Category Archives: Men’s Interviews

Ed Coan Interview

ed-coan

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.

Ed Coan Video Interview

Matt Sohmer Talks With Seriouspowerlifting

Matt-Sohmer-powerlifting

Where are you from?

Farmingdale New York

Have you graduated from high school yet?

Yes. I have graduated from farmingdale high school back in June of 2011

College plans?

I am attending Indiana university of Pennsylvania. I will be pursing a exercise science degree along with a physical therapy degree

What got you into powerlifting? At what age did you start to take it seriously?

Around 16..I started to lift hard during my sophomore and junior year of high school. During that time knee surgeries and constant knee injuries during high school football kept me from really lifting and getting stronger. I started to lift seriously after my senior year of varsity football in 2011 . During the summer I prepared for college football. At the end of the summer I reach my new maximums that consisted of a 625 pound raw squat and a deadlift max of 700 pounds but with straps.

After the college football season was over I started to lift again and I had my 1st powerlifting meet on December 3 2011, where I squatted 625 and deadlifted 635 Raw. Since then (about 8 months) I’ve increased my squat and deadlift over 125 pounds.

Would you mind laying out your current routine?

I train my self and 90% of the I usually just make it up as I go along.

Where is your bench at currently?

300. I know that’s low. I don’t really work on it I maybe do it 3 times a month because I love squatting and deadlifting so much I push it to the side but that’s gonna change!

Have you ever ran any specific programming for your squat such as Smolov?

I’ve tried the Russian squat program which was pretty easy for me


Matt Sohmer at the AAU Junior Olympic Games

How did you end up with your deadlift stance? It’s not conventional, yet it’s not full-on sumo.

To be honest that’s the stance I started with and I’ve thrived with it and tried the others and I’m more comfortable the way I do it.

How often would you say you deload or take a week off?

I take off about One week per month

How many powerlifting records do you currently hold

I have 8 AAU American and world records which include 711 pound deadlift, a 761 pound squat I also hold records in the SSA and the ADFPF. All together I have about 14 teenage American and world records. I am the first teen in history to Squat 761 Raw without knee wraps

What numbers do you plan to hit in the future for the big three?

The skies the limit

    

What do you hope to accomplish in powerlifting?

To become the best and strongest powerlifter in the world. Also to break every Raw record there is.

Who do you look up to?

My Uncle Carl Caleca. He was an olympic lifter and he’s the one who got me into lifting

Have any meets coming up?

WDFPF worlds October 27th

AAU Junior Olympics July 27th 2013

And probably a couple between them



You can check out more of Matt’s videos here and you can subscribe to his youtube channel here.

Seriouspowerlifting Talks To Jonathan Marchetto

What sparked your interest in powerlifting?

Well I first became interested in lifting weights when I was a kid. It was probably sparked by my fascination with professional wrestling as funny as it sounds. I saw all these larger then life guys on TV and wanted to be as big and strong as them. When I got to the gym for the first time in middle school I immediately fell in love with the bench press, not because I didn’t value the other big lifts, but I was obsessed with getting my bench higher and higher.

what lifter has inspired you the most?

I’m really inspired by Scott Mendelson, he’s one of the best bench pressers in the world and he’s also played a big role in the establishment of NLA performance supplement company. Two of my personal dreams are to hold some of the top bench press records around the world as well as start my own supplement line.

You’re training to break the Junior USAPL bench press record, can you tell us how it’s going?

It’s going more then great! I had some shoulder trouble since I played football in high school so up until December I was just doing my bench pressing on the decline bench, but for the past three months I’ve been able to safely transition back into a normal bench press. When I started up again after my shoulder injury I could only bench 315, now three months later it has already shot up to over 365. I’m really glad that I have three years in the junior division, I believe this will allow me to show my potential to powerlifting community and test my limits.

What weight class will you be competing in?

Right now I’m pretty set on competing in the 181 pound division. It would be awesome to maintain my strength and drop down to the 165 division, but I feel like I still have a lot of room to grow as a 181 pound lifter.

What does your current bench press routine look like?

