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To The Beginner

This article is intended to provide insight for the individual who is just starting out in powerlifting. Most of us begin our powerlifting career/hobby saying "I'll be happy when I can bench 400 lbs.", or "I'd be happy if I had a 600 lb. squat". We sit and admire and marvel at those who have accomplished what we believe to be unattainable lifts. "I'll never be able to do that", "you have to use drugs to get that strong", Bullshit!

10 yrs. ago a 1000 lb. squat was unheard of. A 760 lb. bench at 275 a 725 lb. bench at 267... who could accomplish such a feat?
People who have no mental limitations, people who don't allow themselves the luxury of excuses. I recently watched Sebastian Burns of the Metal Militia bench 725 lbs. at 267 with a broken ankle, he made one lift over 600 lbs., two lifts over 700 lbs. and attempted 765 that day, all with a broken ankle! What does this tell you? It tells me his mind is overwhelmingly stronger than his body.

I'll never forget the first time I saw a 1000 lb. squat. It was Mike Ruggerio of Westside Barbell. I stood in the hallway of York Barbell in total amazement that this man could put 1000 lbs. on his back, let alone squat it. Mike was able to accomplish this because no one told him he couldn't. I could continue to mention lifter after lifter who has accomplished incredible feats of strength or who have overcome physical barriers and still made it to the platform and kicked ass. What do all these guys have in common? They are mentally strong, they have an undying will, and NO limitations.

I'm sure you don't walk into Westside Barbell with a weak mind. I have never trained at Westside, but from what I've heard, don't bother showing up unless you plan on giving it your all. I have recently started training with Bill Crawford and the members of the Metal Militia. My first training session with Bill was on July 6th of this year. Myself and about 20 other guys in the basement of the Adirondack Nautilus club in upstate NY. I was struggling with my denim bench shirt and was having trouble making the bar touch. I did my warm-up, put my shirt on and started with 500 lbs. I dropped the bar to about 3" from my chest and Bill screamed "do it again fast". Without thinking, I dropped the bar down again this time it touched he screamed again "do it again fast" so I did it again. I got up from the bench thinking to myself "Holy shit, I just pressed 500 lbs. 3 times... I've never done that". I had just found out what true intensity and no limitations really meant.

Bill knew I was strong enough to bench 500 lbs. for a triple, but I didn't. You can be the strongest guy on the planet, but if you don't believe you are you will be out-benched by a guy who weighs 50 lbs. less than you, and has a no limitations attitude. The day after training with Bill and Sebastian I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The amount of work that gets done and the amount of weight that gets moved in a three hour period is incredible... no one stops lifting! The bar is always loaded, and the bench always has a lifter on it.

I came back to the gym with a new attitude; I was going to train for real. No more bullshit, no more standing around and talking between sets no more discussing the days events, or problems with the wives, I won't even answer the phone at the gym anymore while I'm training. I started training Militia style!

The guys I lift with were a little taken back by all this but they have started to adapt. We now lift harder and stronger than we ever did and we have all reaped the rewards. In 5 weeks my bench went from 585 to 655. We have 2 guys who bench over 600 lbs., 3 guys who bench over 500 lbs., and several at 400 lbs. One of our guys is 140 lbs. and benches 315! The majority of these guys are in there second year as powerlifters. We have all changed our training attitude and we no longer allow ourselves the luxury of "I can't".

Bill has been to our gym 3 times on training weekends. Every time he comes the intensity shoots up 50 points, and 17 out of 20 lifters will hit a PR. My point is, do not allow yourself to quit! Don't convince yourself that a weight is not attainable, you can be as strong as your mind will allow you to be.

When I started 2 years ago I had no idea what I was doing, so I surrounded myself with those who did. I tried everything, I used bands, I used chains, I tried several different methods and styles of training and I got something from all of them. I started calling people like Bill Crawford, Dave Tate, Louie Simmons, J.M. Blakely and John Bott. I asked their advice whenever I had a problem and they all where more then happy to help.

The best thing I ever did for myself and our team was to go to NY and start training with Bill. You can do the same thing if you are in your basement by yourself trying to powerlift. Get out, find a gym where you can train hard, go to training weekends at other gyms, call people and ask for their advice, train with people who are stronger than you and who motivate and encourage. Don't train with people who constantly criticize others, and who put others down. The Powerlifting community is filled with some really great people who love the sport, don't get me wrong it has its share of assholes just like anything else. Fortunately, the majority of the people are great and have a good attitude.

