MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines know the benefit of a solid physical fitness program.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Reep, the assault chief of Division Schools, 1st Marine Division, knows he has the capabilities to go further than most with determination, drive and humility. He set world records in a powerlifting competition in Las Vegas, July 12 through 14.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three lifting attempts at the most weight an athlete can manage in bench press, deadlifting and squatting. Currently, the records for a 165-pound person are set by Reep at 391 pounds on the bench press and 556 pounds on the deadlift. He also set the world record for combined weight of bench press, deadlift and squats at 1,396 pounds.
“In high school, I set my state record for bench press,” said Reep, a 39-year-old native of Lexington, S.C. “Ever since I started lifting I always just thought I was good, but never paid too much attention to it. I honestly gave it up. But then when I was stationed in New Jersey for about six months with the Army National Guard, I really started to focus and took it seriously. That’s when I decided that I was going for more than just a workout.”
Reep has competed in six national powerlifting championship tournaments and has won 11 events since 2009.
It would be easy to say Reep is a stellar service member because of his workout routine and high physical fitness level. The true testimony of his caliber is his positive thinking, mentoring abilities and mental fortitude. It is those qualities which garnished him a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his superior performance as a platoon sergeant while deployed to Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
“When we were in Afghanistan at several different forward operating bases, he was always pushing himself and showing drive,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Richard, the Weapons Company first sergeant of 2nd Bn., 5th Marines. “Even after 12 or 15-day operations in the field and eating measly rations, he was able to maintain his strength. Most guys who do what he does would shrink and lose all of their strength they had, but not him.”
Reep manages to be as strong as possible for powerlifting, while remaining physically functional as a Marine infantryman. Bulking up and lifting big isn’t always conducive to the Marine lifestyle, Richard said. The extra weight slows down most guys, but Reep has found the perfect balance.
“For a guy who has accomplished so much, he is really humble about it,” said Cpl. Mathew Sievert, a squad leader serving with 2nd Bn., 5th Marines. “Staff Sgt. Reep is dedicated and very focused on everything he does. When we were deployed to Afghanistan, he had everyone in Weapons Co. lifting and showing us the proper ways to do so. He even helped me get into competitive lifting too.”
To condition for the powerlifting competition circuit, Reep works out six days a week. He spends approximately two hours or more lifting, practicing technique and cardiovascular routines. He maintains a strict diet while he is training to make sure he gets the best results and recovery. Nearly one year ago, he sustained an injury to his shoulder from training and had to recuperate.
“He pulled through recovery very quickly after he had shoulder surgery, and now he is probably in the best shape of his life,” said Richard, a 32-year-old native of Merrimack, N.J. “He is always giving anything he does his maximum effort, and he gains a lot of respect from Marines around him. He always wants to show and teach people how to be their best with weightlifting.”
Reep is currently temporally assigned to Division Schools and will be sent to The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., for his next duty assignment during September.