Bodybuilder, powerlifter weighs in at competition

Senior Airman
Kerry Solan-Johnson
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***They were like steel, these legs.
They could have been in a museum. They could have had their own zip code.
But they definitely had 5-year-old Troy Saunders’ attention.

When the kindergartner saw Tom Platz, the man known most for his sculpted legs in the bodybuilding world, his mind was made up.

“It made me want to have muscles like that,” recalled Master Sgt. Troy Saunders, 435th Materiel Maintenance Squadron transportation specialist. “From then on, I ran, jumped, and did pushups – anything to get in shape.”
More than 30 years later, Sergeant Saunders has lifted and sculpted his way to countless titles in bodybuilding and the 220-pound class in powerlifting, the most recent titles earned here in Europe.

“During the last eight weeks I have participated in seven Bodybuilding Championships in both Germany and Switzerland,” said Sergeant Saunders. “The highlight of the last few weeks was winning my class and the overall title at the 2005 German bodybuilding championships.”

The road to Sergeant Saunders’ success lays in his dedication to his sport: heavy lifting 90 minutes a day, three times a week to maintain body mass; squats, bench presses and deadlifts; cardio workouts six hours a week. Exercises and times vary according to the particular competition Sergeant Saunders is gearing up for.

“There are distinctly different goals when I’m competing for bodybuilding as opposed to powerlifting,” said Saunders.

Bodybuilding judges look at appearance of overall muscle mass, for a minimal amount of body fat – the less fat, the more muscularity, the more “ripped look,” said Sergeant Saunders. Powerlifting’s merit is solely in the amount of weight lifted.

Sergeant Saunder’s muscles mass is what earned him the German title, giving up 40 pounds to the majority of his competitors.

“I was the most conditioned athlete,” said the Kingsley, Iowa native. “That was really my strong point going into the competition.”

The German win qualified Sergeant Saunders to compete for Mr. Universe, but it was a competition he passed up to compete in the World Championships.
“The World Championships and Mr. Universe fell on the same weekend,” said Sergeant Saunders. “I opted for the World Championships because I knew it would be a challenge.”

In 2005, Sergeant Saunders put away more than 10 titles, including a win in the 220-pound class at the U.S. Forces European Championships as well as the 220-pound class and the Outstanding Lifter award at the 2005 U.S.A. Military National Powerlifting Championships.

The titles don’t bring Sergeant Saunders to the resolve that he’s reached his peak, but serve to push him forward in his bodybuilding and powerlifting endeavors.

“I’ve been asking myself: do I need to keep doing this?” Sergeant Saunders said. “This makes me want to strive a little longer – being almost 40 doesn’t seem to be a roadblock at all.”