Switch to powerlifting leads to record-setting achievements

...he had been hitting the stationary bike and dieting dutifully, but he overshot the 218 goal that most of the competitors were going for.

Corrections officer Vince Martin of Maple Ridge has been a regular gold medallist in the World Police and Fire Games.

The scale read trouble for Vince Martin.

At the weigh-in for the World Police and Fire Games powerlifting competition, he was 208 pounds. With the weight class being under-220, he was giving up 10 pounds to most of his rivals – and body mass is a huge advantage in power lifting.

“I had been panicking a bit about making weight, because the next weight class is 242 pounds, and those guys are monsters.”

So he had been hitting the stationary bike and dieting dutifully, but he overshot the 218 goal that most of the competitors were going for.

He blames his past as a competitive bodybuilder. In that sport, contestants want to add bulk muscle, and then be superhero-ripped for their pose-down. So, his body has been trained to shed weight quickly.

It was a forehead-slapper, but it didn’t effect Martin’s performance at the Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland in August. He still set a new world record in his weight class.

Martin is a B.C. Corrections officer who instructs in firearms, self -defence and arrest-and-control techniques.

He made the jump from bodybuilder to powerlifter in 2009, when Vancouver hosted the World Police and Fire Games. It’s still pumping weights, but there is a considerable difference in the training regimen when one goes from sculpting muscle to training for sheer strength.

The difference, in a nutshell, is regular vein-popping, eye-bulging lifts where you push the limits – every time out.

“You’ve got to beat your personal bests. You’ve got to try and do that, if not every week, then every other week.”

In competition, they set up the bars for their first lift. If they don’t make it, they are eliminated. Martin had the bench press barbell set at 385 pounds. That was his maximum lift in 2009, which won the games for him.

Now, it’s a pretty comfortable place to start, and he pushed it up.

The second lift is about going for the win, and Martin had the bar set at just under 400 pounds.

The third lift is for competitors to set a new personal best, which he did with a winning 408 pounds.

The deadlift is a discipline which sees lifters grab a barbell on the floor, and raise it to a standing position, with the bar at their waist. It is a total-body exercise, he explains, which “hits everything,” and is a great measure of overall strength.

Martin hoisted 620 pounds for his personal best and a new world record in his 220-pound weight class.

He did a “comfortable” 590, then went for the win with a 610 lift, before going for the record.

“When I did 610, it came up pretty quick, so I knew I’d get the 620,” he remembers.

“The judge gave the command for me to put it, 620 down, and I held it up for a bit longer, and the crowd went nuts. It was almost the best feeling in the world.”

There were about 400 people there to cheer him on.

“It was nice to see the interest in powerlifting.”

In bodybuilding, he achieved Top 5 in Western Canada, but never nailed the scientific, zealous dieting demanded of the sport.

But he has a power-lifter’s build – with strong joints and tendons. It is a discipline that an individual will either have success with, and carry on, or hurt something and move off to some other passtime.

“It’s not a forgiving sport.”

He trains for about 90 minutes, one day on and one off, and has been a familiar sight at Champion Athletic Club in Maple Ridge over the past decade.

His wife Heather and three sons are a supportive family, and there’s a gym family that gives him more props.

Martin said men hit real muscle maturity in their late 30s, and that has been true for him. He has won gold at all three World Police and Fire Games he has been to, including New York 2011, and those already mentioned.

At 42, and the strongest he’s ever been, Martin is looking forward to future games.

“There’s a lot of making contact and friendships with people from all over the world.”

There was a Russian firefighter who pushed him to the limit. After the competition, Martin gave him a Team Martin shirt, exchanging it for one of his as a souvenir.

He hopes to see him again at the next games, in 2015 in Fairfax, Virginia.

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