Krystal Brown is all about setting records.
The Culpeper resident just started powerlifting in the fall of 2017 and already has set the state, national and world records in the strict curl.
Brown discovered the strict curl while working out at Gold’s Gym in Culpeper and started training with Matt Stanton, the 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation, Inc. MD,WV,DE State Chairman, in October. By December she had set the world record of 78 pounds.
A strict curl features an easy bar with a curl in the middle, with the lifter positioned on a platform with the legs and back against a pad. They have to adhere to the commands of the judges and cannot use their legs to lift the weight – it relies on technique and the strength in their wrists and shoulders.
“It’s not drastically different from doing a curl in the gym, but you can’t use your legs,” Brown said. “You’re at a disadvantage if you think you’re just going to go in there and bounce up 80 to 90 pounds. That’s how most people curl in the gym, but you are strict. Your feet are set, your butt is up against the pad. You cannot involve your legs.”
A former bodybuilder, Brown said it’s not that different in terms of training for powerlifting.
“You have your habits and how you’ve done things over the years, I have to talk myself through the motions of using my shoulders to lift, an exaggerated curl of my wrists,” Brown said. “I have to talk myself through it constantly to build that muscle memory.”
Brown established the Virginia State Powerlifting record and then broke it three times in the same day en route to lifting 78.2 pounds to set the world record.
“Like any sport, I wanted to see what the event was about so I could understand and see it in action and see how other people do things,” Brown said. “I didn’t have any intention of breaking records, I just wanted to participate to see how I would do.
“I loved being the one to establish the record,” Brown said. “I imagine at some point in time someone is going to break my record, but they’re never going to be the one who established the record.”
Stanton said that Brown came to the powerlifting game already ahead of the game, and that she was a joy to work with and train.
The first time she came into the gym, she curled 70 pounds, he said.
“That’s more than a lot of our girls on the powerlifting team,” Stanton said. “They’ve been doing it for four to five years, so it was very impressive.”
Brown’s background in bodybuilding, which she fell in love with after watching the documentary “Pumping Iron,” helped her prepare for the powerlifting scene.
“I’ve always liked that look and the discipline that goes with it,” Brown said. “It’s just getting into the gym and learning what works and what doesn’t.
“The weight training is pretty much the same,” Brown said. “I don’t want to gain a ton of weight to lift more weight, but I do want to increase my strength. We’ve been working together on a training program that will help my strength so when I go into each meet I want to break my own personal best.”
Her goal is to become just the fifth woman ever to curl 100 pounds, but her current focus is to break the 80-pound barrier at the Master’s Nationals in April held at Zion’s Crossroads.
She’s touched on 79 pounds in practice, so she’s hoping that the enthusiastic setting at nationals will push her over.
“It’s loud because everyone is cheering, they want you to be successful,” Brown said. “The more they see you trying to lift, or pull, or squat, the louder they are.”
Stanton said the powerlifting team from Culpeper now has about 18 members and they won the world championship in the strict curl in 2016.
“Now that we have Khrystal and a few others on the team, we’ll probably win it this year, that’s the plan,” Stanton said.
Brown, who competes in the 45-49 master’s division, said that she enjoys having people be surprised that she can curl that amount of weight.
“One of the things I like about participating in the strict curl is that it’s a sport that’s kind of deceptive,” Brown said. “You look at myself or an individual you might not think is strong, but these individuals are pushing, pressing, curling their body weight by two or three. It’s strength and technique. It’s interesting to watch.”