan Hooper who writes my strength programs includes some Dumbell pressing and barbell bench. I find Bench/ chest training to be the most boring uninspiring workout of them all! I recently benched 70kgs however Casey Snodgrass is currently writing me a program to increase my bench…. *sigh*
PB: Do you do Cardio work? If so how much?
SM: I mix up my power training (I don’t care about my heart/cardio – rather I want to condition my body to be able to generate power)
- Monday – I usually do a cross training – kettlebells, box jumps, clean and press etc
- Tuesday – walk + sauna
- Wednesday – I train with my Trainer JuiJitsu fighter – Simon Colley – we usually focus on upper body strength and body weight exercises – chins, floor pressing, box jumps, weighted sled pulls
- Thursday – walk + sauna
- Friday – walk + sauna OR Cross-training (depending on my energy
- At event training on Saturdays I sometimes throw in some keg/prowler intervals – using the 63kg keg and a 100kg prowler – 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off running with either piece of apparatus for 5 minutes. And I ALWAYS finish with a medley. For example; 180kg yoke over 20 meters, 65kg keg over 20 meters, 60kg axel clean and press, 150kg deadlift and 100kg prowler push over 20 meters – the goal – to finish!
PB: If you could invite 5 people (currently living or dead) to your house to have dinner with you, who would they be and why?
1. Melita Jagic – love her would like to drill her more about her training
2. Jamie Kovac – as above + she makes me laugh
3. Freda Mazon – as above
4. Amy Wattles + Lacy Okey + Amy Simmer – Three crazy US strongwomen! They come as a team and I’m pretty sure they would be awesome fun at a dinner!
5. Nick Jones – GenTec founder and would love to know more about his training now!
Poor Nick – not sure he would survive that dinner haha!
PB: How do you achieve balance in your life?
SM: I do hot yoga (Bikrahm) twice a week – this has made a huge difference for my recovery and sanity! I’m pretty good at culling negativity and unsupportive people from my life too – I don’t have the energy to manage that! Also I surround myself with supportive loving people who understand the sport; Bryce Cleary has been a huge support for me and pushed me to do things I would have never done alone x
PB: Thanks Sue, thats been great, theres alot of information there, for people to take note of, and I now feel that I know 100 times more about the strongwoman sport than I did 30 minutes ago 🙂
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