I’ve made a lot of modifications through my years of working out, but currently my bench press routine is the best it’s ever been.
On Mondays
Bench press- Work up to 1 set of 1-3 reps, lower the weight 5% for 2 sets of 1-3 reps
Military press- Work up to 1×3, lower the weight 5% for 2 sets of 1-3 reps
Cable push downs- 3 sets of 12
Cable curls- 3 sets of 12
Bent row- 3 sets of 3
Lateral raise- 3 sets of 12
Abs- 3 sets of 12

Thursday
Reverse band bench press- 3 sets of 5
Band close grip bench press- 3 sets of 5
Overhead dumbbell extension- 3 sets of 10-12
T-Bar row- 3 sets of 5
Lateral raise- 3 sets of 12
Rear-delt raise- 3 sets of 12
Abs- 3 sets of 12

On Sunday and Friday I use the exact same exercise/rep scheme but I replace the exercises and focus on pulling and lower body exercises. For instance, I replace the heavy pushes with deadlifts and good mornings, and replace the isolated tricep and shoulder work with high pulls and hammer curls.

What is your weak point on the bench press?

Definitely the middle of the movement, a few weeks ago I was actually stuck there for a good five seconds when i was testing some 1 rep maxes but I pushed through it.

Do you start to do pause benches when training starts to get close to the meet, or is it a constant staple in your training?

I’ve just started utilizing the powerlifting arch that is common in the sport so for me getting used to pausing at a different point of the movement has been tough. I definitely focus on it once a week, I utilize a cage style squat rack and set the safety pins in a spot that perfectly aligns with where the weight would be touching my chest and bench off of there. I do utilize “touch and go” work to get used to heavier weights as I try not to get stuck on one weight for too long.

What pl routine added the most to your total?

Without a doubt the Westside Barbell program has had a great influence on how I structure my programs. It definitely got me out of a big slump when I was having trouble making progress. I also like that they are high volume workouts because I love spending time in the gym. The Westside Barbell routines really push you and force you to make gains!

What are you squatting and deadlifting at the moment?

Unfortunately two herniated discs that I have been dealing with for some time, but I still train my lower body hard because I love the lifts. I have racked up a fairly impressive deadlift of 525 at age 18. For me it was a huge accomplishment since I basically had to start from square one to get there. Right now I’ve cut a decent amount of weight so I’m working on getting those lifts back up if I had to guess I’d say my max deadlift is high 400′s and my squat would be low 300′s.

Do you plan to ever go back to doing full meets?

I’d have no problem competing in a full meet, I think it would be a great experience and really allow me to push myself. I’d love to compete in a deadlift event one day especially, but the bench press will always be my go to lift.

Do you only compete in raw competitions?

For me training the raw bench press has been an awesome experience, but I do hope to one day train for suited bench press record. I really admire all those great powerlifters who excel using the bench press suit/shirts because they require tons of time, experience, and knowledge to know how to use correctly.

Have any cutting techniques you use to lose weight and maintain your strength?

I believe cutting is probably my strong point as I used to weight 260 pounds and I am now sitting at the high 180′s ( I guess bulking would have to be my strong suit to then haha). The best tool anyone can use to dial in on their nutrition and diet goals is a food scale. It is one of the best weapons in my arsenal and allows me to have exact nutrition plans to meet my exact training goals. Being consistent is key, and utilize a food scale is one tool that allows being consistent to become easy.

Supplements can help you achieve some of your fitness goals if your diet and training regime are in check. For instance some whey protein to help you meet your macro-nutrient goals for the day or when your in a situation where you cannot eat any food that will fit into your diet. A pre-workout can be another good tool especially when energy levels are low and you want to train hard during your workouts.

What other goals do you have for powerlifting?

At the moment it would be awesome to become a sponsored athlete and spread my interest of powerlifting, fitness, and nutrition around the country. I am also planning to start a powerlifting club on my college campus. Finally I really enjoy helping people achieve their goals, especially by helping them improve their technique and form. I picture myself as a kid wobbling around with the weights, and I’m thankful for all of those people who came over and took the time to help me out.

You can get in touch with Jonathan on his facebook here.

Konstantins Konstantinovs Interview

konstantins konstantinovs

Where did you grow up?

I was born in a small seaside town Liepaja in the country Latvia.

Have you always been naturally strong? Did you play any sports growing up?

From early childhood I was a strong kid, much stronger than other kids. I started my sport career by Olympic gymnastics at 6 years old. After that I did wrestling and judo. And at about 16 years old I started to do powerlifting.

