Tapping into the power(lifting)

By Dan Johnson
Posted 2/2/09

A policeman, a firefighter and an EMS shift supervisor. Not only do all three jobs deal with public service, they also carry with them high levels of stress. For Brian Radulovich, Mark Cucinella and …

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Tapping into the power(lifting)


A policeman, a firefighter and an EMS shift supervisor.

Not only do all three jobs deal with public service, they also carry with them high levels of stress.

For Brian Radulovich, Mark Cucinella and Brooke Anderson, there’s only one way to relieve that stress: load up a barbell with (literally) a ton of weight and see if you can squat, bench press and deadlift with it.

The trio, which work out together regularly at the EMS station in Dumont, all are involved in competitive powerlifting. Radulovich and Cucinella recently set new Colorado state records at last December’s USAPL state meet. Radulovich’s three-lift total of 1,852 pounds set a new mark, while Cucinella’s 452-pound squat in the master’s division also was a record-breaker.

“I had put together a good meet, I ended up having good lifts in all three events. I bested my all-time total by 25 pounds,” said Radulovich, who’s spent the past seven years on the Idaho Springs Police force.

At the state meet, Radulovich, who competes in the 220-pound division, squatted 722 pounds, benched 468 pounds and deadlifted 661 pounds.

“My best squat in previous meet was 728. My bench, I’ve gotten that before but that’s about a 22-pound personal best in a three-lift meet,” Radulovich said. “For the deadlift, I’ve done that weight too, but I put together a good meet. Some days you struggle in one lift and don’t get that total.”

The record-breaking performance easily qualified Radulovich, 35, for the USAPL Nationals, which conveniently enough, will be held in Denver in June. A month prior, Cucinella will take part in the Master’s Nationals. Unlike Radulovich, who’s been around the iron since he was 12, Cucinella went through a period of non-weight training.

“I lifted in high school when I was doing sports,” Cucinella, 58, said. “But, after my playing days ended, I kind of put the weights aside until 1998, when, shortly after I began working for the Clear Creek recreation district, I saw some guys there that were into powerlifting and I kind of took it up from there.”

Shortly after transitioning to the working for Clear Creek County EMS, where he serves as a B-shift supervisor, Cucinella began to transform the EMS station’s weight room. Working at the recreation center prior to EMS certainly benefitted Cucinella, who said the recreation center was kind enough to donate old equipment to the cause. He also had a budget from EMS to work with, and, recently, said that guys that workout at the gym (not all are powerlifters) have purchased equipment as well.

Cucinella said that he and Radulovich began working out together shortly after meeting nine years ago and discovering they had a mutual admiration for the iron game. Until recently, it had just been the two of them throwing around really heavy weights. Now, with Anderson in the fold, the group is more motivated than ever to achieve new heights.

“Brooke is going to be the best one out of the group,” Cucinella said of Anderson, who works as a firefighter in Westminster and also volunteers along with Cucinella for the Clear Creek Fire Department. “She hasn’t been doing it as long as Brian and I have, but she’s already accomplished amazing things.”

While Radulovich does most of his workouts at the EMS station, he also squeezes in a few workouts at his home in Denver as well.

“I always lift four days-a-week,” Radulovich said. “The way I set my training up is I do a heavy bench day and then a lighter bench day. A heavy squat and deadlift day and then a lighter squat day. I do upper back, abs and assistance work every day.”

About a week prior to meets, Radulovich, who has to cut a small amount of weight to get under the 220-pound limit, tweaks his diet. He’ll eliminating things such as sodium and drinks plenty of water to flush his system out.

“Cutting the weight does affect me a little bit going into the meets,” Radulovich said. “A lot of that is just improving my lift-day nutrition; eating more complex carbs and staying away from sugars, things like that.”

Neither Radulovich nor Cucinella see themselves walking away from the loaded barbells anytime soon.

“Really, for a guy my age, it’s something that’s a lot of fun and something I look forward to,” Cucinella said.


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