LIFT: Can you tell us a little about yourself, give us a little background?
I’m six feet tall, 230 pounds, and have been competing in the 242 pound weight class for powerlifting. My best lifts in competition are a 661 pound squat with no knee wraps, a 352 pound bench press, and a 777 pound deadlift. As far as injuries, I’ve torn just about every muscle in my body and I just accept them as part of the deal when you’re pushing your body so hard. In high school, I tried just about every sport, but didn’t really take to any of them in the way I enjoyed lifting heavy weight and seeing my physique change.
LIFT: When did the idea of beginning powerlifting first enter your mind?
I actually did my first competition when I was 17 years old and I didn’t really like it. I took two years off before I began competing again, but I was only doing deadlift only competitions. This year I got back into doing full meets. I’ve done a bodybuilding show and ran marathons, but powerlifting is my favorite thing to compete in now.
LIFT: Have you had to overcome any obstacles with your training? If so, how?
The only real obstacles I’ve had to overcome would be the frequent injuries that are so common in this sport. Every lifter who’s approaching the top of the rankings in his weight class realizes this is just another aspect of the sport that you have to learn to work around. There’s almost never a time where I don’t have something strained/torn, but I find ways to work around it. For instance, I just tore my lat deadlifting, so I plan to do a ton of squatting to maintain my lower body strength and even come back and hit a deadlift PR once I’m healthy again.
LIFT: As a quick example for those who don’t know, what does your normal training look like?
It’s usually just four days a week. I’ll squat on Monday, bench on Tuesday, deadlift on Thursday, and bench again on Friday.
That’s the generic template I follow. Each training session is centered around one of those lifts and involves working up to heavy triples, doubles, or singles. Then, I usually do a ton of assistance work. Skull crushers and db shoulder presses for bench, glute-ham raises, speed deads, barbell rows, and pulldowns for deadlifts, and front squats for squats.
LIFT: I notice you train and compete without a belt frequently. This is not all that common, what are your thoughts on belts? What would your recommendation be regarding belts to the average powerlifter?
I think belts are fine and don’t aid the lifter all that much. You maybe get thirty pounds max out of a belt as opposed to not having one. But I like to train without one early on in my training cycles leading up to meets to build up my core strength. And then I’ll start wearing one about five weeks out from the meet and see my numbers just take-off. It’s as if I’m building that base first, and then incorporating it in to get the max benefit.
LIFT: You’re known as one of the most intense lifters around. What goes through your mind before a heavy deadlift or PR attempt?
Honestly, I wouldn’t even be able to repeat some of the things that run through my mind before a big squat or deadlift attempt. It usually involves going to a deep part of my mind that rarely gets tapped into and channeling some very personal thoughts. A great motivator is to think about someone hurting someone you care about and you’ll just want to destroy everything in sight. That’s as much as I’ll say on that one. But I will tell you, anger is the greatest motivator and will allow you to lift the most weight you’re capable of lifting. It’s a very powerful tool.
LIFT: How do you keep your intensity so high, so frequently in training sessions? Any tips for sending intensity through the roof?
I just channel deep, very personal thoughts and think about some of the problems in my everyday life, or people who have talked bad about me, screwed me over, or in general, despise me. That usually does the trick for getting some motivation to be intense. And then I can’t lift without some angry rap or metal. Music is key and I wish meet promoters would place a bigger emphasis on it at meets. Music needs to be played louder at meets and there needs to be a better selection.
LIFT: In the past, it appears you would attempt deadlifting a new one rep max PR almost weekly. What’s your experience on this training style and the overtraining argument?
It’s a bad idea and I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll just get to a point where you’re spinning your wheels and end up getting very frustrated. It’s best to rotate movements or rep ranges and try to improve that way. Maxes are so tempting to do all the time, and I have to hold back a lot, but maxing every week on the same movement is not an effective way to improve over the long-haul.
LIFT: You’ve made an incredible amount of progress in the last couple years, what do you feel are the key factors to progressing like this?
Start mixing one pound of ground beef and a box of four cheese rice a roni and eating like three of those a day. That will get you stronger first of all. But other than that, just consistency really. Yeah, there are some tough times and days I just want to give up, but consistency is what will deliver the results over time.
