Technique + strength = victory

MCpl Gabriel Auclair

MCpl Gabriel Auclair trains for the 2013 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships.

As he balanced 177kg (390lbs) on his shoulders and chest for just a few seconds, MCpl Gabriel Auclair had a moment of uncertainty as to whether he could win the bronze at the 2013 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships in Edmonton, Alberta.

But with brute strength and a desire to medal, the 28-year-old Aerospace Technician from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron heaved the bar laden with weight equal to two grown men up over his head. This clean lift earned him third place in his weight group in the May 19 weightlifting competition in which competitors attempted to qualify for international events.

“The people I was competing against are the best in the country, and to compete alongside them was a pleasure,” says MCpl Auclair.

The competition took place in the Saville Sports Centre and featured male and female weightlifters from across the country. Placing in the top three lifters of the “Over 105 kg” weight class in Canada, MCpl Auclair says this competition marks his most important performance to date.

“I had an increase of about 30kg (66lbs) in my total weight lifted from two years ago,” he says. “I was really proud of my technique, and how I handled the competition. It was the best competition I’ve ever had.”

To prepare for the event, MCpl Auclair trained around the clock, putting away Herculean amounts of food in the process.

“I eat around 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day,” he says. “Homogenized milk, eggs, steaks, vegetables, I never stop eating. At first it was tough getting all of it down, but now I’m just hungry all the time.”

The huge amounts of calories and protein factor into MCpl Auclair’s training regimen, which is devised by trainer Rob Macklem, whom MCpl Auclair met in 2010.

“I was invited to a small meet and Rob said he saw my potential right away,” says MCpl Auclair. “He started helping me train and within a year I’d qualified for the nationals. He has really been a guiding force for me.”

MCpl Auclair’s typical training session involves cardio, stretching, endurance training, and of course lifting.

“While I’m training the weight can be anywhere from 200lbs to 500lbs,” says MCpl Auclair. “Rob looks at training programs from countries like Russia, China, and Germany, so we’re taking tips and tricks from everywhere.”

MCpl Auclair says Olympic weightlifting differs from the more popular power lifting in a few key ways. While power lifting is purely about lifting the most weight through raw strength, MCpl Auclair says Olympic weightlifting is about lifting the most weights using technique, agility, flexibility and raw strength.

“To use an analogy, power lifters are like the giant horse pulling the cart, pure brute strength, while Olympic weightlifters are like race horses,” he says. “You have to have mastered your body in so many ways, because if you just go in thinking about pulling huge weight by raw strength your technique will suffer.”

Training as a weightlifter has changed MCpl Auclair’s life in more ways than one. While weightlifters don’t care much for exact body measurements, the 6’2” 255lbs man knows one thing.

“I can’t wear jeans anymore,” he says. “They just don’t make them big enough for my waist and legs ratio.”

With a bronze medal on the wall, and a bright future ahead, MCpl Auclair has his sights set on international events.
“I just have to keep training,” he says. “This is what I want to do, and I really believe I can do it.”

His final thoughts go to his workplace.

“I would like to add that this success would not be possible without the tremendous support of my chain of command at 443 Squadron. They allowed me to attend these events and I cannot thank them enough,” he says.

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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