Titled double world champion at only 20 years old, Samantha knew how to impose herself during the various powerlifting competitions, becoming a reference and an inspiration for many athletes. The Nutrimuscle team had the pleasure of receiving her to talk about her practice and her success.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your practice, powerlifting?
My name is Samantha and I am a powerlifter. Powerlifting is a three-movement strength sport: squats, bench press, and deadlift. The goal is to lift the heaviest load possible in a single repetition.
I first started indoor weight training at 14 and one day someone told me I had powerlifting potential. It is thanks to this person that I was able to meet my coach and how I started working with him.
I won the title of French champion three times (twice in junior, once in open), once the title of European champion and twice the title of world champion.
How are your trainings going? Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?
I always train alone, in a commercial gym. I am accompanied by a coach who gives me my programming, corrects my technique, prepares me for competitions, etc. I am also followed by a physiotherapist, an osteopath and a mental trainer.
What is your typical training routine for a week of preparation before a competition?
My preparation routine before a competition is not very different from my training. I repeat the same program every week and I necessarily increase the stress by increasing weight and volume. What differs from off season is that I will be more prone to fatigue. However, the week before the season, I train a little bit lighter, just to recover well. Otherwise, the movements do not change.
How do you work on your physical condition to improve your endurance and strength? What exercises and methods do you use?
After having posed the three exercises of the powerlifting, I distribute the sessions and I adjust the frequency of each exercise. I can play on the variations, if I have a problem of trajectory we can use a tempo (time imposed to carry out a movement). Besides, to strengthen the body and the muscles, I add exercises such as bench press with dumbbells, pulling exercises to strengthen the lower back, the abs, or other muscle areas.
For endurance, you just do more reps and longer sets. For strength, we do single-rep.
What is your relationship with food with powerlifting? Do you have a specific diet to maintain your body weight?
Since I started powerlifting, I immediately went on a diet because I had to fit into my old category, under 63 kg. My ideal weight was 66. During the year, I was at 66 and the closer we got to the competitions, the more I had to go down in weight to be able to enter my category. Two or three months before the competition, I started a caloric deficit. I was counting calories and dividing up macros so that I could optimize my exercise program while consuming good quality foods.
I changed category this year. I had a lot of frustration related to the diet, and the change of category allowed me to relax. I was able to eat whatever made me happy [laughs], and then I went back to dieting. I do exactly as before because I find that it affects performance.
Can dieting cause eating disorders?
I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, but the frustrations led to some tough times. Eating a high calorie food could lead to guilt or, at night, I could get up to eat. I think that these behaviors are linked to frustration, because it inevitably generates cracks.
Going up a category allowed me to find a slightly healthier balance with food. I can eat more than before, foods that are still as healthy and nutritious as ever. I refuse to follow a nutritional plan established by someone because I really like cooking and having the freedom to choose my dishes.
What are the essential food supplements for your practice?
For my practice, I use creatine, Women's Immune Health vitamin and mineral blend, and collagen. To protect my joints, I prefer Nutrimix to collagen, but not in terms of taste [laughs]. I also take digestive enzymes and mix focus for concentration. These are my essentials.
At the moment I really like Citicoline, although there is already some in the Mix Focus. It is also useful for partials because it limits eye fatigue.
Do you think that food supplements are essential for good sports practice?
In my opinion, food supplements are inseparable from a good sports practice. In today's diet there are many nutrient deficiencies. Afterwards, I think that all the supplements are not essential. There is a wide choice of food supplements to meet all needs. You have to know how to identify which ones respond to your sporting practice and combine the right products together to optimize your performance and guarantee a good nutritional intake.
How do you avoid injury and reduce the risk of long-term injury ?
With proper training, I avoid the risk of injury. I adapt the intensities: for my part they are weak. I'm never going to push hard in training.
My physio and I work together twice a week with manipulations and exercises to work the body differently and emphasize my muscular weaknesses. In this way, flexibility and mobility are increased and the risk of injury is reduced in the long term.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
I tried several things to manage stress. First, I started sophrology and it didn't suit me. Then I discovered hypnosis and I had a click: it changed my perception of competition, I was much more serene afterwards. I do hypnosis sessions just before competitions, at spaced frequency.
After a hypnosis session, the mental work continues. This reinforces the positive image of the competition that we created during the session.
You should also avoid comparing yourself to others via Instagram. Athletes show the best on Instagram, we don't see any hard times. It's easy to compare one total to another, especially since powerlifting is even easier to compare than any other sport in terms of performance.
Do you have any mantras or habits that you repeat to yourself before stressful situations?
I don't have a mantra. I like to listen to music to concentrate and motivate me, especially French rap. It's a moment that I like that allows me to focus on one thing at a time, not to be distracted by another workout, a conversation happening next to me, the speakers or the music in the room. . It allows me to put myself in my bubble.
Have you ever experienced sexist situations in powerlifting?
In my daily life, I don't experience too many situations of sexism. In the gym, I lift heavy and nobody bothers me. It may happen that men stare at me, look at me strangely or come to congratulate me. On the other hand, on social networks, it is different. People will comment on my outfit, or tell me that if I do perfs, it's because I sumo-squat, or that I'm doped, or that Pluto and Saturn are aligned [laughs]. People don't want to tell themselves that if I manage to do a perf, it's just that I worked for. They are constantly looking for a reason to justify my action. People are always alert to criticize anything, especially people who don't know the practice.
You are an athlete, but also a student. How do you combine studies and sport as an athlete?
I am doing a double degree in psychology and sports science. In my training, I can continue to study sport, be close to the athletes, understand what is at stake psychologically for them and develop my sports projects, in parallel.
As an athlete, we have accommodations. I don't have to take certain courses or pass terminal examination. In short, I can arrange my schedule as I want. It saves me a lot of time for my own training.
How do you manage your schedule and how often do you train?
I establish my priorities: I place my training sessions first each day, then the classes that are most important to me. Even with crazy college schedules, I prioritize my workouts. I train 5 times a week.
How do you define your long-term goals?
My goals are linked to the competition calendar. I have medium/short term goals: the end of the season.
My first goal was the French championships to be able to qualify for the world championships in September. Then it's about putting in the best performance possible to be able to qualify.
Long-term goals are everything that will happen after the end of the season. One of my big goals is to get a good place in the open, in the big category [laughs].
Do you have any future plans for your career?
I am aware that the career of an athlete is quite fragile. I do not intend to do athletic force all my life and I also build theoretical contributions to ensure a way out. My studies allow me to be an athlete today, but in the longer term I would like to practice as a psychologist, and most certainly a sports psychologist.
What place does the community and social networks have for your practice?
I have Instagram to show my performances as an athlete but also what is happening in my life. I talk about my studies, endometriosis, I also share what I cook.
Having a community gives me strength, but I am aware that it is an unstable notion. I get a lot of positives out of it, but I try to keep my feet on the ground and not press all my self-esteem through social media.
Follow Samantha on Instagram: @coeurlymonster