Interview with Powerlifting World Record Contender Chad Aichs by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Chad Aichs is currently one of the strongest powerlifters in the world and one of the strongest powerlifters who has ever lived. I have done many interviews before and I have to say that not only is Chad one of the most amazing lifters that I have ever talked to but he gave great answers to all of my questions and he is one of powerlifting's greatest role models& teachers. So, everyone get ready to learn about the awesome sport of powerlifting, from one of powerlifting's all time greatest, and future legend-- Chad Aichs!
1) Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself, your best lifts, who you are, where you are from, your family, why you got started in lifting, what gear you use, a bit about your history and anything that you would like to share with the thousands of lifters reading your interview?
Chad Aichs: My name is Chad Aichs and I am from Sparks, Nv. I am 6'1" and weigh from 375 to 395. My best lifts are 1107 squat, 810 benchpress, 722 deadlift, and 2623 total. I have been lifting on and off all my life, but did not start competing until 1997 when some friends talked me into doing a meet. The meet was a bench only and I had a couple of weeks to get ready. I benched a raw 410 and took second place. I had a blast and met some really good people. After that I decided to start training for more meets, but had to quit training after 6 month because of moving and my job. After I got stuff straightened out I started training for about six months and then quit again for six more months because of my job. At this point I had enough and decided to get serious about competing. I did my first three lift meet in 1999 and total 1700.
I thought I had some potential, but knew I had to get help from the smartest guys I could, so I contacted Dave Tate of elite fitness systems. I went to one of his seminars and started my training all over. My next three lift meet I did 1800 and have continued to gain ever since. Dave and the whole elite staff have been a tremendous help to me and I could not have accomplished the numbers I have without them. I also have to thank my training partners Ethan Mclaughlin and Scott Burgess, I have learned that good training partners are one of the most important keys to becoming great in this sport. Epic nutrition has been a great supporter of me and makes a great preworkout product 5-tetra. Cytosport has supplied me with Musclemilk, the best protein ever. I also thank Metal Gear for helping me with the most impressive gear in powerlifting. I am lucky enough to workout at one of the greatest gyms around, American Iron Gym has went way out of there way to help me become the lifter I am. Bob and Tammy Lopez have created a gym that is perfect for someone just staying in shape or for a serious powerlifter and everyone in between, I thank them for that. I would also like to thank my family for putting up with and supporting me.
I don't think it is possible to get to this level by yourself and I am very lucky to have so many good people around me.
2) Critical Bench: Why is training with Dave Tate, Lou Simmons and the Westside some of the best? Tell us what it is like training with the greatest powerlifters in the world?
Chad Aichs: Dave Tate, Louie Simmons and Westside are some of the best because of how they approach powerlifting. They all love this sport and they won't let anything get in the way of them getting stronger. When it comes to training, I feel they have revolutionized the sport and almost every top lifter uses some sort of training developed at westside. I think that Louie Simmons has always been very open minded to new ideas and if they work they keep them. I unfortunately have never had the chance to train with Louie, but give him a lot of credit for my strength gains. My training is all base off westside principles taught to me by Dave Tate. I will say that it is a dream of mine to go back to Ohio and train at westside. I think I could learn a lot from all the excellent lifters of Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons.
3) Critical Bench: What is your bench press routine like? Does it involve board presses, floor presses, and rack lockouts? Do you incorporate speed work and floor presses into your routine? What does your bench press training mostly involve?
Chad Aichs: My workout routine goes as followed:
Max effort squat day-one rep max exercise, reverse hypers, ghr, abds
Squat recovery and supplemental leg day-3 exercises for 3 min each, leg ext
off day or light extra work-hip work
max effort bench day-one rep max exercise, tri exercise, upper back exercise, abds
bench recovery and supplemental bench day- 3 exercises for 3 min each, one light lat exercise, one light tri exercise
off day or light extra work-rotator cuff exercises, curls
speed squat day-speed box squat with bands 6 sets x 2 reps, speed deadlifts 6 sets x 1 rep, ghr, abds
squat recovery and supplement leg day-same as above
off day or light extra work-same as above
speed bench day-bench with bands 6 sets x 3 reps, tri exercise, shoulder exercise, abd
bench recovery and supplemental bench day-same as above
off day or light extra work-same as above
That is the basic layout of my program. On max effort bench day I would say we do board presses most of the time, but I also like declines, floor presses, and flat bar bench. I am not a big fan of lockouts, I think higher board presses serve better. I have had good results with the speed work and it is a key part of my program. For more information on my training you can go to www.elitefts.com. Click on the q and a then go to training logs and click on Chad Aichs. I also answer questions on the q and a, so if you have any just post them and I will get back to you asap. When you write your questions start them with "for Chad".
4) Critical Bench: Tell us about the basics of your squat and deadlift training?
Chad Aichs: On max effort days I like to do mostly good mornings, but we also do max box squats, rack deadlifts, safety squat bar work, chambered bar work, and what ever else I can come up with. I again think speed work is essential with squats and deadlifts.
