Considering he’s actually bench-pressed 600 pounds in the gym, the prospect of pushing up 500 pounds in powerlifting competitions seemingly wouldn’t seem like much to Dave Marba.
And Marba knows he’s physically strong enough to meet his goal, it’s just he has trouble keeping focused in front of a three-judge panel ordering him into action.
“I have to lift when they say. The head judge tells me when to press, when to rack,” Marba said. “What happens to me is that I end up listening to them, instead of staying focused on what I’m doing.”
Though he hasn’t yet hit 500 pounds in competition – with emphasis on the word “yet” – the pressure of performing in such a setting hasn’t stopped Marba from making his mark in the powerlifting world.
Two weeks ago in Chico, the 61-year-old Grass Valley architect and contractor broke a World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters record on the bench in the 61-67 age group and 220-pound weight class by pressing 469.2 pounds at the California State Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships in Chico.
On his first lift, he shattered the old state record for his division, 362 pounds, by putting up an opening 413 pounds. His second lift, the world record-setting push, surpassed the world record and set him up for his goal of 500.
“I didn’t get it – yet,” Marba said. “I just fell out of my groove, but I absolutely will (press 500 pounds) come July.”
After beginning his weightlifting career nearly 35 years ago, Marba returned to his workout regimen about four years ago, as a way to return to form after a slew of injuries and setbacks.
He used to struggle with arthritis and diabetes – and has had four back surgeries, including a fused lower spine – but most of his ailments were left behind after returning to the gym.
“The gym is a fountain of youth,” Marba told The Union in a Jan. 9, 2007 story reporting on his “unofficial” 600-pound press on his 60th birthday. “If I don’t go to the gym in the morning, I can’t make it during the day … I don’t deadlift. I don’t squat. I lay on the bench, so it’s all upper body.”
Marba’s powerlifting prowess makes him somewhat of a marvel, as he continues to press more weight with each year. He said folks who might wonder whether he has used steroids or other performance-enchancing drugs, might like to know he’s been tested twice and was clean on both counts.
He said the only technological advantage he’s accepted is wearing a “lifting shirt” that is designed to keep his shoulders and torso in place for proper form during the lift.
“I have been competing for three years and the only coaching I get is at other meets,” Marba said. “I’ve picked up technique through the shirt and others at the meets. Like with other sports, there is a sweet spot in bench press.”
Before moving up to the 61-67 age group, Marba left his mark on the 54-60 division, where he bench-pressed a California record 457.2 pounds.
“I compete about every three months,” Marba said. “I was back in the gym on Monday morning (after his March 1 record-setting performance) and focused on July.”
He’s pointing to a competition at Rancho Cordova as his next opportunity to surpass the 500-pound mark in competition.
“Only one guy has bench-pressed 501 pounds who was over 61,” he said. “And he weighed 275 pounds.”
“I want to be the next guy.”
To view Dave Marba lifting the record weight, go to https://www.theunion.com/mediacenter.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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