What do you do for a living?

I am a professional bodyguard.

konstantin konstantinovs

What made you become interested in powerlifting?

I’ve always been strong and I always want to be even stronger and powerlifting is the greatest sport for getting strong and powerful.

Why did you take such a long layoff from lifting?

In October 2010 during MMA training I got a really bad upper back injury and my right arm almost did not work. My bench-press went down to 250 lb and deadlift went down about 500lb. Recovery took me more then a year and even now I am not healthy 100%, but I do everything to get my strength back and after that move up to a new level.

What weight-class do you plan to continue competing in? Will you ever drop back to down to 275?

For now I’m planning to compete for 308 lb, maybe one day I will drop down to 275 lb to break some records, but for now I don’t think about it.

Could you give an example of your latest training methods and how your current workout routine looks?

My training is different from regular week day. Between training I have 1,2 or 3 days off it all depends on how I feel.

1 training. Squat, bench press, deadlift with shrug bar, assistant work for lower back and legs.
2 training: Bench press, triceps, and upper back,abs
3 training: Deadlift, bench press, second deadlift, third deadlift, assistant work.
4 training: bench press,abs,triceps
Start new cycle


     

What kind of programming did you use to put the most weight on your squat?

Last time I changed my squat training program, Mark Bell from Supertraining GYM, USA helped me with new squat program.

1 week: 50% of PR + green bans. 12 sets by 2 reps on the box. 16 inch 2 minutes between sets. Fast, no belt, wide position. After that I change the box for 12 inch and do l medium legs position squat. Go up for 1 set 5 heavy reps.

2 week: 55% of PR + green bans 9 sets by 2 reps like 16 inch box fast no belt. Change box for 12 and go up to 1 set 3 heavy reps medium legs positions.

3 week: 60% of PR + green bans, 6 sets by 2 reps, fast, no belt, 16 inch box. Take bands and box out and do just Raw squat with belt go up to one rep max. And after that I put another 100 lb on my last rep, just walk out of the rack and hold it for 20 sec.

Each second training session I use safety squat bar. Before I did squat much more often and sometimes it was too much stress for my lower back, but now I have recovery from 9-14 days between squat training and feel much better.This program gave me 25 lb on my squat, in just three months.

Will you try to take your squat record back from Stan Efferding?

I don’t look for Stan’s squat record, but I definitely look to take his TOTAL. I have big respect for this guy and I hope one day we will face each other on the same stage.

Is there any particular reason you deadlift with a rounded upper-back?

Deadlift with upper back is optimal position for my body. Just more comfortable for me. I think it’s bullshit that you need to arch your back. Put your back in position what is more comfortable for your body. That’s my opinion.

How do you get so much explosion pulling off of the floor?

Speed in explosives is most important I think for my deadlift. You have to do fast and explosive each rep for your deadlift. Even when you’re warming up. Another thing what has helped me for many years is rubber bans, which I use all the time for my speed deadlift days. It has to be really hard and tight, my bans give me about 130lb on the bottom and 300lb on the top of lift. Another good exercise for speed from the floor is deficit deadlift on a 3-4 inch box. I only like the IPF bar for deadlift it’s much harder and not flexible like WPC bar and it gives me much more power when I switch the bars.

konstantins konstantinovs

Why did you start doing deadlifts with a shrug bar? Have you noticed any carryover to the standard deadlift?

First time I use shrug bar for my deadlift program all the time and I really like this stuff. It puts much less presser on my lower back, and gives me more leg drive. It also helps me on my start position for regular deadlift. Upper back and lats are very important for my deadlift and shrug bar trains this part of the body very well. I use shrug bar with many different ways. I do regular deadlift, deficit deadlift, straight legs deadlift , speed pulls and I really recommended shrug bar for every body who looking for a big deadlift.

Have you ever had any problems with your grip strength?

My grip always was pretty strong, but I keep training my grip regularly. I like to just simply hold heavy waits for 10 sec. For example if I’m planning to deadlift 900 lb I do 925 lb for 10 sec. Another good exercise is holding the fat bar.

Do you find any benefit from benching with a close grip?

Close grip for me is optimal before when I bench with wide grip I had many problems with my chest and shoulders, but with close grip its much more comfortable for me.

