In the aftermath of a rainstorm last year that felled a tree at his Fayetteville home, Sean McCready, 29, went outside to cut lumber. In the process of doing that, a 600-pound limb fell and McCready caught it with his hand.
That catch costs him a busted bicep and months of lost weight training following reparative surgery. But, the Army veteran rehabbed and ultimately set three state records for the male super heavyweight class in the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate, an organization that promotes the sport of weightlifting.
On March 25, at a meet in Cherokee, North Carolina, McCready, who currently works as a target relay information operator at Fort Bragg Range Control, set the SHW raw record for squat lifting 672.41 pounds, bench pressing 429.9 pounds and deadlifting 672.41 pounds, for a total of 1,774.72. At 5 feet, 11 inches, McCready weighs slightly more than 330 pounds.
He said accomplishing the state records was an amazing feeling, confirmation of his suspicions that he could do it.
“You always second-guess yourself. Once it happens, it’s like you’ve arrived,” McCready said. “As close as I can describe it is ecstasy, like euphoria.
“It’s like mainlining adrenaline. You are surrounded by people (weightlifters) of like mind and spirit. Their presence is as intense as your own, so you feed off their adrenaline,” said McCready, who was first bitten by the weightlifting bug as a deployed Soldier in Afghanistan in 2010.
Then, he could max out with a total of about 1,400 pounds. But, after a few more deployments and two to three hours a day spent in the gym, McCready now has more than 1,700 pounds is in his rearview window and plans to throttle toward a minimum deadlift of 1,000 pounds.
“There’s only a handful of people in the world who can do that … I’ve got a couple more years in me to really push the limits of what I can do” said McCready whose greatest competitor, he said, is the person he faces in the mirror.
“I don’t compete with other people. It’s a competition with myself. I stopped competing with people in the gym years ago,” he said. “Your toughest competition is your reflection.”
McCready achieves his weightlifting goals by two methods — bulking up in the winter and cutting muscle in the summer, vacillating his body fat percentage from 25 to 16 percent and varying his weight by plus or minus 20 to 30 pounds.
He usually consumes between 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day. A typical breakfast, he said, consists of six to nine whole eggs with cheese, half to three-fourths measured cup of uncooked grits, a protein shake and cup of coffee. Throughout the remainder of the day, he’ll eat three to four meals of steak and rice, a sandwich and consume a lot of diary.
“(Dairy) is cheap and it’s got a lot of calories and a fat,” which is ideal for protein and weight gain. To optimize muscle, he tries to get an adequate amount of sleep.
“Getting six to eight hours of good sleep is the crucial component. My body only builds tissue and repairs it when you are sleep,” McCready explained.
On the rare occasion that he isn’t at work or in the gym, McCready said he likes to read everything from comic books to historical nonfiction. He is also a firearms enthusiast and enjoys hunting and fishing. He has played guitar since he was 13 years old.
But, mostly, McCready hits the gym.
What does he like most about weightlifting?
“It’s like trying to ask ‘who is your favorite kid?’ It gives me clarity more anything. There’s nothing like picking up hundreds of pounds,” said McCready. “I’ve never gone to the gym and felt worse.”