Blaine Hanson and His Explosive Strength
Bench-pressing 440 pounds, squatting 500 pounds and deadlifting 605 pounds of weight is something one doesn’t see every day. Yet, this is a scene that is repeated by UMD junior Blaine Hanson several days a week in UMD’s weight room.
He lifts huge weights; the muscles in his arms ripple. The bar goes down, and he forces it back up. Again and again he brings the heavy iron up and down, deep in thought.
Blaine Hanson, a psychology major who will be a senior this fall, is a personal trainer for the Recreational Sports Outdoor Life program and has a passion for lifting. He has been lifting weights since he was a freshman in high school when his older brother, Brent, introduced him to the sport. Hanson says he lifts weights four to five days a week for over an hour.
This summer, Hanson will be competing in the Gay Games 9 held in Cleveland/Akron, Ohio, from August 9–16. He is entered in the powerlifting competition and will complete challenges in squat, bench-press, and deadlift competition. The competition follows United States Powerlifting Association rules and each lister follows the sequence: first squat, then bench-press, and last deadlift. Clothing, equipment, and proper form are closely regulated.
In the squat competition, the weights are positioned on a low bar and the lifter starts in a crouching position underneath the weights and stands while lifting the weights. In the bench press competition, while laying down on a bench, the lifter must lower the bar to the chest, return the bar to arm's length, and then return the bar to the rack. The deadlift competition begins with the bar is laid horizontally in front of the lifter's feet. The lifter picks up and then raises the bar to the final upright position with the shoulders back and the knees locked. Then the weights are returned to the floor.
The Gay Games is an international event held every four years. More than 35 different sporting competitions and cultural events are held. The games hold a range of competitive events from bowling, cheer leading, ice hockey, swimming and much more. Cleveland is expecting over 9,000 participants from all over the world, and an additional 20,000 guests and volunteers.
But why does Hanson enjoy doing an activity that is so strenuous? He finds power lifting incredibly rewarding. “I like to better myself in all aspects of my life,” said Hanson. “Working with this intensity helps build my confidence and helps me strive towards bigger and better things.” As a personal trainer, Hanson likes to help others lift as well. He says it helps him set goals and helps with character development.
As a member of UMD's Queer and Allied Students Union (QASU), Hanson feels he will represent his community by competing in the Gay Games. “There has been a lot of controversy regarding gays and sports,” said Hanson. “I want to help break down the barriers to inclusivity in the community.”
To help with expenses in order to participate in the games, Hanson received $800 from the College of Education and Human Service Professions and $200 from the GLBT commission of the University of Minnesota. QASU and the community were also extremely supportive. QASU held a bake sale and raised over $100 and local businesses also held fundraisers. Several alumni and community members wrote checks. All of this generosity went all long way towards Hanson's registration fees and travel accommodations.
Looking back at the powerlifting competition in the Gay Games, the records set are similar to Hanson's personal record. "I think I've got a shot at it," he said. In any case, his rigourous training schedule and dedication to the sport are inspiring.
By Irene Hanson, May 2014.