Lifters power their way to the top

The Hofstra Powerlifting Club is proving it is a force to be reckoned with after two lifters broke a total of three world records at a Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) competition on March 19. Louis Ban set the world record for squat and deadlift in his division and Miguel Ayala did the same for the deadlift category.

Ban, a sophomore exercise science major and the captain of the team, has only been lifting competitively for a year and a half. He competed in the 198 lbs., amateur single-ply junior division, where he set the world record for squat at 622.5 lbs. and for deadlift at 605 lbs.

Ayala is a junior of the same major and has also been lifting competitively for only about a year. His record was set at 617.5 lbs. for the professional raw modern open division in the 165 lbs. weight category.

Sophomores Stephanie Tattrie and Moriah Garzone also competed, as well as juniors Yu-Hsiang Huang and Jeff Jeon and seniors Danny Centeno and Nick Bielawa.

Luke Pelton, an adjunct instructor in the physical education department and the head coach, also competed in the event. “The team did great overall,” Pelton said. “Most of the team set multiple PRs (personal records). Each meet is a competition, but it is also a learning experience. Any mistake made is simply fuel for the fire of next training cycle.”

These athletes usually train for about 16 weeks leading up to a meet. The training cycle includes five days per week spent lifting and two spent actively resting. The cycle is designed to leave them in peak performance on the day of a competition.

Some lifters put themselves on a strict eating schedule to maximize muscle growth; however, Ban doesn’t feel that’s necessary for him. “The whole point of the sport is to lift as much weight as possible. So the way you’re going to do that is to get as big as you can. I don’t watch my weight until probably a week out from the meet; then I’ll just make sure I’m within my weight class,” he said. “I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. It doesn’t matter.”

Lifters wear different types of supportive gear in different divisions. For the division that Ban competed in – single-ply – the lifters wear a thick polyester singlet, which allows them to lift more weight, but it is by no means easier.

“It honestly feels like sandpaper. It’s very rough, it’s really stiff. You have to break it in and it takes a while to even wear it comfortably. Even then, it’s not very comfortable,” Ban said. “This adds a completely different technique. I had to basically start from scratch relearning how to bench, squat and deadlift in this gear.”

Training for the event wasn’t much easier for Ayala, who started lifting after serving in the U.S. Army for six years. “For me it has been brutal preparing for the second meet and so on,” he said. “I picked up an overnight shift job, so it was more grueling with lifting before work then school the next morning but I made it happen … and made this my fourth first place finish.”

Despite breaking these records, both lifters expect much more from themselves. “I typically set a pretty high standard for myself,” Ban said. “I’ve only been competitively lifting for a year and a half so I’m still a beginner but I have professional goals set for myself.”

Ayala fell short in his mind; however, he was impressed with his body’s ability to fight through an injury. “My ring finger was slightly cut and never healed which worried me going into the final event,” he said. “But overall, I exceeded and shocked myself that I was able to pull that off with my injured hand snagging a meet total PR 7.5 lbs. higher from my last meet.”

Ban is no stranger to injury and has sustained several burst blood vessels in his eyes and chest, something he says just comes with the territory.

For Pelton, who has held several New York and New Jersey state records, as well as several world records in the RPS, these athletes are just getting started. “Miguel Ayala is currently on track to be one of the top-ranked 165 lbs. lifters of all time and Louis Ban is one of the top 198 lbs. junior lifters in the region,” Pelton said. “Breaking records and making a statement isn’t some random act of chance; greatness is simply expected from these two.”

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