Interview With Powerlifter Brian J. Schwab of Orlando Barbell by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com - June 2007
Critical Bench: Thanks for being with us today Brian. Before we start talking strength and power, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brian Schwab: Thanks for the opportunity for the interview. I am 33 years old and live in Orlando, Florida with my wife Trinity and two dogs Cuato and Zen. I own and operate Orlando Barbell which is a 24 hour card access gym geared towards general fitness but caters to Powerlifters.
I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Florida and am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
Critical Bench: As the #1 ranked powerlifter in the 148 LB class and a WPO lightweight champion, share with our readers your best competition lifts, and best gym lifts.
Brian Schwab: My best competition lifts at 148 are a 722 squat, 508 bench, and a 606 deadlift for 1836, the all time highest 148 total. My best competition lifts at 165 are a 771 squat, 573 bench, 628 deadlift and a 1906 total. I usually don't attempt PRs with full gear and full ROM in the gym but have done a full 805 squat, have benched 615 off of 2 boards and pulled 655 off of the floor with straps on.
Critical Bench: Okay I'm impressed. You must have some records with those stats?
Brian Schwab: I was the first 148 Bench America Champion with 445 on July 5, 2003.
My total was ranked #1 in the 148 lb. class by Powerlifting USA for 5 years in a row from 2001 to 2006.
I have the #1 highest 148 all time total of 1836 which I accomplished on 3/3/06.
I broke the WPO 148 lb. full meet bench World Record 4 Consecutive times:
501.5 on 3/5/04
503.8 on 10/8/04
507 on 10/29/05
508.16 on 3/3/06
I have the APA 165 Open bench world record of 545 on 12/16/06.
I have the WPO World record bench which is the highest full meet 165 bench of all time of 573.2 on 3/2/07.
Critical Bench: Wow, those are some incredible numbers. How long did it take you to reach this level? How long have you been powerlifting, and what or who got you started?
Brian Schwab: I started working out when I was fourteen years old and a freshman in high school. I saw it as something that I had ultimate control over in my life and was addicted from the start. Throughout high school I wrestled and competed on the weightlifting team. After graduation I eventually missed the drive I got from competition. In 1995 while going to the University of Florida I met a guy, Mike Blizzard, who helped to get me started in competitive powerlifting. Initially I competed in bench only contests and eventually started with the AAU for full meets. It just happened to work out for me that in 2001 Kieran Kidder held the first WPO meet in Daytona. I couldn't turn down the opportunity to potentially make money doing what I love.
Critical Bench: Making money doing what you love, can't complain about that! You're the owner and a trainer at Orlando Barbell. Tell us what makes this gym unique. Describe the atmosphere.
Brian Schwab: What makes us unique is that we've accomplished what few hardcore gyms are able to. We've achieved a compromise between a Powerlifting friendly environment and one that is still welcome to the average fitness minded individual. Most of our non-powerlifting members have developed an interest in the sport and our impressed by our numbers. What makes us even more unique is our team. We have a great group of highly motivated lifters who work off of each others' energy and desire for success. We have no need for the arrogant ones who aren't willing to lend a hand.
Critical Bench: The Orlando Barbell Team has been on a roll, winning the 2006 AAPF Nationals in LA. How many guys are on the team? What are some of the best lifts recorded from other team members?
Brian Schwab: We have grown to over 20 actively competitive lifters. My business partner, Brian Tincher, has made dramatic improvements since we opened the gym. He recently placed third in the lightweight class at the WPO Finals with a 771 squat, 518 bench, and a 622 deadlift for a 1912 Total. Jo Jordan has the highest total in the gym with a big 914 squat, 573 bench, and a 622 deadlift for a 2110 total in the 242 class. Daniel Tinajero is only 19 years old and recently qualified for the Senior Nationals at 181 with a 683 squat, 473 bench, a 567 pull and a 1725 total at the 2007 AAPF Nationals. I believe every one of his lifts was a teenage world record.
So many of our lifters have Florida and American records its tough not to leave anyone out. In order of weight class, Leslie Kutner is a local high school student who recently started training with me. She has a tremendous amount of potential. In her first full meet she competed raw in the USAPL where she squatted 170, benched 137, and deadlifted 209 totaling 516 in the 123 class for 4 Florida records.
Allie Daniel is 18 and competes both in Olympic and Powerlifting and has a ton of potential as well. She recently competed in our very own meet where she benched 165 and deadlifted 200 in the 132 lb. Class. Both were Florida state records.
