Glam Meets Functional: Interview With Olympic Lifter and Fitness Model, Stephanie Puddicome

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I recently had a chance to chat with Pro Fitness and Bikini Model and IPF Powerlifting World medalist, Stephanie Puddicome, about her success in both sports. I thought it would be a refreshing change from my regular training articles and wanted to share her unique perspective on training. In a relatively short career, she has accumulated quite the list of accomplishments. We chatted a little about her training and diet, and what it’s like to compete in two very different iron disciplines.

The Basics

Hometown: Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador
Age: 28
Career: Corporate Accountant

Stephanie Puddicome

M: Steph, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today! How long have you been training for fitness model and powerlifting competitions?
SP: I started training with weights about two years ago. I immediately became addicted to the feeling of being strong and constantly progressing toward higher strength goals. I feel empowered as a woman to be able to get chalk on my hands and get under a bar full of weights.

My first powerlifting competition was in June 2013. At the time, I had little guidance in the sport but knew it was something I enjoyed and wanted to explore further. I actually placed first at the event. I competed again in November 2013, and it was my placing at this event that earned me the title of one of Canada’s top ten lifters of all time. Two weeks later, I stepped on stage in my first fitness competition, where I won professional cards in both the bikini and fitness model categories with UFE.

M: Amazing! Can you tell us about your biggest accomplishments in both sports?
SP: After I qualified for the powerlifting Canadian Nationals in June 2013 and paired up with my coach Tom Kean, I truly started to love the sport and progress to an elite level. Since training under Tom, I have set 12 national records and 2 commonwealth records. I won overall best open lifter in Canada and also placed third overall at Worlds (winning a gold medal in both the squat and deadlift categories!).

As a competitor in fitness shows, I won the UFE professional show last November and earned the title of fittest natural female in North America in both the bikini and fitness model categories.

M: Interesting to see both the functional and aesthetic sides of training in action. Do you find the training to be complimentary or is it a total switch up to go from one event to the other?
SP: I train and eat solely for strength. The byproduct of the strength training is a physique which allows me to compete in fitness shows.

M: Do you prefer to train for a meet or a show?
SP: I love strength training and do not veer from the sport even to prep for bikini shows. However, I find the excitement of a powerlifting meet much more intense. I love the sport of powerlifting; lifting meets are the highlights of my training and drive the overall direction of my workouts.

M: Have you ever competed in both sports in a close time frame?
SP: Always! My first powerlifting meet was two weeks before my first fitness competition. Ever since, they’ve always seemed to fall a few weeks apart.

M: What do you think the biggest myths are about training for a fitness competition? Similarly, what myths do you hear about powerlifting?
SP: I hear so many myths about fitness competitions. Two which come to mind are that all competitors follow a carb-restricted diet and that bikini competitors can get ready for a show quickly. I believe in looking good and, most importantly, being strong year round. To me, it is a lifestyle, not a show prep.  I often hear a common myth about rebounding in weight after a show. This may be true in the case of competitors who prepped quickly; however, if you incorporate healthy living into your everyday life then rebounding does not happen. I maintain my stage physique in my day-to-day life, all year round. I don’t “diet”; I go out and I don’t track every bite I eat. I live by the 80/20 rule, 80% of foods I eat are healthy and 20% are not so healthy. Moderation is key.

A frequent powerlifting myth I hear is that powerlifting girls are bulky or fat. This is so far from true! Being a powerlifter means being an athlete in a sport that is anything but easy. Most elite female powerlifters have muscle, are lean, and are far from fat.

M: Who would you say has had the most positive influence on you since you first began training?
SP: My coach Tom Kean. He is a true powerlifting mastermind. He took me under his wing and made me better. His training and programming are genius. I just do what his numbers dictate and I feel myself getting stronger all the time. He is the brains behind my success this past year. I am truly thankful for having found a passionate coach who loves the sport and dedicates so much time to his team.

M: It is increasingly rare to see people compete in both fitness competitions and powerlifting meets. What would you say to anyone out there who is looking to compete in either event for the first time?
SP: My best advice would be to understand that there are no short cuts, only hard work. If you want long-term results, you have to take the time to achieve them. All the fad diets and quick preps where people drop 40 pounds in five weeks are not lasting. Take your time, work hard, and believe in yourself. The rest will fall into place.

M: What is your favourite exercise or workout?
SP: Deadlifts  🙂

M: When not in the gym, what is your favorite way to spend your time?
SP: I like to help other women achieve their fitness goals and feel empowered. I do online fitness coaching for women in Canada with my business partner and UFE pro bikini model Erica Willick. We spread our love and empowerment to women through our online business, Sisters In Shape. I love spending time with my family and my three fur babies. Also, I like to read – I’m a big book geek. Oh and laughing. I like to laugh, like a lot! It’s the best calorie burner and best core workout around.

M: Are there any meets or shows on the horizon which you’re currently prepping for?
SP: I will be competing in Easterns for powerlifting at the end of November, and then again at Nationals in April. I will be competing in the Bikini division at UFE Worlds in the first week of November.

M: We have all made mistake in our training. What’s the number one thing you would tell a new fitness competitor or powerlifter to avoid?
SP: Avoid low carb diets! End of story! These are not maintainable, are unhealthy, and so not fun!


Mike Samson is a strength and conditioning coach and university instructor who lives in St John’s, Newfoundland. Mike holds a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. A competitive athlete in Judo and BJJ disciplines, Mike is available for consultation in the St John’s area and also provides services online.

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