Written by Christy Hinko: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00
When it has been proven that 99 percent of the population can barely lift their own bodyweight, one Farmingdale resident, Matthew Sohmer, 19, has recently set a new teen and American record of a 711-pound dead lift. Sohmer is presently a freshman at Becker College in Massachusetts, playing lineman in his first year.
Sohmer currently holds the records in squat teen record at 700 pounds; the bench record at 275 pounds; and the dead lift record for teen and American titles at 711 pounds.
Sohmer now competes in the 18- to 19-year-old age group, and in the 240 to 275-weight class. At 16 years old he dead-lifted 585 pounds, and at 17 years old, Sohmer dead-lifted 700 pounds. This was an unofficial record, and performed unequipped, without straps.
“I am very proud of his achievements,” Ray Sohmer proudly said of his son. “Matt was able to accomplish what very few people in the world can do; I am still in shock when I watch the video.” Sohmer’s mother, Deborah, agrees, “He’s really dedicated; my husband and I are really proud.”
At a meet this past December, Sohmer placed first for his age and weight classes he was shocked by his results because it was right after football season ended and he was not fully prepared.
While Sohmer admits he never had real technique or training when he began dabbling in weightlifting in sixth grade when he was trying to boost his football skills through strength training he credits his godfather, Carl Caleca, for introducing him to the sport and fostering an appreciation for the intensity of it all.
He confided that he used to train incorrectly, but he continued to work on his form and technique and said just by doing it correctly and listening to his body, he has seen the biggest results. “You have to know how the weight feels, how your body reacts to the weight, how to recover,” Sohmer said.
“I was always a very big kid,” but in high school, the other kids began catching up and he wasn’t exactly the biggest kid anymore. Sohmer wanted to gain an advantage and to help perform well on the high school varsity football team, so he started working out more, to get stronger.
Caleca and world-renowned lifter and trainer Dr. Richard Seibert of Merrick began an intense training program. Both Caleca and Seibert have participated in the Empire State Games.
When Sohmer is home from school, he regularly trains at Synergy in Farmingdale, or at JD’s Healthclub in Holbrook.
One of the best things about powerlifting, Sohmer said, is that it isn’t like a team sport, like football. “Some players only want to play football for themselves,” he compared, but said power lifting is just a bunch of people who are there to help you succeed.
Conversely, Sohmer said, “At school no one is really putting up my numbers; no one really wants to work out with me because they don’t want to spot that weight.” Personally though, Sohmer said the hardest thing about weightlifting is forcing himself to take a break from it.
While traditional trainers advise 48 hours downtime between training sessions, Sohmer finds it easier to let his body guide the rest period. Normally, his training session consist of squats twice, benching once and deadlifting once each week.
When the Farmingdale Observer asked Sohmer about supplements and drug use, he said he is confronted “all of the time.” For his age and size, he said people approach him every day about steroids. Since high school, as soon as he started putting up more than 600 pounds, people began asking him, “Where’s the needle?” He does admit to sticking to a whey protein supplement and regular multivitamin. “I am so against taking everything else. If you aren’t doing it naturally, you’re cheating.” Sohmer said that many of the competitions that he participates in are drug-tested, “A lot of people who cheat, cannot compete in this sport.”
In June, Sohmer will compete in the qualifiers for a world competition, being held in Rockland, MA. If he qualifies, he will make the World Team and begin competing against world record holders.
Mike Hungerford, assistant football coach at Farmingdale High School told the Observer, “I am not surprised, Matt was an extremely dedicated participant in our weight room program. He was a contributing member of our team while he was here. Matt was well respected by his teammates for his work ethic on the field and in the weight room.”
Since several serious injuries to his knees, some from his high school days of playing as a Farmingdale Daler, and some as recent at November, he has had to give up playing football. This has abbreviated his career in college football at Becker, but he has made some adjustments to his career plans in the meantime.
Sohmer will soon transfer schools to pursue physical therapy. He’d like to pair physical therapy with personal training, saying, “I’d like to teach kids the right way to train,” maybe return to Farmingdale to help younger athletes with strength and conditioning.
Sohmer concluded, “I don’t want to be the average kid; I want to be something more.” He said 10 percent of college-bound kids to go to school to play college football, but “99 percent of Americans cannot lift their own body weight. I’m that 1 percent that can do so much more than that. I take more pride in this because so many less people can do this than play college football.”
Sohmer’s strength performances can often be seen on YouTube, his lifting records are also posted on the AAU website at: http://aaunews.org.