5) Critical Bench: Give us the 5 basics for a bigger bench, squat and deadlift. Then give us 5 little deep inside secrets to a bigger bench, squat and deadlift?
Chad Aichs: The 5 basics for a bigger bench, squat, and deadlift-
1. The first tip I would have is to decide how you want to lift. Do you want to go raw, single, or double ply. I feel that your training and technique will differ depending on your decision. I think all of your focus should go in one direction for one goal. If you want to be the best at raw then train raw. If you want to be the best with single or double ply then your training should always reflect that.
2. The second tip is to train your core. I see a lot of lifters that do not train their abds and obliques enough, especially bench only specialist. Core strength can make or break any of the three main lifts and I can say for sure that you will not put up a big squat without a strong core.
3. The third tip is PMA. Positive mental attitude is one of the most important things to putting up big numbers. I have seen a lot of genetically gifted lifters that never met there potential because they don't have the right PMA and I have seen people that put up huge numbers that they physically should not be able to because they have the right PMA. You have to know that you can put up the numbers you want and never let anyone tell you different. You basically have to believe in yourself with every part of your being.
4. Number four is to learn to listen to your body. I am a true believer in the Westside methods, but there are a lot of strong lifter that train with different programs. One common trait between all the best lifters is that they know there bodies and they listen to them. You need to learn the signs of overtraining and know when to back off. You also need to know when it is time to step up and train like a mad man. The sooner you can learn this, the faster gains will come.
5. Number five is training partners. Having good training partners can make all the difference in the world. Good partners should help with technique, see signs of overtraining, gear, and of course motivation. I also am able to recognize problems that I have by helping my partners and when one member of the team has a problem, then there are more people to come up with ideas to fix it. It is helpful to have different point of views on technique and training. Three heads are better than one. I see powerlifting as more of a team sport then a individual sport.
The 5 inside tips for bench, squat and deadlift-
1. One inside tip for the bench is to try and bend the bar by turning your palms toward each other. I hear people say to pull the bar apart, but I think turning your palms toward each other is more effective. This twisting motion will make you elbows tuck into your side so then it is easier to pull your lat muscle and triceps into the press. Now you will have to let your elbow out about 3/4 of the way up, but on the decent and first 3/4 of the press the palms should be twisting in.
2. Second inside tip is to suck as much air into the stomach as possible and push the abds out. This tip is important in all three lifts. It goes back to the core being stable. This will help the back muscles and keep you upright in the squat and deadlift. In the bench it will help utilize leg drive and stability. Let's say your upper and lower body are tight, but your mid section is weak. Then the leg drive and stability will not transfer to the upper body. Your mid section will be like one of those accordion buses and most of the leg drive and stability will be absorbed into the mid section. If your midsection is tight and strong then you will get the full transfer of power out of your lower body.
3. Third inside tip is for the squat. I see people squatting down and that mostly utilizes the quad muscles. You want to sit back into the squat, that way you can utilize the hamstrings and the glutes. The quadriceps will never be as strong as the hamstring and glutes muscles can be. When you are in the hole, you want your shins to be straight up and down. This may mean that you have to bend more at the waist, but that is ok as long as you keep your back arched up. You will also want to keep your knees out as far as possible. So think about sitting back and not down.
4. Fourth tip is to always stay tight. The descent in all the lifts should be controlled and you should make your self tighter as you go down. There should be no relaxing at the bottom of the lift. You should be as tight at possible and then explode back up to the top. I think a lot of young lifter let the supportive gear take the weight at the bottom of the lifts and if they would stay tight then they would explode back up with greater force.
5. Fifth inside tip is to have fun with it. This sport take a lot of time, effort, and work, but it is fun. There are so many good people in this sport and it can teach us so much if we just listen. Some people say I look scary or mean when I am at meets, but let me tell you now that I am having a blast. This sport is such a big part of my life and I will always be involved in it in one way or another. Every year of competing means more great memories and friendships. So train hard and achieve your goals, but don't forget to have fun with it.
6) Critical Bench: Tell us about your earlier days competing? How were they different than they are today?
Chad Aichs: Well let me start by saying my training and technique sucked, but my attitude was great even back then. I would say that my focus has gotten stronger as I have gotten better. At this point everything in my life revolves around lifting. If there is a meet coming up I will not ride my quad or I will only go cruise at a normal pace. If I did not get much sleep during the week I will cancel any plans on the weekend to make sure I get plenty of sleep. This is my main goal right now and everything else is just stuff I have to do to survive.
7) Critical Bench: When you are at a meet, what is your mental game like? Is it about visualization, having fun, going insane, a mix, what do you do before stepping under some of the heaviest weights that man has ever lifted before?
Chad Aichs: Going insane is fun for me. I like to get crazies, I yell and scream, I headbutt my partner, I inhale as much ammonia as possible, and right before I lift up the weight I do one visualization. After that it is just go for it, all the training has been done and now it is time to see what I can do. I will tell myself a few key instructions, but the meet is not the place to change technique. I am more about mental strength at this time. I see the lift as a war between me and the bar. I hate the bar and the weight, it is my enemy. I will do everything in my power to beat it. This is the best part of powerlifting, it is why I do it and at the end of the day I just want to know I did everything possible to beat the bar.
