How did you get into lifting weights?
I started lifting weights when I was 14 years old and I’ve been at it for just over five and a half years now. My dad introduced me to the weights with P90X believe it or not. I was obsessed with having good abs, even though I weighed 150 pounds and things progressed from there. I did P90X for a while before it went mainstream, and then around age 15, I started working with barbells and hitting the compound movements. I started out using the rusty old equipment we had in our basement and over the years I’ve acquired newer and nicer equipment. The old rickety squat station has been replaced by a 750 pound heavy duty rack, I have top of the line barbells, dumbbells up to 130 pounds, chains, bands, the whole deal. To this day, much of my training is still done in solitude in my parent’s basement with DMX blaring over the speakers. That hardcore basement atmosphere has gotten me to where I am today.
Do you have any other hobbies besides weightlifting?
During my early days of lifting, I actually ran a fair bit. I never enjoyed running, but I loved the idea of challenging myself to do something that I hated and that seemed impossible. I remember the furthest I had ever run was one mile when I told my parents I was going to run a marathon. I trained for five months before completing the 2007 Madison Marathon in a time of 4:24:34. I also attempted a 50 mile trail run, but had to be carried off at twenty-five miles after I could no longer walk. Nowadays, I can honestly say, lifting occupies a fair bit of my time. When I’m not training, I’m thinking about training. I eat, sleep, and breathe powerlifting and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How long would you say it took you to acquire everything in your home gym?
As touched on above, I’ve acquired equipment gradually over a span of five years. I estimate I’ve invested roughly seven thousand dollars in all of my equipment. The 3×3 squat rack from elitefts was easily the best investment. My next purchase will be a texas deadlift bar or an okie bar in the near future.
How much did you pull your first time ever deadlifting?
Looking back at my training logs, I was deadlifting 230 pounds for five reps when I began training. On March 30, 2008, I pulled 400 pounds. On March 1, 2009, I pulled 500 pounds. On August 22, 2010, I pulled 600 pounds. On April 22, 2011, I pulled 700 pounds. Currently, my best deadlift is 755 pounds, but I expect 800 to be destroyed in the very near future.
How did 5/3/1 treat you? Recommend any particular cookie cutter programs?
5/3/1 was definitely my favorite and most successful program I’ve ran. The longest I ran it was from January to April for a meet prep earlier this year. Another solid program is the Coan/Phillipi deadlift routine. It’s intense, but it delivers the results. In all honesty though, many of my programs are on the fly. People always ask me what my routine is, but at the end of the day, I rely on instinct to determine when I should lift. You become mentally in-tune after this many years of lifting to the point where you know when you’re ready to go and when you should rest up. This method hasn’t failed me yet.
What methods is your training based on?
I can’t really say my training is based on any specific method. I’ve found what works and what doesn’t. Interestingly enough, I recently discovered that having two squat days per week and one deadlift day followed by no accessory work was something that my body responded well to. I would deadlift heavy and then be done, and on the squat days I would work up to a new five rep max and that was it.
What accessory lifts would you say have helped your weak points and give the most back in terms of power,speed ect.
I’m not a huge fan of accessory lifts as I’ve found I made good progress when focusing on the core lifts as I stated above. Remember, your squat will build your deadlift, and your deadlift will build your squat. I love full squats with a pause at the bottom as well as glute-ham raises with bands around your neck. The GHRs have always seemed to help my lockout quite a bit. The bands create immense tension at the top and force you to get used to moving fast.
How is your grip so strong? Any tips for those who are struggling to keep ahold of the bar?
I have never trained grip in my life, however I NEVER use straps either for anything. Grip was an issue at one my meets with 700 pounds, but the issue corrected itself on its own. My biggest tip would be to forget the straps, make sure you’re using a good deadlift bar with deep knurling, and chalk up. If you do all those things, your
grip should be pretty damn strong.
Can you give us a detailed look at what your current training regimen is like?
It’s tough for me to say exactly because I never train the same bodyparts on the same day each week. Roughly speaking, it looks like this:
Sunday – ass to floor pause squats working up to new 5RM, then new 3RM with 5 more pounds
Monday – Incline Bench Press: work up to new 5RM, then 4×5 with lighter weight, db bench press 120s for max reps, then 3×20 with lighter weight (100s), weighted dips with 45 pounds for three sets max reps.
Tuesday – deadlift up to a new max, back off set of 2-5 reps, then maybe 405 for max reps if you’re feeling good
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Should Press: 10×10 with light weight/short rests, triceps pushdowns 7×15, cable lateral raises: 5×12, cable curls: 7×10
Friday – same as sunday
Saturday – rest
Do you incorporate bands/chains into your routine?
Not too much. I only use bands for the glute-ham raises I was talking about. I wrap them under the machine and then over my neck to create a lot of tension at lockout.
How often would you say you deload or take a light week?
Every two months or so I’ll take a week off to let my CNS recover. It’s usually after a period of heavy training (well, that’s all I do), and my lifts are going down. When the bar feels heavy on deadlifts, I know it’s time for some rest. In the past, I’ve deloaded before meets, but I like to take a week off now instead.
Do you ever take time off from lifting heavy and do more of a bodybuilding style routine instead?
My upper body training is more based around a bodybuilding style. Lower body is always heavy and it will never be any other way for me, but my upper body seems to respond better to the higher reps and shorter rest periods.
Do you only pull conventional or do you switch up at all?
Always conventional, never sumo.
How many calories do you try to take in everyday?
No idea, but it’s a fair amount. I’d guess it’s roughly five thousand.
Can you give us a look at what your diet looks like?
I like to keep things simple, so here is how it’s done. The first rule is that you have to eat two pounds of grass fed beef everyday. You also have to drink one gallon of chocolate milk. Besides that, everything else is fair game. I’ll usually mix in some burritos, muffins, and other junk food. I need tons of calories and carbohydrates to fuel my intense training.
What does your supplementation look like?
I use vitamin d3 as everyone should because it has connections to every hormone in the body. I take 5000 IUs of that every night before bed, but I also like to take Jack3d before my deadlift days to get amped up. If you have the money, I’d also recommend USP Labs Modern BCAAs for an intra-workout drink. It tastes good and keeps me alert during my training. I’ve used creatine monohydrate off and on,but I haven’t used it in a few months now.
Do you find using ammonia caps to be a big factor in hitting new PR’s?
No, you’re either going to get it that day or you won’t, but they help me focus for that short time period where I need to go all out. The main thing they do is keep you alert and give you a bit of an adrenaline rush. I personally love them, but it’s not like they’re going to add twenty pounds to your previous personal record.
What are your goals with powerlifting?
I would die a happy man if I ever pulled over 1000 pounds raw. That’s the goal and will continue to be. Look for 900 to fall in 2012.
Plan on competing again anytime soon?
I’m planning on competing in the UPA Nationals Meet in late April of 2012 with Chris Hickson, Frankie Santoro, Eric Lilliebridge, and Ernie Lilliebridge. Besides that, I have some things in the works for a few independent deadlifting competitions around the United States next year.
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