Has the slingshot helped improve your bench at all?

I LOVE the slingshot and BIG THANK YOU to Mark Bell for this excellent device. I use slingshot in 90% of my bench press training. When I had injury, my right arm almost did not work and I couldn’t do bench press normally, only with sling shot and it really helped with my recovery. Now Mark Bell has sent me 3 different sling shots and my favorite one is a reactive slingshot blue color. This is very light sling shot and doesn’t give to much power, but still protects you in most dangerous lower positions on the bench press. With my close grip strong triceps are very important, and with sling shot you can work much heavier. For example I do 465lb for 5 reps raw, put reactive sling shot on and do 490lb for 5 reps, put on regular sling shot and do 520 for 5 reps and after that put on mad dog sling shot and do another 3-4 reps with 540lb and this make my arms much stronger in lock out.

What do you consider your greatest powerlifting achievement?

My 939lb deadlift no belt for me it was the most impressive thing that I ever did, but I really want to make it even bigger. I want to do 950 lb totally raw and beat my gear record 948lb without deadlift suit and belt

What goals do you plan to achieve in your second coming to powerlifting?

I’m planning to get back into my best shape and set more records in raw powerlifting.

konstantins-konstantinovs

Can we expect to see a lot more training videos from you now that you’re back?

I like put videos on my YouTube channel only if I think it’s really interesting and funny for watching. I will keep doing it sometimes.

Do you have anything you’d like to say to the powerlifting community?

I am really glad raw powerlifting is coming up! It’s good if you have a choice, double ply, single ply, raw, but only raw lifting show your real power. And I wanna say hey guys lets lift raw more often, let your body become naturally strong and powerful!



You can view more of konstantins videos here. Be sure to subscribe to his channel and share his videos to let him know we want to see more of him!!!

Seriouspowerlifting Talks With Up And Coming Teen Powerlifter James Pak

What made you get into powerlifting?

My original intent was to get better at football; after not playing football at all freshmen year, I was extremely disappointed and said with myself. Sports were never my thing, I was usually either really bad at them, or I quit them. I just wanted to get better for next year, so I thought lifting weights would help, and they seemed to do more then that. Slowly but surely I found myself falling more in love with getting stronger then football. I later realized my real passion is powerlifting, I love getting stronger, its a fair sport and its simple. I just continued adding weight to the bar and kept on gaining weight. I also began to find that I always want to do better then the time before. After a big lift, I always tell myself: “Well next time I’m doing 5lbs more, so this doesn’t really mean anything.” I kept on with this attitude and it lead me to where I am today.

Have you competed yet?

I have not, but it is on my 2012 to do list. I just sent in an entry form for a meet on April 14th, so I’m currently getting ready for that. I don’t have any exact plans or goals, but I do plan on doing my absolute best.

What are some goals you would like to achieve in this sport?

I rarely set myself short term goals of how much weight I want to be lifting by “X” time. If I do, I don’t do a good job keep track of it. I just always try my best, pursue excellence in my passion, and I let the rest fall into place. I feel like setting goals isn’t allowing you to be your best. Why do I need to set goals If I’m just going to try and be my absolute best at all times? There is no way to tell where I’ll be, or how to set an accurate goal. For example, my original goal was to squat 315 before 2012, I squatted 300×7 (which is equivalent to well over 315) in April of 2011. I’m just always going to be at my best, doing my best, and let that take me where I need to be.


    

What does your training schedule look like?

I’m currently running a modified version of madcows 5×5, it looks like this.

Tuesday: Medium day (work up to 3RM for bench, squat, then assistance work)

Friday: Heavy day (work up to 5RM for bench, squat, then assistance work)

Sunday: Light day (light squats, work up to 5RM for Deadlift and OHP, then assistance work)

Can you give us a layout of your current routine?

Tuesday: Medium day

Bench press: 5×5 ramping up to new 3 rep PR

Squat: 5×5 ramping up to new 3 rep PR

Pull Ups: 3-5 sets
Chin Ups: 3-5 sets

Bi/Tri work: 3×8

Hypers: 3×12

Friday: Heavy day

Squat: 5×5 ramping up to 5 rep PR

Bench press: 5×5 ramping up to 5 rep PR

Pull Ups: 3-5 sets

Chin Ups: 3-5 sets

Bi/Tri work: 3×8

Abs: 3-5 sets

Sunday: Light day

Squats: Work up to 80% of the top set on Friday

OHP: 5×5 ramping up to 5 rep PR

Deadlift: 5×5 ramping up to 5 rep PR

Horizontal pull: 4×8

Abs: 3-5 sets

how often do you deload?