8) Critical Bench: Do you get more satisfaction setting personal records now than you did say 3 years ago?
Chad Aichs: I would say yes, because I have always wanted to be the best and every personal record I make takes me closer to that goal. The closer to that goal I get the happier I am. I have always got a lot of satisfaction from personal records though. I tell people to just concentrate on getting personal records and the big numbers will eventually come.
9) Critical Bench: You are moving up the ranks and becoming closer and closer to being a champion of all champions in powerlifting. What are your future goals?
Chad Aichs: My future goals are to put up the highest total in history and to help make powerlifting a more popular sport where lifters can make a living. I feel that most of the top lifters are great athletes and great people who deserve more recognition. I also have some numbers in my head that I am shooting for, but you're just going to have to wait and see what they are.
10) Critical Bench: Away from powerlifting what were your 5 favorite moments with your powerlifting friends? And away from powerlifting what types of things would you do with your powerlifting friends?
Chad Aichs: I don't now if I have 5 favorite moments with my powerlifting friends, I always have such good times with them that it would be hard to pick out 5. The power team (Disciples of Strength) is pretty much like a family. We all have quads, so we all get to go riding together and that is a lot of fun. We go out to eat and go see movies sometimes. I would say we usually have a great time together, but like most brothers we argue a lot too. I also have a lot of fun hanging out with other lifters on the days before the meets. I unfortunately only get to see some of them a couple times a year at the meets. When I am lucky enough to have the money to travel over to Diablo barbell we always have a great time training and just hanging out.
11) Critical Bench: How would you address all the lifters who aren't elite yet? What message would you like to give them?
Chad Aichs: I would tell them that every great lifter had a time when he or she was not an elite lifter either. So who is to say that you won't become the next great lifter? Always believe in yourself, surround yourself with positive people, and never give up.
12) Critical Bench: What's it like being one of the biggest and strongest men out there?
Chad Aichs: That is a tough question, most of the time I don't really think about it. I just see myself as a regular guy who is a descent powerlifter. I have such respect for all powerlifters that I don't really see myself as being any different from then. I also know that there are a lot of really strong people walking this earth, probably some that we have never heard of.
13) Critical Bench: What has been the Funniest, most powerful/emotional moment, and your favorite moment so far in your powerlifting career?
Chad Aichs: My funniest moment in powerlifting had to have been when I split my squat suit right up the crotch. I don't now how much you could see, but after that loud pop everyone knew I split the crotch out. I also had a pretty funny deadlift one time. It was a great pull at some meet, I was sitting back awesome and the pr weight went up easy. I set the weight down and was sitting back so far that as soon as I let go of the bar I fell on my ass. I have some great video of both lifts somewhere.
My most powerful/emotional moment had to be when my partner Scott Burgess got his elite. I know how bad he wanted it and how hard he worked to get it. I was extremely proud of him.
My favorite moment in powerlifting had to be when I took all the AWPC world records and won the AWPC meet. My future favorite moment will be putting up the biggest total of all time.
14) Critical Bench: What motivates you to be the best superheavy weight powerlifter in the world?
Chad Aichs: I am not really sure. I think it is a combination of things. I want to be able to show; not just tell, my niece and nephew that they can do whatever they want if they put their mind to it. I also think there is just something deep down inside me that won't let me stop until I have accomplished my goal.
15) Critical Bench: How do you see the future of powerlifting and what direction would you like to see it head in?
Chad Aichs: I think the future of powerlifting is completely open right now, it could become great or it could go the way of olympic weightlifting. I will be doing everything possible to make it the best it can be. I wish that all the lifting community would work together instead of complaining about each other. I respect all lifters, I don't care if they like raw, single ply, double ply, drug-free, or non-tested. There is room to have all different style lifting under one federation. People need to put their egos aside and talk out the problems. That is why we have so many federation right now, people did not like some of the rules or had problems with other members so they just started a new federations instead of working the problems out. I am always amazed at how many of the lifter I meet at meets are really good guys. Yet if you go to the forums the people there just seem to bitch about everything. We are all in the same boat and we need to work together to make this sport huge. Some people will think I am crazy (I probably am), but I can see a day when powerlifters can make a living in this sport.
Critical Bench: What are your finals words as we wrap up this awesome interview?
Chad Aichs: I would like to thank my parents and family, Elite Fitness Systems, 5-tetra by Epic Nutrition, Metal gear, Cytosport, American Iron Gym, Mclaughlin clan, Burgess family, Bodytechusa, Diablo Barbell, Westside Barbell, all the great lifter I have competed against, all the fans that cheer for me, all the judges, all the loaders, and all the spotters like Chris Wiers who did a great job of spotting me at the last two WPO meets.
Anyone that would like to see video of some of my lifts can view them on www.Bodytechusa.com , just look under the about us section
CriticalBench.com would like thank Bodytechusa.com for the pictures of Chad.