A quest for challenges and a life-long commitment to health and fitness has paid dividends to Walter Urban. Urban, at the age of 53, broke the Guinness World Record by squatting a cumulative weight of 127,245 pounds within one hour. Urban performed this miraculous feat during the nationally televised Regis and Kelly Live in September 2011. Though not required by Guinness, Urban insisted upon being drug tested to affirm his record-breaking attempt was not tainted by any performance enhancers.
Urban, training at Good Life, in Guelph Ontario Canada where he resides, was in contact with a multitude of power lifters and fitness experts. From these contacts, he knew the previous Guinness World record holder. That record holder had performed his feat at the age of 34. Urban, a powerlifting record holder, had injuries that required him to alter his workout routine. The idea of seeking the Guinness record seemed like a logical challenge to him, since it required stamina and strength over a long period of time, as opposed to a short-term power burst using maximum loads.
He began his training for the record very methodically. In his office, he squatted without a bar to determine how many repetitions he could perform in fifteen minutes. He gradually began increasing the weightless squat periods until he finally reached one hour. From that point, he added an Olympic Bar and two 10 pound plates to his routine, for a 65 pound total.
As Urban became more vested in his intent to break the record, he realized a need for additional support. The dynamic act of squatting was leading to exhaustion and hampering his quest. He called upon a swimming coach at a local university, to help him with breathing and relaxation. Other team members would include a chiropractor and massage therapist to maximize his performance. This team was crucial, since Urban was 20,000 pounds behind one month prior to the record-breaking event.
Urban began the lifts by squatting 145 pounds; the actual lifting was completed in 23 seconds. In between sets, from 23 to 54 seconds, he was able to reduce his pulse from 185 to 165 which was a vital factor in his success. This pulse reduction was necessary for him to control his breathing and recharge his stamina to begin the process again. The last thirty minutes, he decreased his load to 135 pounds. This provided a physical and a psychological advantage to him. Nothing went unchecked by Urban and the team. The temperature and humidity in the record-setting area was also measured. The attempt was as much mental as physical, according to Urban, and the 900-plus squats in one hour is a testament to his precise training methods.
Urban is unique. He does not cite any particular individual that inspired him. He always seemed to gravitate towards challenges. He was captain of his high school wrestling team in his hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. As a wrestler, running was and integral part of his training. He liked running and pursued it as a competitive and fitness activity until the age of 37. Back issues, required Urban to modify abandon running for powerlifting. He was also a member of the U.S. Parachuting and Para skiing teams. Jumping out of planes and gliding above the water was routine for Urban. He also raced cars for a period of time during the 1980s. He is also a licensed pilot, a skill he acquired through the Civil Air Patrol.
When running became prohibitive, he engaged in powerlifting. Powerlifting requires the lifter to perform squats, bench presses and deadlifts, with three attempts for each lift. In November 2010, he broke the Canadian deadlift record, for the 50-54 age group 165 pound class, by pulling 507 pounds. He also squatted 492.5 pounds, breaking the current record.
Urban's motivation to continue training and seeking challenges that stretch his mind and body is simply stated. "I am addicted to it. I am hoping it is keeping me healthy. I want to stay healthy and fit for my family and three young daughters" Urban stated during a phone interview. Urban also notes that he is much stronger today as opposed to when he was 37. He has the Canadian Powerlifting Union, International Powerlifting Federation records and the Guinness World Record to prove it. He also has the motivation to continue to seek opportunities to break additional records.
Urban does not adhere to special dietary principles. As he notes, "I have never liked candy or desserts. I focus on eating right. A coach and former International Powerlifting Federation world record holder told me if I eat right, I will get 80 to 90 percent of my dietary needs met. I probably eat more protein then the average person and take a vitamin and Omega 3. I don't do anything strange and don't buy 50 pounds whey protein a week."
To those wishing to follow his example, Urban confirms, "You have got to find your passion and find what you like. Talk to people who have the same passion and find out what works for you. There are six different ways to get to the same place. Eat right and you have got to sleep right." If you do these things, Urban feels you can stand next to a much younger individual and out perform them. Furthermore, he affirms that you can't avoid or cheat aging therefore you must embrace it but continue to challenge yourself. Urban states, " Don't sit in your rocking chair and give up at forty and fifty."
Urban has had back and rotator cuff injuries to name a few. Through these injuries, he had learned to consult with a variety of medical and alternative medical experts as a means of making logical decisions to bring him back to health. He cautions, "Never take the first word of advice." This relates to an experience he had with a surgeon who wanted to remove discs from his back after a very brief appointment. Massage therapy was the course of action he took to heal the injury and regain function.
Urban didn't have an idol while growing up but is now motivated by his family. He openly admits that he could not have engaged in his record-breaking efforts without them. Their support and understanding has permitted him to vest the time and energy necessary to perform at a phenomenal level.
Urban extends his philosophy to others while at work as the owner of Urban Dynamics, a consulting firm that encourages small to medium sized businesses to get to the next level.