Edgerton Powerlifter CJ Holiingshead in the GEHS weight room. Photo courtesy of Plank Photography.
At a powerlifting meet nearly eight months ago, Edgerton’s CJ Hollingshead was approached by a fellow power lifter, who told CJ that he planned to end Hollingshead’s dominance in the 181-pound class. At the time, Hollingshead owned the world bench press record in the 16/17 age division with his mark of 413 pounds.
“This kid came up to me and was talking to me, and as we were talking he said I am here to beat your record,” Hollingshead recalls.
Intimidated by nothing, Hollingshead welcomed the competition he had not yet seen. The challenger fell short in that meet, but came back to top Hollingshead’s 413 mark by one pound, ending the GEHS senior’s run as the top dog in the 181-pound weight class.
Five months later the two met again, but Hollingshead was unable to shed the weight and he missed the 181-pound class by three pounds. The match-up would have put the top two lifters in the 181-pound class up against each other for a world record battle.
Looking to prove a point, Hollingshead demolished his previous personal best, as well as the record in the 198-pound class, giving him yet another world record with a lift of 490.52 pounds.
CJ has records coming out of almost every state, national and world competition he has competed in. One of his most impressive was a 562-pound deadlift, which he accomplished in the 14/15 age division a few years ago.
Hearing the numbers as CJ tells about his records is astonishing. Four hundred here, five hundred there. A bad lift for Hollingshead would still triple the amount that most grown men strive for each day, but lifting is not something that has always been a part of Hollingshead’s life.
It all began his freshman year of high school when he was competing for a chance to get on the GEHS football field. In what most see as work, CJ found pleasure.
“My maxes started climbing really fast,” Hollingshead said. “At the state meet I realized the records were within reach of me, so I just started going for them.”
The process to become a world record power lifter is no easy task. Along with the grueling workouts with well known power lifting enthusiasts Charles Rutledge and Al Caslow, Hollingshead undergoes a strict diet a month before each competition.
First, it is an overload of water and protein, but be assured that junk food is no where within this 17 year old’s reach. Then, CJ begins to reduce amounts of water and food, and as competition nears within days, the intake is almost non-existent.
A former wrestler, Hollingshead is familiar with shedding weight, but in power lifting he finds the process to be much more difficult.
“In wrestling season you can cheat, and I cheated all the time. You can eat right before and just hurry up and run it off,” Hollingshead said. “With lifting you can’t do it as fast because you are trying to keep your strength up. But if you do it too slow you will obviously lose strength, too."
This entire lifestyle is one that CJ has learned well over the past four years. What began as a summer workout for football has transitioned into a business. CJ is sponsored by many companies and organizations in the Johnson County area and knows that none of it is possible without them.
"They buy lifting equipment for me throughout the meets and they show huge support," Hollingshead said. "It lets me know that I have support from other people and shows that people believe in me."
Hollingshead is even sponsored by his hometown of Edgerton, KS. Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts is very impressed with one of his town’s most notable talents, and is even more impressed with the character behind the muscles.
“After watching CJ lift in Reno, NV in 2011, I knew he was able to lift staggering amounts of weight. His dedication to his sport is very impressive and his commitment to himself is what allows him to do such great things at a young age,” Roberts said. “Not only has CJ been a world class weight lifter, but he is also a world class young man with a sincere appreciation for his family and friends.”
CJ will begin his strict diet and training regimen in the next few months as he prepares for an upcoming world qualifier in April.
CJ would like to thank his sponsors for all of the support. They include: