Julia Vins is a 20-year old competitive powerlifter from Russia who has the face of a Barbie doll and the body of a weightlifting champion. When she first became serious about working out, she had never intended to start powerlifting; she was just looking for a way to boost her self-confidence. She began her powerlifting journey back in 2012, when she was only 15 years old.
I had no interest in sport, but I was lost. I thought I might see if I could build some strength and confidence by weight training at the gym.
When she hired a weightlifting coach that same year, she decided she wanted to bulk up to better defend herself and to feel more physically empowered. At first she would just watch what other male weightlifters would do in the gym and copy them, but she had little success.
When she met her future weightlifting coach, he was the first to have faith in her as a future powerlifter. Now she can deadlift almost 400lbs and holds three world records. In 2014, she entered the World Powerlifting Championships in Moscow and won. She crushed world records in the squats(396lbs), bench press (230lbs), and deadlift (364lbs). All this while standing at just 5’3″!
Since beginning her weightlifting journey, she has transformed her diet to a protein-based meal plan. She usually eats five to six smaller meals every day, which consist of lean proteins like chicken and eggs, and she works a lot of veggies into her diet.
Despite her strict schedule of three to five hours at the gym every day combined with her diet, she gives herself one cheat day every week to indulge in her favorite snacks.
She describes powerlifting as her “calling in life,” and she doesn’t have any particular goal other than trying to bulk up as much as she can. She feels more like herself now than when she was an extremely thin teenager back in 2011.
I never felt like I had any particular objective in life. My body was not in harmony with my soul–it wasn’t the right one for me.
Vins appreciates her nickname, “Muscle Barbie,” because she believes it’s important to be attractive while feeling like yourself. She feels comfortable in her skin wherever she is, but especially at the gym, as she still wears make-up and braids her hair with ribbons and bows even if she’s doing heavy lifting. Despite the inevitable focus on her looks, she admits that fashion has never been easy for her. Being short and muscular makes it difficult to find a size that works.
Even if she’s captured the hearts of her 385,000 followers on Instagram, she still struggles to keep the haters away. Guys don’t know what to make of her pretty face and ripped body. She’s received a lot of negative comments about her style, but she could care less:
I’ve noticed that the guys who are negative about my athleticism are just jealous.
Though her parents are particularly involved in her career, she is well-supported by her boyfriend, Sergei who is 29 years old and enjoys lifting with her. Reflecting on her experience, she admits:
I don’t like to think of what I would have become if I wasn’t Muscle Barbie.
Let’s be real, she probably would have been a model, but isn’t a championship powerlifter so much more badass?