Interview with World Record Squat champion Mike Miller by Ben Tatar, CriticalBench.com
1) Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself?
Mike Miller: I am 37 years old, married with 6 kids. I have a gym, Nazareth Barbell located about halfway between NYC and Philly in Pennsylvania. I started out as a powerlifter and am now doing some Strongman stuff. I've developed a strength training system that can be adapted to any sport: ESP (Enhanced Strength and Performance) Training and I do personal training for local clients as well as powerlifters, strongmen and athletes all over the world.
2) Critical Bench: What was it like setting the Squat World Record? What went through your mind before the lift, during the lift and finish? What were you feeling
when the weight was on your back and what was going on through your mind from start to the finish of the squat. In other words tell us about the
experience from approaching the weight, squatting it and then the feeling
of just setting an all time record in the squat.
Mike Miller: It's funny, people outside of our gym seem so amazed by the number, my wife tells me it's what I should be doing with my genetics. My training partner and I worked my system all the way through, so when the time came to do the number, I was prepared physically by my weekly training. I had also worked with a sports hypnotist, Jack Nicholas for several months leading up to January and that helped me to get past the number and just do the thing. When you combine the physical conditioning with the mental preparation, there's just a calm rage running through your body that gets directed to the bar, and then it moves. We are all much more powerful than we know it's just a matter of accessing it.
3) Critical Bench: So you are walking away from powerlifting and you are now doing
strongman competitions. Why did you walk away when you were so successful and why are you choosing to do strongman competitions now?
Mike Miller: I accomplished a whole lot in powerlifting between June of 2000 and January of 2005. I learned a lot about training, about myself and about people in general. It got to the point that it wasn't fun anymore. I just needed to take a break- remove myself from it for awhile. To take time to heal.
4) Critical Bench: Looking back at your powerlifting days what message would you like to tell everyone?
Mike Miller: Lift for yourself, don't let people get into your head.
5) Critical Bench: Looking ahead now. What are your future goals in strongman and in life?
Mike Miller: Honestly, I want to have some fun, cut some weight and make some money. The thing people don't realize is that powerlifting was not only a hobby for me, but it was our livelihood, so when all of the trash talking went on after my squat it affected my family's income. We can't rely on something so unstable for a living, so I had to branch out, out of necessity.
6) 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?
Mike Miller: That is a loaded question...and what happens in NY or Ohio or West Palm stays there...I can tell you this: there are several pics floating around of certain members of the Militia without their pants on wearing Elvis hair and glasses...nuff said....
Some of the best times we had were after a Saturday bench workout, we would all get together and go back to the house and have a big dinner and just hang out all night. The thing we value most about the whole thing are the people.
7) Critical Bench: What exactly is Metal Militia? Some think it's the most hardcore bench
meets with the greatest benchers on the planet. Some would see it as a
training method with the best to improve technique, strength and getting
the most out of the shirt. and others would see it as the greatest
powerlifters coming together as close friends and taking the bench press and
powerlifting to a whole new extreme. Since you were with the Metal Militia, what did it
mean to you?
Mike Miller: The Militia started out as a philosophy: Treat people the way you want to be treated, work hard and make gains. This mindset broke through the whole "training secret" thing that guys used to do and opened it all up. The other stuff was just a by-product of that. We would spend 8 hours on a Saturday doing a thing over and over until we got it right. It's more of an ethic than anything else.
8) Critical Bench: Let's look back at your powerlifting career..
Mike Miller: ok.
What will you remember the most?
The red head with the round ass that's in all the pictures with me.
What was your favorite moment?
There are many, but one was at Gene Rychlak's APF meet last December. I wasn't lifting, but Brad Vargason and Lew Einfalt were. I had been working with Brad and he benched 620 that day at 181 in one attempt. It was technically a good lift, but as a coach it was amazing to watch him keep going and grind it out.
Lew is what I will remember the most though. The year before at IPA Nationals Lew was struggling with a 500 bench. He missed his third attempt right at the top, he just couldn't lock it out. We all just went back to the warm-up room and well it was very emotional.
He's been lifting with me since he was just out of high school. I've watched him grow up. At Gene's meet he did opened with 600 and missed it, he went to 620 and missed it. I had to get in his head a little for his last attempt. That's where he loses it in his head. So his last attempt we put 650 on the bar and he nailed it. That was a great moment.
What was your most hardcore moment?
It retrospect it was a stupid waste of energy, but at the time it was whacked. We were up in NY at one of Bill C's meets and I was f***n up my bench, Bill sent me back in some corner to sit until my next attempt and then when I came up he started hitting me---beating me like a rented Mule...we had it on video, it was ridiculous.
What was your funniest moment?
Anyone involving Me, Bill C. and JD and Coke.
What was your most powerful and emotional moment?
Getting through APF Northeast Regionals in April of 2004. It was a 14 hour meet in New Jersey. There were a bunch of us competing, Lew, Mazza, Kyle, Bobby, Bob O, me, I started lifting around 2 pm and didn't do my last pull until almost 11 at night. There was a point around 8:30 when Deb came over to me and said, "Look, if you want to hang it up now, I'll understand". I was feeling pretty beat up and disgusted. This was after Bobby had passed out and had a nose bleed and was going to call it quits. Millheiser, who had trained like a f*** for this too was puking and s******g his brains out all night and day came over to me and said "Let's finish this". The kid just got done puking in the 55 gallon drum behind me, I couldn't tell him no. So we all pulled ourselves together and kicked it up a notch. It was a great meet and I think we were all better lifters for staying with it to the end.
