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Act Like a Lady, Lift Like a Beast

Plastic bags, lots of eggs, protein shakes and bowel-breaking dumb-bells - welcome to the bizarre and uplifting world of female powerlifting.

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4.5/5 (35 ratings)

Documentary Maker : Declan Brennan

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Documentary maker: Nicoline Greer

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Act Like a Lady, Lift Like a Beast

At 5’2” and in the 53 kg weight category, Sligo woman Clare Connolly is petite. She may be small but she is strong. She is one of six women who are being trained by former British Army fitness instructor Jay Farrant and who will travel to Glasgow to represent Ireland in the World Drug free Powerlifting Championships.

Clare discovered the sport of powerlifting just over a year ago. In a very short time she had qualified to compete in the World Championships.

Now she's in a psychological and physical battle to build up her strength while still losing weight in time for the international competition. On that day she will attempt to lift twice her own body weight.

Powerlifting isn’t body building – it isn’t about looking good with rippling muscles, fake tan and baby oil. It is about lifting really heavy weights, often twice as heavy as the average adult. In her day job Clare works in advertising production. But to make the weight category and be able to lift the heavy weights, Clare has had to change her whole outlook on life. She must now lead a very disciplined life – no alcohol, no sugary treats, a strict lean diet including regular 20 hour fasts.

Four times a week she trains in an old boxing gym in a Dublin industrial estate with five other women. They are the Dublin Female Strength Club. They meet to push themselves to the limit and move as much metal as they possibly can. And God help anyone who tells them that women with muscles aren't sexy.

This is a world of extremes. A world of eating an awful lot of eggs, wearing plastic bags while running on the treadmill and sucking on ice-cubes for relief from dehydration. Calluses on their hands are like badges of honour. They are prepared to lift so much metal that their bowels burst. They do it all because they love lifting heavy weights and they want to feel and be strong.

Produced by Declan Brennan.

Production Supervision by Nicoline Greer.

Sound Supervision by Richard McCullough.

First Broadcast 8th Feb 2014, 6pm

You can find out more about Jay Farrant's training here.

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