As a pharmacy technician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, Luke Hanifen is used to doing the heavy lifting involved in making sure patients receive their medications in an accurate and timely manner. But away from the central pharmacy at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, where he's worked for the past two years, Luke does heavy lifting of a different kind: powerlifting, to be exact. And he's gotten pretty darn good at it. "He's competed in world competitions in Hungary, Denmark, Lithuania (twice), Sweden and Texas," Peggy Hanifen, Luke's mom and fellow Mayo employee, tells us. "Most people, including his co-workers, don't know he lifts — let alone at the world level — but I'm his mom so I decided to 'rat him out' on his latest accomplishment in Pennsylvania."
That latest accomplishment was taking first place at a recent USA Powerlifting Bench Press Nationals competition, with a successful lift of 540.1 pounds.
For Luke, it was the latest in a long list of powerlifting successes that began shortly after he did his first set of bench presses, squats and deadlifts in high school. "I've always been naturally strong so I found a coach during high school to help show me the ropes and techniques of powerlifting, and things have just gone from there," Luke tells us.
That's one way to put it. But what Luke's inherent modesty won't allow him to tell you (unless you pry, which we did) is that since then, he's worked his way up to achieving the kind of national and international success that, to-date, has made him a seven-time member of the USA World Powerlifting Team. "Over the years I've just gotten hooked," Luke tells us of his continued progression in the sport. "I really enjoy the sport, the people, and the competition."
Luke is careful to enjoy it, however, in moderation. "I only do two, maybe three, competitions a year because I want my body to last. I don't want to get burned out," he tells us. "I see some lifters who do six, sometimes seven competitions every year and over time their bodies — specifically their joints — just start to give out and can't handle the lifting anymore. I don't want that to be me."
We have no reason to believe it will, provided Luke continues to approach his lifting with the same kind of dedication he brings with him to work every day. "There are definite parallels between powerlifting and the pharmacy work I do for Mayo Clinic," he says. "You have to be really disciplined, focused, reliable, consistent, and detail-oriented day in and day out. There's no room for error in either."
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