Interview with Arena Football League's Steve "KONO" Konopka by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
1) Critical Bench: Ladies and gentlemen Critical Bench welcomes you to one of the most massive and athlete freaks that you will ever meet- Steve Konopka aka KONO......Critical Bench is here with Steve right now.. So, Steve give Critical Bench readers a brief description about yourself?
Kono: Well I play Arena Football for a living in Las Vegas . I train a few clients
in the off season because I enjoy it. Never more than 3 or 4 though. I'm
married to my high school and college girlfriend. I'm from West Hartford ct.
I'm 6'5 285 right now.
2) Critical Bench: I heard from Mike Westerdal that you were a super strong man at the main power lifts back in college at Central CT State. What were your best lifts?
Kono: My best bench was 425lbs, Squat 505lbs for 15 reps 605lbs for 4; Hang clean
was 405lbs and 275lbs for 15. I had great training partners and nothing else to do but train.
3) Critical Bench: Steve, How did you get the nickname KONO? Did you get that nickname back in college?
Kono: In college a teammate was joking around my freshman year and tore the
"pka" off my name that was taped on my helmet. In college they taped
everyone's name on the front of their helmets so the coaches knew who you
were. All the coaches were calling me KONO and I didn't know why until a few
days later. Now everyone except my wife and family call me KONO even NBC
4) Critical Bench: What's it like playing football for Las Vegas?
Kono: Playing in Vegas was wild. It is the wild city in the world and I was on
billboards and TV commercials. So it was pretty thrilling for me. We had
some tough seasons here but it was all fun.
5) Critical Bench: Steve, I know that you were part of the NY Giants training camp and that you played football at the NFL level. How was playing at the NFL different than playing D1 football? What was the NFL experience like for you?
Kono: The NFL was an amazing experience for me. It was cut short by an injury but I learned a whole hell of a lot. It was amazing being on the same field as some of the best in the world. College was fun but when you're playing for a living it's a business and there is a lot of pressure. College level I was the best on the field at the NFL I was average and learning. A tough combination!
6) Critical Bench: Steve, playing in the NFL, being the MVP of your Vegas team has allowed you to get attention everywhere you go and everyone seems to know you.. What's it like being a celebrity and getting tons of attention everywhere you go?
Kono: In Vegas it's pretty cool to be known everywhere. It helps with restaurants and nightclubs big time. I was just in CT at the Nike outlet and a bunch of kids were staring and whispering and a few days later I got e-mails asking if that was really me. It's weird sometimes. In other cities I'm not so much of a celebrity where people say oh there's Steve Konopka. I'm big and I am 6'5 so people assume I'm some type of athlete. They usually ask me what I do if I'm around them long enough. I get mixed results in cities that do not have Arena Football but in AFL cities I get a lot of attention. Sometimes even bad attention people will get all huffy about how their team is going to whip us and stuff, it's amusing.
7) Critical Bench: Steve, people from your football teams remember you as a leader and an inspiring person who has always given great advice. What are your top tips of advice for the upcoming lifters and athletes who train?
1.Don't ever not accomplish something because of laziness or lack of effort. You will regret it forever.
2. Learn as much as you can from anyone and everyone even if it's what not to do.
3. Find what works best for you and when you do don't let others tell you to do it different.
4. You can always train harder because someone else is.
8) Critical Bench: What is it like living life so huge and in such great shape in a world of little and fat people?
Kono: It's hard sometimes being this big, clothes are really hard. However, I can't complain about the perks my job being one of them.
Kono: in college we did not have a strength coach. Amazing at the Division 1-aa
level but whatever. So we had to learn on our own. We read every book,
magazine, study and journal we could find. We went to a different gym and
learned from powerlifters, bodybuilders and anyone who seemed to know what
they were talking about. Then we made our routines and by trial and error we
came up with some great workout programs. From those programs we got some
great results! A lot of people were asking what we were doing and if they
could train with us so we decided to make our routines available to
10) Critical Bench: You are good friends with Mike Westerdal who created the Critical Bench Program. Do you have any training moments with Mike Westerdal that stand out the most in your mind?
