Master Sgt. Mike Lear, 33, recently broke a world record in powerlifting – twice.
In March, Lear competed at the USA Powerlifting Military Nationals and won gold in the 205 pound weight class, captured Best Lifter title, earned the title of National Military champion, and set a new American Military Deadlift record at 688.9 pounds.
Then he competed at the IPL Fit Con Powerlifting World Cup Invitational in the 181 pound weight class, held last month in Salt Lake City. Lear beat his own record, setting a new world record in the Deadlift by pulling 700 pounds. He also won the gold medal for the overall world powerlifting competition, squatting 534.6 pounds and bench-pressing 325.2 pounds, combined with the deadlift results.
Surprisingly, he’s only been weightlifting competitively for a couple of years. Lear grew up in upstate New York wrestling, playing baseball, and working on a local dairy farm. He made it all the way into the Air Force without ever having touched a set of weights.
Lear discovered weights when he deployed in 2005.
“There was nothing to do over there, so I started messing around with weights. One day there was a kid who weighed 120 who could out-lift me and I got educated on how to lift properly, but then life happened,” Lear said. “I had a family, a new career, and I got lazy.”
Weights took a back burner for a while, until he was stationed in Bloomington, Ill. as a flight chief in recruiting. He was in the gym lifting weights when a fellow gym member pointed out that Lear was lifting more than the state record.
“They asked me if I had ever thought about competing, but I had never even heard about competitions in weight lifting,” Lear said.
Lear relocated to the 372nd Recruiting Group at Hill AFB in May 2015 and bought a gym system he placed in his garage. He trains from 4:50-6:15 a.m., six days a week so he can accomplish his training goals without interfering with his family and career.
“Being an elite athlete and competing at a world level while being a father, husband, and Air Force member is extremely difficult, but not impossible,” Lear said.
“At the competition, I remember my name being called to the platform with the announcement, ‘Mike Lear attempting a word record deadlift of 700 pounds.’ I remember crouching down, throwing my arms over my head and visualizing myself lifting the weight. I grabbed the bar, the crowd erupted and I defeated the forces of gravity,” Lear said.
He began working out with his vigorous training schedule, without a personal coach.
“I am a product of YouTube, mimicking everything people have suggested there. Then I really dissected my videos, which is the biggest thing I did that made me stronger, faster,” Lear said. “I was also disciplined enough to check my ego in before stepping into the gym. Sometimes I use baby weights to perfect my form so I don’t develop bad habits. A lot of people want to test their strength rather than developing their strength.”
Lear entered his first competition in 2014, worried he might embarrass himself. However, he ended up taking first and broke several records for his weight class. Lear attributes his success to discipline, dedication, and determination.
“I am a firm believer of whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. Then setting up my diet, sleep, and training as well, have all made an impact,” Lear said. “I take a lot of pride being in the Air Force and I’m very strict with how I operate. You have to be that way with the military, which has aided in my ability to achieve my goals.”
Lear admits there is also some raw talent that is involved. He has an arm span that helps leverage his lifting and his back has proven to be strong.
“My biomechanics significantly helps me achieve a greater deadlift than most,” Lear said.
Lear never imagined a future in weightlifting. “This was never in my path. I hadn’t seen this coming, but it’s opened my eyes to the fact that everybody can benefit from weight lifting.”
Lear posts his workouts on Instagram at ml_rawpower for anyone to follow.