Powerlifting record setter

Humans of West: Carter Bruce


Thomas Yates

“I lifted for two years,” technology teacher Jason Franzenburg said. “[Bruce] is on a different level.”

Thomas Yates, Reporter

Squatting down over the barbell, sophomore Carter Bruce tightly grips his hands around the cold metal. His fingers tighten around the grate-skinned grip of the bar as he stands, his entire body shaking as he pulls the weight against the force of gravity. Sweat pours down his face as he slowly comes to a full stand, then lowers himself with great control in order to set the bar back on the ground. The holder of the national deadlift record in his class has just been broken.

As a cheerleader at Davenport West, Bruce holds national records in the squat, deadlift, and three lift total categories, and a state record in the bench press. At 16 years old, Bruce stands at 6 feet tall, and weighs in at 220 pounds.

In 2015, seventh grade Bruce started pumping iron. He did this because he was tired of being small, and wished to be a big guy. Four years later, Bruce is far from being a small guy. He still lifts, even after achieving his records, and notes two staff members at West as inspiration behind his efforts.

“Mr. Franzenburg is a really cool dude. He used to do some lifting back in his day. And Charlie Driscoll, one of our principals, was one of the best back in his 20s,” Bruce said.

Not all of Bruce’s motivation comes from his inspirations, in fact, he has an entirely different source that motivates him while he lifts.

“I motivate myself by seeing how I want my future to be, and how I want to look,” Bruce said.

Sound familiar? Bruce started lifting because he was tired of being small, and to this day, continues to use that mental image as a driver behind his routine. Bruce highly remarks consistency as an important role in seeking improvement in lifting, and upholds that remark with his own lifting agenda.

“I lift five to six times a week,” Bruce said. “Each lift is about an hour and 20 minutes, two hours max.”

Lifting so often requires a routine schedule to ensure the body fully develops. Bruce has a routine that he devised, which has helped him on his powerlifting path.

“I do a day of bench, a squat day, and a deadlift day, then I have three days for accessory lifts,” Bruce said. “So I have three days of my main lifts, and then the other two days are for the smaller body parts.”

Bruce understands not to make the mistake of ignoring any part of his body, and has thus included his smaller muscles into the schedule. This is crucial, as every muscle will rely on one another when the time comes to push the boundaries and lift the weights that truly count. Though this schedule is effective any time of the year, Bruce adapted his routine in order to prepare for the meet, where he set his records.

“Twelve weeks before the meet, I started meet prep, where I started lifting light and increase the weight I did each week to get my body more used to heavy weights,” Bruce said.

For 12 gruelling weeks, Bruce tested his body with up to two hours of training a number of days a week, all in the name of preparation to compete for this title. Eventually, the hard labor paid off, and Bruce was headed off to compete.

“It was a ton of big dudes going around, motivating each other and helping each other out. They were trying to help each other with how much they can lift,” Bruce said.

The long road to the competition led to the experience of meeting other powerlifters and getting to not only give others tips, but receive tips as well. With the competition come and gone, powerlifting doesn’t just up and leave from Bruce’s life. Rather, he wants to move forward with it.

“I want to see how big I can get with powerlifting, do that for the rest of my life, then maybe some kind of job that includes that, like a coach,” Bruce said.

Taking the knowledge gained and applying it to himself and others, Bruce seeks to pursue powerlifting for as long as he can. The day will come where he will rack the bar for the last time, and he will train others to achieve greatness as he has done. Technology teacher Jason Franzenburg did just that for Bruce.

I motivate myself by seeing how I want my future to be, and how I want to look.

— sophomore Carter Bruce

“I told him my story about lifting, just to relate to him, and I’m very impressed with what he’s doing,” Franzenburg said. “When I did it, it was a hobby, but I loved it.”

Bruce took Franzenburg’s story and hit the ground running. Hobby or not, Franzenburg was diligent with how he scheduled his lifts and with what went into his body.

“When I was in college, I was very interested in improving my physique. I was watching my nutrition and what I ate,” Franzenburg said.

Franzenburg and Carter have built a relationship both in the gym and in the classroom.

“Carter is a great student. He’s a team player. He listens. He’s coachable, [all of] which I really enjoy,” Franzenburg said.

Franzenburg described Bruce as ‘amazing,’ and this is only the beginning of a list of adjectives that he uses for him. Associate Principal Charlie Driscoll shares Franzenburg’s admiration for Bruce’s abilities.

“Carter has a lot of potential,” Driscoll said. “If he doesn’t get injured, and if he continues to be disciplined and stay with this, he could be one of the top teenage powerlifters in the nation, and moving forward, he could be a very successful adult powerlifter.”

Having been a high-ranking powerlifter in the 1980s, Driscoll has since retired from competing and instead focuses on his role at West. His job is to ensure that all students and faculty feel safe at West, and that people know West is a safe school. It is through his prominent role at West that Bruce found out about Driscoll’s history.

“I can’t really remember how I met Carter. I think he came to me, he knew I lifted weights and wanted to ask me some questions. He has since joined the gym that I work out at, and I see him in there occasionally,” Driscoll said.

Passing the torch of knowledge through the generations, Driscoll and Bruce now exercise at the same gym. Driscoll even remarked that Bruce’s skills, both in the iron and in the books.

“He is very mature for his age, both physically and intellectually. The physical maturity has allowed him to be one of the strongest 16 year olds that I’ve ever met,” Driscoll said.