Interview With Clint Smith of Team Samson Powerlifting Interviewed By Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - July 2008
Photo Courtesy of SAS Digital Memories - p) 863.559.3917
We're here with Clint Smith one of the countries top 220 pound geared lifters. His best competition lifts as of July 2008 are an 850 pounds squat, 775 pounds bench and a 735 pounds deadlift. His best meet total is 2345. The numbers speak for themselves. Clint is a force to be reckoned with so sit back and enjoy the interview.
CRITICAL BENCH: Clint, give us some background information about yourself!
[Clint Smith] Thanks for the intro Ben. I reside in Jacksonville Florida with my wife and 6-month old baby girl. I work as a civil drainage engineer. I train with Adam Driggers, Brian Carroll, and others of Team Samson Barbell.
Clint Smith Deadlifting 735
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us a story about how you trained for each of the following benches and what it was like hitting each mile stone...
225- [Clint Smith] Hit this in high school weight training class. I was just following the football workouts on the chalkboard but would add in 2 heavy negatives at the end. My bench jumped 40 lbs in a month by just adding the negatives. Haven't gotten crap outta negatives since then.
315- [Clint Smith] This was a hard barrier to break. I hovered around 300 for a few years and tried many different routines-- even the EAS add 50 lbs in 8 weeks routine wasn't working!
405- [Clint Smith] Hit this less than a year after the 315. I think the huge burst in my bench occurred because I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of great training partners after training by myself forever.
500- [Clint Smith] I realized this lifetime goal after I had been shirt training for a couple years. I think all the board work and shirt training helped my raw actually because it built up my triceps- plus I think I had been overtraining my raw bench until I started incorporating conjugate training ala Westside.
600- [Clint Smith] I got this in my first full meet on the second try- (Shirted of course).
700- [Clint Smith] My good buddy Brian Carroll drove up to the GA state meet when I broke this milestone. I was having a great training cycle and Brian wanted to help Sam Byrd out when he first squatted over a grand. I drove home that night straight back to Jacksonville. It was rough. I was nodding off- I was straining so hard to keep my eyelids from shutting and Brian was snoring like a grizzly bear. It was cool though b/c he drove the whole way before so that I wouldn't have to drive before competing.
750+ [Clint Smith] Now I am thankful for every PR I get but 800 is a monkey on my back.
CRITICAL BENCH: What a journey! You use a Super Phenom bench shirt. How is it different than using the Rage X?
[Clint Smith] The Phenom is easier to touch with and has more spring to it. When I get down to one board level in a Phenom I can really feel the shirt stretching a storing energy. I don't train with a Phenom because they wear out sooner. I think that it is fine to train with a RageX and jump into a Phenom at the meet- their grooves are similar enough. I still like rages but have had my problems touching at times. What shirt I wear just depends how my training has been going recently.
Photo Courtesy of SAS Digital Memories
CRITICAL BENCH: You just had a baby. Has that changed you any? How has it changed you as a person? Has it changed your lifting?
[Clint Smith] Primarily it has given me a larger tender spot in my heart. My wife is great with the baby and so it hasn't had any impact on my lifting. I am thankful to her for that.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
[Clint Smith] Enjoy my family, raise my daughter, squirrel enough money away to not have to worry about it any more, and get as high on the all-time lists as I can before it is time to quit.
CRITICAL BENCH: It seems like you went from being very strong to super strong once you got involved with other serious powerlifters. You are now a part of Team Samson. Tell us about that!
[Clint Smith] I am very grateful to Team Samson- training with those guys has taught me nearly all I know about powerlifting and competing. My total would be at least a few hundred pounds less without their help in the past.
CRITICAL BENCH: What has it been like training and knowing Mike Schwanke of Tampa Barbell?
