Interview With Powerlifter Adam Driggers of Team Samson By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com - October 2008
Photo Courtesy of SAS Digital Memories
What's up Adam. Thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
I'm 35 years old, been married 14 years to my wife Jamie, I have 2 boys: Christopher 12 and Adison 8, and work in a real-estate investment company called Lighthouse Development Corp. We live in Jacksonville, Florida.
When did you first start competing in powerlifting? What feds and weight classes do you compete in?
I competed in my first meet in December 2000. It was the Southeastern Cup held by Buddy Duke in Adel Ga. USPF. I weighed in at 215, placed first in my weight class and classification (novice) and was awarded Best Novice Lifter. Does that count for anything? Since then I have competed in the APF and the IPA. Living in Florida the APF is the place to lift.
Agreed. Florida has very strong powerlifting representation. Have you always been into lifting heavy weights? Did you weight train before you got into powerlifting?
When I first began lifting I was getting in shape to race Motor Cross. I was fast and had a local sponsor that was urging me to get in better shape, because I was fading towards the end of races. So I began lifting. It wasn't long before I realized I liked moving heavy weights better than racing. I had been lifting for about 4 years when I was first introduced to powerlifting. I competed 5 weeks after that introduction with the help of my friend Tony Garland.
Tell us about Team Samson Powerlifting. Tell us the story of how the team got started? What's it like training at your facility?
Team Samson was born out of convenience I guess. I was traveling all over Jacksonville and surrounding towns to train with powerlifters. I was going as far as Daytona to train with Kidder before I bought my monolift. His was the closest to us in Jacksonville and I wanted to be comfortable with it come meet time. I was spending hours just traveling to lift. I mentioned I have a wife and kids right? So you can understand how that was going over. So I started collecting equipment and weight and when I had enough I built my garage, and started inviting people to train with me. A lot of guys have come and gone, but now we have a great group of lifters including: Tony Garland, Brian Carroll, Daniel Heath, Clint Smith, Tim McCoy, Christopher Driggers, and Travis Horne. There are a few others that drop in from time to time, and we have two new guys that have just started this week: Chris and James. I think both of them are going to work out well.
Our facility is hot, loud, and crowded. In short, it's great and I love it.
Sounds awesome. Do you have any funny or amusing incidents from the gym that we might find entertaining?
It would be hard to tell the really funny stories without throwing a few people to the wolves, so I'll save those for a not so public forum. I think you heard a few of those stories in Atlanta. But a few things that I find funny now are a box collapsing on me while band squatting. It wasn't funny when I was on my butt on the floor with a bar loaded with 415 and bands on my back, but it's pretty funny now. And then there is the time when my neighbor's dog ran into the gym and jumped in my lap while I was benching. I was literally on my PR rep with 405 when I heard the dog's chain and Brian yelling for the guys to take the weight. I think it's funny now, but I'm pretty sure the dog has yet to find the humor in it. Then there is Brian's new obsession with lifting in his underwear. I haven't decided yet if that's funny or disturbing. Videos are coming so your readers can decide for themselves.
Critical Bench: You guys are nuts! haha. Whatever goes on over there you're producing some big numbers.
What are some of your PR Gym lifts and Meet lifts? You're ranked really high on Powerliftingwatch.com in the 198s, do you have any records?
Some of my favorite gym PR's are:
760 off 6 inch blocks for the deadlift. Can someone teach me to translate that to the floor?
A grand on the squat, it was high but it was a gym lift, and the first and only time I've tried it.
And I've pressed 730 from a 2 board on the bench.
The last time I checked I held the APF Sub-Master National records in the 198's for the squat, bench, and total. And I hold the APF Florida Open and Sub-Master records for the squat, bench, and total.
Wow, incredible! What kind of training do you implement to build such impressive numbers? Does everyone you train with follow the same regiment? How are your workouts set up?
My training usually follows a Westside Template. I have two heavy days, and two speed days. Changing exercises weekly each heavy day, and using a wave on speed days. But recently, I have been urged to back off a bit so I'm trying something different. What was happening is that I would end having two heavy days, and two not as heavy days. I was allowing gym competition to pull me into heavy lifts that wasn't really in the plan. Being in a rut for awhile now, I have taken some advice from Brian Carroll and I'm now doing things differently. I'm making sure I 'm getting enough rest, and not killing myself in the gym.
My training now looks like this:
Mondays are our heavy bench day, usually with some kind of shirted work in it.
Tuesdays are for light upper back work.
Thursdays are speed bench and light assistance exercises. I've dropped the weight back a lot for these workouts leading into the Worlds.
Fridays are heavy squat and pull days. On the days our squats are heavy our pulls are lighter. Our squats are lighter on the days our pulls are heavy.
Boards, Blocks, Bands, and chains all find their way into the rotation.
Not everyone in the gym trains with the same method, and that's okay with me. We also don't have a full crew for all four days, usually Mondays and Fridays we run at our capacity. There are a few less bodies on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Critical Bench: That's a solid layout. It's always cool to find out how different elite lifters train. What are your favorite assistance exercises?
I like close stance squats, and sumo stance pulls. Sumo pulls are assistance for me because I pull conventional.
Critical Bench: Help some of our readers get to the next level. Please give us your top three tips for each of the powerlifting lifts.
You mean other than form, form, and form? Seriously though, I tell every new guy that walks in the gym to drop the weight until he has the form right. Form should be "machine like" even under heavy weight. You can't perfect the form if the weight is too heavy. Fix the form, add weight. When the form begins to fail, drop the weight back some and fix it, then add weight. For geared lifters weight is missed because of bad form, not because it's too heavy, most of the time.
