By Carlos Leano, Dec. 6, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s Bronco Lifting Club recently competed in Rep Max Performance’s Fall Face Off competition under USA Weightlifting on Oct. 29, with five members medaling in their respective weight categories.
Club members Susanna Eng (130 pounds) placed first, Ruben Zepeda (160 pounds) and Sean Thai (196 pounds) placed second and Skylar Khamphou (196 pounds) placed third. Thai and Khamphou qualified for the U25 and University Nationals competitions with their performances.
Felix Lien, Olympic weightlifting coach of Bronco Lifting, received first place overall and first in his weight category.
While they were happy with their results, their focus remains on preparing for Nationals in June.
“Being mentally prepared for the next one is what we’re focused on,” said club president Sean Thai. “Now we know what a competition setting is like and want to continue to get competition experience because we all want to go to Nationals. We want to do really well and are focused on increasing our numbers constantly.”
For an Olympic weightlifting competition, there are multiple sessions within the day. The number of athletes for each session can range anywhere between four and 12. Within each session, competitors lift at the same time with the weight incrementally loading upwards.
Starting from the lowest weight and going up, athletes have the chance to declare three attempts for one movement, the snatch. Once the opener is completed, they declare their second attempt as weight starts to progress.
They must declare a weight that is higher or the same if they happen to miss, continuing until all athletes have completed their three attempts. Once the last athlete is finished, everyone moves on to the clean and jerk where the same process is repeated for this specific lift.
Coach Lien detailed the preparations that go into these types of competitions.
“We spend a majority of the months leading up to the competition prepping in different ways,” said Lien. “This means addressing weaknesses, gaining general strength, psychological conditioning to get ready for the duress of competition and working up to the numbers we’re aiming for.”
Getting enough nutrients and sleep also plays a crucial role for performance as well, according to Lien. These two are huge contributors to building and maintaining strength and muscle mass.
Still, with immense amounts of preparation comes the stresses of competition. Stress impacts how you feel prior to competing. Skylar Khamphou describes how he manages his discomfort prior to his lifts.
“Whenever I get anxious, I tend to start shaking, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re lifting a lot of weight over your head,” said Khamphou. “It’s about breaking that mental barrier, zoning in and pinpointing what you want, which is lifting the weight. When it was time to go, I just went, and it worked.”
Pushing through lifts is mentally and physically fatiguing, added Thai. Relaxing in between each set is helpful and important to get the mind focused for the next lift.
The club is also looking to do one more local competition in preparation for USA Nationals in June.
Bronco Lifting is a newly-established club with 78 active members, welcoming lifters of all experience levels and disciplines to be a part of an inclusive environment whether competing or not. These disciplines include powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting and bodybuilding.
Thai shared why he and his friends created the club and how it came to be.
“We saw a big demand for a fitness community at the BRIC,” said Thai. “One of the things we wanted to do was incorporate and make everyone feel they’re a part of something.”
The club is planning to hold two group sessions during the week to build a sense of community. Practices are every Friday at 1 p.m., and another set day is still being organized.
Group sessions include lifts for both powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters. Volunteer coaches lead these sessions, helping members focus on form and technique. Powerlifting focuses on any variation of exercises like the squat, bench and deadlift. The Olympic weightlifting side concentrates solely on the two contested lifts during competition, the snatch and clean and jerk.
Bronco Lifting organized their first powerlifting meet on Nov. 18 at Hidden Strength Gym in Irwindale as 20 club members participated with 50 spectators in attendance.
“We saw some really impressive numbers put up, a couple over 500-pound squats, close to 600-pound deadlifts and plenty of 300-pound benches,” said powerlifting coach and outreach chair Tony Gonzalez. “Overall, the athletes had a great time. Everyone was safe and it rolled smoothly. We saw some great results, and it was a really fun event, something we wish to build on and do more in the future.”
A meet with lifting clubs from outside colleges is currently in the works for Spring 2023. For more information regarding the Bronco Lifting Club, click here.
Feature image courtesy of Susanna Eng
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