Torrey Pines senior sets world weightlifting record
Hoisting 600 pounds, Torrey Pines High School senior Alex Zuniga recently set a weightlifting world record.
On Dec. 6, Alex, a 17-year-old senior, took top honors at the 2009 AAU World Bench, Deadlift, Pushpull International Powerlifting Competition in Laughlin, Nev.
Alex, who stands 6 feet tall and weighs in at 236 pounds, set a new world record in the deadlift category for ages 15-17, 220 to 242 pounds, lifting 600 pounds to break the previous record of 570 pounds. The deadlift is an exercise that involves lifting a barbell off the ground from a bent-over position.
Alex broke the world record in the “raw” category, which means he did not have the aid of straps or a deadlift suit, and wore only a weightlifting belt.
It was actually Alex’s third attempt in which he first shattered the record, lifting 573 pounds. Granted a fourth lift by the judge, Alex successfully lifted 600 pounds, putting him 30 pounds ahead of the competition.
Reaching his massive goal was the culmination of years of training and daily dedication to the sport.
Alex began lifting in seventh grade, and started training for powerlifting about 1 1/2 years ago. He now trains five to six days a week, spending between one and two hours at a gym in Encinitas.
He also adheres to a strict diet, which includes what he calls “clean” foods such as skinless chicken breasts, whole-grain pastas and breads, yogurt, turkey and fish. Alex eats 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day to fuel his impressive workout routine.
“My life is eat, sleep, school and lifting,” he said.
Alex’s passion for powerlifting has forced him to sacrifice traditional teenage events such as weekend parties. But it’s all part of his plan to push himself and excel in his sport.
“When it’s Friday night and my friends are out partying, I’m working hard in the gym,” he said. “It makes me feel like I have something on the competition.”
Currently applying to colleges, including UCSD, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, and UC Berkeley, Alex plans to keep entering powerlifting competitions in the future.
In fact, he already has his eyes — and muscles — set on a prize.
“Once I enter the 18- to 19-year-old age group, there are maybe some records I can take in that,” he said.
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