From the weight room to international powerlifting competitions, Craig Casterline’s passion for powerlifting has transformed his life and inspired those around him. As a teacher and advisor for the Strength & Conditioning Club at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour (BIPH), his enthusiasm sparked interest among his students, who became dedicated to increasing their strength. This focus fostered a fun-filled atmosphere of camaraderie in the weight room, with students motivating each other to excel. One student, the club’s former president Ricky L., showed exceptional determination in powerlifting. Over several months, Craig and Ricky trained together and eventually traveled to Xi’an to participate in an international powerlifting competition. Continue reading to learn more about their inspiring journey.

Strength & Conditioning Club at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour

How did you become involved with the Strength & Conditioning Club?

Craig: In my second year teaching at BIPH, the club’s coordinator wanted to expand the club from twice a week to four times a week, so he recruited me as an advisor for the additional days, which I was more than happy to do.

Ricky: First, I must mention my older brother, Jacky, a bodybuilder. He was the one who inspired me to lift when I was in eighth grade. That same year, Zane, an upperclassman at BIPH, started the Strength & Conditioning Club. Zane was the one who inspired me and other students to join the club.

How did you become interested in powerlifting?

Craig: I started powerlifting in 2013 with my younger son. He was very interested in weightlifting, so we began training together as a father-son activity. After training for a few months, we entered our first competition together and became hooked on powerlifting. Since then, we have participated in several competitions, and I was excited to discover powerlifting was starting to gain traction in China.

Ricky: Like everyone else, I first lifted weights to pursue a better body shape and lifestyle. At the beginning of the last school year, with many seniors gone, the club felt empty, and the passions slowly faded. Then, Mr. Casterline introduced me to powerlifting. I was fascinated by the power of the sport. I get pumped up whenever students gather together and try to break their limits, and this is what fascinates me about powerlifting.

How did you train and prepare for the competition in Xi’an?

Craig: To prepare for the competition, we regularly worked on the three big lifts: bench press, squats, and deadlift. We focused on proper form–particularly for squats–and prioritized injury prevention. While pushing one’s body to its full potential, it’s easy to overdo it and end up with muscle strains that can disappointingly sideline an athlete. Our priority was to ensure we fully prepared for the competition.

BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour Student at Xi'an Powerlifting Competition

Ricky: One thing weightlifting taught me is that hurrying is useless. Lifting is unlike exams or other things where you can procrastinate until the last moment. I trained hard day after day and week after week. However, it was also important to rest well. One tip for future powerlifters is not to push yourself too hard three days before the competition.

Mr. Casterline is an expert in powerlifting–he taught me the rules of the competition so my lifts count, the pace of my lifts, tips to dehydrate before the contest, and training methods that helped me improve. He taught me many things I would not have learned on my own.

What was your experience like at the competition?

Craig: I was impressed by the gym where they held the competition. It was spacious and had all the equipment needed to train for powerlifting. The staff was professional and well-prepared for the competition, even broadcasting it live on its WeChat channel. I also enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at the competition. We were competing against each other, but we were also competing against ourselves. So, we cheered for everyone because we wanted everyone to succeed personally.

Ricky: Overall, the competition taught me that there are always more powerful people than me, so I must keep improving. This sport taught me a lot, a lot! I would say lifting is not just a sport but a life changer. It taught me to be flexible and brave and to face challenges in life because life is just like lifting weights; you break your limits once more, and even if you fail, you stand up and try it again until one day you succeed. Lifting teaches me not to give up, enhances my dedication, and gives me the confidence to execute plans.

What is a memorable moment from the competition?

Teacher and student at Xi'an Powerlifting Competition

Craig: Competing alongside my student was the real highlight. Competition is more enjoyable when done with others, and in front of people you know. Ricky and I encouraged each other, cheered for each other, and enjoyed each other’s successes. It was one of the highlights of my year and a major highlight of my experiences in China.

Ricky: The competition was a milestone for us. It was great to meet so many powerful competitors and a national champion. It was a new experience for me to engage in a contest like this. The most memorable moment of the competition came during my third attempt, which is a lift that is usually beyond the lifter’s limit, when everyone was so supportive. Overall, the whole contest itself was the most memorable. I will definitely remember this competition for my life.

“Competing alongside my student was the real highlight.”
-Craig Casterline, Teacher and Strength Conditioning Advisor, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour

What advice would you give to students who are interested in powerlifting?

Craig: Learn the proper lifting techniques first. Then find a lifting buddy–a friend to lift with who will help and challenge you. After that, set some goals and train consistently. It’s hard work, but the rewards will come. It’s like life: consistency and hard work will help you improve.

Ricky: Lifting is a positive thing to do! It modifies your lifestyle and eating structure. It is definitely not harmful to know this knowledge and your physical power. However, the most valuable suggestion I want to give y’all is to lift step-by-step and scientifically. Learn to listen to your body and do not try to lift weights that are too heavy for you–I am confident that one day you will, so just take it step-by-step, fellows. Study hard! Play hard! Rest well! Eat well! and most importantly, TRAIN HARD!!! I believe in y’all! Peace.

Overall, the competition in Xi’an was fun and challenging, laying a foundation for participating in future tournaments and competing against personal records. Craig wants to continue to inspire his students with his passion for powerlifting, teaching them to use weightlifting for lifelong health benefits. Meanwhile, Ricky remains committed to pushing his limits while pursuing powerlifting in the U.S. As for the Strength & Conditioning Club, many students eagerly anticipate entering competitions next year, preparing to face the future and achieve the impossible.

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