Powerlifter Eric "The Stone" Stone Interview by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Eric Stone (the Stone) is an AWPC World Powerlifting Champion in the 165lb Open Class, as well as a 3-Time AAPF National Champion. 22 year old Eric holds a number of AAPF and AWPC records including a 650lb squat and 369lb bench press, 501lb deadlift and a 1488lb total, all at 165bw. Eric is also an APF National Referee, and an APA-WPA Referee. This interview was
conducted when Eric was 20 years old.
Critical Bench: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
ES: I am 5'5", about 170 lbs, and 20 years old. I currently attend
Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago, just finished my sophomore year. I am
a Physical Education/Exercise Science major at Elmhurst. I have been
powerlifting going on my fourth year now, but have been lifting for football
for six years. Please check out my website-
ES: In the immediate future, I'd like to try to go win the USAPL Collegiate
Nationals, and maybe take a shot at the 165 Colligate squat record. There's
also the APF junior squat record that I'd like to take a shot at before I'm
out of the juniors. My long term goals are to go and win an APF Senior
National meet at 165, and some day go win the WPO Super-Open Championships
in the lightweights.
Critical Bench: Eric, what is your training philosophy?
ES: Focus on the big three and work on form. Don't worry as much about the
routine you are doing. Usually a routine that has you doing each lift once
a week, and an extra auxiliary bench day is plenty of work. More is not
always better. Perfect your form, and establish a foundation of strength.
You will be much more successful in the future once you have a good form and
a good foundation. And don't forget about working your core-lower back and
Also, set reasonable goals for yourself. Overreaching leads to let-downs and
injuries. I wrote an article on this subject that can be read at this link:
http://www.weighttrainersunited.com/turtlehare.html It really outlines my
opinion on how goals should be set.
Usually lifters go from routine to routine never sticking with one thing
long enough to see if it works. They are constantly changing to the new
Mickey Mouse routine of the week, and never stay on something consistently
long enough to see consistent gains. You really need to stick to a routine
for a year or two to see if it really works.
They also usually want too much too soon. Young lifters want it all right
away, and do not want to take their time to make the gains. I was guilty of
this myself as a beginning lifter, and it got me a year-long lower back
injury. Remember, most lifters peak in their 30's and 40's if they start in
their teens. That's a long time to make those gains
My focus of my training goes around perfecting my form. I try to place more
emphasis on form than routine. Most lifters are so worried about what
training style they use, they forget to work on the forms of the lifts
I use a very conventional approach to training. I use periodolized peaking
cycles for meets based around the big three.
Critical Bench: Did you learn this all from your mentor Ricky Crain?
Eric Stone: Yes.
Critical Bench: Share with us some of Rickey's wisdown.
ES: Rickey Dale Crain told me that the lifts are 1/3 strength, 1/3 form,
and 1/3 use of gear. So we need to not only pay attention to improving our
strength, but also our form and our ability to use legal gear. I definitely
think that the issue of form is over looked by many lifters. Remember,
powerlifting is not necessarily about who is the "strongest." Powerlifting
is about lifting the most weight under the specified circumstances. If you
have better form, you can better utilize your strength to lift more weight.
If you can utilize your gear better, you can use your use your strength to
lift more weight as well
Critical Bench: So, being away at school do you have inadequate nutrition?
ES: It's not easy to eat a proper diet at a college cafeteria! But I try
to get enough protein, keep the carbs down, and watch my fat intake. I
usually have a protein shake after my workouts, and take vitamins throughout
every day, with especially some extra vitamin C. I'll admit I am not the
most disciplined in my diet, but I think I'm getting better with time.
Critical Bench: Yeah school can be tough. Do you find it hard to train with partners and
do you feel they are important for your success?
ES: I wish they were more important. At school, I'm really the only
powerlifter, so I am forced to train by myself much of the time. When I
can, however, I try to lift with my brother, Ken Stone, my friends, Adam
Thurlwell and Todd Scharbert, or find powerlifters in the area to train
with, like Al Baehr and Amy Morrow. I have been lucky enough to train with
the Marscholer Powerlifting Team a few times as well. I think it would
definitely help my training to have a consistent training partner(s). But
because I'm between school and home, it's tough for me.
Critical Bench: What inspired you out of all things to be one of the strongest p4p
powerlifters that has ever lived?
ES: I started lifting for football, and realized I had some pretty good
strength for my size. I actually found out about powerlifting through the
internet. I found out that Ernie Frantz's APF was headquartered in my
hometown of Aurora, IL. I entered into an APF State Meet that was held in
the upstairs of Frantz Gym and have been hooked on the sport ever since.
Critical Bench: What is your favorite assistance exercise and what do you feel is the
ES: My favorite is the hardest-Pause squats! Squats are my favorite lift,
and pause squats have helped my squats the most out of any assistant lift.
Gotta love that pain! Description of pause squats here:
Critical Bench: What has been your favorite moment in powerlifting thus far?
ES: My first meet was very memorable. At first, I really didn't even know
which lift came first in a competition. I actually saw that I was in the
first flight for bench, so I started warming up for bench. At some point,
when I saw everyone else squatting, I figured out that squats were first!
Then I realized that I wasn't even on the first flight line-up, so I had run
back and forth to the front desk at Frantz Gym. I finally warmed up, but
had to run up three flights of stairs to the lifting area. I was so tired
and nervous that I fell down on my first squat. I got some encouragement
from the other lifts, and came back and nailed my second and third squats.
