Brad Bouthot rises up national lifting charts
By Kyle LoJacono
Some people are addicted to computers, video games and other technology, but Zephyrhills resident Brad Bouthot craves the dark and dusty garage behind his house.
It is there in a small corner where Bouthot, 21, pursues his passion for Olympic weightlifting.
“I can’t really put my finger on exactly what keeps me working,” Bouthot said. “Just wanting more than the average person. Doing something that other people can’t do.”
Bouthot, a 2007 graduate of Zephyrhills High, has risen to the 25th spot nationally in the 94 kilogram, 207 pound, weight class for USA Weightlifting.
“I’ve always been very self-motivated,” Bouthot said. “Plus I was raised on ‘80s action films like the Rocky movies.”
Bouthot’s training facility is much like what Rocky Balboa used in Rocky IV, when the fictitious fighter used basic methods like chopping down trees and throwing logs. Bouthot has only a few feet of hard rubber mat to practice.
“I enjoy working out like this,” Bouthot said. “I’m not the kind of person to go to the gym and try to draw attention. I’d rather go out in the 100 degree barn and workout.”
Bouthot also sprints to increase leg strength.
“That explosive fast-twitch muscle is what I’m looking for,” Bouthot said. “It’s more than just the pure strength. You need a lot of athleticism. I mean, I can dunk a basketball even though I’m only 5-10.”
He trains twice a day, one hour per session, seven days a week. He said he is always lifting close to his maximum, so he is rarely sore.
“It’s just as normal as walking to me,” Bouthot said. “To me, lifting 350 pounds is as normal as walking to the refrigerator. It’s nothing new.”
He said stretching is almost as important as the lifts.
“When we do the lifts, when you get down, you’re only a couple inches off the ground and that takes a lot of flexibility in the hips and legs,” Bouthot said. “The lower you get, the less you have to pull the weights up.”
Bouthot is very strict about getting in both sessions daily. There are times he lifts at midnight because that was the only time he could get his second workout in around school and work.
Bouthot started Olympic weightlifting in 2010, but was on the Bulldogs team his sophomore, junior and senior years. He made the All-Sunshine Athletic Conference team as a junior and senior and qualified for the Class 1A state meet his final season. He still has the Zephyrhills record of 275 pounds for a 169-pound lifter in the clean and jerk.
Bouthot first began lifting as a freshman at Zephyrhills. He would walk from school to the East Pasco YMCA on Eiland Boulevard every day. Bouthot was also a tight end on the Bulldogs football team that won the program’s last district championship in 2006.
“I was doing it for football, but I eventually started liking it more than football,” Bouthot said. He then added, “It’s an individual sport, and I like that. If you do the work you get all the glory, but if you fail it’s only because of yourself.”
One of the biggest challenges was learning how to do the power snatch lift, which is similar to a clean. Lifters take a wide grip on the barbell and put it over their head in one motion.
“It was completely foreign to me,” Bouthot said. “I actually like this kind of lifting better. It’s more challenging. Any meathead can lie on their back and do a bench press. This takes more skill to balance 300 pounds over your head.”
Bouthot mainly does three lifts while training — the clean, snatch and back squats.
“I only bench press maybe once a month,” Bouthot said. “I can still bench 350 pounds. When you do the clean and snatch, it’s a complete body workout.”
Bouthot has lifted at the last two Sunshine State Games, placing second in the event this year. That was June 18, where he put up 605 total pounds, a 330 clean and 275 snatch. Those are both personal bests. Bouthot was only 1 kilogram, 2.2 pounds, behind the eventual champion.
Bouthot also won the Miami Classic event, his first career title, within the last year. He plans to compete in the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships next spring with the goal of being in the top three. After that, Bouthot may take a run at the Olympics.
“That could be in the future, but that’s a long way off if it happens,” Bouthot said. “It’s too late for 2012, but 2016 or even 2020 might happen.”
His other goal now is getting his degree in exercise science from Florida Southern College, where he just enrolled after spending two years at Pasco-Hernando Community College.
Bouthot also works with some Pasco High football players to help them get stronger. He has been training since May with Devin Wilson, who graduated from Pasco this year and was a linebacker on the Pirates football team.
Wilson, who competes at 187 pounds/85 kilograms, also lifted in high school and was a little shocked the first time he performed a snatch and put up just 135 pounds. He now can snatch 200 and clean 300.
“He tells me to stay motivated because there isn’t anyone else to do that for you,” Wilson said. “From the first day I saw an Olympic lifter I’ve wanted to do it, and Brad is helping me.”
The two will likely compete at an August event in Venice, which will be Wilson’s first meet.
Bouthot only sees his own coach, Eric Auciello, about once a week to make sure his technique is sound. Auciello said Bouthot has the ability and drive to go as far as he wants with his skills.
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