With One Working Arm, James Spurgin Crushes His First Weightlifting Meet

James Spurgin is a rare athlete in that he’s an active Olympic weightlifter, powerlifter, strongman, and CrossFit® athlete. That’s already pretty darn unusual, but when you add to that the fact that ten years ago, the former Marine lost the use of his right arm following a motorcycle accident, you really start to understand how remarkable a figure he is.

Today we want to highlight Spurgin’s first weightlifting meet, at which he completed a 64-kilogram (141lb) snatch and a 71-kilogram (156.5lb) clean & jerk. You can see all of his successful lifts in the clip below.

Columbus Weightlifting posted the clip with the following caption:

James crushed his first meet today @pittsburghbarbell. He also earned the most inspirational lifter award. Couldn’t be more proud of you James!

BarBend reached out to Spurgin to ask him a few questions about his training.

So at the meet on the weekend it looks like you made a 64kg snatch and 71kg clean and jerk, were those PRs?

Snatch was 64kg and clean & jerk 71kg, neither were PRs but as this was my first Olympic Weightlifting meet, I guess they could be considered PRs… my best gym lifts are snatch 71kg and celan & jerk 75kg.

How did you train for the meet — is your programming very different to the standard approach?

My training was only slightly modified from standard due to my snatch and clean pulls being the same thing. Other then that I do basically the same as everyone else.

What’s your secret to keeping a barbell in the front rack?

I don’t quite get it in the front rack position so I end up holding it in my hand resting the right side of the bar on my right shoulder and hold the middle of the bar with my chin.

You also won this year’s Strongest Disabled Man at the Arnold, right? What was the toughest event?

I didn’t win in 2017 but got a lot of attention from the stone loading event where I loaded a 150lb and 180lb stone then lapped the 200lb. But funny enough the 400lb loaded tire drag over concrete was more difficult.

How do you balance training between weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, and CrossFit? 

I do the majority of my time training weightlifting and then when a meet comes up for any of the rest I will train the events for the specific meet about 8 weeks out.

Are there any adaptive athletes who you look up to and get inspiration from? 

As a whole, most athletes in general inspire me but if I were to choose I would say that its more the specific event or accomplishment that inspires me… like Brian Shaw’s 555lb stone or the recent 560lb, or the struggle between Naim Süleymanoğlu and Valerios Leonidis in the ’96 Olympics, or watching Rich Froning win his 4th CrossFit title in a row.

Awesome. Thanks for your time, James!

Featured image via @columbus_weightlifting on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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