Remember one thing, there is no one way of training. No one has the secret set and rep scheme locked up and hidden in a vault. Powerlifting is hard, hard work! It involves alot of experimentation, and it's 90% mental attitude. Stick with it, and when you stop making progress change your routine and do what works for you, not what works for the guy next to you. Be Strong...

Mike Miller - Nazareth Barbell
 
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The Seven P's

Previous proper planning prevents piss poor performance; How true, This is the creed of United States SEAL Team six, I’m sure we are all familiar with theses fellows. The guys who do things that would make the rest of undergo immediate testicular atrophy. They are prepared for anything at any given moment, When they go into battle or into some third world country to rearrange the part in some dictators hair they have everything they need to accomplish the job. You should be the same way come meet day; unfortunately I learned this the hard way this year. I know comparing powerlifting to a SEAL operation is a bit much but can you think of a better example of preparedness. So here you are at the world finals or let’s say the Arnold, you have spent 6 months. Or more training, Thousands of dollars on food, supplements, new equipment, hotel fees, travel expenses, etc. You order you new bench shirt, squat suit or other equipment and you tell the manufacturer you need it according to your federation standards. So 6 weeks out you get your new gear, your banging out big reps like you never have before and you’re stronger than you have ever been in your life. YOU ARE READY!!!!!!

Meet day roles around you drive or fly to your destination, another expense, you go to weigh ins and get you equipment checked only to find out you piece of new gear has been rejected because it does not meet this federations standards, you start to loose your mind and everyone in the room is looking for something to use as a shield. Now you can sit back and lay blame on the person that made the equipment or you can realize it was your responsibility to check that shirt and make sure it met the requirements, no one here to blame but yourself. So the judge tells you if you get you equipment fixed to the specs you can lift. YAHOO!!!!

You drive an hour and change to meet the manufacturer and get you shit together. It’s now starting to turn into a really long day. You get you gear fixed but because it’s last minute some things are different and it’s not fitting the way it was, oh well, make the best of it. So here we are, meet day, you have had an ok nights sleep not the greatest because you brought your 10yr old along and this time she has gotten sick during the trip and been up most of the night coughing and wheezing, but no matter you’ll do fine. Back to the meet, you’ve had a good breakfast, plenty of liquids and carbs and your ready to go, but wait due to some technical difficulties the meet will be starting 3 hrs late and you have no food with you, oh darn, well no matter do the best with what you have. Time passes and you’re getting warmed up. Everything is going well until you put your shirt on and things feel a little funky, you attribute this to nerves and think once you hit the stage you’ll be fine, WRONG. You go out on stage the crowd is screaming, ok, ok time to get it on the heck with everything that went wrong this is what you came here to do. You get your handoff and take most of it yourself because you never told your spotter to check and make sure the uprights were raised and he is doing a 765lb front raise. The weight is a little heavy but you tell yourself you can do it anyway until it stops about 4 inches from lockout because you newly repaired shirt wont allow you to swing your arms back and you find out that the bar has been overloaded by 29 lbs. Well my friend guess what, you’ve shot a big whad at your first attempt and you have one more to go. I’m going to stop here because we all know what happens.

This may sound like a bunch of excuses and sour grapes for missing a lift, but it’s not. All of these things happened to me at the Arnold this year and they were my fault entirely. I could have prevented each and every one of them. The equipment was my responsibility, I should have checked it thoroughly and made sure it met WPO standards and I should have had 2 shirts not one. Kids are great, don’t get me wrong, I love taking mine to meets, but something as important as the Arnold, Leave them home with grandma so you don’t have an additional worry. Take food with you, lots of food so you don’t burn out, you never can tell when something is going to happen and a meet is not going to start on time especially a big meet. Now we have the uprights and the bar overload issue, it’s your responsibility to educate you handler and make sure he knows what to look for, have him check the weight to make sure it’s not overloaded and make sure the uprights are in the correct position. All you should have to do on meet day is lift, nothing else….

