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Local weightlifter believes in power of the mind

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By D.j. Vasil
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, 10:32 p.m.

Competitive weightlifters always go face-to-face with the physical challenge of executing their lift successfully. But if a lifter is not mentally ready, the lift can become doubly challenging.

For Allegheny Township resident Robert Gregory, the mental aspect comes easier than most.

Gregory, 41, is a psychologist at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Seven during the day and does outpatient-therapy at a family counseling center in Armstrong County at night. He competes in the 181-pound Raw Division in the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. In November, he took first place in the deadlift competition at the WNPF World Tournament of Champions, lifting 480 pounds while weighing only 172 at the time. Competitors in the Raw Division have no assistance of equipment.

Deadlifting is primarily a leg exercise where the lifter starts in a squatted position with the bar in front of his body at the shins. The lifter then begins to squat up carefully using his legs to lift the weight back up into a standing position.

But here's where Gregory has somewhat of a mental edge: Gregory uses a technique called “guided imagery” before he executes his lifts.

“It's an attempt to visualize your lift prior to doing it,” Gregory said. “I try to visualize it first in my mind the completion of the lift.”

He has been competing for 15 years, and his personal best in deadlifting is 520 pounds, which occurred in May 2011. The lift is a Pennsylvania State record for the 181-pound Lifetime Raw Division.

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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