Man sets powerlifting record, on track for world-wide record
BOSTON CORNERS — For Mike Burch, setting a powerlifting record is something that just had to happen.
On Sept. 3rd at the Steel Beach Gym in Oakville, Connecticut, Burch stepped up to the plate and deadlifted 500 lbs. — a record in his class at the World Powerlifting Association (WPA), which has been hosting competitions since 1989.
The thing about Mike: he’s 72 years old. Cutting a figure somewhere between a Viking and a fit Saint Nicholas, Burch’s accomplishment puts him among an elite class of lifters pushing the limits of possibility. Only ten other men have deadlifted over 500 lbs. in Mike’s category; most hover between 300-400 lbs.
Previously, Yuri Starkov had set the WPA-record for the Masters 70-74, 198 lb. category in April of 2019 by pulling 485 lbs. Worldwide, the record is held by Howard Myers who deadlifted 562.2 lbs. in November of 2018.
When asked what drives him to compete at such a high level, Burch cites his grandson, saying:
“My grandson got me out of the gym and back into competition. I started him out when he was two years old... he’s seventeen now, we’ve been lifting together for 15 years. He only weighs 125 and he’s pulling 300 lbs. deadlift. So he really inspires me.”
But powerlifting isn’t a recent passion for Mike Burch. He’s been in the game since 1956, when a childhood diagnosis of asthma drove him to find a way to improve his lung capacity — and from there, “it just kind of snowballed.”
Mike was a top-ranked powerlifter in the ’70s and ’80s, taking first place in the USPF Capital District Open in 1980 at the age of 29.
Forty-three years later, though his body may have aged, his drive has remained unchanged.
“It’s the same! I really haven’t changed. It’s the same mindset, I really haven’t changed! (laughter) I just get out there and do my thing.”
To stay healthy and pull off such astounding feats, Burch wakes up at 4 a.m., works out six-days a week, eats well, takes it slow, and is dedicated to good form. When asked how he keeps such a devoted schedule, Mike says:
“The key is I never stopped. That’s what the key is. I never stopped working out. I just kept going.”
As for what’s next, Burch plans to compete in the Nov. 12th American Powerlifting Association (APA) US Open Championships—and his goal is to pull 550 lbs., for which, “Everything’s on track. I just gotta stay healthy.”
Asked what motivates him to set these records, Mike answered: “I just have to do it.”