I don’t have a set time to deload, I went 18 straight weeks bench/squatting/deadlifting relatively heavy, then I finally decided to deload + reset. This last month however I have deloaded twice already due to Christmas break getting in the ways of things. However next week I’ll be back in business setting PRs again.

What is your opinion on training until failure?

Training to failure every once in awhile never hurt anyone. Going to failure on every set seems a bit excessive. However, I do not think its necessary to reach most peoples goals. There are 2 variables it will take to properly answer this question.

1. What is the lifters primary goal?
2. What is trying to be achieved by going to failure?

For myself, I rarely go to failure, primarily times because I don’t need to. If my program calls to Squat 425 for 5 reps, I’ll just do the 5 reps, and nine times out of ten I won’t need to go to failure, I just get my 5 reps and rack it, and save the left over energy in the tank for next session. Who would ever want to go to failure with 400lbs+ plus on your back? Doesn’t sound fun. But that is because my main goal is strength. In powerlifting, I don’t see it being necessary to go to failure, if so, it would be very seldom. But I notice that more people that train for size would go to failure more often. The only scenario where I see going to failure wouldn’t hurt; would be if your main goal is size, you are bulking, and you go to failure maybe on 1 set each of your work out sessions. But in general, I don’t think going to failiure is necessary to reach your goals.

Do you ever switch up deadlift stances or do you always pull sumo?

When I first started Deadlifting, I pulled conventional, but a few months later I got a lower back injury. I took about 4 months off of Deadlifting, and when I came back I started pulling sumo, this was probably around July 2011. From that point on, I always pulled sumo, haven’t pulled conventional since, sumo just feels a lot more natural and easier for me.

Have you ever had any trouble with your grip strength? Do you do any sort of grip work?

I don’t think I have ever done forearm or grip strength work. The closest thing I can think of is doing hammer curls for a few months. Other then that, I just deadlift heavy.

Do you switch up between high bar and low bar squats?

This is a similar story to the Deadlift story. I used to Squat high bar, all the time. Lower back injury, started squatting low bar and I have no lower back pain, and I only took about a month off of Squatting. But since then, I’ve always squatted low bar, but not crazy low like some big name PLers do. Again, low bar just feels more natural and easier for me.

Ever do partials just to get used to heavier weight?

Never, if I want to get used to heavier weight, I just lift heavier weight through a full ROM.

Do you incorporate any bands or chains in your training?

Not at all. My training is based around madcows 5×5, and its pretty straight up – do the compound lifts frequently and add weight to the bar.

How often do you do box jumps?

I haven’t done them in a few weeks due to awful weather, but I’ll be back at them next week most likely. I usually do them 2-3x a week, I don’t see it being any different then Squatting 3x a week, and I love the moment and being able to get high.

Louie says they’re a great way to measure leg strength/power progress, would you agree with that?

Yes, I do. Box jumps are also an awesome explosive movement, you can never do a box jump slow.

Do you try to stick to any particular diet?

Not at all, I eat as much as I can, and as often as I can. I try to keep foods a little healthy and clean, but for the most part I aim for lots of protein and carbs and just some fat here and there. Most of my days turn out to be pretty good diet wise.

What is your “go to” food when bulking? we all have one.

It looks a lot like this:

1-2 scoops of whey
1-2 cups of shredded oatmeal
1-2 tbsp of PB

Maybe some ice cream depending on how I’m feeling, or what I need.

If I’m really in a rush, I’ll just down a tuna can and follow it up with some gum to kill the smell.

Any advice for any teen powerlifters out there?

