WEBSTER, N.Y.— What started as a weightlifting hobby at the gym while deployed at Guantanamo Bay in 2011 and 2012 has become a record-breaking event for New York Army National Guard Capt. Jeremy Hillyard.
Hillyard, a battle-staff officer in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters based in Syracuse, took five prizes in the Aug. 8-9 Revolution Powerlifting competition in Rochester.
More than 300 weightlifters took part in the regional competition, one of the largest on the East Coast.
“Nothing compares to the adrenaline when you are competing against yourself; it takes mental and physical strength when you are no longer in front of just a mirror but instead hundreds of people,” Hillyard said. “Getting your body to do something you may not have been able to do a month ago is something special.”
Hillyard discovered weightlifting when he was serving as part of Joint Task Force Guantanamo with the New York Army National Guard’s 107th Military Police Company.
He looked for something to fill time in a productive and positive manner and followed the path of fellow soldiers to the base gym. Hillyard said he excelled at lifting weights but he stopped lifting weights when he redeployed here from Cuba.
Looking to Increase Physical Fitness
Hillyard said he was capable of doing military-style pushups, sit-ups and making the two-mile run but not much more.
Hillyard and his wife, Katie, then decided to join a gym.
The two became “gym rats,” he said.
“I lift more for power lifting and physical and mental strength; she lifts for overall fitness,” Hillyard said.
At this month’s weightlifting competition, Hillyard was defending weightlifting records he had set at earlier events.
Hillyard competed in two weight classes: the 198-pound Military Professional Open; and 198 Amateur open weight class division, referred to as a “Full Power” event consisting of bench press, squats and dead lift. He successfully bench-pressed 295 pounds, squatted 605 pounds and deadlifted 560 pounds for a total of 1,440 pounds.
The 198 refers to Hillyard’s body weight in pounds.
Hillyard competes in the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate, one of several large powerlifting federations in the United States that hold competitions in 17 states and Canada. He holds three RPS New York state records and two RPS International Records in the deadlift and squat events. He plans to defend his state records and pursue national and international records in future competition.
Hillyard said he wants to set a fitness example for his fellow soldiers.
“People must get past the mental block of being afraid to hurt or feel tired and have pride in themselves to ultimately see great results and reach their full body potential,” he said.