Featured Lifter- Shaina Petit

For her performance at the 2012 USAPL Collegiate Nationals Shaina Petit is the newest featured lifter. Her total was the 2nd highest regardless of weight class and smashed the National and American Bench Press records along the way. She is also the founder and president of the Northeastern University’s Women’s Powerlifting Team.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a fifth year Physical Therapy student at Northeastern University—I will be receiving my Doctorate Degree in May of 2013. I was a former Northeastern track and field athlete where I competed in the Heptathlon and all Throwing events.  I am a workout “junky” and have spent almost all my life in a gym.  Growing up I was a competitive gymnast which took up all of my time, but I can honestly say that gymnastics gave me my core strength and is a huge reason for my success.   I also love playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, being outdoors, and doing anything active that will give me a good workout!  I am from Berkley, MA…daughter of Nelia DeStefano and Michael Petit. I have a huge family and couldn’t thank them enough for all the time and support they have given me through the years.

How did you get into the sport of powerlifting?

I have a gym in my basement and all of high school my step-father made me lifting programs to make me stronger for track and field.  My goal was always to be able to bench plates, but after I met that goal my junior year of high school I just became obsessed and wanted to go heavier.  It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I even knew there was a sport called Powerlifting.  Big Mike was my strength coach for track and he was the one who convinced me to do a meet in May 2009.  I had no idea what I was doing but after that competition I was addicted.

What weight class or weight classes to you compete in?

Starting this year my new weight class is 138lbs, but for the majority of my career I have competed in the 148lb weight.  I have also been competitive in the 158lb weight class internationally and the 165lb class once last year.




What are your best lifts?

Equipped: 380lb squat, 254lb bench and deadlift 385lb, 1019 total (148lb weight class/144 actual weight)

Bench Only: 264.5 lbs (148lb weight class/143 actual weight)

Raw: 270 squat, 187 bench and 303 deadlift , 760 total (165lb weight class/149 actual weight)

Raw Gym Numbers: 286 squat, 195 bench, 320 deadlift

What USAPL National meets have you lifted in and how did you place?

1st– 2011 Raw National Championships

1st-2011 Bench National Championships

1st– 2012 Collegiate National Championships

2nd- 2011 Collegiate National Championships

Have you lifted in any NAPF or IPF meets if so how did you place?

I competed at the 2011 Bench Press Junior World Championships in Solden, Austria where I placed 4th with a press of 242.5lbs.  I also competed at the 2011 NAPF Bench Press Grand Prix in Atlantic City, NJ where I won with a press of 248 lbs.  I will also be competing at the 2012 Junior World Championships in Poland this September.

Where do you train?

During the school year I train with both the men and women of NUPL at Cabot Gym in Boston, MA.  Throughout the year I spend most of my time training at Baystate Athletic Club in Scituate, MA.

Do you lift with a group/team or by yourself, if so who?

I lift with the Northeastern Powerlifting team.  This past year I was able to start the Women’s NUPL team and in our inaugural season we took 3rd at Nationals which was a huge accomplishment.  Although we separated from the guys, we still rely on them heavily for their support, advice, and friendship.  We all train together and have formed our own little “family” which is awesome.

When I am not at NUPL I spend all my time at Baystate with my Iron Revolution crew.   Over the last couple of years people have come and gone, but this past year we have formed a solid team.  They have supported me so much in and out of the gym and we have all become great friends.

What current goals are you trying to accomplish?

It is the greatest feeling when you have achieved your goals because you know your hard work has paid off, but also it is a time to create new and harder goals.  Recently, I accomplished almost all my powerlifting goals which were to win collegiate nationals, total over 1000lbs, take the bench press American and National Record, qualify for 3 lift worlds, and them to want my pee tested (as funny as that sounds, I am serious).  Since Nationals a couple weeks ago, I have really been trying to figure out what I want to do next.  My new goals for 2012 include a 400 squat, 300 bench press, and 400 deadlift at 138lb weight class.  I want to be competitive at Worlds and place in the top 3.  As for as Raw powerlifting in 2012 I want a 315 squat, 220 bench press, and 330 pull.

