Down Under.. but Not Out!


Published: 8/25/2021

By Lauren

G’day from Australia!

I’m Lauren, a counsellor, pinup model and trainee powerlifter, here to share with you my experience as a newbie learning to lift heavy, during the strangest time in the world as we know it. 

Equipment like dumbbells are almost impossible to find in Australia.

Lockdown Lifting

Picture this:

I’m in the middle of a heavy squat set and the door to my mini home gym creaks and opens. The dog scrambles in to stop right underneath my booty as I drop to the bottom of my range.

Sound familiar?

Welcome to workouts in the pandemic!

The cat jumps on my stomach while I chest press, my partner leaves his clothes all over my squat rack, my stretch mat is rolled up at the end of my program to make way for the day of work. This is the life of a home-based powerlifting newbie, learning to lift during the pandemic.

While most of the United States adjusts to life after Covid restrictions, Melbourne, Australia is in the midst of our 6th lockdown. Among other restrictions, we can’t travel more than 5km from home and the only thing that’s open is the supermarket.

Six. That’s 6 false starts to life that many Australian strength trainers have faced over the past year and a half since the pandemic started. On top of that barbells are sold out locally, with shipping to Australia costing a fortune and taking weeks. Our local sports stores don’t even carry stock of barbell plates! 

UNconventional Deadlifts and Perfecting Your Form

So how are we surviving?

And how are Australians learning to powerlift when we can’t find much heavier than an actual kettle?!

We are adapting and adjusting to the new ‘Covid normal’ – and as always, us Ozzies are thriving at that. People are getting creative, and unconventional, in true Australian fashion.

I’ve seen people hip thrusting microwaves, squatting holding full suitcases, and using water jerry cans as kettlebells. As a newbie, I am really stripping back my technique and perfecting form and function so that when I go back to my coach (the glorious Alex from Girls Who Lift), I’m ready to add load.

It’s ok to use this time to really refine your basic fundamentals, and who knows, maybe you’ll grow more this way you think!

Step Out of the World and Into Your Strong Body

Powerlifting and strength has really helped me switch off from the world, and into my body through learning movement patterns. Lifting for me is a form of mindfulness – we are literally using mind-muscle connection to allow our brain to relax and tap out of our worries.

With so much going on in the world right now, our ability to just stop, lift, and breathe (sometimes groan and swear let’s be real here) – is a way for us to process what’s going on around us in a constructive way. Being a counsellor, this down time away from the emotions of the world is invaluable to me. If you’re thinking of taking up lifting for mental health reasons, try it, and feel how strong, mentally and physically, you become.

If You Can’t Get to a Meet, Bring the Meet to You

For many new and experienced lifters, lockdowns have meant missing meets and competitions, halting goals or regression in our progress. This can be really disheartening especially if you’re just starting out and eager to get stuck in.

What I have found that has really helped me is continuing to stick to my strength routine, getting up and committing to one thing each day.  By having a program and a regular (albeit online) check-in with your coach, you can set new goals that are achievable within your circumstances.

This can give you a purpose and something to look forward to, more than just your end of the week take-away or morning coffee.

My #1 tip for newbies looking to lift: Connect with your community and reach out to other lifters.

You can also listen to podcasts, follow their journey, and share yours. Strong women lift each other up, and literally lift!

While writing this article, my barbell was in the outback somewhere, but it showed up right before publishing and now I can lift even more weight! Send a positive vibe up for any other Australians waiting on barbells to arrive during Lockdown – we need it!

How long was your country on Lockdown? Is it still?

If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at hello@liftingthedream

Bee Tee Dubs (BTW). 


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