Yes – take advantage of your time now. Most teens don’t work a job, don’t pay bills, and don’t buy their own groceries. Its basically free food, and a lot of free time on your hands. Take advantage of it, because it won’t be around forever. Eat a lot, and add weight to the bar frequently, practice the movements, and keep things simple. Pursue excellence and appreciate the privilege of being able to train, never give up, and never doubt yourself. Lift with 110% confidence, and stay dedicated. Its important to be fully aware you don’t make gains over night, you need to work hard at it for a good bit of time, if you truly want to succeed in the sport, you’ll be training for awhile. With that being said, if you’re going to be training for a long time, learn to have fun while doing it. Bring your friends to the gym and lift with them, maintain your social life, continue hanging out with friends and such, balance is the key. Skipping the gym, partying and getting wasted every weekend is not being balanced. Once you truly fall in love with this sport, it’ll be engraved into your life style, from there on, all you have to do is apply yourself.

I would also like to take this time to thank all the people who support me; special thanks to my good friends Clayton, Matt, Stefan, Connor, Anthony, Hanif, Clifford, and Joe.

You can view more of James Pak’s videos here.

Seriouspowerlifting Interview With Pete Rubish

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.

You can view more of Pete’s videos here.

Interview With WABDL World Record Holder Ben Rice

Ben Rice deadlift

Why did you choose powerlifting?

I like how measurable it is. I played other sports in highschool, football, wrestling, and soccer and I loved them but Powerlifting was the only one where I could really set a goal and pursue it, while at the same time measuring my progress. Not to mention for the most part the sport is objective. Powerlifting is all about numbers if mine is bigger then I win. I love the beautiful simplicity of it.

Who did you look up to when you first started lifting?

When I first started I didn’t realize that it was something that really went on past highschool. We had a group of lifters on the highschool team that I thought were crazy strong and I wanted to lift as much as them. My sophomore year I met Brent Mikesell at one of our highscool meets and I was blown away by how nice this amazingly strong man was, I would say I looked up to him very much and through following his career I learned a lot about the sport as it existed outside of highschool. I learned about Ed Coan and Kirk Karwowski and my outlook on lifting has never been the same.

Describe the moment you knew you would be a successful powerlifter.

It’s a decision I have to make every day. I wasn’t blessed with incredible natural strength or great genetics. But I was blessed with incredible natural stubbornness. My first contest I entered in highschool I took something like 7th and I decided that I didn’t like getting beaten. By other people, but especially from the weights. After that I started making my choice every day. The choice to be the best at this. I still have a long way to go but every hard fought inch of improvement means more to me because none of it has come easily or without sacrifice.

Can you give us a rundown of a general day in the life of Ben Rice?

Ben Rice

Haha Well let me start out by saying I don’t really have any 2 days in a week that look the same. So I’ll tell you what today was like. I woke up at 8 to finish preparing a presentation for my first class. I grabbed some food on my way to my first class at 10. I didn’t have my 11:00 class today so I grabbed a quick bite of food and hit the gym by no later than noon.

My workouts can go very long if I let them so I am basically in the gym until my next class at 3:30 was in that class until 5 when I got out and grabbed some dinner with a few friends. Then I got about an hour of singing practice in before my 7:00 class. I got out of that around 8:30 after that I headed back to the residence hall where I live and work as an RA. I figured out all the homework I would have that was due tomorrow and needed priority attention like I do every night. Then made the RA rounds checking on my residents and seeing how the 150 freshman I am responsible for are doing, how their classes are going and how they are feeling in the hall.

After that was done I came back to my room to work on some homework, and then it is generally time for a little bit more food and some sleep usually in bed between 1-2. Now this particular day happens about twice a week, the other days are structured differently because I have classes some days that I don’t have other days. Some days are RA meeting days, and of course some days are days off from lifting, but everyday is about the same amount of things being done. Honestly I wouldn’t really know what to do with any excess of free time if I had it, but I rarely feel bored with my life.

Where did your lifts start and how long did it take to get them to where they are now?

Well they started pretty low… when I first started lifting weights in 8th grade we had to do 10 perfect reps with the bar on the squat, bench incline and clean before we were allowed to add any weight, and we weren’t allowed to deadlift anything until a few months into weight training. The first time we maxed on our lifts I had worked my way up to a 225 squat for 3 reps, a 135 bench for 3 reps and a 315 deadlift. That was something like 9 years ago. I have been slowly and steadily improving since then.

What are your views on training frequency?

