A Platform to Build Strength + Community

Madison Peterson is strong. Really strong.

When the UND senior deadlifts – one of three lifts in powerlifting competitions– she can move 430 pounds. That’s about the size of a lion, or four bags of cement.

Maddie has been competing since high school. She loves the challenge of lifting heavy weights and, more importantly, the sense of community that comes with it.

Maddie has had a goal of starting a UND Powerlifting Club since she arrived on campus in 2021. She worked with fellow UND students and like-minded lifters to launch the club in the fall of 2023.

The group aims to be a supportive community for area lifters; it’s made up of UND students and people from the wider community. “Our members are close to half students and half non-students, which is pretty cool,” Maddie said.

The group works out at Ironworks Gym, owned by Adam Suedel, ’07, a lifelong powerlifter. In 2007, he “what I thought would make a great experience for bodybuilders and powerlifters.”

Maddie and Adam said most UND lifters were Ironworks Gym members before they started the club, so meeting there was a natural fit. 

Madison Peterson

Madison Peterson, ’23, can deadlift 430 pounds.

Though Adam doesn’t coach the team, his proximity makes him an easy resource. Adam fields questions on everything from lifting techniques to training principles and meet preparation.

Adam’s advice is like gold. Always a skinny kid, he was inspired by an older cousin who took up the sport and was getting bigger and stronger. “Before I even lifted a weight, I was in love with the sport,” Adam said. He competed for 15 years and held 27 state titles, three national records, and one world record in the squat.

Maddie, a certified personal trainer, is also a good source of lifting information for her teammates. For her, powerlifting is more than just lifting heavy. “It’s really rewarding to see the numbers go up, to get stronger, and challenge yourself,” she said. “But as I got into college, it was more about the community of it. I still enjoy the gratification and the numbers, but it’s more about the friends I’ve made and the community around it.”

This year, the UND lifters were tested in two competitions, racking up personal records in the deadlift, the bench press, and the squat. The small team has continued to lift heavier weights while building a community that is as strong as they are.