Steve Mann can’t remember the last time he competed so well at a tournament.
The Clarks Summit resident defended his USA Powerlifting Men’s Open Championship June 24 in Killeen, Texas with a dominating performance.
Mann, 37, broke both his personal and national records in the squat, bench, deadlift and total weight lifted.
“Everything was a personal and national record across the board,” he said. “I’m sure that I’ve never done that before.”
Mann started lifting competitively in ninth grade at Abington Heights High School in 1990-91 under coach Claude Welcome.
“I was lifting a little bit in seventh and eighth grade, and lifted for football, but I didn’t compete until I got into the gym at Abington (Heights),” Mann said.
According to Mann, his training schedule has seen some changes over the years.
“It’s varied over time,” he said. “Right now, I’m at three days a week and I train up to two and a half hours each workout. I’m hitting 37, which most people would say is end of life (for a powerlifter), but actually as a drug-free athlete it’s where you want to peak. I’ve picked some flexibility exercises in the last year and a half to help prevent some injuries that I was getting earlier. Some of the mobility work has decreased the chance of injury.”
While Mann excelled in his best lift, he was excited to improve in all lifts of the competition.
“My squat has been one of my main lifts since all the way back to ninth grade,” he said. “I hit personal bests in all my lifts. That’s the first time that has happened in a long time. It was a great thing for me to hit a 10- pound personal best and a national record, but I was very, very happy with hitting five or 10 -pound improvements in the other lifts as well. It’s really the total of everything that matters.”
According to Mann, now that his children are becoming older, he has been able to concentrate fully on his lifting.
“I’ve been able to focus in on the things that I need to worry about,” he said. “I do all my training before 7 a.m. and have done that for several years. I have four kids, aged 3-9, and we’re out of the diaper stage, so that helps and we’re out of the overnight losing sleep stage. Having more sleep helps a lot. Some of the keys are eat, sleep and training. All three of those are key components.”
Mann finished sixth in the World Powerlifting Championships last year and thinks that experience will pay dividends.
“It helps that I put on 78 pounds from last year’s winning total (at the USA Championships),” he said. “That always makes a difference. Also, experience at the world event is definitely key. It was good preparation. It will be a little more travel this year in Norway, so I have take that into my training for that time zone. With my early morning training schedule, I think I’ll be a little more prepared for the time difference.
Mann has also adjusted his workout routine to meet the demands of international competition.
“I always try to maximize how much work I can get in an hour and a half to two hours training,” he said. “A lot of times it’s not working up near my max, it’s working on solid technique and quickly over the two hour workout to get ready for the international competition. The tournaments go very, very fast. The ability to lift heavy weight quickly is a big key.”
Mann is thankful to have a group of dedicated men to help him in his training and a gym that offers convenient hours.
“Brown’s is an awesome gym because it’s open 24-hours,” he said. “Sometimes I can’t sleep if I have a big workout planned and I get there at 4 a.m. I’m able to do some stretching in the early morning. The equipment is top-notch and I also rely heavily on my spotters and loaders. Some of the guys are installers for Frontier Communications and UPS and FedEx delivery guys.”
According to Mann, those men have adapted to his grueling workouts.
“They are very reliable guys that are here more often than I am, but they now have come up to speed with spotting me and not being worried that I’m gonna drop weights on them,” he said. “They have become more comfortable with me and moving 700 pounds at 6 a.m. isn’t something that freaks them out. They have seen it over and over for the past three or four years now.
“They have helped me a lot.”
Brown’s Gym owner Jim Brown has also been supportive of Mann throughout his career.
“When he’s been at some of the events, he’s helped me out by cheering me on and helping me out with strategy,” Mann said.
Mann is also grateful to his sponsors, Geodis Supply Chain Optimisation (GSCO) and Titan Support Systems for their support.
“I for sure need sponsor help to get to these events, especially to places like Norway. And these two companies have helped me greatly,” he said.
Mann has been married 11 years to his wife, Jenny. They have four children: Jacob, 9; Kaylee, 6; Zach, 4 and Kaitlyn, 3.
For more information on Mann, visit his website www.mannofsteel.com