Friday, June 15, 2018

2018 Battle of Champions & The Birth of the MMG

One, Two, Three...LIFT! @^@$^@$^$@#$!@*^?><  (various sounds undetermined at that time due to intense pressure to get that bar up)... RACK IT! These are the familiar commands during these not so serious fund raising bench press competition events.  Led by AAU Hall of Famer Casey Orr and likely future Hall of Famers such as Harry Orr and cousin Eric Hobgood, this event would be no different. Or would it?  Well it was for me because my son Landon would compete in his first bench press competition and Dustin his friend who is my friend Rickey Carrow's son would be doing only his 2nd competition.  As an 8 soon 9 year old, one can imagine how that might feel.  My son, Landon was cool as a cucumber until the subtle signs of anxiety appeared about 10 minutes before his first attempt.  

Since Landon was young, I didn't want to push an excessive amount of weight lifting but rather by example create an atmosphere of wellness to sort of establish a norm that our family would do our best to be health conscience. I thought a family that works out together will stay together and do so with good health!  I had basically established our family gym, "THE MMG" which stands for Mediocre Muscle Gym, using what was once originally a carport turned into an apartment and eventually our gym.  The name originated back in 1987 when I was a freshman at East Carolina University.  Goofing off and such, my friends and I joked about our mediocre muscles.  Later, I met and became friends with David Guy.  He took this one step further and would have fun stating how we should come up with Mediocre Muscle Magazine.  Of course one thing led to another and the name Mediocre Muscle Gym started more or less as a concept.  After living in Belk Dorm my freshman year, my parents helped me move into a 12x65 trailer in Evans Mobile Home Park off of a back country road about 5 miles from campus named Firetower Road in Winterville NC( this road is far from a back road now as it is a main cut with 5 lanes of traffic).  I had no traditional heat or air conditioner and my gym was my bench beside my bed with a few curl bars, dumbbells and a basic barbell for the bench.  I had kept several old school concrete weights I first got from Jeff Garratt and steel weights I purchased from Brendles on a road trip to Greenville with Wes Waller when we were still in high school.  Yep, it was more like Minimal Muscle Gym but we did upgrade.  Keep in mind, I had always worked out in the HS Gym, ECU gyms, Family Y in Goldsboro(Charter Member) etc so I was no stranger to working out.  I had wrestled, tried out for JV basketball as well as ran track and XC for Goldsboro HS in addition to playing in Church League Basketball with John Eason.  My present day self could never hold a candle up to my High School Senior self pound for pound.  At one time I could bench 230lbs at 112lbs, grab a regulation basketball gym, and still run a sub 18 5k.  High School leisure was often lifting weights, doing martial arts and playing basketball with my life long friend John Eason.  During the summer it was not uncommon for us to meet friends like Brian Tart, Charlie Allen and many others to endure playing all day in 100 degree heat with just a 2 liter of Mt Dew for me and a 2 liter Dr Pepper for John while we went around Goldsboro to places like our backyards, North Drive, West End, Salem Acres, The Alley, and other random locations for a good game.  When it cooled down to 90, I'd spend my evenings push mowing grass etc.  Later, I was on the ECU Club Karate and Wrestling teams as well as running for the ECU Varsity Cross-Country Team.  Well, many spotters and friends later as Life happens and here we are.  I'm happy to still be in the game of life for sure.  At my Goldsboro class of '87 HS 30th reunion, I had a reminder of how precious life is.  So many classmates have already passed away.  Make each day count!!

The famous Mediocre Muscle Gym!

Moments before Landon's first attempt, I supported my son with encouragement as I warmed up his arm like we used to do in wrestling by holding our teammates hands and doing a waving ocean like motion of the arms to get the blood circulating.  Yes, we did a couple of warm up sets but this had been one of the few things I've done historically that helped my mentally as well as physically.  Due to Landon's size and lifting ability, we would bring a solid steel 15lb bar from home.  His previous bench press record was 30lbs.  During this first meet, Landon weighed in at 55lbs.  We decided to start with his first attempt at 20lbs.  I'm very grateful to men like Harry Orr who support wellness of all ages and abilities.

Landon's 1st attempt at 20lbs! GOOD!!