9) Critical Bench: You will probably go down in the eyes of many as an icon. You were one of the best powerlifters, the biggest and you left on top. How would you
address all the lifters who aren't elite yet? What message would you like
to give them?
Mike Miller: Lift for yourself, dont be afraid to try something radical, think outside the box. If it doesn't work don't keep doing it. Seek advice from someone who has accomplished something and >
Ignore the ramblings of the ignorant, and step on or over their crumpled bodies as you make your way to the top of the mountain. Eat upon their flesh for fuel and through your determination and will banish them to obscurity and a life of complacency and self righteousness that is the hell in which they live" -richard. safreed
10) Critical Bench: Since you were so dominating at the bench and squat which lift did you
like more and why?
Mike Miller: I was made for squattin.
11) Critical Bench: What's it like being so big? Like when you look at all the regular
size people and being the largest what enters your mind? I remember you once
writing an article and you may have given people the impression that you
were hedonistic. Like when you see a puppy dog you can't see its cuteness.
Also, Is it hard to get into cars, does the shower water nail you in the
chest and do little men try to prove their toughness with their beer
muscles when they see a man with your size? I guess we just want to know what it's
like being bigger and stronger than just about everybody?
Mike Miller: I started out as a big gentle kid and got picked on because I was big and wore glasses. Being so big has had its drawbacks and benefits. . When I was a cop I was always the guy they wanted to run point, the muscle, the bad guy. Some people can't look past size and say stuff like: were you born that big? I've learned to embrace my bigness and just roll with it. Luckily I've been able apply it to something that works, it's not like I'm a Volvo mechanic anymore. There is always someone who wants to test me. I've really had to learn how to pick my battles and I still struggle with it.
12) Critical Bench: Would you be interested in going into the WWE? And if not, if you
could fight one man in the world in the Ultimate Fighting's octagon or in a
wrestlemania match, who would you choose and why?
Mike Miller: I'll do anything I have to feed my family. I used to think Strongman was smoke and mirrors until I started doing it. It's incredible. The WWE is actually a viable option at this point. I'm currently talking to people.
13) Critical Bench: Being an amazing bencher and an amazing squatter. What are your 5 tips for a bigger bench and what are your 5 tips for a bigger squat? What are
the 5 things that you think lifters should not do when trying to bench more
and squat more? (go into as much detail that you want).
Mike Miller: Buy the ESP training video for Powerlifters - it's all in there.
14) Critical Bench: I'm going to say a lifters name, give me a few words to describe
Jim Parrish/Joe Average- Nice guy, lots of fun
The whole metal militia crew- None Better
Gene R- Happy to see Gene is getting his due.
Scott Mendy- Nice guy, Deb keeps offering to slap me like his wife does.
The Whole Westside crew- These guys could be great with some training.
Dave Tate- Mogul
The bench press babes- Keep tem coming.
Glen Chabot- Wow haven't heard that name in awhile.
powerlifting- Work hard, anything is possible
15) Critical Bench: Tell us about your bench press routine, squat routine? And tell us
about the new strongman routine that you will be starting?
Mike Miller: The whole point to any type of training I do is to train smart to keep training. Bench/Squat routines are geared toward a one rep max and change according to your meet schedule. The training incorporates bands, chain, zero momentum work and CNS overload training. The strongman stuff is a completely different animal. I will probably do some P/L stuff in the off season to make strength gains, but the big thing in Strongman events is endurance and keeping your air. I'm doing stuff now like 405 for sets and reps on the bench, front log squats off a 2" box for sets and reps. Trying to keep my momentum up for 1.5 to 2 hours. It's grueling.
16) Critical Bench: I know that you give beginners and the world inspirational messages.
You believe that everyone should train hard and that we shouldn't have a world
that evolves into sissies because people's feelings will get hurt. When it
comes to benching at what point should a lifter know that it's time to
start going all out with the shirt and training in similar ways that you train?
Mike Miller: You can start at anytime. Going all out exposes your weaknesses immediately and that gives you a great place to begin working.
17) Critical Bench: Being a father, what are your hopes and wishes for your kids?
Mike Miller: I hope they grow up happy, knowing who they are and content doing what they love to do.
18) Critical Bench: Well, Mike, a new journey is about to begin for you. Tell us what you
plan on doing in the world of strongman?
Mike Miller: I'm sure this will be a huge learning experience. I just want to have some fun and make some money doing it.
19) Critical Bench: What's it like training at Naz Barbell, how does it differ from the
everyday fitness center?
Mike Miller: You'll have to come by and see.
20) Critical Bench: How do you see the future of powerlifting?
Mike Miller: In order to progress, it has to unify. Cut the crap and get real.
Critical Bench: What are your closing words?
Mike Miller: This was a great interview! Thanks for asking me and thanks to Deb and the kids for their support and thanks to my sponsors, Inzer, Pro Wrist Straps, HOP and Mhp for their support.