Critical Bench: Great advice. We've all seen it. At a meet some lifters are snorting and spitting get fired up. Others are quiet with look of internal rage. What are you thinking about when you're on deck to lift? How do you trigger an adrenal rush?
I don't really think about much other than the last thing I worked on in the gym. If Brian notices me shuffling my feet too much on the squat I'll concentrate on planting my feet before lifting the bar. Or if Daniel, my cousin and handler, noticed I wasn't lifting my head on the bench, I'll concentrate on that part of the lift. I make sure my handlers are reminding me too. Beyond that I can't really think of any kind of pre-lift routine I go through. It does change when my kids are at the meet watching. I tend to think about what it would do to them if I were to get seriously injured with them there watching. It's never hindered my attempts, but the thought is there and probably does trigger a greater adrenal rush.
Would you ever consider competing RAW in the future? Why do you think there is such a rivalry on the Internet between raw and equipped lifters?
Sure I would consider it, but not too seriously. The training is so different that to do one well the other would suffer some. I'm not ready to allow my geared lifting to suffer to do well in any raw competition.
Let me explain, because I'm sure I'll catch some internet nagging for that answer: We lift raw, and we do a lot of it, but as the weight gets heavier we slowly add gear. Each week we might add a new piece of equipment. Week 1 raw, week 2 briefs, week 3 suited straps down, and week 4 fully geared. Each week the weight gets heavier. Every week includes several sets of raw lifting to continually build our hip strength, and most weeks include geared lifting to insure our form stays good in the gear. Every week includes both types of lifting, but of course our emphasis is on geared lifting. Even my raw work is done with the same form I use geared. I could lift more weight raw by changing my stance, but I don't want to do that at the expense of my geared lift. That philosophy holds true in the bench and pull as well.
I'm not sure why there is such a rivalry between the two camps. I guess everyone wants to be considered the strongest and as long as there are those who lift raw, and those who lift geared, there's no real test. Throw in the different levels of geared lifting, and well…
Critical Bench: Makes sense. You have some sick training footage on your Team Samson Myspace page. How did you get so good at editing and creating video clips?
The purpose of having the page was, and I guess still is, to have a central place for our lifters to study their lifts, as well as, critique the lifts of other members. It's a learning tool. I often notice a lift was too high or not locked out on video when I thought it was fine in the gym. When I first started I wasn't editing the clips, they were just for us. But as I realized how many others were looking at them I wanted it to look a little nicer. I also started to use the page to direct local sponsors to so they can better understand what it is we do. So I guess I worked at it until it is what it is today. I really don't consider them to be any better than some of the other clips I see coming from the other teams, but I appreciate the compliment.
Shirted Bench WPC Training 10-06-08
What are your powerlifting goals for the rest of the year? Have you started thinking about your numbers for 2009 or do you take it meet by meet? That thousand pound squat is so close, that has to be one of your goals aye?
I have only one goal remaining for 2008, and that is to win the WPC. If you've seen the lineup for the 198's you know that's near impossible. The 198's hold the two best lifters in powerlifting today: Sean Frankl and Sergiy Nalyeykin. You might want to debate that, but they are the overall winners from the previous two year's Powerstation Pro/AMs, both totaling over 2400 at 198. That makes them the best in my opinion. Nevertheless, I want to win, and I will pick my numbers in a way that gives me a chance. Lift to win when you can and lift for PR's when you can't.
So far in your powerlifting journey what has been your all time favorite moment? Why do you love the sport so much when there is barely and money or fame, what's it all mean to Adam Driggers? What fuels the fire to be the best?
On a personal level my favorite moment is winning the 2004 APF National Championship at 220.
I don't know why I do this, and why I love it so much, I just do. I hate the days I don't train, and I love the days I do. It's a chore for me not to train, and I can't imagine not doing it at all. It's that same obsession that fuels me in the sport. If I'm going to train I'm going to strive to be among the best.
Typically powerlifters aren't known for their healthy eating habits. A lot of the lighter weight guys are starting to give the heavy weights a run for their money without carrying the extra body fat. Why do you think that is?
I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe with less body fat you can get more from your equipment. Tighter fit and better performance I mean. Maybe it's a matter of muscle mass. Maybe some of the guys in the 220,'s and 242's still carry as much or near as much muscle mass as some of the heavier guys who carry a lot of body fat. That seems like a very real possibility. Maybe it's just that we have reached what is humanly possible at this stage of adaptation, supplementation, and equipment, and that is allowing the lighter guys to catch up. I'm just throwing around ideas; I really have no concrete view on the matter.
It was once said that mass moves mass so gain weight to move more weight. I don't believe that's as true as it use to be.
Critical Bench: Those are some logical theories, better than I can come up with. Some guys swear by supplements and some think they're a waste of time. Do you personally take any?
I take a few protein supplements, mainly a protein bar in the morning and at night before bed, and a shake after training. I throw glutamine in there when I can remember to pick it up. Nothing much more than that right now.
What did you think of the new movie, "Bigger Stronger Faster"?
I loved the movie. It begs you to ask the question, "What is wrong with our government that they make steroid use illegal while allowing us to smoke at the expense of 435,000 lives a year?" The answer: A lot!
If you could change one thing about powerlifting what would it be?
I'd pull first.
The famous question, is there anyone you would like to thank or anything else you'd like to mention?
I'd like to thank "anonymous" for his thoughtful critiques of everyone's lifting.