Officer Machado keeps his mind and body in top shape
By: Robert Foreman
PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. - Officer Izzie Machado’s love of powerlifting began well over a decade ago and continues to this day. He has competed in numerous competitions and he shows no signs of slowing down. Born in Union City, he was hired by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office in January of 2010 as a corrections officer. He is currently assigned to the Passaic County Jail where he is part of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response team and a Mobile Field Force Operator.
A graduate of Emerson High School, Machado spent two years at New Jersey University and moved to Jersey City. He held multiple retail management jobs at ‘Book and Music Factory’, ‘Camelot Music’, ‘Suncoast’, and ‘GameStop’. He played baseball from the age of twelve until moving on from the sport in 2012. Additionally, he played guitar for two different bands, ‘Bruise Wish’ and ‘Evil Adam’. The latter band had an extensive run until playing their final show in 2006. However, his journey toward law enforcement began in an unexpected fashion.
“Toward the end of my retail days, I became a fugitive recovery agent with a few friends for a bail bondsman. I really enjoyed the work and it got me thinking about going into law enforcement,” said Machado. “In 2008, when my retail career ended, I moved to Clifton and began working as a security officer at St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic. Both of those jobs helped me prepare for law enforcement.”
Machado began powerlifting in 2007 in the United States of America Powerlifting (USAPL). He admits that when he started out that he did not have much knowledge regarding training practices since that information was not as readily available as it is today. He noted that he wore squat suits, deadlift suits, a bench shirt and likely lifted heavier weight than he should have, on occasion, which ultimately caused a shoulder injury. For those who are interested in powerlifting, Machado advises that they become a member of a facility that is ‘powerlifting friendly’.
“I train at ‘Strong and Shapely Gym’ in East Rutherford. While that gym is well-known for churning out professional bodybuilders, powerlifting has become very big there, too. There are plenty of 100 lb. plates, deadlift platforms, benches, squat racks, specialty bars, and a monolift. When preparing for a competition, I squat twice a week, bench twice a week, deadlift once, and the other days are about support exercises for those three lifts,” said Machado.
“I train six days a week, and no cardio is performed. The weights are exhaustive enough! In general, I follow the sub-maximal training method popularized by Mark Bell. Plus, you need a consistent crew of like-minded powerlifters there with you on a daily basis. I don't pay much attention to diet, other than trying to keep my protein and total calorie intake high. Having a box of donuts, or cookies, nearby while we lift is a common sight.”
Following his first four competitions, Machado stopped competing primarily due to injury. However, a few years ago he was introduced to a relatively new and popular powerlifting federation known as ‘Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS)’. The federation is owned and operated by Gene Rychlak, who is the first person to ever bench press over 1000 lbs. Machado noted that he has competed seven times for RPS in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and he currently holds records in both states. Machado stressed that he has gotten a great deal of support for his powerlifting from other law enforcement officers and that some members of the Paterson Police Department have recently started competing.
“Of course the members of my PBA, Local #197, show the most support. Sometimes, seemingly, going out of their way to congratulate me and root me on,” said Machado.
Machado noted that other officers have approached him for advice about increasing their strength on squats, bench press and the deadlift. He never turns anyone away who is seeking workout tips and he takes pride in seeing people progress after giving them some guidance. Machado advises anyone who is interested in powerlifting to get proper advice before beginning and that they should ‘lift smart.’
“You should not go for maximal weights every week. Listen to your body when it asks for more time to rest and heal. Be consistent,” said Machado. “I’ve never felt like I had to choose between the two (law enforcement and powerlifting). Anybody in law enforcement should be doing something to stay in shape. I use my gym time for powerlifting. It never conflicts.”
Machado plans to continue lifting with RPS and he recently attained pro status in May after lifting 1735 lbs. Not one to rest on his laurels, his next goal is the 1900 lbs. total, which would qualify him for the XPC (Extreme Powerlifting Coalition). The XPC is affiliated with the RPS and holds a yearly competition at the ‘Arnold Sports Festival’ in Columbus, Ohio. He hopes to compete there in the future. However, he realizes that powerlifting has benefited him in ways that he would never have imagined when he started.
“Personally, powerlifting has taught me that you are capable of much more than you know. In my last competition, I squatted 650 lbs. I had never even had that much on the bar before in my life, but I went for it anyway. I almost failed it, but when I felt the squat going wrong, I fought through it and forced the weight up and nailed that squat. The thought process almost takes you back to the police academy days, where you are pushed to your limits, and beyond as to be prepared for anything,” said Machado.
“Nothing good comes easy. The more work I put in, the more attention I put into training and eating directly affects my outcome. I'm 40-years-old, and I'm stronger now than I ever have been. The biggest lesson I’ve learned would be that no matter how far you've come, there's much more down the road waiting for you if you really want it.”