I have done many meets and let me tell you what, your coach slash handler can help you make it or break it. Bill Crawford One of the best benchers in the world, as well as a fantastic coach and handler would go to a meets with me and when I would start asking questions about equipment etc, he would grab my face and look at me and say Mike, all you have to do today is lift. Shut up and relax. That’s how it should be, you need someone to place your faith in, someone who will handle the little shit that is so important. So next time you have a big meet take your time and make sure you have it all planned out. Every one of these things I mentioned is a contributing factor into how good or bad you will do, take nothing for granted and plane your day as though everything that can go wrong will. Here is to next year and learning from your mistakes..

Mike Miller - Nazareth Barbell
 
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My quest for 700

I started Powerlifting for real October of 1999. I had weight trained off an on since I was 15. From age 10-16 I spent my summers on a farm working, I attribute my strength foundation to the time I spent working on the farm. If you are interested in overall body strength I suggest you spend a couple of summers throwing hay bails and wrestling with livestock. My boss was a 6’4” 300lb mountain name Luke Schoenenberger. He was not an overly defined man but was very thick and very strong. His hands were enormous and he had a grip like a vice. I remember one occasion he needed to get a piece of equipment from out of the corner of the barn and a small block Chevy engine was in the way and the tractor we would use to move large things such as this was on the other side of the farm. Luke bent over, grabbed the motor, picked it up about 10 inches off the ground and moved it out of his way. Luke was one of those guys who knew no limitations and when something had to get done he found a way to do it. He wasn’t strong because he wanted to be, he was strong out of necessity. I don’t know if he could bench 700 lbs. but I’m sure if 700lbs were on top of him and he needed to move it would have gotten done. I spent a lot of time with this man and learned a lot about life in general, He taught me about determination and about never giving up. As well as being strong Luke was an accomplished mechanic, welder and carpenter, all the trades needed to be a farmer.

From time to time I would pull my truck in the the garage down at the farm and do any necessary work on it. On this particular occasion I needed to replace the timing chain and on a 1975 Chevy there are quite a few parts that need to be removed in order to get to the timing chain. I had all the parts laid out neatly on a blanket so assembly would be easier. Luke came in the garage, saw what I was doing and flipped the blanket upside down sending the parts flying, he looked at me and said you’ll never be a good mechanic doing it that way, you need to know the motor. Right then and there I was more than pissed off and had no interest in the lesson I was being taught. As time went on and I stopped worrying about how I would put it back together and rather spent time learning the parts of the motor and how it worked I became a better mechanic. I have applied the same principal toward Powerlifting when I began I spent a lot of wasted time looking for the magical set rep scheme , or that one piece of equipment that was so different it would give me the advantage I needed. Well let me tell you what, they don’t exist. You need to spend time working out. Finding what works best for you will take time and it will change, an exercise that once yielded great results may latter on down the line not give you the same results.

Equipment is equipment. I’m not saying don’t use the best equipment you can afforded I’m just saying learn to deal with everything. When you go to a meet the bench may be two inches higher or lower than you’re used to, adapt and make it work. When I first started to bench heavy I was a real high maintenance pain in the ass. I needed to have 45lb plates on the baronly , no hundreds, I only liked certain bars and benches, I frankly don’t understand how my friends but up with me. But just like being a good mechanic and learning the motor I learned the bench and I started to say the hell with it. I don’t care what on the radio whether I’m inside or outside, whether the bar is fat or skinny I’ll make it work... When you get to a certain level it’s your mind that makes the lift. You need to put all the negative bullshit out of the way and lay down on the bench and get the job done.

Mike Miller - Nazareth Barbell
 
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Starting Over

I was watching our new bench Video with Bill C this weekend, I asked Bill what he thought, he said the video is kick ass, you for technique on the bench sucks, I looked at him puzzled, I’m thinking to myself I benched 760lbs, how could my form suck. I stood there with Bill as he picked apart every aspect of every movement I made with a fine tooth comb, like a doctor performing heart surgery, although as meticulous as Bill C. is if he were a doctor a great many people would still be alive and we would probably have a cure for cancer. I have never met anyone so in tune with what they were doing. I have called him on several different occasions only to hear him say, I was just talking about you. Bill spends thousands of Hrs. every year watching his lifters, as well as the lifts of others. He is always watching videos and committing them to memory. He gives the words technique and perseverance new meaning. Anyway, Bill and I start going over what I’m doing from foot placement, hand placement, how I’m bringing the bar down, where the shirt is riding.

