Lifting weight off his shoulders

‘Berg offices sponsor Vanden Grube’s unique athletic trip to Ohio

Let’s think of things that are over 1,500 lbs. A bunch of animals weigh in at about 1,500 lbs, like your average cow. An average grizzly or polar bear is only about 1,300 lbs. Now onto objects. One and a half grand pianos are typically 1,500 lbs. The last random object or organism I will list weighing in at 1,500 lbs is the sum of about eight refrigerators.

Oh, one more thing is about 1,500 lbs. Vanden Grube’s ‘20 pound total – the amount of weight one can lift between squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting – is actually 225 lbs more than all of the previously mentioned benchmarks. That is correct, Grube can lift a total of 1,725 lbs within not only a single day, but a few hours of competition, which has earned him the right to compete at the United States Powerlifting Association Drug Tested Collegiate Nationals on Feb. 23 at Ohio University. Grube will be lifting in the 220 lb weight class during the national championship event.


I am very fortunate to have received sponsorship from many departments on campus.

Grube was not always as strong as he is now, though. After his first competition he lifted a modest 1330 lbs in the three events. You know, probably the amount a casual lifter would achieve after hitting the weights every day for the next two weeks. That first competition was in February of 2016 – about three years after he begun training.

“In high school I began weight training in the winter of freshman year to prepare for football,” said Grube. “At the conclusion of my senior football season I realized how I enjoyed weight training more than football. I began to seek out competitions and started training specifically to excel in the squat, bench and deadlift.”

The nearly 400 lb increase from his start to his last competition is what Grube described as his greatest accomplishment as a competitive powerlifter. Specifically, Grube squatted 628 lbs, bench pressed 385 lbs and deadlifted 711 lbs during his record competition in October of 2018. Grube’s impressive results earned him a junior national record (classified between the ages of 20-23) for the squat, deadlift, and total pounds.

“Stepping back after a training cycle and evaluating personal progression from one competition to the next is very rewarding,” Grube said. “It is a direct reflection of the work that was put in.”

“Seeing fellow athletes progress that have similar goals often drives me to become better and is very rewarding to see them succeed,” he added.

While powerlifting may seem like a simple concept – lift as much weight as you can in different positions – Grube appreciates the strategy and proper form needed to keep competitive powerlifters healthy and successful.

“I have failed lifts occasionally in competition, but with three attempts for each lift per competition there is some room to take risks with attempting heavier weight when there is a possibility for failure,” Grube started. “The key is not to choose a weight that greatly exceeds your estimated potential, as that often results in injury from the breakdown of proper form.”

What puts a blip in Grube’s powerlifting plans is the fact that there is no affiliation between the school and powerlifting. There is no team. There is no coach. There is just Grube.

The junior has not let the circumstances derail his plans. “I do not share the same experience with that of NCAA athletes. I train at Competitive Edge Power and Fitness,” he explained. Grube also explained that over 50 other competitive powerlifters use the Allentown, Pa. facility to prepare for competitions. Aside from training off campus, Grube mentioned gym fees, competition fees and any travel fees as hurdles he must overcome every time he competed.

After reaching out to multiple college offices for financial support, Grube will be able to compete in the late February event.

“My upcoming appearance at collegiate nationals is the first competition where I am receiving financial support,” Grube said. “My travel and registration expenses have been covered which allows me to focus on my performance on the platform.” Specifically, the athletic department, student government and Dean Gulati’s office have helped Grube make competing nationally in 2019 a reality.

With Muhlenberg’s support, Grube will be headed to Ohio University to lift amounts heavier than adult bears, cows, horses, a grand piano and a half, and eight refrigerators. Feats he would not be able to accomplish without a new support system spanning across Muhlenberg’s campus.

“I am very fortunate to have received sponsorship from many departments on campus. Without their support I would not be able to attend collegiate nationals.”

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