Mild-mannered Jason Frickey is 43 years old and an insulin-dependent diabetic. But that doesn't stop the 195-pound Des Allemands iron-man from bench-pressing over twice his weight - a personal-best 455 pounds.
Just days ago he beat out all comers to claim the Louisiana state championship for men ages 40 to 46.
But that's not the be-all and end-all for the father of two teenage daughters, Jessica, 15, and Sierra, 13.
He has his sights set on the "men's open division" - the toughest there is. And he won't stop training until he hits the mark that he refuses to believe isn't within his reach: a 500-pound-lift that he can tell his grandchildren about.
"I get a lot of compliments on my physique from men and women," Frickey, chuckling, told the Herald-Guide.
"I'm not huge, but I've been called all kinds of playful nicknames like 'Hercules'and ‘Swoll’, for ‘swollen, as in ‘bulked up.’
"I train at two gyms, one in Houma and one in Luling, and I hear comments that pound for pound, I'm the strongest 'presser' around here.”
In fact, at 5-feet, 9-inches and 195 pounds, with 17-3/4 biceps. Frickey is ranked No. 23 in the world in his age group.
Not too shabby for a local boy who was stricken with adult-onset diabetes at the age of 28. At the time, he watched in shock and disbelief as his weight plummeted 50 pounds - in four weeks.
"I had broken my left leg," he recalls, "and I started to lose all kinds of weight. I didn’t have enough energy to bench press my newborn daughter off my stomach."
But Frickey, a supervisor at Home Depot who also works construction, wasn't about to let a little something like an uncurable, life-wrecking illness get the better of him.
"I'm not a quitter," he says, resolve and pure guts flashing in his proud blue eyes. "I may be knocked down, but I keep going forward.
"You have to have a positive attitude," he continues. "You can't let anything negative stand in your way.
“And pride - you've got to take pride in what you are doing. Just keep going forward and keep a positive attitude and you'll get where you want to be."
Frickey has competed seriously and steadily since 1999, and the hard work has paid off with 20 trophies and two state records.
His fitness regimen is intense, but simple. He spends one hour in the gym four days a week working on a different muscle group each visit.
Some power lifters have trouble finding clothes that fit. Frickey says jeans can be a little tight in the legs, but shirts are easy to find - especially those “muscle tees” that come without sleeves.
Frickey's diet is surprisingly spare for a man of his bulk. He starts his day with corn flakes splashed with milk and topped with a banana.
He follows that with a mid-morning snack of a plum or apple, dishes up red beans and rice or perhaps a sandwich for lunch, adds more fruit mid afternoon, and then finishes up with dinner of, say, a couple of pork chops, maybe some spaghetti and almost always a green vegetable.
Frickey says no meal is complete without him glugging down a big bottle of water.
"If my blood sugar drops, it's Snickers time," he says with a laugh. "But that doesn't happen too often."
In the supplement department, he likes amino acids, protein shakes, vitamins and creatine, standard fare among athletes and all considered to be safe and perfectly legal.
People often accuse Frickey of using steroids - but he says his strength comes from hard work, and good genes.
"A lot of it is in the genes," he says.
"My brother looks like he works out, and so does my dad. But he doesn't work out. He pours cement."
|Photo: Ann Taylor|
|Frickey says no meal is complete without him glugging down a big bottle of water.|