I approach Powerlifting the same way that I would approach any other activity. The more you practice it the better you get. If you want to improve your pull, you have to work on making it closer to perfect, which means thousands of reps to establish a true muscle memory response. The reason my core training block is based off of sheiko training methods is because I am a firm believer in pursuing perfection of each lift as I get stronger. The higher your training frequency the more your body is exposed to the lift and the closer to perfect your form gets. It won’t ever completely get there of course, but I believe, form will trump strength in a close contest any day.

You say your training is based on Sheiko and Wendler’s principles, can you elaborate?

Of course, I have never been big into stock programs and so anything I have ever run I have bastardized to some extent. And as beautiful as I think sheiko is I had to make it more me. I started off my first sheiko training block trying to stay true to the workout to give it a fair run and see if it would really work. A four day a week CMS program. However, after two weeks my body was adapting to the high frequency and high volume and the workouts started to feel easier and less like they were sucking the soul from my body and spitting me out on the gym floor.

I figured that since the weights were pretty submaximal I would start adding in some Wendler 5/3/1 ideals a like working towards a rep max every workout. So I proceeded to take ever final set of an exercise for that day and turn it into a max rep, to develop mental toughness and confidence with my top set weights. Since sheiko generally has you hitting at least 1 lift twice in any particular workout I would take the final set from the last round of that lift and rep it for as many as possible. It definitely made the top sets in other workouts less intimidating. 5 sets of 3 don’t look too bad if you know you’ve hit that weight for 7 reps before at the end of a workout. The max rep tool was a great way for me to break through mental barriers. I also follow a very Wendler”ish” philosophy for accessory work. If you don’t have a good reason for doing an accessory lift then don’t do it!


Can you go into detail with what your training regimen looks like

I can if you are willing to read it all… I run a 4 day a week Master of sport sheiko split, it is based off of very high frequency and high volume of the actual 3 powerlifts usually with submaximal weights. I also throw in some other days that have nothing to do with sheiko to address some small weaknesses I feel are in the program if I were to run it without adjustment.

Monday is usually B/S/B, or bench squat bench day. I usually work up to 5 triples on the first round of bench and then move on to the same on squat. Then head back over to the bench and do some slightly higher rep work like a 5×4 or something similar. I usually make the last set of squats and the last set of the round 2 benches into a max rep in this workout.

Tuesday is a day that I added to address my personal weakness namely my shoulder strength I have been running a 5×5 Strict military press to work on building up my injury prone shoulders. After the 5×5 I focus on shoulder isolation movements and some extra pullup work. This workout is very bodybuilder esc.

Wednesday is usually a fun one for me D/B/D, deads bench deads. Looks easy on paper will test your heart in the gym. The first round of pulls usually have some stipulation either a deficit or a double pause 4-6 sets of 2-3 and they are always an interesting way to start the session. This days benching is usually what I call the marathon session it’s usually a rep and weight pyramid and on some days I’ve done up to 23 sets here with multiple triples, doubles, and singles on the way up and then on the way down again. After that is done back to deads usually full range and more intimidating than I’d prefer. 4 doubles is a good day and I’ve hit a 4×4 at 615 before. That will test your will and pain threshold. In this workout I will make my last set of bench and last set of the round 2 deads into a max rep the deads are usually pretty heavy and the bench is usually very light since it is the bottom of the pyramid.

Thursdays I have way too many classes to make it to the gym… that’s probably a good thing

Friday is what I call the test day. Because it will test how badly you actually want to finish the workout. Day 5 is S/B/S or squat bench squat days. This workout combined with Wednesday’s workout are the reason that I am not tired when going to deadlift in a meet. Because these combinations are much harder than hitting all three lifts in one day. Round 1 of squats is usually on the heavier side usually working up to some triples, then doubles and sometimes back down to triples again. Bench on this day is usually a weight that I would normally hit for multiple triples but I only need to hit it for doubles so I would call this the bench pseudo deload day, and then back to the bar for gut check time and round 2 of squats. All I can say is that even the warm up sets feel like they are going to kill you. The last set of bench and the last set of round 2s squats are max repped here.

Saturday is where I usually go off and do some more of my own things. It usually starts with pause deads so I do those and then some upper body press like incline or a really light bench, and then the program usually calls for pulls from blocks which I will always substitute for something else My gym has no blocks and I am adamant in my aversion to rack pulls I don’t do them and I probably never will. No max rep sets today my body usually doesn’t need it.

