By JOSH FURNARY
With one long pull through his nostrils, a pinch of his shoulder blades, and a well choreographed slide, Matt Cronin purposely positioned himself directly underneath 416.6 lbs of clanking iron weights. Less than 10 seconds later, he accomplished something nobody else in the world can claim, becoming the “100% Raw Powerlifting” junior bench-press world record holder.
On Sept. 22, Matthew Cronin, a senior economics major and math minor, as well as UMW track athlete, competed in the Mid-Atlantic Championships powerlifting competition in Zion Crossroads, Va. During the competition, Matt successfully bench pressed an astonishing 416.6 pounds under very strict form regulations and procedures.
This lift placed him as the world record holder within this specific federation for his age and weight, a feat he has been vying for throughout his time at Mary Washington. He competed in the junior bracket, for lifters between ages 20-24 at the 242.5 lb weight class.
He chose this specific federation because as he says, “It offered the right sanctioning and best opportunity to break a world record.”
According to its website, the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation is based upon the principles of all natural power and performance. That translates into frequent drug testing among the athletes to ensure they are 100 percent drug free. Furthermore, it prevents the usage of equipment that aides: such as wraps, power lifting suits, or braces. The goal is to determine the most powerful lifters in the world based off of all natural strength.
To prepare for the meet, Matt followed a strict 10-week lifting regime that focused mostly on the bench-press and dead lift exercises, with an elevated emphasis on technique.
He said, “when lifting heavy weight, strict form is paramount to maintaining a safe and powerful lift. The higher the weight, the more magnified and dangerous poor form becomes.”
Whether working out at Fitness First in Tysons Corner over the summer or the Goolrick gym while at school, Matt strove to maintain quality lifting behaviors.
Waking up the morning of the meet, he let months of routine take control. He said, “I wanted to prepare just like any other day. I wore my regular green camo lifting shirt and proceeded through my warm-up just like back home. I tried to focus on my warm-up sets by using good form and getting close to my 90 percent max lift.” In his first of three attempts, Matt put up 391bs, a mark he knew he could achieve. It went up smooth. His second attempt was the world record-breaking attempt of 416.6 lbs.
Relying on muscle memory, he took his place underneath the bar and listened to the judges. With arms locked, he evenly lowered the bar down to his chest, letting it rest perfectly motionless.
Three judges watched as he “demonstrated control of the lift,” by pausing the weight on his chest and not allowing any movement, eventually giving the command to press.
It was then that the “weight went up faster than expected” and Matt broke the junior world record for the federation.
“I felt extremely satisfied, but had one more attempt to focus on, and that took up most of my thought’s at the time.” In training, Matt successfully lifted 425 lbs under the strict regulations and that was his ultimate goal. His third attempt was for 424.5 lbs.
He focused intently on making this lift, saying “It felt good coming off my chest, but I lost momentum on the lock out.”
He couldn’t quite muster out his last attempt, but admits in the future he wants to “break similar records in other federations, and ultimately continue to chase higher weights.”