Sam Mah (’23) competes in powerlifting

Thomas Kim, AVT Editor

Sam Mah (’23) pushes through to set a personal record of a 457.5 lb deadlift. (Sam Mah)

457.5 lbs. That was the amount of weight Sam Mah (‘23) conquered when he competed in his first powerlifting meet at the USPA Iron Steeds Bench and Deadlift Battle. Despite being over three times his body weight, he wasn’t fazed by the numbers as he set a personal record for deadlifting.

“Hitting a new personal record felt really good because I was stuck at the same weight for a while. However, it was a little underwhelming because it was a weight I knew I could get up, so there was no thrill of uncertainty. Even though it was a competition, everyone was pretty supportive of each other,” said Mah.

Lifting insanely heavy amounts of weight did not come quickly for Mah. It took him years of discipline and dedication to get where he is today, and he still remains far from his end goal.

“Before powerlifting and lifting in general, my brother got me into fitness. It started off with simple bodyweight training, but it eventually got me into the gym. From there, the idea of having technique behind each compound lift got me interested in the sport of powerlifting,” said Mah

It was important for Mah to start simple and work up to more complex workouts and heavier weights. Mah’s path of beginning a straightforward lifting routine three years ago to starting powerlifting six months ago has been one of consistency and patience.

For people who are starting to lift… [my advice is] set your ego aside and to not rush anything, because it takes time to see physical improvements.

— Sam Mah

“For people who are starting to lift, my main advice would be to set your ego aside and to not rush anything because it takes time to see physical improvements. In powerlifting, and lifting in general, learning correct form first really helps in the long run, especially during competition because it is easy to forget form cues when under pressure,” said Mah

Mah stays determined to excel through his constant cycle between his struggles and improvement. He turns to the gym community to fuel his mentality of positivity toward failure.

“The constant dissatisfaction [with] my strength keeps me motivated… The powerlifting gym environment pushes people to squeeze out a few extra reps through the supportive nature of the gym,” said Mah.

In regards to further competitions, there are no immediate plans, as he wants to build his overall strength first. Mah plans to stay involved in the sport in every way possible, reflecting his love for the sport. 

“I plan to SBD (squat, bench, deadlift) at least a thousand pounds within the next six months while maintaining a lighter body weight. In the future, I would like to eventually coach and teach others how to powerlift,” said Mah.