Norway is currently one of the “stronger” nations in powerlifting world. The obsessive attention to detail and technique, barbell speed and straight vertical path are thought to be the key to the success of these athletes.
Marte Elverum is one of the top IPF female Athletes of the Norway National Powerlifting Team actually representing Norway in weight category -72 kg. Her personal records are 233 kg in the squat, 123 kg in the bench, and 213 kg in the deadlift. Today, Antonio Robustelli has an interview with Marte that he graciously allowed me to publish on the site.
Antonio: Hello Marte, first of all thanks for your time. Now a few words about your recent record at the IPF Junior National Championship. 213 kg deadlift category -72 kg.
Marte: 213kg is a little bit under what I hoped to pull this year, but none the less I am always happy to get a new PR, and this was in fact the first time I broke the Norwegian senior record in the deadlift. Just two weeks after Open Worlds in Stavanger.
Antonio: We have all seen the amazing picture of your exultation. The perfect image. The winning image. Can you describe your joy in a few words?
Marte: The joy after a good lift is an outlet for all the hard work, all the hours with heavy training I have had in the gym to make each lift. A good lift makes all the sacrifices worth it.
Antonio: I follow with great attention the Norwegian powerlifting scene and I think it is one of the most interesting in the powerlifting and strength training world. How important is this sport in Norway? People are interested in powerlifting?
Marte: The Norwegian Powerlifting Federation is working very hard to make powerlifting equal to every other big sport here in Norway, and they have done an amazing job! Powerlifting is well recognized in Norway, and is taken seriously. I think powerlifting will grow even bigger in Norway as we are getting more and more athletes. And a lot of good athletes that bring home medals from big international meets.
Antonio: At what age did you start practicing powerlifting? And how did you get into powerlifting?
Marte: I started powerlifting in the summer of 2008. I did various martial arts from the age of 13, and when I was 16/17 I started to do MMA, but I would train against guys only and I was tired of being the weakest one, so I started to train with weights. It didnt take long before I was invited to come train at the local powerlifting club. I fell in love with the sport, the people and the mentality. I continued martial arts as well, but in 2010 I decided to quit martial arts to discover my true potential in powerlifting.
Antonio: In Norway there are very strong Athletes and you are a perfect example. The most impressive thing is the “extremely clean” technique of your lifts and the speed of your execution. You work a lot on what i call “movement fluidity”?
Marte: We have a big focus on techniqe, it is extremely important not only to stay free of injuries, but also to be able to develop maximum strength. I do work a lot with trying to make the movement “as one” and not of several movements. This is something you have to work on everyday in the gym.
Antonio: Your barbell paths, especially in the squat, are very vertical. The concept of improving maximal strength through increased vertical trajectory is something revolutionary in the strength training world. This suggests a huge amount of both explosive and mobility work. What can you say?
Marte: I am not very pleased with my technique in the squat. I still have a lot of work to do there. But yes, it is better to have more vertical and “clean” barbell paths, and to be able to have that demands good mobility. I do some mobility work, but I have very flexible muscles (probably from doing martial arts), so I do not put a lot of work in stretching. I dont do any explosive work (like box jumps, plyometrics etc.), except from lifting weights explosively.
Antonio: What training frequency do you have on the main lifts? And how do you manage the accessory work?
Marte: In my preparation towards Junior and Open Worlds I have had 7 squats a week, I usually train 5-6 days a week so I have had some days with 2 different variations of squats. Bench I have about 6, and I have deadlift twice a week with in total 4 different variations. This frequency is pretty extreme, but I trust my coach 100% and it has given me results. I also have some accessory work, but squat, bench and deadlift take up most of the time in training.
Antonio: Do you primarily stick to medium-to-lower reps (1-5 reps) with the squat, bench, and deadlift, or do you go with higher reps occasionally?
Marte: I usually have 1-5 reps, but occasionally I will have more. This depends on when my next meet is. I have had a lot of drop set squats, where I have about 10-12 reps all together. Personally, I like to do lots of reps (but never more than 10, of course).
Antonio: Do you employ the dynamic effort method where submaximal loads are lifted for maximum speed? If so, do you utilize this practice on all 3 lifts?
Marte: I actually do the contrary. I have submaximal weights and have a 4-5 second eccentric/concentric phase. We apply this in the squat, bench and deadlift. I don’t really believe in maximum speed work for powerlifting, I have never seen the purpose of it.
Antonio: How often do you go for personal records? Or do you save those for competitions?
Marte: I very rarely go for personal records in gear in trainings – that is usually saved for competitions. I like to work on a little bit lighter weights in trainings and focus more on proper technique. I trust my strength, but not my technique, so that is where I should put my work in. But I do go for personal records raw in the gym, but when I do it’s usually not max. I’m not sure how often, around every third month or so?
Antonio: What is your favorite assistance lift for each of the 3 lifts?
Marte: For the squat I guess my favorite is the box squat, but I also really like safety pin front squats and Bulgarian split squats. What can I say? I love to squat!
For bench I like heavy board presses and pin presses.
For deadlift I love wide grip deadlift and deficit deadlifts and straight legged deadlift and resistance band deadlift and wide grip deficit deadlift and. yeah, you get the picture! Its hard to just chose one.
Antonio: How many weeks off of intensive training do you take per year?
Marte: It feels like 52, but I’m sure my coach disagrees. I really don’t know, I leave that part all up to my trainer and trust him 100%.
Antonio: In my opinion nutrition is a key element in powerlifting as well as in all sports, although there are some strength trainers who do not consider it very important. What is your relationship with nutrition? Do you plan your diet?
Marte: I take my diet seriously and only eat what some call “clean food”. I do not count any calories or weigh my food, I adjust the amount of food after my appetite, how heavy my training period is and where my weight is. It mainly consists of all kinds of meat, fish, dairy products, vegetables, potatoes and rice.
Antonio: What you tell us about Marte Elverum “over the barbell” and outside of the gym?
Marte: I work as an event manager, which I really like. It is challenging and every day is different. I love to travel and meet new people, luckily I get to do this at the same time I’m competing. In rare occations when I am not in serious training I love to go out with friends and have a good time. But I am at the happiest when I’m in the gym with my powerlifting friends and I’m getting stronger. I guess thats why motivation comes easy to me.
Antonio: What do you say to greet the readers?
Marte: It’s more important to train smart, than heavy. Stay healthy and stay strong!
Antonio: Thanks again for your time, Marte.