Powerlifting and Rehabilitation; Peta Day meeting the challenges with patience and determination!

Powerlifting can be a brutal sport. It takes dedication, mental toughness, determination, and a real love for the sport. Even more so when you sustain an injury.

Peta Day is one strong woman, not only physically, but also mentally! In this article, Peta talks about overcoming injury and the challenge of approaching a powerlifting competition following injury.

Saturday 11 July 2020.  I was competing at the Oceania Powerlifting Pacific Invitational. This was my 14th powerlifting competition and 5th international meet.  I was primed to deadlift 152kg to break my own Powerlifting Australia, Oceania, and World Powerlifting World records in the 60-64 year age group.

Warming up for deadlifts and a sharp pain behind my right knee caused me to drop the bar from knee height.

Was it just a temporary “funny ping” or was it more serious? My heart sank. I needed a successful deadlift to cement the Oceania and PA national records in squat, lifted earlier in the flight.  But now, I was limping.  Still in shock, I pulled a token 65kg to get a total.

Reality set in. No longer indestructible, and never more conscious of my age. For a brief moment, I heard my inner voice say: “I’m too old for this”.   Then: “I’m not done yet. The boat may be leaking, but it’s not time to abandon ship!

By the time I had driven home (in a manual car!) I had a plan of attack:  Keep the knee as warm and mobile as possible, identify what made the pain worse (straightening the knee and hinging forward), organise initial physio and exercise physiology appointments.  And reinforce my mental toughness in preparation for rehab.

Powerlifting is a hobby, but I see myself as an athlete.  Mature-aged, but an athlete nevertheless.  I will never achieve ‘Elite’ status but training and competition are a huge part of my life.  Powerlifting is my passion!

Having done resistance training for more than 25 years, I started powerlifting 51/2 years ago at 56 years of age.  As a master’s lifter, I want to be not just “strong for an old person”, but competitively STRONG in the sport.

Peta Day Squat
Photographer: Jimmy Leuenberger

Rehabilitation IS strength training

Injuries are a part of every sport.  Every athlete – whether elite or hobbyist or masters lifter – needs the support of experts who are qualified to rehabilitate injury.

Just as importantly, athletes need experts skilled at identifying and correcting movement patterns that have the potential to set us up for injury, or which cause energy leaks that could be directed into a more efficient lift.

Tendons lose their elasticity over time, and I had sustained a Grade 1 strain to the distal medial hamstring tendon, just behind my right knee.

Five years ago, Kelly Mann @PerforMotion guided my successful rehab for a long-term shoulder pain, and three years ago, for a nasty hamstring tendinopathy.  I had first-hand experience in the value of patience and commitment to the rehabilitation process.  Now, I was still working with PerforMotion again, but this time with Tom Haynes, renowned Exercise Physiologist and now my powerlifting coach.

I knew that this setback would be an opportunity to work on the weaknesses that contributed to the injury and to come back stronger.

Initial rehab was performed within the pain threshold of 2-3 out of 10.  It needs mental toughness and a deep faith in the rehabilitation process and body’s resilience to reach into that threshold, to meet it, to accept it, to not fear it. It takes patience and discipline to not exceed it.

Initial rehab included delights such as tempo Spanish squats, hamstring rollouts, loaded elevated feet hip glute bridges with isometric hamstring holds, Sumo deadlifts and Copenhagen holds.  5 months post-injury we started a conservative comp prep.

Powerlifting Competition come-back and mindset

Older women can compete in powerlifting – we just need to be a little smarter about programming and how we train, and Tom Haynes is the best in the business.  He uses RPE-based programming and post-session check-ins to ensure I train with intensity and good form, but don’t overdo the volume in order to avoid fatigue.

Peta Day Deadlift warm up
Photographer: Jimmy Leuenberger

In the weeks preceding any comp, I practice comp day routine from warm-up to executing lifts with the same timing of the meet, visualising each lift as if it was in competition, hearing the referee calls in my head.

In training, I wear the footwear, socks, soft suit, and T-shirt I intend to use on the day and eat the snacks and drinks I will consume on the day.  In the 5 day lead up, I reset my body clock to wake up at the time needed for comp day and get accustomed to delaying breakfast until after planned weigh-in time.

