Local woman powers her way to titles

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Haley Devers executes the deadlift during the Drug Tested North American Championship in June 2020 in California. SUBMITTED PHOTO

In the space of one year, 11 months, Haley Devers has accomplished what it takes other competitive powerlifters years to do: win championships.

Devers, 20, a Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate and now a college student, has competed and placed in eight competitions in five federations: American Powerlifting Association (APA), USA Powerlifting (USAPL), United States Powerlifting Association (USPA), and Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS), International Powerlifting League (IPL).

Her most recent event was the Drug Tested World Championship in Costa Mesa, California on Nov. 4-7. Devers entered in four divisions and placed first and second respectively in the three-event competition. Devers placed first in Juniors 20-23 and second in Open with a total weight of 854.3 pounds, which includes bench press (237), squat (303.1) and deadlift (330.7).

Devers, competing at 56kg (123 pounds), brought home two more firsts in the bench-press only in Open and Juniors 20-23.

In all, Devers has earned 15 gold medals, two silvers and a fourth place.

The metamorphosis in terms of developing the necessary muscle to lift the amount of weight that Devers has successfully achieved is remarkable, given the timeline.

“In the beginning I was self-motivated,” said Devers, who is majoring in biology at Penn State University. “As time went on, this may sound cliche, I did end up losing myself and my worth completely. My family and lifting was all that I had supporting me. I felt that being better in the gym was the only way I could prove to myself that I am more than just good enough as well as strong, both mentally and physically. With the help of both forces I am finally, and will always be, my own hero.”

Devers’ personal bests for each event include 325 (squat), 240 (bench) and 340 (deadlift).

Haley Devers finishes the squat event during the Drug Tested North American Championship in June 2020 in California. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“My favorite is bench,” she said. “I am bias to it because it’s something I’m good at. But I enjoy them all. There is not one lift that I dread coming to the gym. They each have their own leverages and variations that are fun to learn about and try to excel in.”

Here is a glimpse at Devers’ workout routine, in her own words:

“A typical workout starts with picking music that is fitting for the day, normally heavy metal or rock and pre-workout. A five-minute walk on the treadmill, envisioning how my compound lift will go for that day (squat, bench or deadlift), then foam rolling and stretching.

“After my compound lift, I work on auxiliaries that support that compound lift. Two to three times a week I end my lift with cardio, but I always stretch to end the day.

“The most important part is getting in protein right as I get home to aid in recovery.”

Devers has not been without setbacks.

“During this journey, I have injured my back pretty severely from benching to the point I did have to take a step back and reevaluate my form,” Devers said. “I have suffered many injuries from my previous sports, mainly being soccer, more than a handful of broken bones and sprains. This used to impact my training. I had weak points both mentally and physically.

“Doing little things like yoga, getting extra rest when my body needs it, learning about nutrition as well as what my body in particular needed, and tons of research on how my bio-mechanics do and should impact each compound lift.”

Devers’ first competition was at the Christmas Carnage on Dec. 7, 2019. She placed first in Amateur Teen 18-19 with a combined weight of 720 pounds.

Back on in June 2021, Devers took home three first-place finishes in the National Championship in Texas.

During high school, Devers played goalie, defense and wing for the Waynesboro Maidens varsity soccer team and competed in the pole vault, 200 meter dash, 400 meter dash and 4×4 relay team.

Outside of competitive powerlifting, Devers said her life revolves around her family and her studies.