Strongest Woman in the Gym: Part 2


Here is part two of our interview with resident Strong(wo)man expert Coach Catherine Toniatti Yanulavich.

Click the button below to read Part One!

[button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” size=”medium” src=””]Interview Part 1[/button]

8. What are some of your achievements in strongman?
I’ve had my fair share of wins and losses, but I’m proudest of winning Gotham’s Strongest Woman this past December. It was a field of 11 really strong girls and I won 3 out of 5 events and never come in below 3rd place. It was freezing cold that day – like below zero – which was mentally difficult as well as physically taxing, but I managed a big win. I’ve won my last 5 shows and I’m training for Nationals, September 20th at the Olympia in Vegas.

9. What is your favorite thing about strongman training?
Doing really impressive looking stuff in the gym. I mean even a light keg looks badass when it’s lifted over your head. If you do a car deadlift and only lift it once and come in last place- you still lifted a freaking car which is awesome. The best part is playing with the “toys”. Barbells are useful, but the fun part of strongman is using the logs, the kegs, the stones etc. You feel different when you lift them and it’s more satisfying because you know this smooth round ball of concrete does not want to be lifted and you just lifted it. Take that, Atlas Stones!

10. What has strongman taught you about yourself?
I’m actually a lot tougher than I thought. In event training I have to do a lot of things that are guaranteed to give me bruises in some obvious places. I do them anyway and I guess some days it surprises me what I’m willing to put myself through. It’s all worth it!

11. Tell us a little about your program? What kind of training does it entail? What should new comers expect?
Spoilers! You guys will have to wait for tomorrows post to read all about it. But to take the edge off I will say that it’s a program anyone can do no matter experience. It focuses on static strength and moving events and will prep you for life or competition – it all depends on your goals.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to the program or class? (Scaling, being nervous, not thinking it is for them, not everyone has to compete, how it can help them in life ect..)
Strongman is for everyone. There are no prerequisites for strength or fitness to come to class. If you’re waiting to be strong(er) before you start strongman, you’re doing it backwards. EVERYTHING can be scaled. We have male, female, young, old, light-weight, heavy-weight, and middle-weight athletes in the program.  If you just want to get stronger to improve your fitness or if you want to compete, the class will be adjusted  to your needs and goals. Plus, I could argue strongman is even more functional that crossfit. A barbell is convenient, and efficient but in real life we are more likely to carry groceries, lift boxes, and move furniture – these are big and bulky and not designed for lifting. Strongman prepares you for that. You will learn how to lift things that are not meant to be lifted and you will become comfortable carrying things that are not designed for your comfort. I can’t emphasize this enough…if you can do crossfit, you can do strongman. There are no exceptions.


13. A lot of ladies in the gym want to get stronger. You are probably the strongest woman in the Capital distict! How strong are you (Deadlift, Squat, cleans, snatches..other lifts crossfitters would know about).
I actually have no idea how strong I am at any given moment. If I’m winning competitions then I know I’m progressing and I’m always looking for heavier events to test myself. I almost never test my maxes, but last September I had a 410 Deadlift and a 315 Back Squat. My Log press is 170 and I can lift a 175 stone to shoulder for 5 reps in 60 seconds. My best Yoke is 604 for 75ft in 60 seconds and I’ve done a 200 per hand Farmer’s Walk for 40ft in 13 seconds. Even if I win a National or World title, I will never be satisfied with my strength. Events are always getting heavier and its a never ending challenge.

14. What advice do you have for the ladies out there who want to get strong?
My advice to ladies who want to get strong is to lift heavy and lift often. There is no magic formula. If you lift heavy in a variety of ways every week you will get stronger. If you find a weakness, you should address it at least twice a week.

15. What if they are afraid of being getting too bulky? Isn’t that just a myth?
It is a myth. It’s also something that when I hear it, it gets me really, really angry because it’s a part of the reason I was not encouraged to get into strength sports sooner. Lifting heavy will not make you big and bulky. You will not look like a giant bodybuilder by doing crossfit or strongman. If you want to get bulky like a bodybuilder, you have to actually work really, really hard for that specific goal and training for strength versus size are two very different styles. Anyone at crossfit probably is more concerned with getting their next PR than how much muscle they might gain, but in case any ladies out there are afraid of getting massive you have my personal guarantee that you won’t. And personally, I think it’s time we placed less value on how we look and more value on what we can accomplish…like lifting 200lbs off the ground.

16. What success stories have you seen from the athletes in your program?
Pretty much everyone has gotten stronger since the program started and not just in strongman movements, but in traditional CrossFit movements as well. We tested all our maxes August 24th – and I was really impressed by everyone. Jen, after only 6 months of training has a 355 DL, 285 Back squat, 120 Press and took 3rd place in her first NAS Competition. I saw Sonya go from barely being able to lap the 140 keg to putting it easily over a 48” bar and I know her Squat went up 15lbs and her DL went up 10lbs. Everyone has PR’d there logs and stones. Lenora could barely lift the 90 stone last year and now she is shouldering the 115 for multiple reps. She also hit a goal of a 115 Farmers carry for 40ft after not even being able to lift it off the ground last year. Jim did his first NAS competition this year in June after training for 3 months and handled all the weights easily. I love my athletes and I’m always looking to introduce new people to strongman.
Come get strong with us!!

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