Interview With APF Powerlifter Matt Sahlfeld Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - February 2009
Critical Bench: Critical Bench is here with super strong powerlifter Matt Sahfield. Matt, welcome to Critical Bench. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started in powerlifting?
My name is Matt Sahlfeld and I am 23 years old. I have always had a fascination with strength and power. I loved preparing for football in the off season, then I found out about the sport of powerlifting and that was the end of football.
After competing for a couple of years, I wasn't happy with my progress. That's when I decided to go down to Omaha Nebraska where I met one of the, if not the best powerlifting coaches in the nation, if not the world, Rick Hussey. While at Big Iron under the strict coaching of Mr. Hussey, my total went up by 600+ pounds. If that isn't an improvement I don't know what is. I will forever be grateful for the experiences and times I had along with the people I met while training at Big Iron Gym. Now I have returned back home to Beloit Kansas to be closer to my family.
Critical Bench: What a story! Adding 600lbs to your total is incredible! What fed do you compete in and why?
APF - Mostly because of the freedom you have as a lifter. You can wear almost anything.
Critical Bench: What do you love about competing in the APF?
I love the freedom that I have as a lifter. I don't always have a bunch of rules and regulations breathing down my neck. Also, it is I think one of the most competitive federations around because of the gear and the learning curve of the gear. You also have a lot of people you have to rely on for spotting, loading, and for equipment help. It's very tough to find people to help you out with your training. With the gear comes a great deal of pressure because with that kind of weight there is little room for error.
Critical Bench: Matt, what is it like being trained under Rick Hussey?
It's interesting to say the least! Haha! He is a great coach but he sure as hell isn't going to stroke your ego. He will bring you down to earth in a hurry. He does everything in his power to make you a better lifter as well as a better person. He doesn't put up with any crap, you either listen to him or you don't but if you do, you are in store for huge strength gains.
Critical Bench: Rick has created many champions in the sport of powerlifting! Other than Rick, what other people do you like training with at Big Iron?
All of them. They would all bend over backwards for you! To name a few. Dan Gross, Jim Grandick, Mike Taylor, Shawn and Bobby Frankl, Krystal Cary, Shannon Hartnett, Troy Goestch, Tony Acome, Justin Redding, Rod, Wes, Nick Weeners, Scott Barnes, Brad Heck, Mick Manley and many many more.....
Critical Bench: What is training at Big Iron like for you? Tell us in detail.
It's an adventure. You never knew what Rick was going to have you do. You might do doubles, singles, triples; you never know what weight you are going to lift that day. You might have an idea but you never truly know for sure. On top of that you never know what you are going to see lifted that day too. Everyone is almost always setting some kind of pr's on a daily basis.
Critical Bench: Wow, sounds like a very interesting and unpredictable place for those that are not weak at heart! Everyone who has been to big Iron keeps saying good things about it. What are your best lifts and what are your short term and long term future goals?
Really I don't think I have a best lift yet I haven't competed long enough yet to have developed one. My favorite lift though would be the deadlift. My short term goal is to total over 2000 and qualify for senior nationals again. My long term goal is to give back to the sport someday as a coach.
Critical Bench: Can you give us your powerlifting routine?
I can't go into great detail about it because the routine I follow isn't my own but mostly made up of things I learned and a routine I followed put together by Coach Hussey.
Day 1 - Bench along with shoulder, chest, triceps, bicep, abs assistance.
Day 2 - Deadlift along with back, hamstring, abs, calves assistance.
Day 3 - Squat along with quad, hip, hamstring, abs, calves assistance.
Something I also learned while training there is that there is no reason to "beat a dead horse" which means get your assistance done quickly! Get in and get out!
Critical Bench: Interesting, what is your mental philosophy towards training? Your mindset?
Have faith in yourself as well as surround yourself with positive helpful people and your lifts will go up.
Critical Bench: What drives you to train hard year round?
The desire to be better. There seems to be no point of satisfaction and basically because I just love to train. It's my outlet my escape from the bores of life.
Critical Bench: So far in your powerlifting journey what has been your favorite, funniest, craziest, and most powerful moment?
Favorite - Squatting 804 in my first A.P.F powerlifting meet. It was rush!
Funniest - In Dubuque Iowa I was walking down to do a bench meet and didn't see a caution sign and walking right into a mess of carpet glue in my lifting shoes so I had to go to the restroom and try to get it off. This just added to all the pressure and I knew Rick would make fun of me for it! haha!
Craziest - Deadlifting 675 in training was a pretty crazy moment for me because I sure wasn't expecting to do that on that particular day.
Most Powerful - Was totaling 2000 at 220. It was a great day! Thanks to Rick Hussey.
Critical Bench: You're elite now! What is your favorite and least favorite thing about powerlifting?
One of my favorite and least favorite things about the sport are the mystery and the way it's under the bed of society. Not many people know about powerlifting which makes for less than normal so called "experts" but then again that makes you feel less about your athletic abilities as a powerlifter.
Critical Bench: What do you enjoy doing away from powerlifting?
Relaxing for the most part. Playing video games, drawing, listening to music, going out to eat, and cooking.
Critical Bench: What is the biggest adversity that you are currently facing?
Biggest adversity now would have to be environment because I don't have the support that I had at Big Iron.
Critical Bench: Tell us about the gym you train at and what is it like? How does it compare to Big Iron?
The gym I train at now is just a local wellness center which is alright and it gets the job done but it isn't Ideal for powerlifting.
My former gym on the other hand. Rick Hussey's Big Iron Gym of Omaha Ne. was a powerlifting paradise. Plenty of weights, monolifts, competition style benches, great lifting partners, and a great coach to top it all off! Every day was a learning experience and you were sure to get a few laughs in along the way.
Critical Bench: What makes you different from everyone else?
My personality. I have a lot of things I need to improve on but I have the drive to do it. It may take me a long time but someday I will prevail.
Critical Bench: What are your 5 biggest pointers for a bigger squat? Bench? And deadlift?
1. Watch your food (quality calories) and water intake. Dehydration can take a big toll on your lifts.
2. Experiment with assistance work to see what works best for you.
3. Left heavy but learn to read your body. Don't let your ego control what you do.
Critical Bench: How do you see the future of powerlifting?
I take one day at a time. I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Those that seem to are the ones that really don't matter. The sport is what it is and if you don't like it do something else.
Critical Bench: Do you have any advice?
You can always learn something new.
Critical Bench: When you are all finished with powerlifting how do you want to be remembered?
As a guy that wouldn't quit....in a good way that is. I also want to give back to the sport and be remembered for what I did for others not just what "I" did.
CRITICAL BENCH: Matt that is what makes you a great leader and I am sure lots of people will benefit from your interview today! Matt, it has been great interviewing you. In closing who would you like to thank?
Everyone who has ever helped me in my lifting career. Rick Hussey the most for giving me the chance to train at Big Iron and not sending me back to Kansas. All my training partners at BIG for putting up with me I know that can be a task! Mark and Sharon Sahlfeld for helping me out all these years! My brothers for supporting me (Mitch and Monty). Last but not least! Ben Tatar for giving me the chance to do this interview! Thank you!