Interview With 2-Time WPC World Powerlifting Champion Eric MaroscherAs told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar - October 2007
1) CRITICAL BENCH: Eric, tell us about yourself.
In the "Real World" I am the assistant principal at Libertyville High School. I have a BA in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy, a MA in Educational Psychology and a MA in Educational Administration. In the "Powerlifting World" I am a Master I lifter in the 100KG Division. I am a 2-Time WPC World Powerlifting Champion, 2-Time APF National Powerlifting Champion, WPC North American Powerlifting Champion and Multi-Time IL State Powerlifting Champion.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: What is your height and weight? What are your best lifts, how long have you been competing and what fed do you compete in and why?
I am 5'9" and typically weigh between 215 and 220Lbs. My best lifts at 220Lbs are: Squat 805, Bench 460, Deadlift 671. My first competition was the Eastern Illinois University Powerlifting Championship, and that was in 1989, so this marks my 18th year as a competitive powerlifter. I have competed in the WPC, APF, APA, ANPPC, etc. My main federation is the APF. The reason I lift APF is based on my friendship with my lifting mentor and coach, the legendary Ernie Frantz. The APF has always been "for the lifter" and as a lifter and member of the Executive Committee of the Illinois APF, an organization that puts its lifter first is a must for me. There are some changes that are being discussed with regard to the future of APF and the possibility the creation of the AFPF (American Frantz Powerlifting Federation). It is too early to see where this will go. Time will tell.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: Eric, we've read your articles before. How did you get involved in writing articles? And what is it about writing articles than you enjoy so much?
I started writing articles for a few reasons. Initially it was a way to capture my thoughts about what I consider to be the greatest sport in the world. At the same time it was part of a piece of a larger project I was working on which was developing a lifting journal for the beginning and intermediate powerlifter. All my articles are based upon a philosophical perspective of an array of aspects of the sport. After putting some articles on the Maroscher Powerlifting Team web page, www.maroscher.com I began getting quite a bit of positive feedback from other lifters as well as invitations to submit my articles to some of the powerlifting magazines and online news letters. There are so many great articles on sets and reps that the philosophical perspective of our sport complements those training article nicely. What I enjoy about writing the articles is two fold: I enjoy how the writing process refocuses me as a lifter and I also enjoy the feedback from fellow lifters.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Eric, tell us about your training team, where you've trained and what it is like?
I lift with the Maroscher Powerlifting Team and we joke about having been booted out of the best gyms in Illinois. Too much chalk, ammonia, and 45's equals an invitation to leave any mainstream gym. Ha, ha. The Maroscher Powerlifting Team started humbly enough back around 1993 with myself, Keith Earley, Walt Podlesak, and Jim Metzger in the south suburbs of Illinois at a gym that no longer exists (Heavy Metal Gym). Since that time we have had many, many lifters competing on the team, and to date we have produced 4 world, 9 national and 11 state champions. There are pods of the Maroscher Team in Joliet, Gurnee, Woodridge, Crete and Aurora, Illinois.
Training on the Maroscher Team is truly a great experience. Lifting with a powerlifting team is potentially the most positive external stimuli a powerlifter could ever have. You are working with a team of people who, just like you, have that internal fire to be a champion, who, just like you, have the same longing to be the very best they can, who, just like you, share the same realization that life is indeed a collection of moments in time and working toward bringing out the best that is inside you is an investment in both your existence and your essence, and who, just like you, they want to work to help their team members reach all of their goals. Lifting on the Maroscher Team is vastly different from having a lifting partner or some spotters around you for your lift. With the team you are talking about people who share your philosophy of life, lifting and competing. They share your zeal for each of the three lifts. The team wants you to be great, and you want them to be great as well. The relationship is totally symbiotic in nature.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: Share your training routine and training philosophy.
The pod of the Maroscher Powerlifting Team that I lift with follows a program that is a hybrid of the Frantz program, many elements of the West Side program and the aspects that work for us as individual lifters. My training pod follows a four day per week training schedule:
Monday - Max Effort bench work with assistance training. We utilize the conjugate method on a 4 week cycle per bench-type movement.
Wednesday - Dynamic/Speed Day with chain box squats and chain deadlift work with assistance training.
Thursday - Speed bench day with chains and assistance work.
Saturday - Frantz style heavy squat and deadlift day with assistance work.
Our philosophy about training is that success depends upon looking at ones previous preparation, measuring your progress, planning out your short, medium and long terms goals and having a plan to achieve these goals. We feel that without preparation there is sure to be frustration and failure. Also, we work as a team and when the sigmoid curve of our training is leveling off, that is the time to change things up to keep on the upward movement of that curve. While all this is going on, truly, we have a good time and stay positive knowing we will reach our individual and ultimately our team goals.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: Why do you choose to powerlift and challenge yourself everyday instead of living the easy life?
