Interview With Powerlifter Daniel Conner Interviewed By Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - December 2007
Daniel has squatted 1085lbs at 220lbs, benched 635lbs at 198lbs and he has deadlifted 685lbs at 198lbs! Can you say "CRAZY, INSANE, AMAZING" or what? Well, I can't wait to step into Daniel's mind and see what it's like being this strong! Let's go one on one with this strength icon and learn what it means to be hardcore!
1) CRITICAL BENCH: This is Ben Tatar from Critical Bench and I am here with Daniel Conner right now. Daniel, tell Critical Bench readers about yourself!
My name is Daniel Conner - LoCascio I am a 33 year powerlifter/
strongman from Central Illinois . I have been weightlifting since the
age of 18. I started weight lifting because I was so skinny that I looked sick and I wanted to
stand out amongst my friends. I met up with Michael Janetski and that is when it all
began. I was hooked after one month of training. After a month of training I
hit a 215# bench press for 2 reps at a bodyweight of 155#. To me this
was the greatest ever so from then on I was hooked.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: What a way to start your Iron Journey, Daniel! Daniel, what is your height and weight, best lifts and what fed do you currently compete in?
I am currently right at 200# at 5 ' 6" . My best lifts in
competition are Squat 1085# @ 220 , bench 635# @ 198 and a 685# dead @ 198 .
I am gearing up for the UPA January meet in Iowa . I have competed in
the IPPA underground meets in Indiana usually tied in with NAS and SLP.
My last Competition was in Indiana in February where I did a 1085#
squat @ 220 and passed out right after so I withdrew from the meet.
After that it was working 3rds and a hip injury that took me out of
the game for a brief moment but I am coming back stronger than ever!
Come January I am looking at a 1100# squat @ 220 , 600# plus bench and
a 700# dead.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: Daniel your bench, squat, and deadlift lifts are amazing!!! Which one are you the most proud of?
Wow thanks , lol . I would have to say that I am the most proud of my squat. Not because it's my best lift but it's the one that gave me the most trouble for a long time. When my other lifts were moving full speed ahead my squat was staying way behind. Then I saw Chuck Vogelpohls first 1000# squat and said I can do that and will , so I re thought my training and well it took off! So I feel it was more mental than anything!
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Daniel, you passed out after squatting 1,085lbs, wow!! What was it like after passing out right after achieving a 1,085lbs squat?? What was it like while you were squatting that much before passing out? Tell us about it! This could be one of powerliftings most hardcore moments! haha
Yeah that was a great moment for me all to end with me falling on the floor and scaring the meet director. I was so psyched up for that lift that it felt light as a feather, however, it was one of the slowest squats I have ever seen. When the weight was racked I was like "I did it" and then BAM, I hit the lift and the floor. What the problem was I did a weigh in the same day as I did that lift and I dropped way too much weight and I was so overtrained that it wasn't even funny. Add all that to a canvas suit that was too small for me, since my other blew out early that week and the only other one I had was a small one. That is why I am hoping to get a gear sponsor very soon. My friends that were there thought I died, I mean the lift took forever I am surprised the spotters didn't take the weight. Also I wasn't really ready when I took it out and went down like a bullet , and yeah the canvas left some nice bruises around my hip area.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: What a classic story! Who are your sponsors?
Right now my main sponsor is APT. Alan has been really good to me
and for that I am grateful. I am currently looking for a gear
sponsor to help out for the January meet and so on.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: How does your family feel about your powerlifting?
My dad now deceased was always behind me 110% he was the reason I
pushed harder and harder. My 3 kids also love to see what dad can do.
My 6 yo son has pulled 90# for 10 reps sumo style he wants to be
just like dad so that is very cool .
7) CRITICAL BENCH: What do you enjoy doing away from powerlifting? Do you enjoy doing anything with your kids in particular? And how strong do you want/think your son will get?
Outside of powerlifting I am a welder by trade and of course a dad to 3 beautiful kids. Amber - 12 , Brittany 9 and Johnny 6. I am one of those dads that love the time I spend with my kids. I mean they keep me young by not allowing me to grow up in a sense. I still play hide and seek, tag, kickball and a ton of more made up games .
As far as how strong my son will get I feel the skies the limit. He loves to lift weights when dad is and loves to feel strong as he puts it . There is a photo of him deadlifting on this site -
8) CRITICAL BENCH: That's awesome! Give us your routine.
Wow this one is a tough one since I train by feel. I do a lot of box
squats, squats while wearing a neck harness, good mornings from a
low rack and so on. For the bench I never wear a shirt like I should,
basically because most of my training is done alone or one spotter.
With bench I do a lot of rack lockouts , speed benching , floor press
and tons of heavy high rep close grip benching.
Deads are done once every 2 weeks and I do rack pulls sumo pulls and
so on. Like I said I train by feel, a lot based around the Westside
9) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
Future goals are simple to be the best in my weight class. Right now
I am looking at an 1100# squat a 700# bench and a 700# plus deadlift.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: It's cool that you are motivated even when you've passed out and been
hurt before. We know there are other challenges to being a powerlifter as well.
What do you find to be the biggest challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
Challenges are believing you can do a big number and stop thinking
it's just for the big guys. I think you should believe that you can be
one of those greats. I do know it's hard when starting out to imagine
a 1000# squat or 600# bench but with hard work and dedication anything
is possible. It is tons of mental work as well.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: Perfect advice! Do you have any training partners?
Right now nope, I cant find any that stays dedicated to it.
12) CRITICAL BENCH: How do you succeed so much even without training partners?