This time around, anxiety around re-injury could have impacted my competition prep and performance.  But it didn’t!  I had done the work and all I foresaw was a successful, enjoyable day.


On 20 February, 2021, after a soft “peak” I competed at a local meet to qualify for major competition later in the year with World Powerlifting.  Stuck to my plan of 2 attempts each for squat and bench and pulled an easy, non-grinder 152kg conventional 3rd deadlift to nab another Australian age group record.

Peta Day Deadlift 152kg very happy face
Photographer: Jimmy Leuenberger

I have lost count of the number of Australian, Oceania and World Powerlifting world age group records I have set.  Setting records is a big motivator when slogging through the brick-by-brick training we all do.  But that 152kg deadlift record was definitely the sweetest yet!  It was the ultimate expression of all the months of patient and diligent rehab. And even more special because my son Huw handled me so expertly on the day.

Injury rehab and movement correction is not glamourous.  It requires commitment, determination, patience and a strong resolve to see it through.

I have a mindset that ‘rehabilitation is strength training’. It sees me through the discipline of rehab.  Best of all, rehab is an opportunity to chip away at my weaknesses so they become my strengths!

New Year, New Chapter for Jenelle Schultz

Jenelle Schultz APU comp 155kg sumo deadlift crop

New Year, New Chapter as Jenelle Schultz joins APU in 2021

This year I’ve decided to lift with Australian Powerlifting Union (APU), a decision I made after Powerlifting Australia nationals last year. I’ve loved my time at Powerlifting Australia, where I’ve made a ton of friends, and have 3 national, 1 Oceania and 1 World title from the last 3 years of lifting under this banner, but as they say ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result’, so I’m keen to reach for the challenging levels of competition I see in the IPF, the international branch of APU.

I have many powerlifting friends, including my coach and teammates, who are taking this same path, so it feels right for me.

Of course, my love of bright and shiny things (medals perhaps?) draws my immediate attention to the APU state and national championships, both in the first half of 2021. Being a newbie to the federation I need to qualify to participate in both, but due to the time constraints (or maybe just because the APU people understand that I like cookies?) I have the luxury of not needing to qualify in my usual weight class, so I registered for the North Queensland State Qualifier as an under 63kg.

Jenelle Schultz APU comp 155kg sumo deadlift

The competition was on Saturday 13 February in a (gasp) Crossfit gym up at Townsville. I travelled up with Sarah Wheal, a powerlifting friend who is an ex-crossfitter (just in case I inhaled the crossfit fumes – so tempting, I reckon I’d be good at muscle ups!) and we committed to an under 24 hour turnaround for this adventure!

Early Saturday morning we awoke to a steamy 45 degree day with 98% humidity at 5am (haha, not really but it felt like it) and made our way to Crossfit Townsville.

New fed, same comp day feels – some new faces and some familiar ones – I soon settled into the warm up routine after weigh in (a light u63 at 59.45kg, even with a couple of cookies on board!), tunes on, food in, brain on.

Being my first competition without any of my McDonald Strength team mates around, I was feeling a little nervous but I had wonderful support from the Panthers Powerlifting and APU Queensland teams, with Colin Webb platform coaching and Lachlan Green helping with warm ups. I came away with my first gold at APU in the u63kg M1 division, and finished 2nd overall on the day on 80.19 IPF points –Brigot Pugh took out first place – we’re both masters – the old girls can lift!!

(Jenelle is wearing an Inzer suit, SBD socks, Irontanks belt, Titan Excalibur deadlift slippers)

My Results From My First APU Powerlifting Competition

Even though this was just a qualifier and I hadn’t done a peak, I had a crack at a bench PB of 82.5kg – not to be this time, I had to settle for a speedy 77.5kg but I did successfully switch from conventional to sumo deadlift and pulled a 155kg, only 1kg under my competition best. I finished with a 352.5kg total, 4.5kg under my total at nationals last year.

