Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Lifting

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Lifting

Aug 1, 2012

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Lifting


Howard W Penrose, PhD, CMRP


As I write this article I am recovering from back-to-back meets in Romulus, Michigan, and the Chicago Suburbs on July 21 and July 28, 2012, respectively.  The Michigan competition was the WPC/AWPC CanAm Bench Press Championships and this past weekend was the 9th Annual APF/AAPF Chicago Summer Bash powerlifting and bench press competition.









July 28 – 9th Annual Chicago Summer Bash


Why on Earth would anyone want to do back-to-back meets?  I was already committed to the Bash in an effort to take another four National and eight Illinois State Masters II records in my new weight class.  During the APF Masters National Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the organizer for the CanAm invited several of us to participate the weekend after I was going to be in the immediate area on business.  My intention was to use it as a ‘max effort’ bench press day and, instead, I pushed and landed a National APF bench record.


In my career path I provide consulting services and site repair, serve on professional committees, and perform training and speaking engagements.  There are stretches where I have traveled as many as 43 weeks in a year world-wide.  While this sounds exciting to many what it really means is that I spend time in a mode of transportation, hotels and work sites, with little else.  Hotel fitness centers and restaurant, let alone fast food, leaves much to be desired.


Following a fall off a roof in 1997, which ended over a decade of bodybuilding and powerlifting, I gained a tremendous amount of weight.  I had a crushed diaphragm and a steel plate holding my left ulna (forearm) together which, I felt, limited my activity to walking, bike riding, and other aerobic exercises, none of which had any positive impact.  During an annual physical in December, 2010, I was informed that I was borderline Type 2 diabetes, my cholesterol was out of control, as were my triglycerides, I had hip and joint pain, and I averaged 4 hours of sleep a night.  The doctors were pushing medication but I was determined to take control.










July 2011 Engineering Conference













July 2012 with Joe Smolinski CanAm Organizer


The first thing was to take control of my general condition and lifestyle.  This involved decreasing my travel for a period of time.  I also returned to lifting weights which resulted in immediate improvements.  Then, in August of 2011, I made the conscious decision to return to powerlifting as a competitor with the first meet to occur in October, 2011.


In this adventure I learned a few things:


  1. There have been tremendous advances in powerlifting and nutrition;
  2. Lift form and training methods have come a long way in 15 years; and,
  3. Equipment?  Wow.


By this time I had reduced my cholesterol and weight significantly.  My training consisted of working in a local commercial gym, using articles and YouTube.  This gave me a chance to review the various federations and get caught up on the sciences of the sport and nutrition.  I did meet a few competing powerlifters and reviewed the new rules with them and, prior to the October competition, met with a coach, Erv Domanski of Progressive Sports Performance, who was also the organizer.  It became very apparent that good coaching is necessary to compete effectively.








July 28 with Ernie Frantz Learning More of the History of Powerlifting

From One of the Godfathers of Powerlifting


At this point in time I utilized travel as an opportunity to rest and recuperate.  Prior to October travel picks up significantly in terms of trade shows, training and general projects.  It became obvious that I would either have to curtail travel or live with smaller gains.  During a trip in November, 2011, following the Beast of the Benchpress/Rise of the Deadlift competition in October, and prior to a Raw competition in December, I had to travel to Evansville, Indiana for a project.  Instead of using the week as a deload, I looked up local powerlifting and commercial gyms in Evansville and chose to visit ‘The Pit Barbell,’ as well as a local commercial gym.


The experiences at both places were dramatically different.  The Pit was a rough, tough, crowded gym with limited hours three days a week with some good lifters in the ‘Power Pit,’ who were open to discussing their recent competition and results, and the equipment, was in reasonably good order.  The commercial gym was a death trap if you added any weight to the damaged bars, broken safety racks, etc.  At that point I decided that I would start visiting local gyms in all of my travels to learn more about our chosen sport.


On July 23, 2012, I received the results of my latest physical and blood work.  My bad cholesterol is half what it was 18 months ago, my weight is down close to 70lbs, and I am completely in the normal range for the rest of the warning signals, including diabetes.  I still have weight to lose as well as a few additional health goals.  The hip and joint pain has all but disappeared.  All of this was accomplished drug free in all ways using proper diet, training and supplements, a will to compete with no aerobic work, while continuing to travel.


Up to this point I have been training and competing raw.  The plan was that following the Chicago Bash I was to start training to compete equipped, with the exception of the WPC World Powerlifting and Bench Press Championships in Las Vegas this November, in which I will compete raw.


In this weekly article I will discuss the trials and tribulations of training while traveling, give my opinion on gyms that I visit during those travels, and some of my experiences as a returning lifter, including how all of this works, while training for both raw and equipped meets.


About the Author


  • APF/AAPF Drug-Free Lifter
  • AAPF National and World Records SHW Masters II Raw: Squat (195kg), Bench (160kg), Deadlift (205kg), and Total (560 kg)
  • APF Bench Press 308 Class Masters II Raw National Record 165kg
  • AAPF National Records 308 Class Masters II Raw: Squat (200kg), Bench (160kg), Deadlift (205kg), and Total (565 kg)
  • APF/AAPF Illinois State Equipped and Raw Records 308 Class Masters II: Squat (200kg), Bench (160kg), Deadlift (205kg), and Total (565 kg)
  • Team USA Raw Masters II 308 Class for WPC World Championships for both bench press and full power and qualified Team USA Raw Masters II SHW Class for the AWPC World Championships full power










Training at Progressive Sports Performance Northbrook, Illinois

With Female Master Powerlifter Talia Bensinger-Colton


Professional Bio


Dr Penrose is the Vice President of Reliability at Dreisilker Electric Motors, Outreach Director for SMRP (Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals), the Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society Webmaster/Web Editor in Chief for IEEE, serves on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Illinois, and is the President of SUCCESS by DESIGN Publishing and Consulting.  He has 25+ years in the reliability and maintenance industry with experience from the shop floor to academia and manufacturing to military. Dr. Penrose is a past adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1997-1999 and a Senior Research Engineer at the UIC Energy Resources Center. He is a past Chair of the Chicago Section IEEE, past Vice Chair of the Connecticut Section IEEE and has held numerous other elected and appointed positions within IEEE as well as membership in the Vibration Institute, Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals, International Maintenance Institute and MENSA. He is well published in trade magazines and is frequently invited to speak at industrial reliability events.  He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional, NAVAIR and NAVSEA RCM specialist as well as numerous other industry certifications. Dr. Penrose received five UAW and GM People Make Quality Happen Awards from 2005 through 2009 in relation to reliability, maintenance and energy projects within GM, is involved in hybrid vehicle motor development and participated in the development of the LEV-VAD Heart Pump through the University of Virginia.  He has also received the 2008 Axiom Business Book Award for “Physical Asset Management for the Executive: Caution – Do Not Read this on an Airplane,” and 2008 Foreword Book of the Year for “Electrical Motor Diagnostics: 2nd Edition.”  Dr. Penrose lives in Lombard, Illinois and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.


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One comment

  1. Incredible Howard! Looking forward to reading more about your travels!

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