This has never been a real issue for me since no one has ever really been there. I have pretty much always trained alone and have made my own make shift monolift and so on. I rely on a lot of rack movements and tons of box squats. This is also where the mental focus comes into play. When training alone you have got to get into the zone and stay there.
13) CRITICAL BENCH: I'm glad you are extremely self motivated! Daniel, what has been your funniest, craziest, most hardcore and favorite powerlifting moment so far?
Funniest moment not sure of , craziest I would say is listening to
my brother scream at the top of his lungs some outrageous crap during
my lifts , I mean sometimes he would get really mental but in a good
way. Hardcore is the feeling of the meet, I mean there are some
seriously intense people at powerlifting meets and you almost get that
" you don't belong here feeling " . Favorite is any meet I meet and or
exceed my pr's. So far every meet has been a good one even those I
bombed at because God has blessed me with the ability to physically
lift weights and for that I am thankful. So the numbers are
important but the ability to do so is that much greater.
14) CRITICAL BENCH: What is your advice for all the lifters out there who just train who can't determine whether or not they should be hardcore?
I say keep training hard and when the time is right they will know. I feel that hardcore is not something you can just do it's something that comes over time with intense training and where and with whom you train.
15) CRITICAL BENCH: Daniel, do you like powerlifting more or strongman? What are the pros and cons of each for you?
I would have to say that I like powerlifting more simply because there are no set weights only those you pick. I mean I have seen way too many strongman shows nowadays that it's more for the show and not the real raw power. When I go to a show and see average size guys doing these events it's just not strongman. To me strongman has turned into more endurance rather than strength events. I am not saying that there are not still some heavy shows around but for the amateurs it is limited. My friend and I held a few shows through a strongman organization and the directors of the organization kept telling us to lower the weights on our events. So I always stated "an amateur will always stay an amateur unless he is challenged."
Now with powerlifting if you work the gear right and train smart you can get to the pro level. The argument there would be the issue of gear. This fed allows this and this one allows that. So there are good and bad with both Sports.
16) CRITICAL BENCH: List the federations that you compete in and tell us what it is like competing for them!
IPPA - This is a small gym in Indiana that holds strongman shows and a few powerlifting meets. Great people at the gym and their meets are run with strict rules however no-one recognizes them as a legit federation.
SLP - Great for beginners and plenty of meets all over all the time. The rules are way too relaxed however if you want to get a start look them up.
N.A.S.S. - Great organization for the amateur strongman! The people are great and there are lots of shows.
APA- Liked the rules but they don't allow canvas suits so if you are a poly lifter hit one of these events.
17) CRITICAL BENCH: What do you think are the 5 biggest factors when training for a bigger squat, bench and deadlift?
1. Preparing yourself for a heavier weight. This can be done with board presses , rack lockouts , partial squats and rack deadlifts. You must get used to handling a heavier weight to hit the CNS hard.
2. Speed Work- This is sometimes misunderstood with people when training. This is not an ego movement and needs to be light enough to get good speed. I see people all the time using way more weight than they should on this and well they sacrifice not only the proper speed needed but form as well.
3. Gear - If you want to lift with the big dogs then you need to get in the gear. Just think of the saying - " When in Rome, do as the Romans" . Get in the gear and know it inside and out . Train it so when meet time comes it's like a second skin. I am not saying that you must train in it all the time because Raw power has to be there as well. Also do not get caught up in the what's hot or what the pros are using idea. Find what works for you and train it.
4. Rest and Nutrition - You must give yourself plenty of rest not only between workouts but between those heavy sets as well. Nutrition is also important I mean don't think that by eating a lot you will get bigger and stronger. You need proper nutrition for growth however it's alright to binge every once in awhile too. I also believe in supplements, I use a lot and have for some time, they help me with recovery, strength and growth.
5. And now last but not least- believing in yourself. This is one of the most important things not only in weightlifting but in life itself. You must have faith to push ahead.
18) CRITICAL BENCH: Great tips, thanks. What was the best advice you were ever told and what was the worst?
The best advice was from a call from Louie Simmons when I was placing an order. He told me from the description of my training it sounds like I was letting my ego get in the way of any real progress. By that he meant too many missed weights from trying a totally ridiculous weight. Speed work way too heavy, and worrying to much about muscle size. From that conversation way back when, I started to slowly make changes needed for real progress.
The worst advice is always from the gym rats that workout everyday and get nowhere fast. I was told that by squatting as wide as I do that it will cause me serious hip injuries later in life. Ha ha ah ok this same person also told me to come up on my toes more as well when squatting.
19) CRITICAL BENCH: Who are your heroes and idols in powerlifting at the elite level and why?
My idol is Chuck Vogelpohl! I'll never forget watching Chuck perform his first 1000lbs squat and I thought "Wow impressive!" I was always training for my first 1000lbs squat, which I got in July of 2006 and Chuck really inspired me to get there! By the way Chuck is still my idol , lol .
20) CRITICAL BENCH: How do you see the future of powerlifting?
I see a great and promising future with powerlifting. I mean now you have the UPA ran by some of the best in the sport. Gear is getting better and people are now starting to train it more. So I feel that it's like anything else there has to be something that catches your eye. Like in strongman they have big events that catches your interest. So with powerlifting when you hear about a 1000# bench press or deadlift that catches your attention fast and that will help powerlifting slip more into the mainstream. Now you have some that believe gear is way out of control and feel that it's all the gear doing the work. Yeah ok unrack 1000# and let the shock hit the body and tell me it's all gear.
CRITICAL BENCH: Daniel, great job shocking yourself and the World of strength sports with all of your amazing lifts and we know that as freakishly strong as you are, you're just going to get stronger and to continue to lift more! Keep up the great work and best wishes to you with everything! -Critical Bench.