The atmosphere of that meet was awesome. I loved the rush of competing so
much, that I thought I could come back and do it all over again right away!
Another memorable experience was last year at AAPF Nationals. After a
having been out of competition for a year due to a lower back injury, I came
back at the IL State meet in March of 2002. A few weeks later, I traveled
down to Pensacola, FL for AAPF Nationals, and my first meet that was out of
the Chicago-area. I wasn' t too sure how I'd do with the plane right and
travel, but I ended up exceeding my expectations. I got my three squats,
and saw how close I was to an AWPC record, so I went for a fourth, and got
it for a little over 500 lbs, an all time personal best. At that point I
had finally got back to the point where I was before I hurt my back, where I
had squatted 500 lbs in the gym a few weeks before I got injured.
Critical Bench: What is the most insane thing you have ever seen in powerlifting?
ES: In my first meet I saw guys slapping each other and sniffing nose tork
before they lifted, that was pretty crazy at the time. But recently, I saw
a guy put lemon juice in his mouth, and then put some batteries in his
mouth. Now that is crazy!
Critical Bench: Should Powerlifting be an Olympic Sport or remain as an insane
ES: Yes, but I don't want the sport to have to significantly change to get
into the Olympics. I wouldn't want us to have to drop one of the lifts
and/or drop weight classes just to get in, like weightlifting has had to
do. I think it could be great for the sport, but could also cause new
Critical Bench: Will benching ever be a VERY Popular sport and could possibly generate
ratings like the NFL.?
ES: Well, I think because benching is so popular among the common gym goer,
with the right exposure, powerlifting/bench press meets could become even
more popular. With meets like Bench America exposing the sport more to the
general public, it could really make the sport more popular.
Critical Bench: what is your opinion about the whole RAW vs. Gear debate?
ES: I am against the whole "RAW" lifting movement. This sport has always
had some type of equipment. Gear certainly does boost performance
(increases our lifts), but also provides protection, at least to a degree.
I think there may be a point where the gear adding so much to your lifts
that the protection aspect may be negated, but generally I feel the gear
protects me. Also, equipment manufactures financially support the sport,
and the whole "RAW" movement is biting the hand that feeds them, so to
speak. I respect the individual lifter to lift how they want, but a "RAW"
division is just usually just another division that waters down competition.
Critical Bench: Who do you think is the best bencher?
ES: Hmmm, tough to place it on one person. It's also tough to compare some
benchers with the advent of the bench shirt. But what Jesse Kellum has put
up at his lighter weight has impressed me the most.
Critical Bench: Well, the debate is a never ending mental masturbation war zone. So on a
more important level, what gear do you feel is best?
ES: I personally like the gear from Crain's Muscle World. It is durable
gear, at a reasonable price, with service that cannot be beat. Also, I have
tried other gear, and they did not fit the form, style, and technique of my
gear as well as the Crain gear has. If you have change your form completely
for a piece of equipment, it might not be worth it. That being said,
different gear works better for different people with different lifting
styles. Just like training, what may work best for one person, may not work
best for someone else. I'm still willing to experiment, but so far, Crain
gear has worked best for me. While somewhat expensive, the individual
lifter sometimes has to experiment with different gear to see what works
best. A good way to experiment is to buy some used gear off the internet to
see if the gear fits your lifting.
Critical Bench: OK powerlifters have an off season- So do you train like a bodybuilder
so your body, heart, nervous system and motivation comes back stronger than
ever- DO YOU BELIEVE IN A HIGH REP OFF SEASON FOR THE POWERLIFTER?
ES: Generally high reps do not help the limit strength needed to be
developed. But, in the off-season, it may be helpful to do some more higher
reps, and work the lesser used muscles to build up the "foundation" of
strength needed for a peaking cycle. But generally bodybuilding training
should be saved for bodybuilders.
Critical Bench: What has powerlifting taught you? Tell us about some of the people
you have met.
ES: Power lifting has taught me discipline, and that hard work built over
time can amount to something big. My long training cycles have taught me to
stick to something for long periods of time. I have to go to the gym even
when I don't feel like it, so that a few months down the road at a
competition I can be successful. Power lifting is unique in that you don't
compete particularly very often. You have to train hard for months at a
time so that you can lift big weights for one day. I have always been a
very competitive person. People will always gravitate towards what they are
good at. Because I seemed to have success early in powerlifting, I was more
likely to keep doing it. Powerlifting is a way for me to indulge my
competitive nature in something I am good at, and enjoy. Also, powerlifting
is lifestyle for me, a goal that I am always shooting for. Everything I do
can affect my lifts, so I have to live with that in mind.
I'd like to thank all those you've helped me in my powerlifting career,
including, but not limited to Ernie Frantz, Fred Hatfield, Rickey Dale
Crain, Eric Marscholer, Roger Boerg, and my parents for all the support they
have given me. Thanks all!
Critical Bench: IN CLOSING. WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS OF ATTITUDE. SOMETHING WE CAN ALL TAKE
WITH US TO THE GYM!!!
ES: My coach in high school always said, "Get low on those squats!" I took
that one to heart.
Another one is from Rickey Dale Crain: "Form, style, and technique are