Based on my typical lifts, I was also positioned in the 1st Flight of Lifters with all our MMG guys, Landon, Rickey, and Dustin.  So yes, we again are the Mediocre Muscle Gym Lifters NOT MASSIVE GYM etc.  I was actually worried about this meet due to right shoulder issues.  I had been doing intermittent but not consistent exercises collaborated with great Occupational Therapist and friend Helen Houston to help with these issues.  The weeks prior I had been struggling but kept in mind how busy I was too.  I decided as usual not to do any lifting the week before and keep martial arts and endurance workouts limited.  My body had to drop from about 159 to 148 within 3 weeks.  I had gained weight having too much fun on a spring break vacation trip with the family and now I would be paying the price.  The first 3-4lbs were easy as I simply got back to a regular routine and avoided midnight snacks and recreational drinking.  I like to eat.

 Just a few days before competition... 4lbs over

 That's for sure but I'm also disciplined when need be.  I then reduced to limited sodas and coffees and started more consistently joining my wife "Gina" on her "80 day challenge" type beach body diets.  The last week, I switched to drinking mostly water and cut down all my portions.  It was tough the last couple of days because my son wanted to go to Red Robin for his birthday.  Yep, grilled chicken salad and water for me.  I weighed 148.5 and was good to go.  The 148lb class was olympic metric based so the weight class was actually I believe 148.75 so I was good to go.  After officially signing in and getting through weigh ins I started sucking in my drink!!  I made a drink combined with electrolytes, protein, beta alanine, and creatine.  Then off to Grandma Hobgood's(yep Gina's grandma lived within 20 minutes from the YMCA) for a breakfast for a King.  Eggs, biscuits, bacon, ham, cheese, etc.  I had passed weigh in requirements about 815am and didn't have to be back until the competition started at noon.  Of course to warm up etc, we would be back by 1130ish. For fun, I got back on the scale and was already 154 with clothes and shoes on.  I decided to start my first attempt at 220lbs.

220lbs.  GOOD!!

Here I am returning the favor to spot my friend Rickey Carrow.  Rickey is an inspiration as he was nearly 64 years old at this competition.  He had been dealing with some health issues but the competitor in him drove him to still do this competition with his son Dustin.  Rickey is in the 220lb weight class 60-64 Masters Division.

1st attempt 250lbs GOOD!

Rickey would continue his 2nd attempt with 280lbs for another great lift but fall just short of a good 3rd attempt with 300lbs.  It was a great day for Rickey especially considering the months he had to stop lifting for health reasons.  Rickey has the MMG record at 320lbs.

Landon did his first attempt pretty easy so we decided to go up 10lbs to tie his current Bench Press Record.  For his body weight, this was a big jump and typically not recommended but I wanted to see what he had in him to figure out the last attempt.

Landon's 2nd attempt was GOOD at 30lb to tie his record!

There is no money to replace that smile!  30lbs GOOD!!  His next attempt if successful would be a new record!

This is Dustin, Rickey's son in his 2nd competition.

This was Dustin's 2nd attempt.  It's GOOD!
He did 55lbs, 60lbs, and then failed at 65lbs on 3rd attempt.

We first found out about this competition from cousin Eric Hobgood.  Here he is spotting his wife Ashley.

It's GOOD!  

So my 1st attempt at 220lbs was pretty easy so I did a 20lb jump to 240lbs for my 2nd attempt.

240lbs GOOD!!

On Landon's 3rd attempt we decided that 40lbs was too big a jump so we decided on 35lbs which as still a new PR-personal record for him.

GREAT JOB LANDON!!  35lbs!! A new record!!

Eric Hobgood spotting his wife Ashley in her last attempt.

On my 3rd and final attempt, I decided to go for it and try for a new competition bench press record.  My previous highest touch and go record was 265lbs.  This 3rd attempt would be at 270lbs at my 148lb weight class in the 45-49 Masters Division.

Well, it wasn't pretty but it was GOOD!! A new record for me!!  Keep in mind if this had been a sanctioned event, I would have been required to pause at my chest and keep the bar nearly even all the way up.  I have a long way to go but I was super happy with this performance especially since my workouts have been relatively weak in comparison.  I did manage to rest overall the last week before competition so I felt fresh despite nervousness.  Fear is often known to be our friend though.  I believe a healthy level of it can keep us sharp and be used as a reminder to always maintain our health and wellness.

