Novice powerlifter makes her mark

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Natasha Fenton strives for excellence in all she does the old school way – she rolls up her sleeves and works hard.


That’s why it’s no surprise the NCO in charge of Executive Services at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations headquarters here, has made an immediate impact as a powerlifter.


Fenton entered just her second powerlifting competition Oct. 29, 2016 at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Inaugural Powerlifting Meet in Fort Myer, Va., where she captured 1st Place in the Female Category Weight Class by lifting 170 pounds in the bench press, 225 pounds in the squat and 335 pounds in the dead lift.


She was a bit surprised by her showing. 


“There was a lot of competition and this was my first raw event, which is with no equipment (knee sleeves to protect the knees), so I didn’t expect to place,” Fenton said. “I was super excited.”


The Norton, Va., native channeled that enthusiasm to defeat seven other females in the total filed of 50 lifters. Each competitor was given three attempts at performing one clean bench press, squat and dead lift each.


Fenton’s cross-fitting friend convinced her to sign-up for her first powerlifting meet.


“I liked the adrenaline rush I got from that meet, was amazed how strong I got and wanted to see how strong I could get,” she said.


The sport has changed Fenton’s nutrition habits. The nine and a half year Air Force veteran focuses on fueling her body with healthy foods for better performance.


“I make sure I’m getting the right amount of carbs and protein so when I’m in the gym I can train at the level I need to, to ensure I’m ready for competition, she said.”


Fenton’s intense pre-event regimen focuses on building strength via the bench press, parallel squat, deadlift and standing press called the Wendler 5-3-1 program. It’s a 4-week training cycle. Week one you do three sets of five repetitions at 65-85 percent of your 1 rep maximum. Week two you do three sets of three reps at 70-90 percent of your one rep max. Week three you do 3 sets of one rep at 75-95 percent of your one rep max. That’s followed by a de-load week which is 40-60 percent of your one rep max. Fenton uses her previous competition numbers for this.


After the lifts, she focuses on accessory work, these exercises include the incline bench press, lunges, bicep curls, pull-ups and push-ups and more. She trains 5 to 6 days a week, usually in the gym for 90 minutes. Fenton also does cardio 3 to 4 times a week, which is either on the stair stepper, the bike or sprints on the treadmill. She’ll usually complete two or more cycles before a competition.


“The day of a competition I stretch really well, make sure I’m eating a good amount of carbs and protein,” she said. “I put my headphones on, start my competition playlist, and zone out.”


Fenton’s immediate goal in the sport is to keep building strength to compete in the Military Nationals in March and place in the top 3.


What advice would she give to other newcomers to powerlifting?


“Don’t give up, strength isn’t built overnight,” she said. “You’ll have days when you feel weak or will hit a plateau in your training. But, if you stick with a good training plan and focus on execution of the movement, you’ll get stronger. That’s something I had to learn.”


Fenton’s learned it well.