We had determined that almost everything I was doing could use some improvement. At that point I really began to realize how critical everything was. Benching big is more than just being strong; you can get away with bulling weight for so long, than the technique will set you apart from the crowd. I have watched in amazement, Steve Castone Struggle with 350 raw put his shirt on and in that same day do 500 for reps. Steve is a prime example of how to get the most out of a bench shirt. He works hard on his technique to make up for his lack of bottom end strength.

We get done watching the video and Bill says, hey go get your bench shirt, we go to the back of the gym, jump on the bench and I start a light warm up. I have literally not benched in two months, taking time off to allow my body and forearms to heal. I finish my regular warm-ups and I put my shirt on, Bill Helps me to get set, we pull the shirt up high on my shoulders, he looks at it, I pull my arms in and he takes the slack out of the shirt and tightens my belt, I’ve got 550 on the bar, I lay down grab the bar with a wide reverse grip so as not to allow the shirt to loosen, I pull myself up into and arch, Bill shouts harder, pull yourself up more, I start pulling up harder, thinking to myself, holy shit how much arch does he think I can get, I plant my butt drop my head, pull my shoulder blades tight and set my traps on the bench, Bill looks it all over and gives me an ok, he tells me he wants me to concentrate on pulling my elbows in, I’m thinking to myself, I know how to do this , that’s not the problem the shirt is always to tight and that’s why I have trouble touching, I grab the bar with my index fingers on the ring, competition grip, I take the handoff hold it locked out and I start to bring the weight down, Bill yells elbows in , I start pulling them in, he yells more, I’m thinking no way, I pull them in as hard as I can go, something miraculous happened my elbows came in closer to my body and my wrists stayed behind my elbow’s the weight dropped smoothly to my chest and hit the top of my abdomen, no struggling no fighting with the weight just a smooth drop. WOW, I did it for 3 reps, stood up and thought holy shit I just learned how to bench all over again, I went on to hit 650 for a single and like I said this is not my normal weight but keep in mind I had not trained or even laid down on a flat bench in two months, something else I noticed immediately, no elbow or forearm pain, why because by keeping my elbows in and my wrists just slightly behind my elbows I had changed the stress point. Just when you think you have learned it all, some guy like Bill will come around and show you there is a better way to improve the old better way, to make it even better this was Sunday afternoon, I had squatted on Friday, today is Tuesday and After all that arching and lower back stress I have no lower back pain at all. There is a common misconception that you can’t arch big and do a three lift meet bullshit you just need to condition your body into doing it.

I go to meets all the time and talk with people who are astounded by what some of our guys bench, they think there is no way they could ever do that, or they think that you can only lift big if you are on steroids. These guys don’t realize that they to can do it, a few little technique changes some work on the arch and a lot of will and you would be surprise what you can do.

We had a seminar last month and a group of lifters from out west came in for some help one of the lifters, Susan had a previous best of 275, by reworking her technique she benched 320 and did 315 at the IPA Worlds after squatting. Several of the other lifters had the same experience, just by changing a few things around the made 30-40 lb improvements. One of there guys who is only 22 went from 585 to 650 and hit 700 in a meet a month later.

A truly great athlete is not only one who lifts big but realizes that there is always room for change and has the ability to change. One of the most valuable tools today’s athlete has is a video camera, tape your workouts, watch them over and over again, get others to watch them and learn what mistakes you are making, I have watched the same video one hundred times and the hundred and first saw a mistake for the first time. You may consider this a bit compulsive, well it is, but it will take me where I want to go and help me to realize my goal. Sean Connery once said, “Losers go home and cry about how they did there best, winners go home and **** the prom queen”.

Mike Miller - Nazareth Barbell
 
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The Truly Elite Athlete

I heard today that Labraun James was approached by the Nike shoe corporation. Apparently Labraun at the ripe old age of 17 has the innate capability to slam dunk a basketball. Nike has offered this young man 25 million dollars to wear their sneakers while playing professional basketball.

