Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
February 23, 2024
Interview With Powerlifter Joey Smith
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

Powerlifter and Critical Bench Supporter Joey Smith

Bench Press Specialist Joey Smith Ever since Joey Smith has become a bench press specialist he has won many of the competitions that he has entered and has taken the powerlifting world by storm! Joey trains with (900+) bencher Chris Cooke and other amazing strength athletes in NC.

Joey is 32 years old, married and has a 5-year-old daughter, Katelyn. Joey currently works for the NCDOT and he is a fitness trainer at his local Y.M.C.A. Joey is also a college graduate of McDowell Technical Community College (Associates of Applied Science Degree in Industrial Electrical/Electronics Technology '99) and Gardner - Webb University (Bachelors of Science Business MGT. Administration '06) in Boiling Springs, NC. ---Obviously Joey Smith has worked hard and has become successful in anything that he has put his mind to whether it be powerlifting, academics, work, or family.

Today in powerlifting Joey competes in the 275# weight class and (as of 04/01/06) holds the NC APF (American Power Lifting Federation) Men's Open Bench record with a 700# bench. Joey has competed in five equipped (Bench Shirt) events in the last six months. Joey has four first place wins and one-second place. Joey holds the SC APF Men's Open Bench record and the NC IBF Men's Open Bench record. Joey Smith has become a force to be reckoned with in the bench press and has his eyes set on an 800+ bench press! If Joey keep progressing at this rate he could be one of the biggest threats to the World Record in the 275lbs weight class. Luckily for Critical Bench Joey was willing to share his thoughts and his powerlifting experiences with all of us.

1) CRITICAL BENCH: Hi everyone, Critical Bench is here with 700+ bencher Joey Smith. Joey, what gym do you train at? What is the atmosphere like? What is it like training with Rodney Coates, Mike Schwanke, Chris Mason, Travis Mach, Chris Cooke (900+ bencher), Chris Clark, Tim Higgins, and Barry Williams? What are all those guys like?

Joey Smith: I train primarily at our local YMCA. I also train 2 to 3 Fridays a month at GCBB (Granite City Barbell) in Mt. Airy, NC. We are under some restrictions at our local Y so we have to be somewhat on our best behavior there. Now at GCBB I can let it all hang out! The atmosphere there is amazing. There are WPO pros and top up and coming lifters everywhere. Big men, big weights being pushed, loud music, shit talking, and all the support you need. The guys I train with are great. I have been lucky to train with the guys I train with. Rodney Coates and Mike Schwanke are my primary training partners whom I have trained with for years. They are my main support system. Training with Chris Cooke who is (900# bench presser) is a blessing for me. He has taken me under his wing and teaches me all the right way to do things. I get to learn from his already tried mistakes without learning them myself. I contribute this to a lot of my success. Also training with Chris Clarke, Tim Higgins, Barry Williams, Chris "Ox" Mason, Barry Wood, Hannah Johnson, Ben Hooker, and many others on Friday at GCBB cannot be duplicated. Their support for each and everyone there and for me pushes me to succeed. No one can do it alone. I thank each and every one of them for helping me.

2) CRITICAL BENCH: Joey, tell us your training routine?

Joey Smith: My routine consists of bench twice a week. (DE on Tuesday & ME on Friday), Squat and deads on Mondays, and back and bis on Thursdays. You can read my workout journal at:


3) CRITICAL BENCH: What is your bench press goal for this year? What's your life long bench press goal?

Joey Smith: I would like to hit a 750ish this year maybe at Sam Byrd's Meet in November. My life long bench press goal was 500#'s! I never thought about ever hitting 600#'s or even 700#'s! Now that I have hit all three of those I will focus on 800#'s.

Joey Smith 4) CRITICAL BENCH: AWESOME! That's a great story! What have been your 5 favorite moments in powerlifting thus far?