The great philosophers have always pontificated about man's existence preceding his essence. This in short means that truly every other species on the planet has a purpose in life, its rightful place in the food chain, a responsibility, a function. We as part of the human species being aware that we are aware, realizing that we can realize and thinking about how we are able to think, puts us in a situation where we are more than just food for the next highest form in the chain. Since our existence precedes our essence, we have to make our own reason for being here on this planet. We have to make choices each day and strive to accomplish something significant before we end up pushing up daisies like all other little creatures do.
We have to make our lives significant and of substance because one day we are going to end up "dead as a doornail." Powerlifter's, myself included, choose the discipline and challenge of the sport because they have a zeal for life, and a desire for victory, both personal and in a competitive sense. They live life fast, completely and strive for excellence. The bottom line is that regardless of whether or not your lifts at the gym are amazing like Chuck Vogelpohl's, Jessie Kellum's, or Paul Urchick's, or your lifts are half hearted efforts and you are really just going through the motions, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of your life are going to come and go and you can never get that time back once it has passed. Individuals that choose to powerlift and challenge themselves every day instead of living what looks on the surface to be the easy life, make the physical and mental investment each day in the gym, so at the end of that day powerlifters can look back at and say, this was a good day, I regret nothing, I celebrate everything.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: What do you think are the most important factors when training for a bigger bench press, squat and deadlift?
There are several factors to consider when training for a bigger squat, bench and deadlift. There are many different programs out there to follow, so one factor is knowing all you can about the different methods so you can make an educated decision as to what program you want to utilize, keeping in mind that what works for one lifter might not work as well for another. The guys at ELITEFTS are very good about pointing that out, because sometimes we as lifters just follow a routine blindly because it works for lifter X, when in reality, that program might have aspects that work for us, but other aspects just don't fit us right, so a little adaptation goes a long way.
Another factor is the team of lifters you have around you. Training for the biggest three lifts you can, will only be enhanced by the team you have around you, or stagnated by the lack of team around you. A third factor to getting the most out of your body which entails the consumption of good nutrition, calories and the proper amount of sleep. I remember hearing the quote, "You can't over train, you can only under eat and under sleep." To a point, there is a lot to that statement. A fourth factor is knowing which type of equipment works best for you, and knowing how to train with it, and ultimately compete in it. A fifth factor is tracking your progress and/or lack thereof. Setting goals is vital, but tracking your growth or lack of growth is essential in reaching these goals. So the factor to be considered when tracking your progress is setting the short, medium and long range goals, tracking your progress and modifying your program at the right time. This factor also includes learning to peak for the meet so your max is fully reached at meet time.
8) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your favorite parts about being a powerlifter and do you think powerlifting will go mainstream? Do you want powerlifting to go mainstream or do you think it would hurt the sport in the end?
One of my personal favorite aspects of being a powerlifter is the daily training. To a degree, the meet is an excuse to get to train heavy in the weight room. The feel of a fully loaded bar on your back when you are squatting is just outstanding. Knowing that the weights your are pushing in the gym would bury the typical human is intoxicating and seeing great lifters perform tremendous feats of power is wonderfully humbling as well. In addition to obviously loving the feeling of moving big weight, all the little nuances to training and the weight room appeal to me as well; the sound that the plates make when you load 7 or 8 plates per side on the bar and push them snuggly together. That is a great sound. Likewise the sound that bar makes when it is reracked on the monolift, the feeling of the chalk on your hands, the smell of ammonia, the look, sound and feel of the chains on speed day, the bend of the bar as you pull big weight off the platform.
I enjoy the brotherhood of the sport, meeting other lifters that are cut form the same cloth as yourself, the friendship that a great competition can produce. For example, I remember barely edging out an outstanding Canadian lifter, Randy Etsell at both the WPC Worlds in Vegas and at the WPC North American in Canada. We both had the same total in Canada and I won by mere body weight (one less pancake for breakfast). Even with the great distance between us there is an occasional e-mail from one to another inquiring how training is going. It is a rapport built from fierce competition in which we always hope for best for one another, but also know within ourselves that the score is Eric 2, and Randy 0. It is also knowing that Randy has big plans to change that score in the future. That is what I mean about the brotherhood powerlifting can produce.
As far as powerlifting going mainstream, never say never. I mean if Curling, a sport that literally utilizes a broom can be a Winter Olympics, surely powerlifting has a chance. You can look MMA events as an example of an underground sport that in 10 years has become huge/mainstream. MMA was fairly obscure to the masses and simply exploded with the right leadership and management. Powerlifting could enjoy that same, seemly out of no where immergence. It has all the ingredients to be huge; big numbers, risk of being stapled to the ground by weight, intensity, larger than life personalities and a tie into mans' fascination with only the strongest shall survive ideals.
Do I want powerlifting to go mainstream, that is a great question. Although there might be one, I don't foresee a downside to that. Using MMA again as an example, there is a pyramid where the best combatants are on television, fighting for a championship, living out their dreams live and on pay-per-view, where the upcoming scrappers fight in their local areas and strive to one day be the best on the big stage. Powerlifting as a mainstream sport could be the same. You'd have your elite lifting at the Olympic type events, and still have the masses competing at local venues, fighting it out to be the best they can be. Mainstream also has implication of unification which only serves to focus the sport. Ultimately, no matter how big or small powerlifting becomes, powerlifters will always continue to train at their gyms, basements and in their garages, with the goal in mind to be the best they can be individually. Clearly there is no money in the sport and that has never stopped us before. Guys spend thousands of dollars traveling to other countries to win a ten dollar medal at a world event. Clearly we are not motivated by the almighty dollar, but rather carving out our place in powerlifting's history books and having a little piece of immortality.
