After placing a great deal of weight on his goal, a UCSB student literally lifted his burden by shattering the world record in a national powerlifting competition.

Max Higgins, a fourth-year law & society major, broke the world record in junior squat lifting by hoisting 909 lbs. at the American Powerlifting Federation’s (APF) Masters-Teenage-Junior Tournament in Round Rock, Texas, on May 14. The APF national tournament featured about 80 competitors ranging from age 15 to 23 with over 100 spectators in attendance, Higgins said. He also won two trophies for best lifter in his weight division and best lifter overall.

“I felt relieved,” Higgins said. “I was only given five minutes between my third and fourth attempt [at the squat lift]. It worked out to my benefit because I didn’t have any time to overthink it or overanalyze it.”

In squat lifting, athletes must lift large amounts of weights on a metal bar — behind their back – starting from a squat position. The lifter then hoists the weight using his or her arms and back for support.

Previously, the record for the men’s junior division was 903 lbs., Higgins said. He also said he added the six pounds instead of simply adding an extra half a pound weight because of the lack of equipment offered at the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter though, because once you have that much weight on there, it all feels like 900,” he said.

To get this far in the world of powerlifting, Higgins said he trained very carefully.

“The biggest thing you have to worry about is overtraining,” Higgins said. “You could do your best while training rather than peaking at the meet… I took a full seven days off before the tournament.”

Higgins said he followed world-renowned weight lift trainer Louie Simmons’ special “delayed transformation” techniques as part of his routine.

“It’s about making sure your central nervous system is ready to go,” he said. “And focusing on speed and technique.”

Ryan Girard, Higgins’ friend and trainer, said he has high hopes for his pupil. Girard holds the state title for bench-pressing 628 lbs. and will be graduating from the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine in August.

“He is really going to be one of the future greats in the sport,” Girard said. “He has a lot of potential and he’s willing to bust his ass to get there.”

Higgins said most of his thanks belongs to his father.

“I really owe a lot to my dad,” Higgins said. “He’s been very supportive and funded everything.”

Besides setting a new record, Higgins said he received the awards for best lifter overall and best lifter in his weight division. These awards come from finding the total weight of such events as the deadlift, the bench press and the squat lift. A deadlift is the similar to a squat lift except the athlete lifts from the front. Higgins’ total score of these events was 2014 lbs.

Higgins’ world record lift was not included as part of this total because it was done on his fourth attempt, he said. Competitors are only allowed three tries in an event, but are given a fourth if they are attempting to break a world record.

As for the future, Higgins said he hopes to eventually compete in the APF Senior Nationals tournament, which is for competitors aged 24 to 40 and is held every June. However, it is the WPC Worlds junior tournament this November in Helsinki, Finland, where Higgins’ record has the possibility of being broken. Although he is unsure of whether he will attend, he said he is in the sport for the long-run.

“I’m quite certain that [powerlifting] will be a part of my life for as long as I’m physically able,” Higgins said. “It’s very addictive. They call it being bitten by the iron bug… On the plane ride back, I was already thinking I’m just less than 100 lbs away from squatting 1000 lbs.”