Joey Smith: 5 favorite moments:

1. This would have to be having my six-year-old daughter watching me hit 700#'s in April 2006. I think she was more excited than me! That meant a lot.

2. Going to Las Vegas in June 2006 and competing in the US Senior Nationals Bench Only. I ended up getting food poison and finishing 5th in my weight class but just being there was awesome. Next time will be different.

3. Entering my first equipped meet in September 2005 and hitting 630#'s and winning my weight class and best lifter of the meet and setting a new IBF record.

4. Driving to Ohio with Barry Williams, Mike Schwanke, and Rodney Coates and meeting all of our NC team members at the Arnold Classic to support our NC lifters competing.

5. Just being a part of such a great power lifting family here in NC. To have so many great power lifters and well great people in general to truly want you to succeed and progress. I am very lucky.

5) CRITICAL BENCH: How did your power-lifting career begin? What got you started? And what was it about power lifting that kept you going strong for the past decade?

Joey Smith: I started back in high school. I was always average at everything else I tried, but something about lifting heavy weight intrigued me. I loved it and was hooked. I feel like power lifting is another job for me. It has to be. Everyday you eat, drink, lift, and sleep it. Everyday. Grocery shopping, clothes, gym memberships, equipment needs, training vids, competition entries, and traveling are always being based into your budget.

6) CRITICAL BENCH: Joey, what's your best raw and shirt bench? I heard you are very good at RAW benching much like benching with a shirt! When you are maxing out with a shirt how does it feel different then when you are maxing out raw? Which experience do you like better?

Joey Smith: My best RAW bench in the gym is 545#'s @ 265, in competition is 500#'s @ 275. My best shirted is 700#'s in competition. When I max out RAW my body takes a little longer to recover now. I love to train RAW but if I want to keep lifting big in my shirt I cannot hit RAW as heavy as I want and as frequent as I would like. Shirted lifts make me feel like Superman at times. I put on that shirt and I feel like I am unstoppable. The grooves of the two lifts are night and day. When you bench RAW you bring the weight down to your chest for RAW and you bring the bar down to the belly with the shirt. I love lifting RAW and I am proud that I can still hit a 500# RAW bench but the glory and the notoriety is in the shirt. 700#'s sounds better than 500#'s don't it?

7) CRITICAL BENCH: Yes, it does. It's great that you are super strong at every bench press exercise period! So, you're a fitness trainer at the YMCA. How would you train a beginner differently from an intermediate? How would you train an intermediate and adnvaced lifter differently for power lifting?

Joey Smith: Really I train all my clients the same Ben. I teach them how to eat, how to lift properly, and about rest. I really push my clients so they will achieve the goals they have set for themselves. I really enjoy watching people make their goals a reality. I think everyone must know the basics before you try to conquer the world. Eating and technique are very important. Learn those and you have won half the battle.

Joey Smith Bench Presser 8) CRITICAL BENCH: Excellent advice! Another passion of yours outside of power lifting is your daughter. What does your daughter think about all of your power lifting success? What kind of activities do you do with her?

Joey Smith: She is very proud of her daddy. She loves to brag on me to her friends, so when she tells them, "My daddy can whoop your daddy!" she is telling the truth…she really enjoys going to meets and watching me. I love to have her there because it pushes me to go above and beyond. She is my best friend and my inspiration to do my best. I am her soccer coach at our YMCA (4 seasons now!); I also take her to her ballet classes and will have her in cheerleading this fall. We ride our four wheelers together and go swimming a lot. I take her pretty much everywhere I go.

9) CRITICAL BENCH: What separates an 800lbs bencher from a 400lbs bencher? What do all 800lbs benchers have in common that 400lbs benchers don't? And do you have any bench press secrets or tips that need to be emphasized more?

