Airman raises the bar in Korea
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When most people see commercials advertising exercise equipment, they mute their TV or change the channel. But for one Airman, he saw the motivation to train and compete in national level powerlifting competitions.
"I was watching these Bowflex commercials and I was like dang, I have to get one of those bodies," said Benny Le, 8th Security Forces Squadron response force leader. "That's what encouraged me to start lifting."
Le started lifting in high school, but his school didn't offer powerlifting as a sport. The idea of powerlifting didn't come back to him until his assignment to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., when an NCO in the same shop, now Master Sgt. Lorenzo Peterson, mentioned he competed for the Air Force.
"I thought that was really awesome," said Le. "He got me into my first meet, said I was really good at it and that I should compete more."
Since that first meet, Le has competed in a total of four meets, to include the United States American Power Lifting Raw National Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Le lifted a total of 975 pounds at the competition in the 145 weight class and took first in the military division and second in the junior division.
"What frustrated me was, I could have gotten first," said Le. "The competitor that beat me only did so by five pounds total."
Le readily admits his squat could have been stronger. He now works his legs twice a week and feels confident about future lifts.
"I'm still young," Le said. "I still have a lot of training to do."
As for his diet, Le says he's quite strict before a meet, eating mainly chicken and rice.
"People are shocked by what I eat," said the powerlifter.
A couple months prior to a meet, He'll eat plain rice and scrambled eggs for breakfast. For lunch he eats unseasoned, boiled chicken with plain rice. For dinner its salad and chicken, fried this time, with fat-free ranch.
"For offseason, I eat whatever I want, when I want."
His offseason meals are not as strict. For breakfast he has a large plate of rice and a half pound of ground beef with a quarter box of tofu and three eggs. Le's lunch is varied and changes from an entire oven pizza to three small party pizzas or another plate of rice with half a can of spam and half a pound of ground beef and tofu. Dinner is whatever he wants.
With training and eating being somewhat demanding of Le, he says he stays motivated from all the positive feedback he receives.
"What motivates me is when people I don't know come up to me tell me they think what I do is awesome," said Le. "It's always good to hear positive feedback like that."
Le also really enjoys offering advice to others looking to improve on their strength and fitness.
"When initially starting a weightlifting program, beginners shouldn't go heavy and should start by doing a lot of reps - focusing on form and technique," he said. "If someone tries to go too heavy at first, they might hurt themselves.
Le recommends getting form and technique down first. If getting big is your goal, he says taking supplements can help, but usually food is the key. He also advises being consistent, plan workouts weekly and hit every muscle.
"If you want to reach your goals," Le says. "Keep your goals in sight, keep your head up and stay positive."