Eric was in the 2nd flight of lifters since they lift a significantly higher amount than we do in the 1st flight.

Incredible Eric!!!  465lbs!!!  Eric Hobgood has a workout record of 480lbs!!

Here is Landon and Kamryn taking a picture with Hall of Famer Casey Orr!  Casey Orr has lifted 530lbs at only 242lbs!!

Proud moment for my wife Gina and I as we watched Landon receive his 1st place trophy in his first Bench Press Competition.

Here Landon is with Harry Orr, a well known area lifter and likely future Hall of Famer like his brother Casey.  Harry has been key in these events which always have a goal in mind to help raise money for a great cause.  Harry Orr has a 440lb at 184lb competition record and a 500lb at 198lb workout record!!  

The smile of a proud champion!!!

Ashley Hobgood!

Well I finally got that 270!!  Of course, I have to love my wife Gina the slave driver and family coach as she simply says, "So when are you doing a real competition?"  So I guess I need to prepare for one of those tougher pause before you press etc competitions eh?  I can never slack off with her.  I could walk on water and she would ask why I didn't run on the water.


In year's past we've had several MMG members come for the cause but this would likely be one of the most meaningful for me since Landon did his very first competition!  Friends come and go but Rickey has been one who has been a constant variable in my workouts.  We met at what was Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville NC back in 1994.  I was new and initially came in as a Certified Nursing Assistant from Wayne Memorial Hospital to now work as an OT Tech.  Rickey was an Orthotist and was always fitness minded as he had me playing several recreational sports for the hospital such as flag football, softball, and my favorite basketball.  We've lifted together pretty consistently since then.  I owe much of my success and weight lifting accident prevention to this man!


Kamryn is probably tougher than all of us!  Look out world!  Yes she works out with us intermittently too!

Just a few example workouts that had not been deleted from phone yet...

Picture with some of the GoRUN crew at Elm Street Park in Greenville before one of our runs...

Running definitely helps to burn those calories but as most lifters will agree, the mileage I typically do and destroy our power efforts!  That being said, I don't want to be someone benching over 300lbs who can't run a basic 5k but I don't want to run a sub 20 minute 5k and can't bench over 200lbs either.  I've decided to accept the challenge of moderation and maybe beyond for both vs a master of just one.  

What a great blessing to teach and train with my son Landon!  Here he is at a recent Green Belt promotion.

Martial Arts has helped me maintain balance for sure.  It doesn't really how much you can lift or run if your body isn't able to perform functionally.  This helps to keep all in perspective but also provides a great cross-training option.  Teaching Goju-Shorin Karate has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Here are some of the actual weight lifting workouts I have done...

Working out is certainly a great way to maintain fitness.  I combine running, weight lifting, martial arts, basketball, hiking, and keeping up my yard and house.  I attempt to rotate how I work out so my body is forced to adapt but at the same time provide the often forgotten recovery days between workouts.  Unlike many who like plans, I often workout based on feel.  Don't get me wrong though.  I love stats and keep track of my progress etc but if I am not feeling it that day I change what I do or simply take the day off.  I have found that I may often have better results/workouts on days I originally didn't want to do anything.  Life is like that.  Sometimes you just have to be consistent and go for it.  If you really want to be super fit and look good too, you have to remember much work begins in the kitchen.  My wife Gina will tell you it's often the most important and she'll say 80% of the work is in the kitchen.  Timed fueling can be key for sure as you strive for that perfect portion control of that perfect balance of healthy proteins, carbs, and fats.  It all comes down to what is your long term goal and how is that ranked with your other goals.  If you want to maximize your potential you will indeed need to have strict planning of nutrition as well as your workouts.  For me, I kind of rotate my goals to keep it spicy and consequently that means I often maintain a moderate level of fitness in every area versus amazing results in a couple of areas.  For me, I'm hoping to gradually max out my potential in all areas with time and consistency.  Only time will tell and that's what makes life fun and interesting.

To new adventures!