BUDAPEST—Edwin Rousseau, 33, demolished the weightlifting world record in his weight class for the snatch lift with an astounding 233 kilograms (514 lb.). When pressed about his training secrets, Rousseau revealed that board games played a big role in his decision to start training.
In a snatch lift, the athlete crouches behind the barbell and lifts it in a fluid motion until the bar is overhead and both the knees and the elbows are locked.
“Chutes and Ladders and Uno held a special place in my heart, growing up,” Rousseau said. “But one day I saw this game at the store called Caverna. It looked incredible.”
Rousseau inspected the game box and attempted to lift it. He couldn’t. “I was puny then,” he said. That’s when he decided it was time for workouts.
His exercise routine started small: just a barbell and 10 kilograms (22 lb.) weights attached to either side. When he felt comfortable enough with those, he advanced to attaching the board game Agricola on either side of the barbell.
Rousseau paused a long time before elaborating about Agricola. “The game was really tough,” he said, tears in his eyes. “It almost made me quit.”
One of his good friends helped him through that time, and after muscling through training for about a year, he felt he was ready.
A tractor trailer delivered two copies of Caverna to his house. Once he dragged them across the threshold, he tied them to his barbell. The moment of truth had come.
In a feat of superhuman strength, he raised the bar over his head, locked his elbows, and then his knees. He had done it!
“Eventually I’ll be strong enough for Mechs vs. Minions or Gloomhaven, but lifting Caverna has taught me so much.” Rousseau published his own weightlifting series on YouTube titled The Road to Caverna Weights for the Puny.