Power on Gostling


October 16, 2019 | View PDF

Loaded Bar Collective

Squatting a 200kg bar, Ellen Gostling (NHS 2015) competes at a powerlifting meet in Littleton, CO.

Ellen Gostling is a force to be contended with. Gostling, a 2015 Niwot High School graduate, currently holds all of the state records in the junior 84kg weight class in equipped powerlifting, and since graduating college in May, she continues to make a name for herself in the sport.

Starting out as a figure skater in high school and then a member of the cross country and swim teams during her senior year, Gostling understands how much hard work goes into being an athlete. So when friends mentioned that her participation in ROTC could be enhanced by building strength through weight training, Gostling took up the sport with vigor. Not only did she build muscles, she also entered a community that has enriched her life.

Going from an everyday person's version of weightlifting at the CU gym in her first two years of college to becoming a serious competitor by her junior year was the result of a suggestion made by the president of the CU Powerlifting Club. Gostling agreed to give it a try. "I wound up really liking it and have stayed with it ever since," Gostling said.

This was no small act because that made Gostling the first woman on CU's powerlifting team. She went on to become the first female CU athlete to go to nationals in powerlifting.

"It just took one person to normalize it," Gostling said, adding that there are now five or six females on the team. "The trend on social media is proving that this isn't just a boy's sport. This is a sport for everyone."

Gostling started out doing raw powerlifting and switched to the equipped style, seeing it as a natural progression to allow her to lift heavier weight. It's estimated that equipped powerlifters perform at 115% or more of their raw weight levels.

At first, she bench pressed a 45 pound bar, squatted 90 pounds, and she can't recall her first deadlift weights. In her most recent competition, her best lifts were a bench press of 320 pounds (145 kilos), a squat of 450 pounds (205 kilos), and a deadlift of 385 pounds (175 kilos).

Gostling is ranked eighth nationally in the juniors (20-23 year old) 84kg body-weight division and using strength to bodyweight calculations, Gostling is ranked 44th overall nationally in the USA Powerlifting Federation in equipped powerlifting .

Athletes who participate in equipped powerlifting focus on three types of lifts – squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. During a meet, contenders are allowed three attempts at each of these lifts and the highest weight in each lift goes toward a combined score.

The qualifying word "equipped" refers to the wraps and clothing competitors wear. The more popular sport of raw powerlifting only permits the use of light support such as waist belts or wrist supports. In equipped powerlifting, depending on which lifts are being performed, heavy single or multi-ply wraps on joints, singlet suits, and bench press shirts are worn.

The gear's technical fabric is designed to stretch to the bottom of each movement which results in a snap that bounces the athlete out of lifts. The very compressive gear can be painful to wear because, while it supports joints it also "grooves" wearers into certain postures. Donning the equipment requires assistance from another one or two people.

In January of this year, Gostling joined Elite Iron Sports Performance, an Atlanta, GA based team run by James Townsend, the head coach of the US National Powerlifting Team.

"I've gotten a lot better and definitely wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't been coached by him," Gostling said.

Each week Townsend provides Gostling with a workout spreadsheet, and she videotapes the heaviest lifts from each training session for Townsend to evaluate.

Four days a week Gostling works out for two to three hours at a barbell gym in Boulder. She also goes to Ft. Collins to work out with two powerlifting world champions, Natalie Hanson and Bryce Lewis. Two days a week she does light cardio workouts.

This year's new training regime paid off well at two recent meets. At the USA Powerlifting Bench Nationals in Sioux Falls, SD, Gostling earned two silver medals – in open and junior classes. While competing at a meet in Littleton, CO in September, she succeeded in all of her lift attempts and exceeded her personal bests in all three types of lifts.

Nutrition plays a role in her training, but the federation she competes in doesn't permit the use of performance enhancing drugs.

"Although I'm not super strict about what I eat, I need to eat over 2500 calories a day in order to maintain leaner muscle at my bodyweight," Gostling said. "I try, although not always successfully, to primarily eat lean proteins, grains, and fruits, and vegetables to meet these needs. I also supplement in protein powder to hit over 175 grams of protein a day."

Gostling's next big competition is in May 2020 at a national meet in Las Vegas where she'd like to place in the top three in the women's division. She's also hoping to find a fellow athlete to mentor or coach to continue the stewardship of the sport and pass along her hard-earned knowledge.

"I've broken records 29 times in Colorado." Gostling said. "I didn't actually ever think that I would be where I am, but I think a lot of it comes from having a really good support system - on the CU powerlifting team, having people who really wanted to invest in me and then having the right coach take me on and having a lot of people and community members too who've been supporting me by sending supportive messages before meets. It makes a big difference."

Gostling completed a degree in International Affairs at CU and would like to be working in the non-profit sector. She currently manages the GNC store in Edgewater and lives in Boulder.

Follow or reach out to Gostling on her Instagram account, therealchubbyunicorn.

Courtesy photo

Ellen Gostling (NHS 2015) earned three personal records at a USA Powerlifting competition, Attack of the Kilo Monster, in Littleton in September. She holds all of the state records in equipped powerlifting in her division.


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