[Clint Smith] Mike is a great guy and fierce competitor (have you seen his deadlift face??!?!) He is the nicest pirate I have ever come across. ARRRRRRRR
Pictured above: Rhino, Clint, Carroll, Schwanke & Driggers at the 08 Orlando Barbell Meet
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about where you train in Jacksonville and what is it like?
[Clint Smith] I train at Adam Driggers. He has a big shed with 2 monolifts, a power rack, 2 benches, and all the other goodies. Big thanks to Adam for letting me train there.
CRITICAL BENCH: Have you always trained at powerlifting gyms? How would you compare the powerlifting gym to the fitness centers?
[Clint Smith] No I used to train at a health club until I met Adam- which is good because I was pretty much getting kicked out of the health club at the time. Health clubs are all about the sizzle instead of having a nice functional gym with plenty of the basics. And for some reason they think that chalk and slamming weights scares people.
CRITICAL BENCH: Yep, for those of you who want to get strong, get away from the sizzle and step into a REAL gym! It might be the best move you will ever make! Thanks for sharing Clint. Clint, being a really strong lifter in general, what are some of your best assistance lift feats of strength that you have done?
[Clint Smith] I am not that impressive at most assistance exercises. I don't worry about the weight so much for rows, pulldowns, and such. I have benched 525 raw, Squatted around 7 in briefs and knee wraps, umm I can close-grip 435 or so... Pull a mid 6 raw.
CRITICAL BENCH: I would say that's still very impressive! What do you think the bench record shirt and raw will be in 50 years from now?
[Clint Smith] Who knows??? If I had to guess I would say that we are getting close to the limit with the current materials available, but new fabrics may really increase carryover.
CRITICAL BENCH: Has the bench press shirt changed your perspective on lifting? If so, how?
[Clint Smith] Yeah- my perspective is that geared lifting is more fun because it takes much more finesse. You can estimate what you are gonna end up with at a raw meet +/- 100 pounds, but your total in a 2-ply meet total could vary by 300 pounds or more if you aren't on it that day. Everything has to be dialed in from rest, re-hydration, bodyweight, if the gear is on correctly, your technique, to execution of the lift. In my opinion, this makes it more of a sport. I am fully aware how much the gear helps and have mad respect for huge raw lifts, but geared training is more fun.
CRITICAL BENCH: How have your thoughts of benching changed now compared to back when you were a 300+ bencher?
[Clint Smith] I never thought I would hold 6-7-and 8 hundred pounds in my hands when I was benching 300. It blows my mind to think about how I held that barrier up on pedestal for so long when it is now part of my warm-up sets.
CRITICAL BENCH: Awesome bench press quote "About what you once glorified in the bench press is now your warm up set, hahaha!" Where does your motivation come from to just keep stepping under heavier and heavier weights and never settle?
[Clint Smith] Just a strong desire for continual improvement. I also get motivation from training with guys like Adam, Mike, and Brian who push me with the PR's they hit all the time.
CRITICAL BENCH: What is your advice for all the benchers out there who would like to get stronger?
[Clint Smith] Don't bench to the chest all the time, make some boards if you don't use them. And always rotate your exercises. Don't be scared to take down weeks, they will pay huge dividends and save you months of banging your head against the wall on the same weights.
CRITICAL BENCH: Great advice! Great advice! Great advice! What is the best and worst advice you were ever told?
[Clint Smith] I guess bad advice goes into my brains recycle bin because I can't think of any.
Best advice is the golden rule: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
CRITICAL BENCH: Out of looks, health, toughness, and strength what is the most important to you in order and why?
[Clint Smith] Health- Because then you can always say " at least I got my health"
Toughness- Very important to get you through the hard times.
Strength- Goes hand in hand with toughness.
Looks- C'mon- seriously?
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you want to be remembered?
[Clint Smith] As a gentle humble strong dude.
CRITICAL BENCH: You're on your way. In closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
[Clint Smith] I would like to thank Team Samson for educating me and their continuing help. My wife for putting up with this "hobby". And APT for sponsoring me.