Chris Hughes said it wasn't a tough decision to return to competitive weightlifting after being retired for several years.
"Once you're in that competitive environment, it's in your blood," the 41-year-old Blue River resident said. "It's something that never really leaves you."
And apparently, success isn't something that left Hughes during his hiatus, either.
Competing in the American Masters Championships in York, Penn., on Nov. 8, Hughes not only took first place in his weight class but also broke three 11-year-old records along the way.
Oh, and it was only his second time ever competing in Olympic-style weightlifting.
"I used to compete in powerlifting before I retired at about 34," Hughes said. " ... Now, Olympic-style lifting, I enjoy it more. It's much more athletic and explosive."
In the national meet, Hughes put up 72 kilograms (162 lbs.) in the snatch and 98 kilograms (220.5 lbs.) in the clean-and-jerk. Both were records for his 62-kilogram weight class and added up to a record total score as well.
Hughes, who works as a trainer in Breckenridge, competed in powerlifting - which consists of squats, bench presses and deadlifts - for 10 years before retiring when he and his wife had their first child.
During his time away from competition, Hughes began to shift toward Olympic-style lifting for his clients in his training programs. Having worked with the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and with Team Summit's alpine program, Hughes was looking for something to help the athletes with explosiveness and power. In addition to adding power, quickness and explosiveness to an athlete, Olympic lifting helps with overall strength and posture.
"Life doesn't happen slowly, so you have to teach your body to move quickly," Hughes explained.
The two main disciplines in Olympic lifting are the snatch and clean-and-jerk. The snatch consists of a lifter moving weight from the ground to above his head in one move, ending in a squat position. The clean-and-jerk is a two-part exercise, where a lifter first brings the weight to chest level in a move resembling a jump. Then, the weight is thrown above the lifter's head and must be caught with elbows locked.
Hughes said that both exercises help any athlete looking for explosiveness, including sprinters.
"It helps so much in all sports," he added. "As I get older, it helps me in the sports that I do."
For Hughes, his winters are spent skiing the nearby slopes and his summers are spent wakeboarding. In between, he's lifting.
Hughes owns a personal training business based out of Breckenridge called PASE Fitness. He's worked with World Cup and Olympic skiers as well as aspiring lifters.
Although lifting will certainly remain a large part of his life, Hughes isn't sure how much more he will compete.
"I'll do it as time allows for a father of a 3-year-old son," he said.
Hughes's performance a couple weeks ago qualified him for the Masters World Championships.