Sunday is truly just a day of rest where I go to church and let my body recover.

On all of these workouts there are about 2-4 accessory movements at the end or before the 2nd round lifts. These usually include pin squats, leg press, GMs, Back extensions, Dips, and Flyes. The idea behind these workouts, or at least my approach to them, is that survival will equal growth. Going back to a second round of deads or squats, or starting on a workout when you are still pretty spent from the last one can be a serious gut check, but if I finish the workout I know that I’m going to be stronger from it.

Do you ever switch up deadlift variations in training?

Yes, but not incredibly often. I know that I will always compete pulling sumo as long as I am able, because I am more comfortable pulling that way so a majority of my training is based around that stance. However, I think that both stances should be utilized because they cover each other’s weaknesses so nicely. I usually warm up with both up to 405 and then go purely sumo. My best beltless RAW conventional pull was 615 at 200 lbs on a whim after a 5×5 squat workout, and I’ve pulled 605 beltless with a hook grip just for fun. As for deadlift variations in some other context, not really. I don’t like partial range of motion pulls but I will do pause deads or deficit pulls as long as I am taking the bar from the ground to lockout every time.

What is the biggest benefit you’ve seen from doing “no feet” bench presses?

You mean other than upper body strength? Haha let’s be honest my bench is pretty terrible. This is not news to me. The combination of shoulder injuries, long limbs, and lack of a huge gut have not aided in my quest for a press that can match up to my squat and dead. I have had an issue in the past of my leg drive pressing my hips up off the bench, the goal with the no leg bench is to help me get to be a stronger bencher in general, and when I add back in the leg drive I expect that my press will significantly improve. At least that’s the hope. I know that my bench with my feet up has finally reached 315, so I know I am already stronger than I was at my last meet.

No Feet Bench

What variations of the compound lifts do you believe are the most effective?

The Squat, the Bench press, and the Deadlift. Anything else and you’re not training the lift to get better. You may be getting stronger through the other variations but you are not improving your proficiency at the lift. The powerlifts are not just displays just of pure strength, they are displays of coordinating strength into an efficient movement. This coordination is learned from doing the lifts.

How do you break up your training between raw and geared?

I train raw for as long as I can. I very rarely compete in gear, and recently it has only been for Deadlift only meets. I prefer raw lifting by far. But if I were going to start competing in single ply meets again I would treat them like I do my normal training and try to become proficient at lifting in the gear by wearing it often.

What kind of suit do you deadlift in? Any recommendations?

I currently pull with a Titan Velocity. It is a great suit, but I think suits matter the least in deadlift. I won my first 2 WABDL World championships pulling sumo in an inzer fusion that was cut for a conventional puller, and my recent pull at this year’s WABDL Worlds was only 18 lbs more in the suit, than I pulled 3 weeks earlier RAW in a full meet weighing less. Needless to say I really don’t think that the suit makes the man for deads.

What do you see yourself totaling in five years?

In the next 5 years I would like to be closing in on the numbers that people say can’t be reached. Coan, Belyav, those are the numbers I want. I want the lifts to be clean and legitimate, and I want to do it naturally. I see myself getting there; it is just a matter of putting it all together.

    

Any tips for other lifters trying to get sponsored?

Well, no one can sponsor you if they don’t know about you so make sure that you are putting yourself in a position where you can be noticed. If all you do is train but you never compete it is hard to be marketable for a supplement or gear company. However, the best advice I can give is to focus on being excellent. You can’t go into this with the pure intention of becoming good enough to be sponsored because if your motivation is the money or recognition you won’t be very successful. When you stop worrying about all the other things and commit to being the absolute best that you are capable of, that’s when the sponsoring companies will take notice.

When and where is your next competition?

I just had 2 big meets in less than a month and did very well at them. So I am not in any rush to have another one right away. I don’t want to enter any meets where I can’t show significant improvement. And so I will be running a few full cycles of training before I enter another full meet. I am guessing it will somewhere in the April/May range. And I will be aiming to top for Ryan Celli’s 1840 total. I have massive respect for him and it would be incredible to be in the same total range as him.

Before I go I would just like to say thank you to my sponsor Universal Nutrition, and Animal Pak. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing company backing me, and I am honored to represent them.

You can view more of Ben’s videos here.