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Surgeon breaks 1996 weight lifting record

Maj. (Dr.) Shawn Baker, 6-feet 5-inchs, 260-pounds, lifts and does ?shrugs? with free weights totalling 765 pounds. He could have lifted more, and has, but, ?I don?t think the bar would take any more weight, and I?d need 100-pound plates, because I would run out of room on the bar using these (45-pound) plates,? he said. He said that in competition, he isn?t allowed to use the straps to help him grip the bar. U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Berenger

Maj. (Dr.) Shawn Baker, 6-feet 5-inchs, 260-pounds, lifts and does 'shrugs' with free weights totalling 765 pounds. He could have lifted more, and has, but, "I don't think the bar would take any more weight, and I'd need 100-pound plates, because I would run out of room on the bar using these (45-pound) plates," he said. He said that in competition, he isn't allowed to use the straps to help him grip the bar. U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Berenger

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- He can lift more than three times his weight. Big deal, right? Yes, a very, very big deal. We're not talking about some 90-pound weakling here. We're watching as 6-foot-5-inch, 260-pound Maj. (Dr.) Shawn Baker lifts and does "shrugs" with free weights totaling 765 pounds.

He could have lifted more, and has, but, "I don't think the bar would take any more weight, and I'd need 100-pound plates, because I would run out of room on the bar using these (45-pound) plates," he said.

Major Baker has been assigned to orthopedics in the 377th Medical Group since he arrived at Kirtland AFB in 2006. He served in Afghanistan from January to May 2007.

With a varied career including playing rugby for a number of years in New Zealand, Major Baker said he has been lifting weights for most of his life. "I've been lifting for 27 years. I started when I was 14 and have been powerlifting since 1988."

He has been competing in the Longhorn Open in Austin, Texas, about every three years. At the last competition in November, he beat the 1996 deadlift record of 705 pounds by lifting 711 pounds. As in boxing and wrestling, the lifters compete in categories according to their own weight, but an added element of age is also considered.

Major Baker competed in the over 40 age group and the 242-275 pound weight category. The competition was held through USA Power Lifting.

He said he only competes in organizations which test the competitors for drugs, because drugs can make a difference. "There is about a 10 percent difference in the organizations that don't test the competitors for drugs," he said.

Major Baker said anyone of any age can begin lifting just by using common sense, and asking for help either from a personal trainer or a fellow weight lifter. He said the benefits for overall health are great.

His advice is, "Don't resort to drugs. It takes time to build up your ability, so be consistent and be patient."

For the prepubescent lifter and the 80-year-old grandmother, he says, "Trying for the one repetition maximum weight lift could be dangerous. Start with repetition-type things. If you are older, you might start with two-pound weights and then move up."