Upon meeting Max Higgins, one would assume that he could easily push around the likes of King Kong or Godzilla, and after lifting over 2,000 pounds at last week’s World Powerlifting Congress (WPC) Championships, chances are he wouldn’t break a sweat doing it.

Higgins, a senior law and society major at UCSB, won the world championships last Wednesday in the junior men’s (ages 20-23) 308-pound weight class. In the process, he set a world record in his division for the bench press, topping 633 pounds.

“It was my first and only world record so far. I’m very proud of it,” Higgins said. “It was a fight, but I got it. It’s really great for me to improve under pressure, considering it’s the biggest meet I’ve ever done.”

Consisting of three lifts (squat, bench and dead lift), the WPC Championships were decided by combining the overall best lifts from each category. Totaling more than one ton, Higgins’ lifts combined for 2,082 pounds, his personal best by 40 pounds.

By squatting 826 pounds, dead lifting 633 pounds and benching 623 pounds, Higgins captured his first world title.

The record bench press did not count toward his total weight because he was allowed an extra lift to go for the world record, after posting 623 pounds, Higgins said.

Higgins also garnered himself recognition in the American Powerlifting Federation (APF) elite by lifting a combination of over 2,040 pounds.

“Having an [APF] total is like having a Ph.D attached to your name. It’s understood universally and it’s another big landmark for me,” Higgins said.

Higgins qualified for the WPC Championships by placing in the top three at the national meet in Nebraska earlier in the year, he said, despite performing under par.

“I put in tons of effort and I didn’t get the numbers I wanted in the nationals, but I got redemption at worlds,” Higgins said.

The 21-year old also said that without his trainer Ryan Girard at the Santa Barbara Gym & Fitness Center, he would not be where he is today.

“[Girard] is the reason I’ve made all my gains. He keeps me focused and puts up with me,” Higgins said. “I was totaling 1,500 pounds when I met him four years ago and now look where I’m at.”

Weight lifting is more than a hobby for Higgins, who has to juggle a full load of classes at UCSB as well. He said it is very stressful trying to excel in school and weight lifting at the same time.

“My professors started handing out assignments a couple days before I left, so I spent the whole weekend in the library trying to get things done,” Higgins said. “I didn’t get back until 2 a.m. [Thursday morning] and I had to turn in a paper and write a case brief later that day.”