Where did you grow up?
The South-side suburbs right around Chicago, Evergreen Park IL
Did you play any sports as a kid?
Pretty much everything, baseball, football, basketball, I wrestled a little bit in high-school right before I got into lifting. I just didn’t want to be a little squirt anymore so that’s why I pretty much started.
Has anybody inspired you throughout your career?
I got into body building because of Arnold.. so that’s what I tried first and I realized I really like going heavy all the time, and Franco Columbu used to go heavy so that’s why i tried powerlifting. I saw Bill Kazmaier compete on TV once and he was a monster at 6 foot 330 with abs so I was like “I wanna be like that” so I started lifting.
Is it true that when you started squatting you maxed out twice a week adding five pounds each session until you where squatting 500 pounds?
That’s what I did, it worked. I didn’t know any better so I wasn’t handcuffed to any certain way of thinking so i just did it. Cause when you’re young, for a while you just keep going til something breaks and it didn’t break at that point so i just kept going
Has you’re training program stayed pretty much the same over the years, or where there times where you would scrap your current programming and come up with a whole new approach?
The basics stayed the same, off season I would do a little bit different stuff where I worked on my weaknesses like I would change the way I squatted. Instead of doing a regular power squat I would do a high bar closer stance squat and I would do stiff-legged deadlifts and a little more assistance work for my upper body to help my bench out.
What routine yielded you the best results in your prime?
The one that I did in my prime the linear periodization and work on all my assistance work as heavy as I could.
If you had to pick one assistance exercise for each one of the big three what would they be and why?
For squats it was either my off season high bar close stance squats that worked on my weaknesses, because my hips and back were way stronger than my quads, or power squats. For the bench, close grip benches and inclines, and for deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlift and heavy bent-over rows.
What was your best overhead press?
I never did them. I used to do seated behind the neck presses and the most I ever went up to was 400, that’s the most I ever tried.
What where your best gym lifts?
In the squat I know I went up to 900 for 5 in the squat with the straps down. I believe I did a double at 981 before in the squat. In the bench, it’s in a youtube video I did 550 for 2 I did a 550 pause with my feet up in the air, and I did a 565 pause. That’s raw before I put on any type of bench shirt and a 565 raw pause just regular in the gym. Close grip I went up to 5 and a quarter for a pause on the bench. Inclines I’ve gone up to 485, but that’s after I bench close grip then I did inclines I never did a regular incline day. Deadlift I doubled 900 sumo in the gym, I’ve gone up to, with no equipment.. no belt or anything, 855 for a couple real easy. I pulled 892 with no belt in the gym conventional style. That’s about it, I don’t have any curl records or any stupid stuff like that.
How soon before a meet would you incorporate pause benching if at all?
I didn’t do it at all, but I would pause my close grips and my inclines, so I got used to it already anyways and I did that all year round.
What’s your favorite tricep movement?
Push-downs with a straight bar. I use a straight bar when I bench so I use a straight bar for that, but I like really heavy, heavy push downs. I mean I did close grips which helped my triceps out too, but it was mostly push downs and if my shoulders weren’t hurting I would do a lot of dips.
How many years of training did it take you to reach a 1000 pound squat?
When I first squatted 1000 it was 99 or 2000 or something like that, so from the time I started my first meet in 1980 til the time I got there, but I never attempted it before that so I don’t know if I could’ve hit it before, but I hit it at the right time for me.
Have you always walked out your squats, or have you also used a monolift?
I walked them out all the time because that’s the kind of competition I went in. I did go in one WPO meet where they had a monolift but I walked it out because that’s what I was used to.
Have you ever utilized high rep squats like the 20 rep squat program?
No it wouldn’t have done me any good it would’ve just burnt me out too much. Too high intensity too soon there’s no use in it for me.
Have you ever utilized bands or chains? I’ve never seen you use them in any of your videos.
Back then no one was using them anyways. There is a use for them especially guys who wear equipment. Bands I like for some rehab work, a guy named Kelly Starrett and Donnie Thompson show in a lot of videos, actually great stuff, and chains I’ve tried in the bench and they’re pretty cool in the bench. They can actually still help you out raw or equipped.
How did you come up with your deadlift program?
Just reading what all of the guys before me did, all the great lifters before me. Cause I used to read the powerlifting magazines and all of the bodybuilding magazines, and just tried and true over time.
What made you start pulling sumo?
I tried it and it worked. That’s pretty much it, I’ve always done both, especially in the off season because I thought conventional would still build my hamstrings and lower back and mid back and upper back and all that stuff. Much better for development wise to keep it strong as an aid to help my sumo out anyways, but when I first started sumo it was just miraculous how easy it was for me.
In some training videos you pull conventional, do you feel sumo doesn’t hit up some muscles as hard as conventional?
For a max weight back then, but after I tore an abductor and tore hamstring I went back to conventional to save myself from getting hurt again. I liked conventional in the off season especially to help my sumo to strengthen all of the areas that sumo wouldn’t hit especially my back.
What about grip variations? Ever pulled double overhand or with a hook grip?
I never needed a hook grip because I never had a grip problem. I did pull double overhand for fun I’ve gone up to 600 or a little over that without hooking it just double overhand but I never needed to.
Have you ever trained your core directly or did you just develop it through heavy squats and deadlifts?
Mostly through heavy squats and deadlifts with no belt. A lot of off season stuff with no belt and your body has no choice but either to adapt or die. It’s kinda like ab-daptation. It kinda like fills it in, I had to do a little bit of abs here and there but not much it was mostly stuff without a belt that helped me the most.
Did you have any specific way of telling you where overtraining to let you know to back-off for a little while
Yeah because you have a sensible training routine set up not where oh I squatted 500 in this meet or this training session the next time I go out, or the next cycle I do I’m gonna go 580 or some stupid number way too high that’s not achievable. That’s the only time that people end up screwing up, but as long as you don’t do anything stupid like that you could tell there’s usually no other reason to miss.
Do you still train at Quads gym?
yes I do.
What is you’re most cherished moment in your powerlifting career?
There’s probably a whole bunch of them, I mean where it got me is pretty cool. Not just being in the magazines, but I got so many friends all over the world that’s probably the coolest thing I’ve had.
Do you think the sport of powerlifting has a bright future?
Yeah I think it has to adapt there’s a lot of big raw movement right now, but there’s still guys wearing single ply equipment which is just one layer of stuff. There’s guys in they say extreme powerlifting that wear multiple layers and use a lot more weight and stuff like that with a monolift, because its easier with the amount of weight they handle and with the equipment to use a monolift where they don’t have to walk it out. It’s all the same but different.
Can you tell us about your website and why you started it?
I started it because there’s not a lot out there on my training and me, and I figured I could help a lot of people and do a lot of good for myself and my buddies that are helping me with it and get all the information out there.