Matt Sohmer recently became the youngest person to ever squat 800 pounds raw, no knee wraps. At the time of this interview he has totaled 1835 without equipment, at only 19 years old. He is one of the greatest squatters of his generation.
LIFT: Matt, can you tell us a little about yourself, give us a little background?
At 4 years old I started playing football. It was playing football where I found my love for lifting. I played up until I was 18 years old. I was starting defensive linemen for my high school football team and I was recruited by several colleges and universities D1-D3. I started at D-line as a freshman in college. In highschool I tore my ACL, PCL, and my meniscus in my left knee. I decided against the surgery and rehabbed the knee all by my self. During one of my games in college I received a late hit that injured my left knee again, ending my football career. After that season I rehabbed my knee yet again by squatting and training my butt off. Still to this day I have no ACL, PCL, or meniscus in my left knee.
LIFT: What is your height, weight, and best lifts?
I am 5’9 and weigh between 265 and 270
My best lifts are
Squat: 800 pounds
Bench: 310 pounds
Deadlift: 738 pounds
LIFT: What first attracted you to Powerlifting?
I always enjoyed lifting for football because I was good at it; I saw a Powerlifting competition near my house back in December 2011. I decided to do it and I broke all of their teenage records at 242 and have loved it ever since.
LIFT: Your deadlift stance seems to be a hot topic, how do you feel this stance benefits you, and do you see yourself changing things up in the future?
I get a lot of comments about my deadlift stance. I think it benefits me quite well because it mirrors my squat stance. With it I am using both my legs and my back which allows me to lift more. The only thing that prevents me from lifting what I’m capable of is my grip, which I am working on to increase my deadlift.
LIFT: You train and compete raw with no wraps, at any point in the future are you planning on wearing wraps or any other supportive equipment?
I take great pride in lifting raw. I will never use any supportive gear like squat suits, bench shirts, or deadlift suits. I feel that some geared lifting has become so far fetched these days. However, with the condition of my knees I might use knee wraps when I am much, much older.
LIFT: Who has the most influence on your lifting?
I wouldn’t say just one person as influenced me, I’ve had many people who have supported me and helped me since the beginning.
These people include My Uncle Carl Caleca (Former USA Olympic Weightlifter), Jonathan Bernor, Richard Seibert, Josh Bryant, and Dave Mansfield.
LIFT: What is it that drives you as a lifter and keeps you going?
Myself, I am dedicated and driven to become the best, and I will push myself to the limit to accomplish it.
Some people my age have been powerlifting for years now. I have only been powerlifting/competing for a year. Once I start to really get into the groove of things and fixing my weak points, I don’t think there’s anyone that will catch me.
LIFT: With all your accomplishments so far, what’s your most memorable moment?
Becoming the youngest person in history to squat 800 pounds raw without wraps. It is a great feeling knowing that I have done something no one else has ever done.
LIFT: Every great lifter has goals, what are yours for this upcoming year?
My goal is to squat 865 pounds raw at 19 years old, breaking the Drug-Free & Open w/o knee wraps record. Also, I want to deadlift 800 pounds and total over 2,000 pounds.
LIFT: Many people say that you could become the best squatter in history. What do you think of that?
I am very happy that people actually think that of me. When I first heard it, it gave me this incredible fire which drives me that much more. There were a lot a great squatters before me, like Kirk Karwoski, who is arguably the best squatter ever. It is an amazing feeling to know that one day people think you will achieve this greatness. However, when my career is over, I just don’t want to be known as a “one trick pony”, meaning I don’t just want to be known as a great squatter. I want to be known as a great overall lifter.
LIFT: What meets do you have planned for the future?
I will be competing in Sultans of the Squat on May 2nd (Which is an invite for the worlds top raw squatters), AAU nationals on June 16th, AAU Junior Olympics in July (I will also be doing a Strongman competition while I am there), and the 100% Raw invitational meet in August.
I might do other meets in between or after these dates.
LIFT: Who do you think is your biggest competition right now?
I’d have to say Eric Lilliebridge, he’s in my weight class, and arguably the best Raw lifter right now.
LIFT: Is there anything you would change in powerlifting if you could?
I would like to see all federations come up with a standard, or universal lifting format for records. There’s just too many federations and too many different types of records.
LIFT: When its all said and done, what feats of strength are you looking to accomplish in your lifting career?
Squat 1,000 pounds raw, deadlift 1,000 pounds raw, and beat the all time raw total record.
I also want to compete in Strongman competitions. I love pulling trucks and flipping tires and all that good stuff.
I want to thank you Matt, for doing this great interview with us, and congratulations on your incredible 800 pound raw squat. We all look forward to watching you hit bigger numbers as your lifting career pans out.
Before you go, you may want to check out this video of Matt’s latest competition. Including his 800 pound squat.