Hope powerlifter brings home medal

Brian Clark places second at the BCPA’s Fall Classic powerlifting competition

Brian Clark

If you ever have a flat tire in the Cooper’s Foods parking lot, this guy might be able to give you a lift… literally.

Brian Clark, the acting assistant manager at the local grocery store, placed second at a recent powerlifting competition, where he showed that if one corner of your car weighs 245 Kg or less, then yes: he can handle that.

The British Columbia Powerlifting Association held its Fall Classic event in Abbotsford on Nov. 8-9 and for Clark, it was his first-ever competition.

“I heard about it through a friend of a friend, Mark-Andres Grenier,” said Clark, a Hope Secondary grad of 2002. “He lives in Chilliwack and he ended up finishing first. There were six in our weight class.”

The two were placed in the 83-93 Kg “unequipped” or “raw” event, which meant they couldn’t use knee wraps, explained Clark. “You’re allowed a belt, knee sleeves and wrist wraps.

“I had to cut a bit of weight — about 10 pounds (4.5 Kg) in about six weeks — by going low-carb and by carb-cycling, which is loading up on carbs for two or three days a week, then going with no carbs on the other days.”

Clark figured that he’s been a regular at the rec centre’s Reflexions gym since he was in Grade 8, in the late 1990s.

“I started to do the powerlifting style, to get stronger, about a year-and-a-half ago. I train four or five times a week, for about an hour at a time.”

Powerlifting involves the squat, bench press and deadlift and the first two are potentially dangerous to do without the help of a spotter. Clark said he doesn’t train with a specific partner, though there is always someone who can help out.

“I just call out for a spotter and someone comes over — and vice versa.”

In preparation for the competition, Clark said he put himself through a “mock meet,” two or three weeks prior, to test himself. Knowing your limits helps you set your goals at the event.

“You get three lifts of each type, with about 10 to 15 minutes between lifts,” he explained. (Between each type of lift, there might be a few hours before the next is ready, as all other weight classes have to cycle through the equipment.)

“You want to start off at about 90 per cent, then go to 95 to 100 per cent on your second lift — and go for a personal record on your third,” said Clark. “They take your best lift in each type.

“On the squat, I started at 435 pounds (197 Kg) — which is a good lift — then I did 451 pounds (205 Kg), which is a personal record. I missed on 463 pounds (210 Kg.)”

Lack of competition experience may have been a factor, he figured.

“You have three judges and you need at least two to say that it was a good lift. On the descent, you need to have your thighs parallel to the ground before you start back up. Only one said I did.”

At the bench press, Clark was successful at 145 Kg, then missed at 147 and didn’t do his third.

“I’ve probably done 340 pounds (154 Kg) here at the gym,” he said.

Again, he learned from the experience at his first competition.

“On the bench press, the judge says ‘unrack’ then ‘hold’ — for up to five seconds — then they tell you to start,” Clark recalled. That was different from his regular training, where it’s unrack and start right away.

“I wasn’t used to holding the weight for that long — but they want to see that you are under control,” he said. “I’ll include that in my training, for my next meet in February, in Vancouver.

“At the bottom of the lift, they have you stop with the weight against your chest and hold it for one second, then they say ‘press.’ I wasn’t used to that, either.”

Clark’s other learning experience came in the deadlift. In this event, the barbell is on the floor and you crouch and lift it to a standing position, with the bar at your hips.

“I warmed up in the back,” he said. “The weights in the Hope gym are all in pounds and down there, they were all in kilograms. I miscalculated and was warming up with 540 pounds (245 Kg), which is my personal best. I know it’s double, plus that .2 — and when you get up there, it adds up.”

He added that no: he doesn’t work in the meat department, so don’t be hoping for overweight deals on your roasts.

Clark stood with 238 Kg on his first deadlift, then showed the crowd his personal best of 245 Kg on his second.

“On my third lift, of 551 pounds (250 Kg), I got it to my knees, then gave out. That warm-up blew me out!”

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