Mike and I use to deadlift and squat like freaking maniacs! The whole gym would
stop and watch. We would throw up, half faint, bend bars and horrify people.
11) Critical Bench: SICK! You've had many football experiences. What were your 5 all time favorite football moments?
Kono: Winning every Hall / Conard game I played in (cross town high school huge
tradition and rivalry) Making all-conference my Jr. year after coming back
from minor knee surgery and playing in only two games, Being voted captain in
college my Jr. year, Making my first AFL team.
12) Critical Bench: Would you rather be the best powerlifter/strongman in the world or best football player in the world? And why?
Kono: I would rather be the best football player than a strongman or power lifter any
day. Football is a complete athlete speed, agility, power, desire and the
ultimate in competition with another man. The other two are a competition
with the weights and yourself. Plus if you're not the top 25 best in the world
you can't make a living and I couldn't be a top 25 in those other 2
13) Critical Bench: Out of all that you have achieved what are you most proud of? What are your future goals?
Kono: I think just being able to play at the level I am at for so long and make a
good living doing it. I'm very thankful for where I am at right now. I'm in
the process of buying a franchise or business that I will run when I retire
but right now my goal is to win a world championship!
14) Critical Bench: Away from weight lifting and football you are big into investing and also successful in the field of investing. Tell us what you do with investing and some of your tips for other investors?
Kono: I invest as much as I can into my 401k which has set mutual fund we can
choose from. I also do a lot of stock in my own personal account. Best
advice is know a few stocks inside and out instead of knowing a little about
50 stocks. Also don't be afraid to pay a broker if he makes you money it was
worth every penny.
15) Critical Bench: You are very experienced and knowledgeable with supplements. What are your top supplements and what's your advice regarding supplements?
Kono: My top supplements are creatine, whey protein, multi vit., glutamine, joint
fuel and an energy booster. My advice regarding supplements is to be consistent with your supplements.
Also they are not miracle pills, if it sounds too good to be true it is! Shop around online for the best deal you
can save a lot of money.
check out my section at Critical Bench called Kono's Corner. I have answered dozens of supplement questions there.
16) Critical Bench: What's your stance on steroids?
Kono: Steroids are everyone's own choice, if people want to risk their health for
10 pounds of muscle that they lose when they come off that's their choice .
17) Critical Bench: What supplements do you think are the most overrated and underrated?
Kono: Underrated has to be just regular whey protein, people really do not get
enough protein in their diets and you cannot grow or recover from hard
workouts without enough protein.
Overrated GH and testosterone boosters. Haven't tried one that works yet and
I have tried them all!
18) Critical Bench: If you could go back in time and change anything about your journey through life would you? And when your lifting and athletic career ends how do you want people to remember you?
Kono:I would have stayed at 290lbs instead of going to 305 the extra weight
didn't help as much as I thought and the little bit of speed I lost hurt me
a bit.. I want people to remember me playing as a maniac. Someone who
dominated and punished people and enjoyed it.
19) Critical Bench: Steve I'm going to say a word or a sentence. Tell me what is the first thing that comes to your mind..
What makes Steve tick--competition
What makes Steve happy-winning
What was Steve's most spontaneous moment- my celebration after my first sack
Who is the biggest character that Steve met in the weight lifting/football world -- Ronnie Coleman
Best part about being Steve is---being able to do what I do for a living
Steve's passions away from weight lifting are---stock market
Would Steve rather set a world record in powerlifting and win a super bowl then have his career end or be as strong as you are and as great as
football as you are and be able to lift for a life time? Be as strong and as good as I am at football and lift for a lifetime.
On an island, you alone with just a weight set, would you still lift? If I
couldn't find a way off
Has the training journey been worth it? Absolutely
20) Critical Bench: Steve is there any message that you would like to leave
the weight lifting community with and are there any people who you would like to thank as we wrap up your awesome interview?