Eric Lilliebridge is a great example of this. For roughly two years he was stuck around 800 on deadlift, but this year he hit 850 in training.
LIFT: You recently had a deadlift injury at Pro Gym and sprung back very quickly. How’s rehab going, and how do you go about dealing with these kinds of injuries?
That injury is completely healed up, but my lat just recently was the latest thing to go. You just have to train around the injuries. If you can’t deadlift, that means you’re just going to have to squat more. If you strain a pec, that just means you’re going to have to do more overhead pressing and skull crushers.
LIFT: In another interview you referenced eating cleaner. Have you seen benefits from the new diet switch? If so, what benefits?
Based on my experiences, once you diet off the fat, it’s much easier to keep it off when you go back to eating the way you were in the past (aka – not clean). I dieted down to 220 eating super strict, but am now eating much more caloric and unhealthy foods and my weight is back around 230, but I’m still very lean. Strength will drop off on super strict diets, but once you start eating normal again after the diet, strength will go through the roof and you’ll put on so much quality mass. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed. I’m just blowing up in size in the last two weeks to an extent I’ve never experienced before.
LIFT: What feats of strength are you looking to accomplish in the next couple years?
I just really want to focus on a huge meet coming up in September in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s an invite only, with big cash payouts. I think the field is only sixteen or so competitors. I’m looking to go 755 on squat, 440 on bench, and 830 on deadlift at that meet. My short-term goal right now is to squat 700 with no wraps by the end of February.
LIFT: What powerlifter do you feel has influenced you the most?
The entire Lilliebridge family has been a big reason for my powerlifting success. Not only are these guys some of the strongest in the world, they are literally the nicest, most helpful people you will ever meet. It doesn’t matter who you are, they’ll help anyone who needs it at meets, in training, in dealing with injuries, advice, etc. They’ve always been there for me whenever I needed it and for that I can’t thank them enough. They are truly class acts and some of the strongest lifters in the world.
Besides them, I would say Dan Green is who I look up to most. This is a guy who does twenty-five pound water cuts for weigh-ins, which is incredibly draining and difficult. So for that alone, I respect him immensely. But then you look at the numbers he’s hitting in the 220 class and it’s downright scary. 800+ pound squats, 500+ pound benches, and 850+ deadlifts. And on top of all that, he’s absolutely shredded. He has a bodybuilder type physique.
One last guy I have to talk about is Brandon Lilly. I met him out at the Sacramento Meet and he stole the show out of all the guys who were brought in. I like what he’s doing for the sport and the way he’s marketing it to the general public. He’s making a push towards seeing more raw lifting and leaner lifters and that’s the same trend I’m trying to bring forth.
LIFT: What are your most memorable lifting moments thus far?
My 800 pound deadlift in training has to be one of my favorite lifting moments, but my trip out to Sacramento to compete at Supertraining Gym has to be the pinnacle for me. To be invited to compete with such an elite list of lifters and to perform as well as I did, it will always be one of my favorite memories. I met so many great people, had a great time out there, and would love to do it again. Hopefully, it will be repeated in 2013. I would love to get the chance to go back.
LIFT: Where do see yourself with lifting in a few years?
I see myself competing in the 242 pound class, absolutely shredded, with the look of a bodybuilder, and a 2200 total. And I plan to market this sport hard to be more appealing to the general public and start getting some recognition.
LIFT: Do you have any meets planned for the upcoming year?
I have the SPF Pro AM in Oswego, Illinois planned for March 16. UPA Nationals is sometime in late April. I have that huge Louisville Meet in September, and then hopefully I’ll be back out in Sacramento in November competing at Supertraining Gym.
LIFT: What would you like to see change in powerlifting, and what do you feel needs to be done to move forward?
I just really want to see leaner, more aesthetically appealing physiques for the sake of changing the public’s perception. That alone would be a huge step, but I also feel we have to get away from geared lifting as people can’t relate to that. People want to know how much you bench without having to ask if you were wearing a double or singly ply bench shirt.
Pete Rubish 1763 LB Total – Backyard Meet of the Century Super Training Gym
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