Eric Maroscher 671 Deadlift
9) CRITICAL BENCH: So far in your strength quest, what has been your favorite moment, funniest moment, most hardcore, and most memorable?
My favorite moment was winning the WPC World's in Cape Town South Africa. It was in November of 2001, just months after September 11th. As powerful as the memory of 9-11 is today, it was the freshest of wounds then and the uncertainty of what if anything was going to happen next was always in the back of your mind just a few short weeks after the events if you recall. I was ecstatic with the result of the meet obviously as I had trained very hard for that meet, but I also felt overwhelmed, in a positive way, at how American I felt. I was proud to be representing the United States while in Cape Town at an international meet in a way that is probably not the norm considering the events at that time.
The funniest moment was watching my friend John struggling to get on his bench shirt at a meet and after what seemed like an hour, he had the shirt on and when he got to the bench he realized that he put the thing on backwards. It was classic.
My most hard core moment would be tied between two events. The first was when I set the American deadlift record while having bronchitis. I just thought I was losing weight and tired from the training leading the APF Nationals, but it turned out that I was really pretty sick. The second would be after rupturing my bicep training for Finland. I detached my right bicep and had surgery to reattach it. Although it sounds pretty benign, the first time I pulled 600Lbs after the reattachment was amazingly scary. It was the moment that I realized if your mind says you can do something, you can, and if your mind says you can't, don't try because the body is nothing without the mind with regard to a max effort lift.
My most memorial moment was when my friend and lifting partner Keith Earley came to the gym to train the day after his father died. Being with the team at the gym was his place to go to get his mind off of this loss, even for a mere hour or so. The friendships that originate in the gym can be great for producing big numbers but also can be healing. I realized how something as simple as powerlifting has the power to keep someone together mentally and emotionally, even if just for the moment. Watching Big Keith walk into the gym train his heart out that day is my most memorable moment.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
Somehow I became a Master I lifter. Seems like it was just yesterday when I had my first meet in 1989. Future goals include establishing all new meet p.r.'s, winning the APF IL State meet, APF Nationals and WPC World's as a Master lifter.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: What message would you like to leave the lifting world?
Answering this question properly would take up far too much space in this interview, so I will hone it down to this, powerlifting is very much like life in that it is a journey, not a destination. Truly, you get out of powerlifting what you put into is as you do with your day to day existence. Living each day as a powerlifter is a great way to live in that you should enjoy your training, competing, your lifting friends and the powerlifting lifestyle. Everything you do in powerlifting can be applied to something in your "real life" because to be successful at powerlifting you have to have goals, a strong work ethic, true discipline, dedication, drive, an indomitable spirit, inner strength, a purpose, a good team around you, a great game plan, and a sense of the big picture. If you apply those tools to your "real life" you can't lose. Powerlifting is so much more than a sport, it is a lifestyle.
12) CRITICAL BENCH: What is your diet and supplement routine like?
My diet is pretty simple and almost boring. I eat meals at approximately 6:00am, 10:30am, noon, 3:00pm, 6:30pm and 8:30pm. All meals are balanced with proteins and carbohydrates and I try to keep my fats a little lower. I sip water all day out of my nerdy looking jug and at the end of the day I have sipped a little over a gallon and a half of water. When I am hydrated, my lifts are 100% better than when I am not. Water is so common sense, but it is so simple and obvious that often time's lifters look past the obvious and look for some hidden secret supplement. As a drug-free lifter I really have to make sure I have enough calories or I run out of gas during training. Regarding a supplement routine, I take a variety of vitamins and mineral supplements as well as an MSN and Glucosamine supplement. In between each meal I have a Healthy-N-Fit brand Whey Protein and after my final meal I have a Milk/casein protein shake to get me through the night.
13) CRITICAL BENCH: In closing who would you like to thank?
I would like to thank Critical Bench for taking the time to interview me. At the risk of leaving some people out, I would also like to thank as a whole, all the members of the Maroscher Powerlifting Team. A special thanks to Tom Carnaghi, Rob Keyes, Ron Legarretta, Amy Morrow, Mario DeBenedetti, Dennis Duffy, Larry Tischer, the legendary Ernie Frantz, Eric Stone, Sharra Powell, Darrell Latch, Ron Russ, Dr. Richard Collins, Bennie Finch, Lefko, Daryl Evrard, Ivan Zwick, Drew from Drew's Gym, Carl Kuester, Rick Pasquini, Russ Barlow, Dick ZenZen, Pat Sasser, Robinson's Gym, and the ultimate thanks to my brother in iron, Big Keith Earley.