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Hungry for power: Trio makes a strong statement, each in their own way

By David Barr davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 8/2/17

Blood, sweat and tears led to a world record, a statewide competition title, and a mark good enough to qualify for a state competition in the field of weightlifting for three home-grown …

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Hungry for power: Trio makes a strong statement, each in their own way

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Blood, sweat and tears led to a world record, a statewide competition title, and a mark good enough to qualify for a state competition in the field of weightlifting for three home-grown Middletowners.

What started as a way to pass the time in college for Alex and Zac Einhorn and their friend Mateusz “Matt” Atlasik has grown into a hobby at which the trio excels.

Despite being athletes and lifting in high school, none of them worried about doing it to compete. That all changed once they went off to college together. The three graduated in consecutive years, Alex in 2010 and Zac in 2012 from Middletown. Matt was in the middle in 2011, graduating from Manheim Central after spending the first eight years of his academic career in the Middletown district.

They started going to the gym as a way to pass the time. After seeing results from their work, they decided to devote more time to their new hobby. Zac said they were only looking to get stronger, but they watched a few powerlifting meet videos online and began attending a Strongman gym together. After that, it “all took off from there,” Zac said.

Their efforts paid off in January when Matt and Zac competed in the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate New Jersey North American Championships. During the event, Matt deadlifted 495 pounds, setting a new world record in the process. His record came in the 148-pound amateur Junior 20-23 Raw Modern division. Raw Modern means Matt can only use a weightlifting belt and wrist and knee wraps for support, but cannot use any other equipment for help.

There are two types of weightlifting. Powerlifting requires the competitor to properly lift as much weight as he or she can in three movements; the squat, the deadlift and the bench press. The other kind is the more popular Strongman. It involves activities such as lifting Atlas stones, pulling trucks, and carrying large sandbags.

All three began in the powerlifting field before Alex decided to transfer over to the Strongman.

Zac attempted to switch to Strongman as well, but he felt he wasn’t making any progress with the Strongman workouts and he believed the workouts for Strongman weren’t as structured as they are with powerlifting, and “that’s what I needed” he said.

Because Zac and Matt compete in powerlifting, they do a different type of training than Alex does. Their training consists of four days a week focusing only on the three lifts in that field.

Previously, Matt had been able to deadlift 465 pounds, but he looked online for what the record was and saw it was only 30 pounds more than what he was lifting, so he began training to beat the record. It took Matt two to three months to add the necessary weight to his previous personal best. Matt still holds the deadlift world record, according to the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate website.

Matt said it was “hard to put into words” what achieving the record meant to him, but since this was the last chance he had to earn the record in that age group before he aged out, he said that it “means a lot” to see his name on a world record.

“I wanted it really bad,” Atlasik said.

Matt wasn’t the only one of the group to come home with an accomplishment during the January meet. Zac competed in the 198-pound Raw Master Class. Raw means Zac does not use any wraps or sleeves for aid or support in his lifts. During his time on stage, Zac was able to lift a total of 1,130 pounds in the three categories. He squatted 360 pounds, deadlifted 470 pounds, and bench-pressed 300 pounds. That total amount was good enough that Zac qualified for the 2017 Powerlifting World Championships. The benchmark for his weight and ability class was 1,110 pounds.

While Zac said it was “cool to qualify” for the 2017 Powerlifting World Championships, he was quick to heap praise and accolades on Matt and Alex, claiming they are more talented and more athletic than he is.

“Both are more than capable of taking it to the next level, whatever that is,” Zac said.

Balancing lifting and life

Currently, Zac is studying for his master’s degree in school psychology with an emphasis on behavior analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I’d like to become a behavior analyst within a year or so. My field is closely related and applicable to the education of children with autism,” Zac said.

He has been taking summer courses, so he trains on the days he doesn’t have classes, three times during the week and again on Sundays.

“This summer my training is awesome,” Zac said. “Since I don’t have to be up early, I train usually between 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. or so. Sometimes even later with some nights starting at 12 and ending at 3.”

Zac said he prefers this late-night schedule because the gym he trains at, Dan Campos Fitness in northeast Philadelphia, is empty at that time and he can “get a focus I don’t get at other times.”

Matt used to train five or six days a week while in college, but with his career at PeoplesBank in York, in the wealth management division, he has reduced his training days to four a week. He was able to find a gym that is open 24 hours, 7 days a week so he can squeeze in a lift before work if he knows he’ll have a busy day. He also makes sure that he lifts on the weekends when his schedule isn’t as busy.

“Usually it just comes down to planning and managing my time wisely,” Matt said.

Because Matt usually trains by himself, he’ll have Zac help him monitor his training. Because they are in the same weightlifting field, Zac will write up a plan for Matt and will adjust accordingly as Matt updates him with his progress.

Strongman

Alex has also performed well enough in the Strongman field that he won the 2016 Delaware’s Strongest Man competition in the Lightweight 175-pound category.

In doing so, he posted results of 10 reps in the circus dumbbell competition, two reps in the max bench press event (500 pounds), completed the farmer’s hold competition in 50 seconds and the sandbag in 40.63 seconds and had seven reps with the Atlas stones.

The circus dumbbell competition involves lifting a 110-pound dumbbell off the ground up over one’s head and returning it back to the ground and repeating as many times as possible in one minute. The farmer’s hold requires competitors to pick up a 225-pound weight in each hand and carry it a certain distance, and the sandbag is similar to the farmer’s hold, in that it involves carrying weight a certain distance. The difference is competitors carry one 200-pound sandbag 50 feet and then carry a 225-pound bag another 50 feet. Finally, the Atlas stones competition has competitors lifting a 250-pound concrete ball over a 48-inch bar and returning it to the ground, then repeating. 

This came after he and Zac competed in the event in 2014. (They finished 8th and 10th respectively.)

“That motivated us to be better,” Alex said.

In 2015, Alex took first place in the novice men category of the event, after which he left the novice division and moved up to the Light Weight 175-pound division. This year, he finished second in that category at the Delaware’s Strongest Man competition.

That 2016 win qualified him for the Strongman nationals in Iowa last October, where he finished 20th out of 29 competitors.

Alex described the event as “definitely intimidating” but despite the intimidation factor, he has plans to go to the 2017 event in Las Vegas.

Alex’s workout schedule is a bit different from the other two. He trains five days a week working on the different events on different days around his work schedule with the Lancaster Barnstormers baseball team in the Game Presentation and Sales Department, helping with areas such as mid-inning promotions, working with on-field talent who perform during pregame activities, and generating company revenue through group and sponsorship sales.

Despite all they’ve accomplished, the trio says they won’t attempt to make weightlifting a full-time career. Instead, they’ll continue to lift as their schedules allow and see what progress they can make.

“We push each other to be better than the next guy,” Alex said. “Small goals got us all the way to a world record.”

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