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West Jordan Journal

Itineris student sets national records in bench press, deadlift

Jun 21, 2021 03:06PM ● By Greg James

Alaysha says she was nervous with all the people watching her, but she still set a record. (photo courtesy of Cindy Whitehead)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Alaysha Whitehead was introduced to powerlifting by a family friend and really wanted to give it a try. She now holds several state and national records.

Her trainers call her “The Kraken,” she comes out of nowhere and lifts heavy things. In fact, her school teachers tried to get her to lift some of their students. 

The first day her friends asked if she wanted to give it a try. “I said sure and I tried it out,” Whitehead said. “They (her trainers) said I had natural ability.”

On her first trip to the gym, she deadlifted 135 pounds. 

“After that day we were told that in six weeks she could be setting records,” Alaysha’s mother Cindy said.

“I was nervous the first time. There were a lot of people watching. I was excited and then after I accomplished it I was really happy and proud of myself,” Alaysha said. “I try to train four days a week for  one to two hours.”

She began training with Caughey’s Training and Fitness. She currently works with Big Mountain Barbell in Midvale.

She currently holds state records in three age groups and weight classifications. 

“I was 15 when I started. It is a different sport and I have learned to like to try new things. I like to see how much strength I can build. I like to work really hard. Setting goals is very important. I have a goal to lift 300 lbs and it keeps me motivated to keep working out and trying to get better,” Alaysha said.

Powerlifting is not a well-known sport. Many of her friends ask questions and want to know more.

“One friend came to a competition with me and I could share my experience,” she said.

Her grandmother was apprehensive at first when she heard what she was doing. She was worried her granddaughter would turn into a hulk-like character.

“She is learning flexibility and how that can help her,” Cindy said. “I spent time at the gym just watching. She is learning core strength and ways to stay healthy. It was shocking that she wanted to go to the gym the first time. I had to tell my mom to come watch. If you ran into my daughter you would never know that she is a powerlifter.”

She tried traditional sports like soccer but found that allergies prohibited her from enjoying it.

“We really wanted to learn about healthy life,” Alaysha said.

All of her current records are held by the Worlds Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL). In  October 2020 she singularly deadlifted 215.8 pounds and also bench pressed 115 pounds, both are national records for her age group.

Powerlifting is governed by federations and each federation uses different classifications for ages and weights. WADBL uses age groups until the athlete gets to 25 years old. 

“I saw a 90-year-old woman lifting at worlds,” Cindy said. 

Alaysha is the daughter of Jerry and Cindy Whitehead and has three brothers. She may compete again in  October but plans to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and may be gone by then. When she returns she plans to attend Utah Valley University. She hopes to earn bachelor's degrees in English and creative writing.

She said powerlifting will always be something she enjoys.

She graduated from Itineris Early College High School in West Jordan where she served as public relations officer in the National Honors Society. Her teachers and school administrators have been very supportive.

“I have learned what it takes to stay healthy and add strength. I think it is unique and different. It has made me more confident,” Alaysha said.