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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Lifting competition draws alumni, students


Powerlifting is on the rise at UC Davis

Powerlifters tested the limits of their strength at the second annual powerlifting competition at the UC Davis ARC on March 14. This was the first time a UC Davis powerlifting event featured all three of the events typically offered in professional level competitions: the bench press, squat and deadlift.

This isn’t your typical day of pumping iron — competitors pushed or lifted as much weight as possible and judges decided if it was a good or bad lift. Competitors were given three attempts at each event; their strategy is to build up to their maximum weight on the final attempt.

Running a powerlifting competition can be tough if you don’t know what you are doing. Graduate student Andrew Saarni competed in last year’s event and noticed how well it was run.

“Everything was way beyond my expectation,” Saarni said. “I think that partially had to do with Super Training and other sponsors being so involved.”

Saarni was not sure how strong the competition would be this year, but he has been powerlifting for four years and thinks his experience gave him an edge.

“I’m just going to go out there and try to hit some [personal records],” Saarni said.

The competition attracted gym-goers from various skill levels. Antoine Nguyen, a UC Davis alumnus, trains at the ARC, and when he heard about the competition, he created a specific training program to prepare.

“I had to switch gears pretty quickly,” Nguyen said. “I normally try to train a bit more recreationally. My training in the past few weeks have been only sticking to the competition lifts.”

Training for powerlifting is simple but intense. Closer to a competition, powerlifters will stick to one lift per training session as their bread and butter. Saarni’s training prior to the competiton was just that. But building up the strength to be able to peak for a competition requires more than just getting stronger.

“I go through hypertrophy blocks, then strength blocks and then a peaking cycle,” Saarni said. “Then you get ready for a competition and then it starts all over again.”

Steve Frediani teaches the small group training powerlifting course at UC Davis. According to him, powerlifting has become more popular in the past 10 years.

“It really used to be more of an underground sport,” Frediani said. “It’s cool to see a lot of college students involved in it, maybe 10 years ago you wouldn’t have seen anyone using a squat rack at all, now everyone is squatting because they’re training for meets.”

When Frediani first started training for powerlifting, he competed to test the waters before investing his time in the sport. Frediani was intimidated at first because the competition can be really strong — literally.

“You see some monsters there squatting 800 pounds,” Frediani said.

Despite not having as much experience or strength as other competitors, he felt welcomed.

“I totally loved it, people are typically really supportive at meets,” Frediani said. “Especially if you’re new, a lot of people were giving me tips and encouragement.”

If you have not worked out before, or don’t have much experience, powerlifting can be that incentive to get you to keep going, according to Frediani. Going to the gym for a workout can be really vague, but with a specific goal in mind, people will workout more and be healthier overall.

“If people are training toward something, like powerlifting, they’ll have a gameplan,” Frediani said.

Competitors began lifting at 6 p.m. Results can be found on the Campus Recreation and Unions website.



Written by: Bobby John — sports@theaggie.org



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