Local Woman Shows Off Her Strength

6:35 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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Rockville, Md. (WUSA9) -- No one else has ever done what Suzanne Hartwig has done, or lifted as much as she's lifted for as many years.    

"She's the Michael Jordan of her weight class," says her husband and coach Matthew Gary.  "She's the single most dominant American female power lifter in the history of the sport." 

On a sweltering summer night in Rockville, Hartwig slips on her gear as she prepares to work out.  Meanwhile the crew stacks the weights: 200, 250, 286, finally 300 pounds.  Hartwig blasts out squats with ease.  

"I want to do triple my body weight," said Hartwig.

Triple her body weight would be about 342 pounds, which is hard to imagine for someone her size.

I ask how tall she is as she catches her breath between sets.  

"Four foot eleven," she says.  "Four foot ten if I haven't seen the chiropractor," she says laughing.  

Hartwig is a 20-time National Champion, and when you watch her workout, it doesn't take long to come to an obvious conclusion. She was built for this.

"She's never going to dunk a basketball but Shaquille O'Neal is never going to be able to out squat her," says Gary.  "She's genetically gifted." 

Those genetic gifts include short, powerful limbs, which explains her jaw dropping world record at last year's Master's (Gear) World Championships where she squatted, benched and dead-lifted a combined 970 pounds.

Hartwig is serious about her craft and a particular message to women: strong is beautiful. 

"A lot of women think if they lift weights they're going to get huge and look like a man," says Hartwig.  "It's not true."
She's also serious about honoring her mother who lost a cancer battle in 2012.  That world record we spoke of occurred just weeks after laying mom to rest. 
"Everything felt lighter that day it really did," says Hartwig.  "I tell everybody I think God and mom were looking down on me and helping me a little bit extra that day." 

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