Not many people could put the weight of the All Blacks starting front row on their shoulders and sustain the weight, but Whangarei's Joseph Whittaker can do that and more.

The power lifter squatted 375kg to break his own national record in the 120kg-plus division at the National Powerlifting Championships in Dunedin.

To put it in perspective, that's more than the combined weight of Joe Moody (120kg), Codie Taylor (106kg) and Owen Franks (122kg).

Whittaker said nailing that weight had been a goal of his.

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"The national squat record is something I've been chasing for a while. I had it already anyway at 365kg but I've always had the long-term goal of getting the seven red plates which are seven 25kg weights on either side of the bar," he said.

Whittaker proceeded to bench 230kg and deadlift 325kg for a combined total of 930kg. This was just 3kg off breaking his national record.

He wasn't happy that he missed the 343kg lift but he looked at the bright side of an impressive day's work.

"I have to take the positives out of it. I should have had the last two deadlifts, my first issue was with my hand grip and I was gassed by the last one," he said.

"But I'll take the good things out of the comp. I was happy with my squat and the bench."

Whittaker took up powerlifting back in 2012 after suffering a calf injury which scuppered his rugby dreams.

"I had to stop playing rugby because of it. I had blown my right calf five or six times and so I decided to give it away," he said.

"I started hitting the gym afterwards to drop a little weight and spotted a little poster about giving powerlifting a go.

"Right from the first session I was hooked."

Whittaker puts in 20 hours of training and the closer he gets to a competition the heavier the weight he lifts. His training includes a three-hour squat session where he will do exactly that - squat for three hours.

This allows him to come into competitions well prepared and sets him up to get into the right head space for his lifts.

"I have my process. If I run my process I will hit the weight I'm targeting," he said.

"If I don't hit it, it's either a technical thing or I just wasn't strong enough on the day.

"I'm very blank when I lift. I don't see or hear the crowd. It's only when I look back at the video I think 'damn, that crowd was loud'."

Whittaker has his sights on his last competition for the year - the New Zealand Record Breakers in October.

Then all focus will shift to the biggest competition of his life.

"Next year is all about the World Powerlifting Championships in June. It will be my first time there which is exciting."