It got me to thinking how disgusted I am with the state of professional sports and athletes of today. What makes this kid worth 25 million dollars? He can slam dunk a basketball. WOW. How many guys professional and amateur can slam dunk a basketball? A few thousand world wide? How many can kick a field goal from the 30 yard line, or hit a home run? Please! With professional training I’m sure you can take your average college athlete and teach him to hit home runs. I see high school kids down at the local park slam dunking basketballs all the time.
We have taken today’s professional athlete and placed them on a pedestal. They are revered more than any member of today’s society and for what? They are good at a sport where they receive the best training, food, equipment and supplements available. They get the proper rest, eat the proper diet and get to work out every day. It’s kind of like when Oprah lost 50 lbs., how tough was that? She had a personal trainer to work her fat ass out every day, a personal chef to cook her meals and a nutritional expert to plan her friggin’ menu. All she had to do was wake up every day and do what she was told. That must have been tough. What a great personal sacrifice she made.

I participate in a sport that requires tremendous physical, genetic and mental ability, as much if not more than any other professional athlete. For most of my career I trained myself, I had to read tons of literature to gain the necessary information I needed for diet and training. I have 5 kids and run a business for 15 hours a day. When I started Powerlifting I was a police officer working swing shift. My life is very similar to that of most powerlifters. What do we get for our dedication and sacrifice, contracts from Nike and Adidas, TV commercials, Millions of dollars? No, we get something much more. Self-satisfaction.

I have recently accomplished my long term goal of bench pressing 700lbs. There are probably 15 -20 guys alive that can bench press 700lbs., that’s well less than 1% OF THE WORLD’S population. How many guys squat over 1,000lbs? Mike Ruggeria, Ed Cohan, Brent Mikesell. Look at Gary Frank... The guy is a stud. Every time you turn around he is upping the total, he is virtually untouchable. Look at the Bill Crawford’s and Louie Simmons’s, not only are they accomplished lifters, but they are the best Powerlifting coaches in the world and they do it for little or no compensation.

Can Michael Jordan say that he has done something less than 1% of the world’s population has accomplished? I don’t think so. If you’re not a powerlifter you have no idea who theses guys are or that they are some of the most elite athletes in the world. Professional powerlifters, the majority of the time, work a full time job, have families, must finance there own training, buy there own equipment pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in travel, food and lodging to do a few meets every year. Just so they can compete.

The fact that a 17 year old boy is going to be paid 25 million dollars to wear sneakers and play basketball sickens me. Today’s professional athletes, i.e.: basketball, football, baseball are nothing more than over paid cry babies. They walk around complaining about how they only get to do their sport because age limits them, they get really beat up from there sport and need millions of dollars so that when they are old they wont have to work anymore. What a bunch of crap.

If you are a competitive powerlifter you know how hard it is to reach elite status, you know the sacrifices you must make and most guys will never reach that level. Years of powerlifting will destroy your joints, take lots of time away from your family and most of us can’t make a living on it. Powerlifting requires tremendous dedication and love of the sport; most powerlifters have to train themselves by reading, watching videos and some trial and error.

I’m not saying it doesn’t take a certain degree of talent and physical ability to play professional sports, but it sure as hell is not worth the millions of dollars these guys are getting paid. Guys like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio got paid peanuts compared to what your average professional athlete makes today. Those guys played baseball because they loved it. Today’s athlete moves to the highest bidder, no loyalty, no long term commitment, no team spirit, all they care about is who is going to pay me the most.

If it were up to me these guys would all get paid on a sliding scale based on performance? The better you play and more games you play in the more money you make. There would also be a cap on it. No athlete in any sport is worth more than $100 grand. Also when you sign with a team you sign for 5 years. Enough with this free agent crap. I refuse to watch professional sports anymore, you can’t even keep up between expansion teams and free agent you r favorite team can be virtually rebuilt in a year.

I am proud to be a member of the Powerlifting community. THIS is where the truly elite athlete still lives. Athletes, who are able to maintain a full time job, manage a family and still compete at an elite level in a sport they love.
Powerlifting may or may not turn into a paid professional sport; I personally think if this happens the sport will change and not necessarily for the good. I know one thing; I definitely don’t want to see it enter the realm of Olympic sports. What we have will be ruined if the world wide Olympic committee gets their hands on it.

If you are a powerlifter you can be proud, your not beholding to anyone, you are your own person and you have one thing today’s professional athlete does not have, HEART.

Mike Miller - Nazareth Barbell
 

corazon

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Damn, ik ben nog bezig met de artikels van Keith Wassung :o als ik daar klaar mee ben ga ik gelijk verder met deze ...thanks! :thumbs: Hoe meer van dit soort artikelen hoe beter.
 
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