What is your greatest moment in powerlifting?

Powerlifting in general has filled my life with great times and awesome memories, but winning the 2012 Collegiate National Championships has been the greatest of all.  In November 2009 I hurt my back and have been struggling with injuries since.  I have been told I should stop and maybe I should, but I love powerlifting.  July will make it the first full year that I have been able to actually train my squat and deadlift consistently which has really made the difference.  I have worked so hard and have had my eye on the collegiate title since I started competing, so being able to do that when I was told I should stop is an amazing feeling.  The greatest moment at Nationals was not being on the podium, but it was after I pulled my final and personal best deadlift because I knew I had done enough to put the win out of reach.

Can you tell us a little about your training routine?

I have done so many training routines over the last few years, but most of the time I train 4 days per week, pull on Tuesday, bench on Wednesday, squats Friday, and speed bench on Sundays.  I have done your typical 5/3/1 programs, but also combinations of programs and personalized periodization programs under the watchful eye of my coach Big Mike. The last few weeks I have been trying a new program where we train 3 times per week and squat, bench, and deadlift every session.  So far it has been great, but I am only half way through, so stay tuned!

Who are your mentors?

Mike Zawilinski, Big Mike, RMZ, or as I love to call him coachiepoo (but he hates it) has been coaching me since my first meet in Brighton in 2009.  Not only has he been there as my coach and teammate, but also has one of my good friends. No matter where he is or what he’s doing if I need him I know he’ll be there for me.  Leading up to Bench Press Worlds last year he devoted so many hours outside of work and his own training time to help me and I can’t thank him enough.  My best friend Ally Almeida has been there from the beginning and has kept me on track and motivated me even when I wanted to give up on that last set or skip a workout, so thank you.  Joe Caps, thank you for giving me shit every single practice and making me better! Training with NUPL has really motivated me and I couldn’t do it without their support, but one person in particular is Heather Crocker.   Crocker and I began as track teammates at Northeastern, but if there is anyone who motivated me to want to accomplish more it is her.  She is an amazing lifter and I am lucky that I have been able to train beside her.  We have built a great relationship over the last couple years and we push each other to be better.   I learn something from every lifter I meet and I think it is important to remember that something better is always out there so I’d like to thank Chris Vickery, Ben Schlafman, Brian Phillips, Liane Blyn, Eric Kupperstein, and so many others for all your advice and motivation.

Do you have any tips that could help other lifters?

There is no substitute for hard work and this applies to all aspects of life.  If you set a goal, set your mind to achieving it, put the work in, and believe in yourself and you’ll be happily surprised with the outcome. Train hard—Win Easy!

What inspires you to keep training?

There are many things that keep me going, but the most influential is myself.  Training makes me feel good, so why stop something that I love.  So many girls hate the way I look or can’t even imagine spending as much time in the gym as I do, but I like being strong and feeling confident and I definitely love being in the gym.  Powerlifting is a sport you can do forever, so as long as I can be training in a healthy way I will be. Other than that, training with friends, competing against or seeing great lifters compete, being in reach of records, etc keep me wanting to get better.

What is your favorite music to listen too when your training?

I can honestly listen to anything when I train (country, rap, pop, oldies, metal), but when I need to get pumped up or want to lift heavy Eminem /Rap is my go to music.

Do you compete in any other sports?

Currently, the only other sport I play is soccer and I love it!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Never give up.  And when you think you have reached the top, always realize that there is someone out there better than you , so train harder.

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The mission of Mass-Lift Powerlifting is to promote drug-free powerlifting competitions, training seminars, and fitness events throughout the country. Overall, our goal is to promote a healthy and active lifestyle that will encourage strength and fitness enthusiasts to compete at local, national and international level.