In the past I’d have been pretty annoyed with myself at the lack of PBs on the day. This time, I knew that, as a qualifier, the focus would not be on numerical PBs, so I had to come up with some new metrics… I did this retrospectively, because I think it’s important to come away with a win of your own definition, despite the numbers, so here are my PBs from the day:

Sarah Wheal, Jenelle Schultz, Colin Webb, Saskia Urlass
pictured here are Sarah Wheal, Jenelle Schultz, Colin Webb, & Saskia Urlass
  • The confidence and desire to take a third squat – I didn’t need to, I’d already squatted 117.5kg, which was the goal for the day, and in the past squats and I haven’t exactly been friends, so I was intending to just take two attempts and save my energy for bench and deadlifts. But the second squat felt good so I went for the third and it was the easiest 120kg I’ve ever stood up! Maybe there’s a tentative friendship forming after all 😉
  • First APU competition, away from home, without any of my usual crew to support me. I know that sounds a little sad, but it’s not, it’s just the reality of how we need to compete sometimes, and the result shows me that I can do this on my own, I’ve got this.
  • First competition deadlifting sumo – this transition was about 12 weeks in the making, I started block pulls not long after nationals last year and gradually made my way to the floor – I think I like them now 😊

The Powerlifting Community Is Just Like A Supportive Family

Even though I was thousands of kilometres from home, I found that I still had friends and family there on the day – that’s how powerlifting is, the community is always there to support you. It was great to travel with Sarah – we met at Oceanias in 2018, first international competition for both of us – we’ve both been powerlifting a similar amount of time so we have lots of similarities in our journeys (aside from her squat, where she is a few light years ahead of me!).  Seeing old (haha, masters? Or long term?) friends up at Townsville was lovely too – Meaghan Trovato came along to watch the event and took videos for myself and Sarah as she knew we were both attending alone – what a champion, because… no vid, no did! And my sister-in-law dropped in for a bit to see what I do first hand, which was nice because powerlifting can be hard to explain to family unless they’ve seen it.

After the traditional post-comp burger, we made our way home, adhering to the 24hour away-competition deadline, and touched down back in Brisbane in time for a Valentines Day sleep in… next cab off the rank is APU Queensland State Championships in Nambour at the end of this month – I’m back in the under 57kg category so those cookies will have to wait a bit, but I’m definitely having another go at that 82.5kg bench!!

Powerlifting Australia & World Powerlifting 2019 Calendar

Powerlifting Australia & World Powerlifting 2019 Calendar

Each year, Powerlifting Australia and the World Powerlifting Federation hold events on a Local, National and International level.

The first Powerlifting Australia powerlifting competition for 2019 will be held in Melbourne on the 3rd February 2019, this being the Australian Para Powerlifting Championships, with many more events held across Australia from Tasmania, Melbourne, Woolongong, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, right up to Darwin throughout the year!

Check out powerlifting events and register to compete on the 2019 Calendar of Powerlifting Australia Events!

Jan Roesch PA Nationals 2018 APU


Powerlifting Australia also runs NCAS Coaching Courses and NOAS Referee Courses at these events.

The listed NCAS Coaching Courses for 2019

19/20 JanuaryMelbourneApex Strength, CoburgEnrol Now
16/17 FebruarySydney Lift Performance Centre, RedfernEnrol Now
23/24 MarchBrisbaneIron Underground, AlbionEnrol Now


The listed NOAS Referee Courses for 2019

2/3 FebruaryMelbourneHawthorn Powerlifting ClubEnrol Now
2/3 MarchTownsvilleTownsville OpenEnrol Now
2/3 MarchHobartRaw Strength OpenEnrol Now
15/16 MarchMt IsaTBCEnrol Now
16/17 MarchSydneyLift Performance Centre, RedfernEnrol Now
22/23 MarchPerthLegendary LiftingEnrol Now

You’ll need to be familiar with the Rules of Competition!

You’ll be able to find information about the events, register online for all Powerlifting Australia competitions (once they have been opened for registration and if there are still available spots) right up to 5.00pm 10 days prior to a Local event or 21 days prior to a National event.

The Entry Form for each event will have the Meet Director listed as well as other relevant contacts, where you should direct any enquiries.

To compete in these powerlifting events, you must be a current PA Member. This applies also to Coaches and Referees.

All PA Members are subject to the PA Anti-Doping Policy, year round! Also, these events are subject to ASADA drug-testing.

Australian Records can be set and broken at all of the Local and National Competitions (for National Records, there must be 3 National Refs Officiating the attempts, along with all regulations being met).

World Records can also be made and broken at these great events!