Vegas in plans of powerlifters

Jen Ferguson is a palliative care registered nurse who travels around the region as a consultant.

She's a married mom of two kids who coaches their softball teams.

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For some, that would seem like a busy enough schedule.

But in addition to managing her professional and family life, she manages to squeeze in one-and-a-half to two-hour training sessions four days a week at the XConditioning gym.

This weekend, Ferguson, 40, is competing in the North America Strongest Woman event against six others in the heavyweight masters division at the Olympia Powerlifting Invitational in Las Vegas. She'll have one minute to do as many repetitions as possible in the yoke (450 pounds), log (155 lbs), framed deadlift (425 lbs), sand bag (200 lbs) and circus dumb bell (85 lbs).

"My expectations going in are tough because I don't know the people (competitors) going in," said Ferguson. "I'll have already won just by going in. I'm hoping for third, but it all has to come together."

Ferguson's appearance in the Olympia strongest woman contest is her first. She qualified for it by winning the Level 2 North America Strongest Woman qualifier last spring in Chilliwack.

But training for and competing at events like these is something completely new for Ferguson.

Three years ago she underwent a transformation where she lost 100 pounds.

Last year, she started training with Xconditionning trainers Jay Cook, Mike Webber and Tara Green and found the drive to test her mettle.

And now she's a contestant in the Strongest Woman.

"When I hear people tell me 'I don't have time to train,' I tell them it's possible if you connect with the right people," said Ferguson.

"Women are never too old to start. If you would have told me a year ago I'd be in this position... I've surrounded myself with these guys. I've kind of had periods of nervousness but I'm relying on Tara and Mike to keep me mentally in check. To keep the faith. I'm super nervous but (I know) there's nothing more I could've done."

Green and Webber are no strangers to top-level competition. They too are competing in Las Vegas on the weekend.

Green, 25, is back for the second straight year vying for the Mr. Olympia women's title. A year ago, she finished second overall and won the heavyweight division in the 82.5-kilogram division in the squat, bench press and dead lift events.

This year, she has her sights set even higher - an overall world title.

"A total of 1,403 pounds is what I want to beat," she said. "I got 1,345 pounds so far. If I squat close to 600 pounds, bench over 350 pounds and dead lift 465 pounds, that should do it."

At the 2014 event, she set a new squat record of 540 pounds.

On Friday, Webber, 45, will take on the Global Powerlifting Committee (GPS) world championships.

He's competing in the 275-pound Masters 2 class, where he hopes to squat more than 1,000 pounds for a world record.

"My goal is 1,003 pounds," said Webber, who dropped 25 pounds to compete at a lighter weight. "The most I've done is 925 pounds. In powerlifting though, everything (the right food, amount of sleep) has to go right to do that."

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