In sports, when people go against the grain of what other people are doing usually will, more often than not, attract attention from their peers.On any given day in the weight room of the University Recreation Center, people will find a trio of students doing just that through a practice called powerlifting.
While it should not be confused for a sport more aesthetically pleasing such as bodybuilding, powerlifter Chris Smith said he enjoys powerlifting because a lot of people aren’t doing it, and it can also be intimidating to other weight room patrons.
“This stuff is so unconventional that we scare people out of the gym,” said Smith, a senior criminal justice major. “It’s not like doing curls in the mirror.”
Joining Smith are Travis Bailey and Joe Holland, who is considered the man behind the trio’s powerlifting madness.
Holland, a senior chemistry major, took up powerlifting just a couple of years ago as a way to fill the void left by high school athletics.
The group’s lifting is based off a structured plan called the Westside Plan structured by renowned trainer Louie Simmons, who is considered to be a revolutionary for the advances he has done for the sport.
Simmons’ Westside Plan is an intense program known for its unorthodox use of boards and chains among other things during the course of a lifting practice session.
Holland said anyone thinking about getting into powerlifting should think long and hard before putting themselves through the regimen to which powerlifters subject themselves.
“If you’re looking for a fun recreational sport, this is not the sport for you,” Holland said.
Still not convinced? Then look no further than this past weekend’s 2007 Texas State American Powerlifting Federation Championship at the Hilton Hotel Westchase in Houston .
Holland, competing in the 275-pound weight division, topped out at 705 pounds on the deadlift, while Smith maxed out at 550 pounds in the 242-pound weight division.
Although Bailey, a junior entrepreneurial management major, did not participate at the competition, he did serve as a handler during both Holland’s and Smith’s lifts.
The numbers may speak for themselves, but what isn’t seen on the outside is the 6,000-calorie per day intake that the three lifters put in their bodies on an average day.
Of course, when talking about competitive powerlifting, the topic of performance-enhancing drugs is bound to come up in conversation.
With the APF being a lifting federation that does not perform drug tests on registered lifters, Holland said the issue of whether to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs is a personal choice for lifters.
And, for this powerlifting crew, they enhance themselves legally through a steady diet of protein, vitamins and fish oil while continuing a strenuous workout regimen.
“If you want to go where the best (lifters) are, you have to go where people make sacrifices,” Holland said.
Although the daily grind in the gym may not always be glamorous, these three lifters said they always enjoy what they are doing together.
“It’s not fun all the time,” Bailey said. “Most people wouldn’t think it is fun, but we get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”
And, after every competitions, they are not simply powerlifters, they are friends.
“Afterward, there’s a lot of beer drunk and stories told,” Holland said.