Fredrik Smulter is the first doping tested man in the world to have raised the magic limit of more than 400 kg in a bench press. He has raw Ostrobothnian power that wells from the expanses of Malax’s fertile lands, from the successful export region of Vaasa. What else could explain his world record of 401 kg in 2015?
“You mustn’t be afraid of injuries or the number on the barbell. Victory requires the same thing in any sport: ambition and the thirst to be the best. If you have those you were born to win. I often say that winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” Smulter says.
Smulter has practised strength sports all his life and bench presses in particular. It may not be a sport that will make you rich or impress people in high society, but it’s the sport he loves. His perseverance and passion have carried him forward even when things didn’t go so well.
Next to his house stands an old piggery where Smulter has built himself and his mates a small gym. It’s called the Pighouse Gym and it’s where he relaxes. He trains there up to 10 times a week, whenever his schedule allows it.
“I’m a jail guard. It’s mentally tough shift work that reveals the darker side of society every day, the violence and misery. Luckily I have sports. When my training goes well, the rest of my life looks brighter too,” he says.
Smulter, his wife and two children have always lived in the peaceful countryside in Malax. At least one of the boys seems to have his father’s genes: he is eagerly doing chin-ups, and strength seems to lodge in his muscles just like that.
“I encourage him to try any sport he wants. Whether it’s ballet or weight lifting, it doesn’t matter.”
Bench press requires pure maximum strength and is the most common lift in the world, along with the biceps curl. The International Powerlifting Federation’s (IPF) competitions are committed to anti-doping work. In IPF competitions, the bar is lowered to the chest, held motionless and then lifted at the Chief Referee’s signal. Arms must be straight and buttocks must be in contact with the bench. If the bench shirt is tight the bar doesn‘t need to be held at the chest and the referees are more permissive with buttocks and hands.
Fredrik Smulter, bench press (IPF)
- World championship 2015, world record in the 120 kg+ weight class: 401 kg
- World championship 2014, first drug-tested athlete to lift 400 kilos
- World championship 2012
- World championship 2009