Powerlifting and the Mental Game

Powerlifting and the Mental Game

“It’s all about the mental game,” Dr. Jerry Moylan said. “The body doesn’t want to stay in the same place. Mind-wise, physical-wise, nutrition-wise, I constantly keep pushing myself to keep my brain functioning at higher levels.”

And push himself he does. At 56, Moylan holds two world powerlifting records and is the 2008 Masters 100% Powerlifting World Champion and 2009 California State Masters Powerlifting Champion. But that’s just scratching the surface of what this versatile super-athlete has accomplished.

Moylan competes on a world-class level in a broad array of both aerobic and anaerobic sports including powerlifting, paddleboarding, triathlons, decathlons, weightlifting, bodybuilding and endurance mountain biking. He is living proof that age is no excuse for not aiming high and realizing your dreams. In a society that fears growing old, Moylan raises the bar by example. He proves that with age comes wisdom and no loss of the drive to be the best that one can be.

Raised in Chicago and one of 13 children (10 boys and three girls), Moylan grew up in a competitive atmosphere. With a playground right across the street from where his family lived, he played football and baseball daily and extended that activity into boxing, weightlifting, wrestling and martial arts.

Marrying at 20, Moylan followed his father’s trade and worked as an electrician for 10 years and began competing in weightlifting competitions.

His interest in how the body functions grew when he began working with a former Mr. Universe who did deep tissue work on Chicago pro athletes.

Moylan began doing massage, working with celebrity athletes like Walter Payton, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. One year while on vacation in San Diego, he realized “this was heaven” and made it his home.

Pursuing his interest in both mental and physical growth, he became a doctor of chiropractic medicine. Today, Moylan runs a successful San Diego chiropractic practice that serves professional, amateur and weekend-warrior athletes alike.

To help athletes, you don’t necessarily have to be an athlete, but it doesn’t hurt. The plethora of athletic experience that Moylan brings to the table is extreme, and the odds of Moylan actually having experienced your injury firsthand are great.

Moylan has been competing in an astoundingly wide variety of sports over the past 40 years. A sampling of his accomplishments reads like an athlete’s fantasy Christmas wish list: Junior State Champion and record holder in powerlifting with a personal-best 700-pound squat, 400-pound bench press and 635-pound dead lift; three-time Ironman triathlon finisher; completed the Catalina Classic – a 32-mile paddleboard race; Vail Lake mountain bike series champion; and 2005 San Diego Senior Games Male Athlete of the Year. He also finished his first decathlon at the 2006 National Masters Championship and became the 2007 Masters Kettlebell World Champion, lifting overhead 106 pounds, 59 times.

In 2008, Moylan finished his second decathlon and qualified for the Masters Pan-Am Games in Olympic lifting. He was the fourth-place finisher at the California Track Bike Championships 500 meter race, and in November 2008, he won the Masters World 100% Powerlifting Championships in Maryland, setting two world records.

In 2009, Moylan won the California State Masters Powerlifting Championship and, at the Arnold Schwarzenegger meet in Ohio, he won the amateur division in Kettlebells. In May 2009, Jerry won first place in the master’s division at the Southern California Bodybuilding Championships. And just to round out a busy week, Moylan just returned from Australia, where he placed eighth in the World Games Track and Field Pentathlon, fifth in the World Championships for Weightlifting and fourth in the Natural Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding Competition. All were world-class master’s-level events.

Moylan’s finely tuned 5-foot-7-inch, 152-pound physique factors into the athletic equation with his extremely high power-to-weight ratio. But he’ll tell you his mind plays a bigger role. He strives to step outside his comfort zone, searching for ways to challenge himself and create both physical and mental growth.

Asked why he participates in so many sports, he answered, “The process of learning a new sport and understanding one’s body and how to optimize its function in a new and different competitive environment keeps me mentally sharp.”

Moylan’s mental game extends beyond keeping his athletic regimen varied.

Besides competing as a powerlifter, Ironman triathlete, paddleboarder, pole vaulter, decathlete, weightlifter, bodybuilder and endurance mountain biker, Moylan is learning advanced computer program applications and studying guitar.

Moylan keeps a cheat sheet of phrases from 10 languages stuffed in his wallet, ready to practice every chance he gets.

One patient remembers spotting Moylan cycling home, with a harmonica connected to his helmet, apparently listening to a Spanish language lesson on an iPod.

Click on any image above to see a larger version.

He trains four days a week with his workouts often broken up into multiple sessions and has this to say about nutrition:

“One of Natural Vitality’s sports products I use is Natural Calm Bath to help me recover faster and reduce my downtime. The nutritional magnesium relaxes my muscles and helps handle inflammation from lactic acid buildup by detoxifying my body of waste products in muscle tissue created from oxidation.

“I also use Calm Plus Calcium for my muscles and bones, and this product also helps my mind to relax, which is crucial in all sports, but especially in powerlifting, where focus and concentration before a lift – which only takes seconds – are vital.

“I use the liquid NutraRev product for energy and as a super antioxidant to further counteract inflammation and free radical damage (oxidation of cell and muscle tissue), which is extreme with my level of training and competition.

“The liquid Organic Life Vitamins are perfect for daily support and when I compete, because you have to understand how stressed the digestive tract gets under training and competition. The GI tract can actually shut down due to stress and anxiety, both physical and mental. These liquid supplements are a real godsend, as their rate of absorption is much faster than that of pills and capsules. Their formulation does not upset an already stressed GI tract, making their vital nutrients, minerals and antioxidants available to the body to work their magic and replenish what is being constantly depleted.

“When I compete, I use Calm Plus Calcium and Organic Life Vitamins and attribute this protocol as one that has helped me perform at a very high level.”

Moylan’s athlete patients are thrilled to have such a knowledgeable and experienced sports medicine practitioner in their corner.

One of Moylan’s workout partners is 23-year-old Torrey Trust, a former University of California, San Diego, track and field athlete. Last summer in Santa Barbara, Trust jammed her wrist during pole vault warm-ups. To continue to compete  would have been painful if not impossible.

Moylan did some deep tissue work on Trust’s forearm.

“And that pretty much took care of that,” she said.

Moylan’s a big fan of analyzing blood work and hormone testing for dietary analysis. Of Moylan’s healing abilities, cyclist Paul Thomas said, “He doesn’t walk on water. But he’s about ankle deep.”

Moylan’s philosophy is simple. Get off your butt, and use your body and mind to their fullest. Be active, expand your horizons by reading, studying a language, learning a musical instrument. And push your body, gradually stretching your physical limits.

In closing he had these seven tips to offer any athlete:

  1. Know yourself – and your current physical capabilities.
  2. Keep working your mind and brain to stay mentally alert.
  3. Know the environment you are training and competing in – will it be hot, cold, wet, dry, long or short? – and be prepared to sustain yourself for each environment you find yourself in.
  4. Know your weaknesses so you can overcome them.
  5. Don’t over-train and get hurt.
  6. Eat good organic food; stay away from junk food.
  7. Set your goals and aim high.

As Bob Dylan said, “he not busy being born is busy dying,” and Dr. Jerry Moylan is the epitome of living.