Travis Foreman had his back on the bench and his feet pressed firmly into the ground.
Foreman, a five-year veteran of the Maumelle Fire Department, was waiting for a signal and on his chest was 364 pounds of metal plates balanced on the end of an iron bar.
On the signal, Foreman would push with all his strength.
“I was raised in an athletic household,” Foreman said. “And I was always around some kind of sports or exercise. I guess I’ve been lifting weights for the last 18 years. Geez, has it really been that long?”
Foreman is 34, which would have put him the weight room as a teenager.
At 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, Foreman is mostly muscle. Before going to work for the fire department, he worked as a personal trainer in gyms across central Arkansas.
But working as a firefighter ran in the family as his twin brother is a fireman in Benton.
With the combination of regular weight training and a firefighting career, competing in the Police and Fire Games was a natural fit for Foreman.
Two years ago, Foreman traveled to New York City and took home the gold medal in his weight class in the bench press. That success propelled him to Belfast, Ireland for another round of Games.
“I was hooked,” Foreman said of competing.
“Every day I work out,” Foreman said. “It is weight training, more based on stamina but not like CrossFit.”
CrossFit being the hugely popular form of circuit training that emphasizes fast movements of basic weightlifting movements and gymnastic movements.
“For me, speed work is really huge,” Foreman said. “When I’m training for an event, I’ll pyramid up to a weight and see what I can do. It might be something like a 5-3-1.”
In weightlifting, pyramiding is where you do a certain amount of weight for a certain amount of repetitions, then increase the weight but decrease the reps, working towards a one-rep maximum, the goal, always the goal, being to increase the one-rep maximum at competition.
In Belfast, Foreman started with a relatively light weight — for him — of 330 pounds in the bench press competition.
“When you’re competing in a meet, you want to get your first attempt in at something you know you can do.”
Like other meets, weightlifting allows for three attempts, fail at the first attempt and that can set the tone for the rest of the day.
The other thing Foreman noted that the Police and Fire Games doesn’t allow for supportive equipment.
“Not even an UnderArmour shirt,” Foreman said. “Nothing that compresses.”
Experienced weightlifters will tell you that elastic bands wrapped tightly around the wrists, along with heavy-duty spandex shirts, can add up to a hundred pounds to a person’s bench press.
“It is completely raw,” Foreman said. “You don’t get to wear anything.”
With the first lift, Foreman moved on to his second attempt and upped the ante to 358 pounds.
“I won the Gold with 358 pounds in New York City,” Foreman said. “I knew that if got that, I would have a pretty good chance of winning the Gold Medal again.”
Foreman was successful.
Then it was off to 364 pounds, and what be a personal best, meaning the most Foreman had bench pressed in competition.
In weightlifting meets, you lower the bar down to your chest and wait. It isn’t touch and go. It isn’t letting momentum push the bar back up.
Just your muscles fighting against gravity, so Foreman waited for the signal.
Then he pushed.
The result was another Gold Medal and a personal record. It also left Foreman wanting more.
“In two years, they’ll be in [Washington] D.C.,” he said. “I can’t wait.”