Ray Lynch has the 13-15 APA 165 teenage world record deadlift with 427.5. John Land has a Junior AWPC world record bench of 440 in the 165 lb. class.
Bill Player has numerous masters records in many federations including American records of a 330 bench and a 1248 total in the 181 class for the AAPF 60-64 age group.
Jim Lynch has the APA 50-54 198 Deadlift world record with 553.
Mark Lessmann has a Junior AAPF World record bench of 473 in the 198 lb. class.
Wayne "Dutch" Flesh has the APF Florida State record squat of 804 at 198.
Ronnie Paras has an Open AWPC world record squat of 733 in the 198 lb. class and four 40-44 Masters American records.
Chad Briley has a Junior AWPC World Record bench of 534.5 and 1771 Total.
Mike Churchman has the 60-64 Masters 242 bench World Records with 442.5 in the APA and 402 in the WNPF.
Darrell "Tugboat" Garvey has all 4 World Records in the teen SHW class with an 804 squat, 600 bench, 501 deadlift and an 1815 total.
We have a very accomplished group. I'm happy that we've been able to grow so quickly and am proud of everyone's accomplishments. You can view more information on our team at: www.orlandobarbell.com.
Critical Bench: Some guys try to go at it alone. How important are your training partners in regards to your own achievements?
Brian Schwab: I trained for years with just my girlfriend, now wife, Trinity helping me. We would grab whoever was available and just do the best we could. Now that I have an entire team to work with I'm far more motivated than ever before. Prior to opening the gym I hadn't even totaled over 1800, now I'm over 1900 with my sights set on 2000. To give credit where credit is due I squat and deadlift every Friday with Greg Godwin, Tom Walyus, Daniel Tinajero, and my business partner Brian Tincher. I bench every Saturday with just about everyone from the team. It's vastly different from grabbing random people. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without these guys.
Critical Bench: You're a member of the EliteFTS.com Q&A Team. Has Dave Tate's teaching's influenced your own training philosophy?
Brian Schwab: Dave is a great guy and has been more than willing to provide his advice not only for training but for business as well. He was more than willing to provide me with business advice before I was even part of the Elite team. Orlando Barbell wouldn't be where it's at today without him. He's extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of Powerlifting and has become a marketing guru as well. He seems to want a diverse group of lifters with unique training styles so I've basically stuck with the same routine. I have, however, incorporated more band and chain training and the use of the Safety Squat Bar on a weekly basis for speed work. This was directly influenced by Elite's products and advice.
Critical Bench: As a trainer and world class powerlifter, what mistakes do most beginners make when they first come to see you with an interest in powerlifting?
Brian Schwab: Many lifters set their goals too high and end up becoming discouraged when they don't achieve them. A lot of lifters also think they're going to immediately get huge carryover from the gear but quickly realize that just doesn't happen. To succeed in this and any sport you need determination and consistency.
Critical Bench: Since this is a bench press site, I'm going to have to pick your brain for some bench tips. What would you say is the number one thing that anyone can do to immediately improve their bench? Basically what's the first thing you would correct
when someone comes to you for help?
Brian Schwab: I would say the number one thing any shirted bencher could do to improve would be to perfect their technique and increase the strength of their lockout. The first thing I do while working with lifters new to the gym looking to improve their bench is to analyze their weak points, improve their set up and the groove they're following, depending on whether they're raw or equipped or what kind of shirt they're using, and then strengthen their weak points depending on their sticking point.
Critical Bench: This can be a touchy subject for some but how do you feel about the equipped versus raw debate?
Brian Schwab: I respect any lifter who is willing to get on the platform and compete, regardless of the federation or its rules. The multi-ply federations are just what I prefer and where the sport has led me. I'm always impressed with raw numbers but hope that the gear will increase my longevity in the sport.
Critical Bench: What other lifters or mentors have influenced you positively in your quest for strength and knowledge?
Brian Schwab: Since I trained alone for so long I followed a basic bodybuilding routine while focusing on the Powerlifts for many years. It wasn't until I ready Louie Simmons training methods that I really began to improve. Louie was the pioneer in bringing the Russian methods of training to the United States and has revolutionized the sport. He is also very personable and will talk to anyone anytime without hesitation.
