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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2023

Hard Work, Dedication Led to Heavyweight Victory

By Maj. William C. Allred 361st Multi Role Bridge Company

After five years of intense training and diet, Capt. Derek Cundiff, Engineer officer and 361st Multi Role Bridge Company (MRBC) Commander, won first place in two categories at the National Physique Committee Armed Forces National Championships on 8 October 2022 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Va.

     The Championships showcase participating active and/or retired military personnel – both female and male in respective groups – in a multi-level bodybuilding competition. By the afternoon of 8 October, the judges gave Cundiff the Heavyweight title as well as first place in the Armed Forces Novice category, earning him a large medal and a challenge coin.

     “I trained twice a day, seven days a week for 16 weeks to prepare for this event,” said Cundiff. “(My) training routine consisted of one hour of cardio in the morning, one and a half hours of weightlifting in the evening followed by another 45-minute cardio session. My diet consisted of seven meals a day - high protein, moderate carbohydrates, and low fat.”

     Lt. Col. Stanley Pyram, 391st Engineer Battalion Commander and Cundiff’s immediate supervisor, confirmed Cundiff’s strict regimen and called him a role model for the Army. “He’s an outstanding officer and leader with a passion for caring for his Soldiers,” he said. “I am not surprised he won those two categories.”

     Along with his high-octane schedule, Cundiff noted his family and girlfriend, Liz Garcia, and his unit’s Soldiers as critical supporters to his success. Garcia directly partnered with him throughout the years of preparation sharing in his exercises while his family and unit members provided morale and motivational support.

     “You will not always be motivated to work or do certain tasks,” said Cundiff. “But discipline will ensure you always do what is supposed to be done, even in the absence of motivation. Hard work and discipline beat talent every single time, so go after your goals with obsession.”

     Cundiff scores between 530 and 550 on the Army’s latest Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), which consists of six arduous trials. He said that he felt his training gave him an edge on the ACFT as it “is constructed to be done at max effort with minimal rest in between events,” requiring “the body to be proficient at lactic acid removal and recovery.”

     “Bodybuilding trainings follow very similar training principals which I found made my transition to the ACFT very easy,” said Cundiff. “(Soldiers need) to be training in a high intensity fashion that forces their body to be able to recover quickly. Training as we did for the APFT won't suffice any longer. Whether (Soldiers) choose to (train) via Bodybuilding, Cross Fit, Powerlifting, etc. is menial, just as long as they are training in that high intensity fashion that mimics the ACFT requirement.”

     On the competition front, Cundiff wants to gain 10 or more pounds of muscle to compete at a future championship in the Super Heavyweight division, putting him at 225 pounds or more. As far as his military career, he wants to complete his time as Company Commander of the 361st MRBC this year but will see what the Army Reserve will offer next, keeping his options open.

     “The Army has a way of providing opportunities for motivated soldiers,” said Cundiff. “I think the effects of my training have always played a part in my military endeavors. My training has taught me the critical importance of discipline, which carries over to the military.”