Breaking News

Powering through: Worthington powerlifters work their way to better bodies – The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Jesus Flores reached into a bowl of powder chalk and slapped it onto his hands before reaching for the barbell. There were three 45-pound plates stacked side by side on each end — 270 pounds in all, plus the 45-pound barbell — and lifted it over his head as his cheeks puffed out and his eyes narrowed in concentration.

Three times he lifted the deadweights and brought them back to the floor at the Worthington Area YMCA last Thursday afternoon. Flores, 17, works out there for one and a half to two hours a day, six days a week.

A junior at Worthington High School, Flores is one of two students who have entered the world of competitive powerlifting. The other is Jose Reveles, a senior who earned his first opportunity to compete in the USA Powerlifting High School and Collegiate Nationals this year. The event — expected to draw approximately 2,000 competitors — is next week in Westin Lombard, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.

Jose Reveles bench presses 225 pounds Thursday afternoon while working out at the Worthington YMCA for the upcoming USA Powerlifting High School and Collegiate Nationals competition.

Tim Middagh / The Globe

Reveles has been powerlifting since his freshman year in high school.

“I got into lifting back in seventh grade,” Reveles said. “I was running cross country, but I didn’t like the physique I was building.”

Impressed by the physique of powerlifters, he began working out with weights at the YMCA to build muscle mass. It was there that Cory Greenway — then a YMCA employee — asked Reveles if he was interested in competing.

“My freshman year I signed up and me and someone else went to the cities to compete,” he said. The event further ignited his passion for the sport.

“Lifting heavy, it feels good,” he said. “I started caring less about how I looked than how I felt.”

Greenway remained Reveles’ powerlifting coach through his freshman and sophomore years of high school, and then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and Reveles was no longer able to lift weights at the gym. It set him back quite a bit, he said.

When gyms reopened, he went back to work and recently qualified in a Minneapolis competition for Team 3 in high school varsity in all three categories of lifting — squat, deadlift and bench — in the 165-pound weight class.

Jose Reveles adds some weights and as he works out for an upcoming competition Thursday afternoon at the Worthington YMCA weight room.

Jose Reveles adds some weights as he works out for an upcoming competition Thursday afternoon at the Worthington Area YMCA.

Tim Middagh / The Globe

“Deadlift is my favorite,” Reveles said, adding that he worked his way up from 225 pounds to a personal best deadlift of 475 pounds. He can bench 280 pounds, and is up to a 425-pound lift from a squatting position.

“So far, my numbers are looking good and I’m looking to lift heavier than at state,” he said, noting he will compete with about 50 other individuals in his weight class.

With Greenway’s departure from the YMCA, both Reveles and Flores have received pointers from retired Worthington Police officer Erik Youngblom.

After Reveles graduates this spring, he hopes to continue powerlifting — perhaps at the collegiate level. He plans to study physical therapy, with the University of Minnesota-Rochester as his top choice of schools.

For now, he will continue to work out — five or six days a week, and two to two and a half hours per day. His workout schedule fluctuates due to school and a part-time job at Walmart.

“It might be 5:30 in the morning or 11 at night (that I workout),” he said, noting he has memberships at both the YMCA and Anytime Fitness.

“I just hope to get stronger and maybe someday — when I’m old and ready to retire — I can open a gym and have a powerlifting club,” he said.

Reveles has served as a mentor to Flores, who has another year of competition ahead of him.

Jesus Flores makes a lift as he conditions for upcoming competition Thursday afternoon at the Worthington YMCA weight room.

Jesus Flores performs a 270-pound deadlift during his workout Thursday afternoon at the Worthington Area YMCA weight room.

Tim Middagh / The Globe

Flores said he fell in love with the sport as a 10th grader, and looked at it as an opportunity to get healthy by building muscle mass.

Competing in the 242-pound weight class, Flores’ personal bests are 475 pounds in squat; 303 pounds in bench and 415 pounds in deadlift. In the Feb. 13 competition in Minneapolis — his first — he was three pounds underweight for his class and it hurt him in competition.

He plans to attend more competitions this spring, but it depends on when and where they will be.

“That’s the thing with powerlifting — there isn’t really much around here,” Flores said. “If you really love it, you’re going to (travel) and do it.”

Flores has a goal to break into the 500-pound powerlifting level in either squat or deadlift, and place in the top three eventually. The squat is his favorite technique.