20 Questions With An Anderson Powerlifter

Rae-Ann Miller interview by Jeff Miller

  1. JM: Tell us about your background information. Who, What, Where, Why, When.

RM:  I’m 43 years old.  Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York.  I’m the second to youngest of 5 children of my parents, Richard and Lydia Coughenour.  I’m the mother to two children.  Tyler, who passed away at the age of 14 and Kylie 18.  I work as a customs broker.  I’m married to you and we live in Barker, NY.

  1. JM: Tell us about athletic background.

RM:  I played no organized sports growing up.

  1. JM: How and when did you get into lifting?

RM:  My husband’s a power lifter.  And when I met him, he told me that he went to the gym every day for up to 3 hours a day.  He said if I couldn’t handle it then there was no use of even starting a relationship. So I went with him.  I was 20 years old at the time.

  1. JM: How and when did you get into competing? Numbers?

RM:  Actually there’s a funny story about that.  Sometime, a little after I started working out, you got the idea to put me in a bench shirt.  (Laughs) That didn’t work out well.

JM:  Oh yeah.  We put you in a denim shirt.  You took it down half way and didn’t even bother pressing it.  You just said “Get me out of this thing.”  Then told me it was the stupidest thing you ever heard of.

RM:  So then a couple years later I entered the Red Brick Bench Competition run by Dennis Brochey.  I think I did 185 lbs.  Yeah, because I didn’t bench 200 until the meet at that nightclub, Malibu.

JM:  That’s when Bill Crawford was head judge and pushed me out of the way and set you up the correct way.

RM:  Yeah, I like him.  Ha-ha

  1. JM: What goals did you set at the beginning of your career?

RM:  I didn’t really have any.  I was doing Strongman too.

  1. JM: Best meet lifts, titles won, records, rankings.

RM: 635 lbs squat, 525 lbs bench, 500 lbs deadlift and 1600 lbs in multiply.  I have the all-time world record single ply bench press of 520 lbs.  I won the 2014 Mr. Olympia bench press best lifter and the 2018 XPC Arnold Classic Pro Powerlifting best lifter. I came in third place at the 2007 NAS strongman nationals when they only had two weight classes. I lost to much larger women. Those are the big ones.  As far as rankings and records, I don’t pay attention to all that stuff.  To me the only list that matters is Michael Soong’s all-time list.

JM:  You have tons of all-time world records in the master’s class.

RM:  Shut up.

JM:  What are your raw lifts?

RM:  Who cares?  You don’t ask a NASCAR driver what he runs in the 40 yard dash.

  1. JM: What does a week of your training look like? Philosophy?

RM:  Sunday is Max Effort Upper with lats and biceps, Wednesday is Dynamic Upper with shoulders and triceps, and Friday is Squat/Deadlift and lower body accessories.  We alternate heavy squat and deadlift each week.  We’re too old to handle squatting and deadlifting heavy every week.  Then GPP throughout the week.

  1. JM: Favorite/Least Favorite lift?  Why?

RM:  Favorite is bench. My least favorite is deadlift.  Nobody ever asks what you squat or deadlift.

  1. JM: What gear do you use?

RM: Wrist wraps: KLA 2000 (training) KLA 4000 (Meet)

Knee wraps:  KLA 2000

Belt:  Lever. I recommend a thin bench belt to get an arch       Bench Shirt:  Single Ply Evil Twin is my fav

Squat Suit:  Super Boss wide stance w/ Boss briefs

Deadlift Suit:  Super Boss wide stance

Shoes:  Chucks but I like deadlifting in socks

JM:  Why do you prefer the lighter wrap to the stiff wrap on the squat and the stiff wrap on the bench?

RM:  I like the tightness. How they can get the 2000’s wrap really tight. You can pull on it and yank it and get it tight. I like the tightness not the stiffness, if that makes sense. Okay, like in the bench I don’t want my wrist to move at all. So I want to keep that straight. My knees have to bend so too stiff makes it harder to get depth.

  1. JM:  What is your greatest personal trait that has led to success on the platform?

RM:  I can’t think of a part of my personality but my body recovers fast and responds to training very well.  I heal from injuries pretty quickly too.  Maybe I stay calm in those high pressure situations?

JM:  You don’t use your anger like me?

RM:  You use the dark side of the force.  Ha-ha

  1. JM: Has there been anything that has inhibited your progress?  Obstacles overcome?

RM:  Having to be a mom and my kids coming first.  Every strongman nationals coincided with youth football playoffs.  Plus the travel is expensive.  Now that Kylie is 18 there is more time and money to focus on this.  My last 3 meets I’ve been injured.  I tore my MCL training for the Iron Outlaws Meet and WPO.  Then I partially tore my tricep before The Women’s Pro/Am.

  1. JM: How do you balance life with lifting?

RM:  Training is one or two hours three times a week.  Get in to the gym, punch the time clock then go live your life.

  1. JM: Advice for new lifters?

RM:  It’s not for everybody.  Work on building lean muscle mass for a while before trying to step on the platform.  As far as geared lifting goes.  First putting on equipment hurts like a b***h.  It’s suffocating and constricting.  But once you get it’s wonderful. So keep at it.

  1. JM: How have you evolved since you began training?

RM:  I’m more mindful of what exercises do what.  I mean when I first started, I kind of just went along with whatever you told me to do.  Now I actually know what I’m doing.  I could actually, if I wanted, program my own training.  I actually understand what training is better for what muscles and what works for me.

  1. JM: Why Anderson?

RM:  Oh my God.  I can’t even begin to talk about everything Ken, Kevin and Jennifer have done for me.  The equipment is the best.  The customer service is untouchable.  They care about the people they sponsor.  But we know people who call and end up directly on the phone with Ken or Kevin who aren’t sponsored.  But get treated like they are.  We finally met them this year at The Arnold and it was like we were all part of one big family.  I want to do well for them because they believe in me.

JM:  When you set that ATWR in single ply I couldn’t wait to tell Kevin.

RM:  It’s always in the back of my mind that they are counting on me.

  1. JM: Name one thing you would like accomplish before your powerlifting career ends?

RM:  The biggest bench press ever by a woman.  Also a 1700 lbs total.  Then I really want to go back to single ply and raise that record.  Then maybe go back to strongman.

  1. JM: Fondest memory looking back on your PL career?

RM:  The ATWR 520 lbs Single Ply bench

  1. JM: Lifters you most admire/inspire you?

RM: Becca Swanson, Laura Phelps, Kara Bohigian, Brooke Fineis and definitely Jill Mills.

  1. JM: Anyone you would like to thank?

RM:  Everyone at Anderson for believing in me.  My training partners at Absolute Performance.  Especially Tom Schmidt, Kris Herbert, Art Dispenza and Paul Childress for teaching me how to use the shirt.  My training partners at The Azzylum.  My training partner Dan Zahno.  Thank you for handling me at meets and overcoming your fear of flying to help me out.  My husband.  Know that I love you.  And if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am.

  1. JM:  How do you want to be remembered/legacy?

RM:  You know, just that I was strong. And I worked hard and I was humble about it. And I didn’t take people for granted.