In order to really do this question justice regarding the lifters that have influenced me I have to refer to an excerpt which I posted on my Elite training log the night before the last Arnold Classic:
"I've been competing in this federation since its' inception. In this time I've had the honor of sharing the stage with some of the greatest lifters to ever walk the planet including Ed Coan, Travis Mash, Chuck Vogelpohl, Steve Goggins, Paul Childress, and many, many more. I've competed against the likes of Olexandr Kutcher, Tony Conyers, Ron Palmer, Wade Hooper, Angelo Berardinelli, Nick Hatch and more.
I saw George Halbert bench 733 @ 220 at one of my first meets. Garry Frank broke the all time highest total time and time again, Jeff Lewis squatted 1200, Andy Bolton deadlifted 1003 and I was there. I witnessed larger than life Anthony Clark compete before his unfortunate and untimely death. I had a conversation with Glen Chabot at my first Arnold before he disappeared from our sport.
I've spoken with Louie Simmons, the ultimate guru of Powerlifting, on numerous occasions. It was at a WPO meet that Dave Tate gave me the privilege of being one of the chosen few lifters to call themselves part of the Elite Fitness Team. I've built lasting friendships with some of my competitors including Brian Tincher, my now business partner, Dan Petrillo, Brian Strickland, Brad Heck, Joe Mazza, and Eric Talmant. I have even accomplished my dream of opening my own Powerlifting Gym, Orlando Barbell, and now have the gift of coaching up and coming Powerlifters."
Critical Bench: You competed in the Arnold Classic, that must have been an amazing experience.
Brian Schwab: I've had the honor of competing in the past 5 Arnold Classic WPO Finals. I've been with the only pro Powerlifting Federation since its inception. Nothing beats the feeling of being onstage with thousands of people watching. It's unfortunate that this past year may have been the last Arnold for the WPO.
Critical Bench: That was surprising news when I heard it, must have been even more so for you. Would you mind giving our readers an overview of your workout split and training style.
Brian Schwab: I have tried every split and training style possible and always end up reverting back to my 5 day routine.
Monday is dynamic effort squat with upper back.
Tuesday is raw board work or dynamic effort bench with shoulders and triceps.
Wednesday is squat assistance focusing on glute ham raises, abs, hips, and grip.
Critical Bench: A lot of powerlifters don't pay much attention to their diets. Are you big on nutrition? What are your favorite supplements?
Brian Schwab: I stay pretty lean year round at around 8 or 9% body fat. I have a hard time gaining weight but try to take in at least a gram of protein per pound of body weight a day with equal amounts of low glycemic carbohydrates. I'm lucky enough to be sponsored by MHP as well (www.maxperformance.com) and have greatly benefited from the use of their Macrobolic MRP, Probolic-SR, Take Off, Glutamine-SR, and TRAC. I literally take all of these on a daily basis.
Critical Bench: What is the most intense/craziest/impressive powerlifting moment that you have first hand witnessed?
Brian Schwab: I've seen so many but Andy Bolton's 1003 deadlift has to be the most impressive.
Critical Bench: When you're not working or training at the gym, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Brian Schwab: I'm pretty easy to please. I like relaxing and drinking beer with my buddies from the gym, watching UFC, and hanging out at the beach.
Brian Schwab Benching 573 Pounds Weighing 165
Critical Bench: What's in store for Brian Schwab's future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are your current professional and personal goals?
Brian Schwab: Wow, you're making me think more than I had planned to. Professionally, in ten years I hope to have all of the gym debt paid off and possibly have expanded or opened another location. In Powerlifting I hope to have accomplished the same goals in the 165 class as I did in the 148 with the all time highest total, but I have a battle ahead. There's also a good chance that I might bite the bullet and drop back down to 148 to break the all time bench as well as the all time total again.
Critical Bench: Thanks for taking time out between clients to do this interview with us. We're happy to share the success you've achieved and will be cheering for you in the future. If there's anything else you'd like to share, now's the time.
Brian Schwab: Thanks again for the opportunity. I actually do have something big on the horizon. My wife is the Director of Operations for a successful Orlando based film and video production company (www.davidnixonproductions.com). She's been at me for a while to make a bench training DVD. This DVD would be something unique and informative that would be very beneficial to the viewers looking to improve their bench specifically geared towards meet timing and preparation. It will also be professionally filmed and edited. I hope to have this on the shelves by the end of 2007.
I'd also like to thank Karin Klein who has been sponsoring me for years and has helped to sponsor the entire Orlando Barbell team as well. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the use of her custom made shirts. You can learn
more about her shirts at: www.karinsxtremepower.com