This past weekend of the 19th-20th May, at the Bodypower Expo (Birmingham NEC), audiences watched the exciting culmination of the 2012 Dragan Challenge – a pure test of upper-body strength & endurance using 2x20kg Escape dumbbells. The challenge: maximum reps possible in the Curl & Press ‘Endurance Lift’.
Eight athletes took to the Bodypower MAIN stage in the mens Elite 20kg category. The challenge: to curl and press their two dumbbells for the maximum possible number of full repetitions, with no stopping, no resting and no lower body help!
For many who are familiar with weight training but have not trained for the Dragan Challenge, the prospect of doing more than 40 consecutive repetitions with 20kg dumbbells would seem awkward if not rather unlikely. More than 100 repetitions…impossible! But on the main stage as all 8 participants passed the 50rep mark, and 6 athletes passed the 100rep mark, the audience began to swell, as people wondered ‘just how many reps is it possible to do?’
The sport of Endurance Lifting, also known as the ‘Dragan Challenge’ was this year powered by Escape Fitness. The result was a sea of black & red Escape Dumbbells being lifted for frightening numbers of repetitions, by athletes from across the country, as well as by some leading sports stars and fighters from the Maximuscle Ambassadors fold.
Setting the pace on stage for the first 50reps was challenge founder Dragan Radovic, now 63years old but still looking every bit like the undefeated champion. Dragan is reputedly still able to lift in the hundreds of reps with anywhere between 16kg-20kg dumbbells! When one considers that these kind of numbers are considered impressive for men half his age, it is remarkable that Dragan is still at such a level in such a demanding discipline.
However, today was not intended to be Dragan’s day – he was there to host the event and inspire the competitors to their highest possible score. And at 50 reps, he stepped aside to let the 8 qualified athletes battle itout.them with just one goal – to be the last person lifting on that Bodypower main stage and claim the 1st prize. With a brand new piece of Escape Training kit on offer for the winner (the new ‘Bulgarian Bag’ worth £200) as well as prizes from Maximuscle & La Fitness, there was plenty to compete for…not least the title ‘Endurance Lifting Champion 2012’.
After almost 30minutes of non-stop curling and pressing, whilst most of the audience was wondering how on earth they were still even holding on to those 20kg dumbbells, only two men remained. Last years Max-Reps winner Steve Ellwood and last year’s Sprint winner Aaron Barnett. Sweating profusely, breathing hard and straining to keep going, at 324 repetitions Aaron could do no more and veteran lifter Steve Ellwood stepped into the middle of the stage to push out another 26 reps and finish with a phenomenal final score of 350 repetitions.