Weightlifting World Record Event

Hanover powerlifter, Brian “House” Riley, breaks world record at Winebrenner’s American Motorcycle – December 20, 2003.

December 21, 2003 – The Strength to do more.
Hanover powerlifter breaks world record by 75 pounds.

By Christina Kauffman Dispatch/Sunday News

Cartoon strongman “Popeye the sailor man” had spinach.

But give Hanover native Brian “House” Riley two blueberry yogurts and an hour later, he can bench press about 800 pounds.

The powerlifter broke the world’s record for drug-free bench pressing yesterday at Winebrenner’s American Motorcycle Sales and Service in Hanover, one of his sponsors.

Riley bench pressed 825 pounds — beating the former record by 75 pounds — in front of a crowd of about 150 who came to see the feat.

The 825 went up really well,” said Kraig Decker, Riley’s business partner. “He was contemplating 840 but he decided to hold off, even though he was really in the zone.”

The 37-year-old holds several world records and honors — including the title of World’s Strongest Natural Athlete — and was one of seven men to be named an Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Competitor, according to the International Powerlifting Association. In March, he will compete in the Classic, one of the world’s most prestigious competitions.

All Natural: And while he credits the yogurt with a boost of “good sugar” before a lift, Riley said his strength is a mix of heredity and hard work.

“Drugs have their place,” he said. “But I feel like I should try to do it the natural way. It’s a lot harder, and it takes time.”

But if his strength continues to increase at its current rate, Riley — who works out 8 to 10 hours a week — will make his goal of bench pressing 1,000 pounds within the next 18 months without the aid of strength-enhancing drugs, he said.

At 6-foot-1, weighing 315 pounds, Riley’s arms are 23 inches around. His chest is 60 inches around, his shoulders, 75 inches.

Back when he was lifting 500 or 600 pounds, the weight “wasn’t heavy” enough to warrant getting “psyched up” beforehand, he said.

“But now, it’s a must,” Riley said. “I think really nasty thoughts when I’m getting ready to bench, kind of like going into my own little spot in my brain.

“I don’t hear anything. All I can see is the bar. It’s like I have a job to do. I do the job. Then, I go home.”

Saves the strength for the gym: Sometimes, people are intimidated by him. Sometimes, it “feels a little weird” to be so strong, Riley said. “I take different tasks for granted,” he said. “And if I ever got in a fight, I would go to jail. They would use my size against me.”

Riley can throw a full keg of beer over his shoulder with one arm. But he said he saves his strength for the gym. At home, he’s a family man.

His wife, Valerie, who works as a bookkeeper at a local insurance company, said her husband is as devoted to her and the couple’s young children as he is to the sport.

Riley works a day job in the tank and fender department at Harley-Davidson in York and balances his spare time between training and spending time with his family, he said.

But he has to give the sport the proper amount of respect, he said, because the sport saved him.

“I don’t know where I would be without it,” he said.

Outlet: Riley first started strength training when he was 14, after his father died of a heart attack.

“It gave me an outlet for a lot of the stress I was going through,” he said.

A football player at Littlestown High School at the time, he started visiting the Hanover YMCA to work out. He weighed about 180 pounds and benched 225 pounds.

Riley said he has already surpassed his expectations, but he will continue to train.

“Of course, my body will start talking back to me. But right now, I don’t even feel like I’ve reached my peak yet.”