locker room

Maxing out


The key to weight lifting success is all in the mind


When Ron Sampson sets foot inside the weight room, one thing runs through his mind — “control the weight.” It’s a phrase that seems to come naturally to the 51-year-old North Dakota native who now resides in Runnells. Since ending his youthful days of cross-country and football, Sampson, 51, has been on the fast track to weight lifting success. Spend a few minutes with him, and you will see that he doesn’t think his age gets in the way. In fact, he’s used it to his advantage. Just recently, Sampson placed first and set the Iowa weight bench record at 386 lbs. during the Natural Strength State Meet in the 50 to 59 age group held at the Des Moines Strength Institute.

“I had set a goal in mind and accomplished it,” said Sampson, who weighs 250 lbs. “I’m pleased that I reached my goal, but now it’s time to take it to the next level. The lifts I thought were relatively easy.”

Although setting the Iowa record in May came easy for Sampson, the preparation and road to where he is now haven’t been. A weightlifter since ninth grade, Sampson overcame a 2002 injury that could have prevented from ever lifting again. While bench pressing reps of 365 lbs. during a routine workout, children in the weight lifting area bumped the bar, sending all of the weight crashing down on one shoulder and injuring it severely.

“For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t get rid of the pain,” Sampson said. “I tried everything. I knew I didn’t want the shoulder cut on because it would never be the same. Then I went to the chiropractor in Knoxville, and he said he could fix it. Since then, I’ve gaining more confidence and adding on the weight.”

Finally feeling back to his normal self, Sampson began working out and joined the Orange Planet in Pleasant Hill. The facility is primarily used as an athletic club that is focused on hoops and health. The facility serves approximately 500 people from across the metro. David Charleston is the co-founder/director.

“This is more than just another place to work out,” Charleston said. “We’ve created an environment that people like being here. That’s what makes it different than just pushing weights in the basement. Guys like Ron make it worth having a gym.”

Sampson says the Orange Planet has everything he’s looking for in a gym.

“This is a beautiful facility, and common denominator here is that we all want to be healthy,” said Sampson, who works out three times a week. “We’re all trying to improve ourselves.”

Sampson is also a member of the “Master’s Group” of the Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA). Members of the organization pride themselves on being drug-free — something that Sampson feels in very important.

“I’ve competed against people who do drugs, and it’s just not as much fun when you’re going against someone who isn’t naturally strong,” said Sampson, who has participated in approximately 40 NASA competitions in at least six states across the country. “If you want a trophy, go out and buy one. I’ve never done drugs. Doing drugs is unnatural, and it all comes back to living healthy.”

Having previously won Nationals in 1993 and 1995 (benched 485 lbs. in 1995), Sampson hopes to continue his winning ways. He plans on competing in the regional meet this fall in Des Moines and would like to set the American record in the near future.

“Competitors usually need about three to four months to train for regionals, and then we’ll go from there,” Sampson said. “The key to success is lifting smarter, not harder. Everything is controlled by the mind.” CV


Caption: Ron Sampson set the Iowa weight bench record at 386lbs. He works out at the Orange Planet in Pleasant Hill. Photo by Matt Miller


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