Joey Smith: Well I can answer this question a little better when I become an 800# bencher! In my opinion it's like comparing apple and oranges. Hard work is being done on both ends but not everyone can be Michael Jordan. Just because Tiger Woods gives you his driver does not mean that you will hit 350+ straight drives each and every time you hit it. It takes years and years of training to accomplish greatness. I know a 600# shirted bencher that cannot bench 400#'s RAW. It's all in how you train and what's important to you and what you want to achieve. And as far as secrets there are none. Hard work, dedication, and commitment are the foundations of greatness and of a winner.

10) CRITICAL BENCH: What direction do you think the sport of power lifting is headed? Do you think power lifting has a bright future ahead?

Joey Smith: I think it is heading in the right direction. I feel there are way too many feds out there though. I would like to see a more consolidated version of feds to where there are not so many Jo Smo's out there holding this and that record. I would love to see our sport get more TV coverage, like on ESPN or something. Maybe even see one of our three lifts or all get to the Olympic level.

Powerlifter Joey Smith from NC

11) CRITICAL BENCH: What makes Joey Smith different than other lifters when it comes to working out?

Joey Smith: My dedication and drive. I want to be the best and I will do what it takes to accomplish that. Everyone wants to be the best but not everyone can be. Thats what separates me. I want to be the best and I am going to be. I am a student of the game that wants to learn all the time. My ego never gets in the way of learning new things. I am always reading about new training techniques and trying them out. I drive four hours round trip almost every Friday to train with my teammates and to learn from one the worlds strongest bench pressers (Chris Cooke). I have sacrificed and will continue to till I reach my goals. I have a saying that goes, Hate all you want, but you will respect! I think when people are hating (being jealous) you're doing something right. Whether you like me or not you will respect my desire and work ethic. That's what that phrase means. In my mind jealousy is just another form of flattery.

12) CRITICAL BENCH: Joey, it's great that Critical Bench found you and had the chance to interview you! As we wrap up your interview is there anything else that you would like to say?

I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to do well at something I love so much. I would like to thank my wife Amy and my daughter Katelyn for dealing with my crazy butt all the time! They both support me more than anyone. I hate the times I have had to sacrifice away from them due to training or meets and whatever but they both know this is very important to me and they understand. I would like to thank my training partners, Mike Schwanke, Rodney Coates, Chris Cooke, Chris "Ox" Mason, Chris Clarke, Tim Higgins, Barry Williams, Barry Wood, Ben Hooker, Hannah Johnson, Kristy Mason, Travis Mash, and Mike White. I also would like to thank Chip Stewart, Kyle Robertson, Jon Pinder, Tadpole, Greg Crook, Sam Byrd, Curtis Dennis, and my whole NEBO Crew for helping me and supporting me as well. Thanks to Alan Thomas of ATP Prowriststraps
http://www.prowriststraps.com/joey_smith_powerlifter_powerlifting For giving me my first sponsorship and believing in me.

Thanks to Chris Mason from Atlargenutrition.com For giving me a chance and helping me out. I would also like to thank all of my local sponsors who have helped me in more ways than one to allow me to fulfill my dreams and get me to where I need to be! Here is a list of my local sponsors:

1. Steve Jones Reality (Steve Jones)
2. Proctor Heating & Air (John Proctor)
3. Dentist Kevin Silver
4. House of James Barber Shop (Antoine Lindsey)
5. NC Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co (Mike Lonon)
6. Matt & Jessica Mills
7. Rodney Coates
8. All Mechanical (Mike Allison & Tommy Allison)
9. Ron Searcy

Joey Smith and Rodney
Joey Smith & Training Partner Rodney Coates

I would also like to thank all of our members on our NC APF website for making it the best power lifting forum out there. There are so many great people with so much info to learn from. Thanks for making our site the shizzle! http://joeysmith.proboards105.com/index.cgi And thanks to Ben Tatar for asking me to do this interview for Criticalbench.com!

Joey Smith 530 LB Raw Bench in August 2007


A Tour Of Joey Smith's Gym


Joey Smith Hits 750 Bench - Feb 09


Related: Joey Smith Gets Invite To Compete in Russia


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