Interview With Strongman Steve Barkley Interviewed By Ben Tatar - December 2008
CRITICAL BENCH: Critical Bench is here with Steve Barkley. Steve, what is your height, weight and what are your greatest feats of strength in strongman competitions?
I am 6'0", 208 lbs. I have pulled a 10 ton semi 80ft in 27 seconds and I dead lifted a car 4 times.
CRITICAL BENCH: Can you give us some of your other best lifts?
I have achieved a 250lbs 12" log clean and press, lifting a 310lbs stone onto a 52" platform, and doing a farmers walk with 320lbs in each hand carrying it 80ft in 24 seconds.
CRITICAL BENCH: I have to ask you, what made you choose a grueling sport such as strongman over bodybuilding and power lifting?
Always loved watching it as a kid and it is functional strength which helps in other sports that I play.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your 5 favorite things about being a strongman competitor?
I don't have to watch my diet, can eat whatever I want
I get to lift heavy stuff, that most people would never try to do or even think of lifting
Getting to meet great people at every contest
Gives me a reason to travel
Makes for a great conversation topic at parties
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your 5 favorite strongman events and why?
Stone, it is an event that involves both speed and power, an event I am starting to get better at.
Any type of truck pulling event (harness or rope pull), something I have always been good at, and just like being able to pull or drag huge objects. And crowds always seem to like this event too.
Farmers walk, I am starting to improve the most in this event, but I like being able to walk with something in my hands that is double to triple my weight in a fast time.
Tire flip, I love this event, just because it is a cardio event, and the tires are huge and weigh a lot.
And lastly any type of medley event. I like being able to use my speed, it gives me an advantage over the bigger guys.
CRITICAL BENCH: What is your strongman routine?
I train 3 days in the gym. I don't really have a routine that I follow. I mostly have a chest, deadlift/legs day and then a shoulder day. The only routine I have is for Sundays with I train the strongman events, usually hitting 4 or 5 event.
CRITICAL BENCH: What competitions have you competed in?
I have competed in over 27 contests as of today. I have done almost all the Michigan shows, Chicago's strongest man every year since it started. I have gone to Dallas, Las Vegas, Indiana, Ohio and was just recently in Kentucky.
CRITICAL BENCH: What would you like to tell the future generation of strongman what to do when they train and what not to do?
The one thing I would tell anyone to do is find a group to train with or someone who has experience in the sport. There are always tricks that can be learned, and a lot of ways to get hurt if you do not have any idea what you are doing.
CRITICAL BENCH: Give us your most hardcore and your funniest strongman story?
I don't have a most hardcore story cause I train at the Motor City Madhouse in Michigan, and when it comes winter time we still train most events out in the snow/ice whatever the weather happens to be. I did the stone event at a contest this year during a hail storm.
The funniest thing I can think of was at an Ohio show in 2007. I was about to step over the farmers tanks at the end of the event. I ended up getting my foot tangled with handle and feel right on my face in front of everyone.
CRITICAL BENCH: Earlier in the interview you said you like to play sports, what sports and other activities do you enjoy doing away from strongman?
I coach high school football and wrestling, which I love doing. I play basketball and attempt to play golf. I read a lot of books and some people say I enjoy going to school since I am getting my second masters in special education.
CRITICAL BENCH: Good for you. What are the adversities that you had to overcome?
Starting the sport so late. I lifted weights when I played football and basketball in college but never this way, I didn't start strongman until I was 25 years old. Also trying to keep my weight up, I have to eat like every 3 hours
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
I would like to earn my pro card in the next two years. Also want to try and place top 5 in every contest I enter this year.
CRITICAL BENCH: Why should all men be strong?
That way we can open the tops of jars for women who can't.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your diet and what are your favorite supplements?
I really don't have I diet, I eat whatever I want and I don't take any supplements. I just take vitamins and eat.
CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you different from everyone else?
I would say all my tattoos and all the college degrees I have. However, the one thing that makes me stand out from everyone is my red Fresno State hat that I wear at every contest. It could also be that fact that everyone is amazed when they find out I am a high school teacher, mostly because I have a lot of tattoos.
Steve @ The Windy City Strongman Classic
CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you happy and what makes you tick?
What makes me happy is hitting a PR, what makes me tick is missing a PR.
CRITICAL BENCH: What goes through your head before attempting a big lift?
I try not to think at all about the lift or anything, I just go out there and lift. I never try to focus on what I am doing because I don't want to put too much pressure on myself and stress out.
CRITICAL BENCH: What drives you to be the best?
I have always been very driven when I was younger; I remember telling people I was going to play both football and basketball in college. Everyone kind of shrugged it off, until I graduated college having done both those sports. So I guess you can say what drives me to be the best is all the people that told me I could never do this or that. So negative people are what drive me to be better.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are you going to remember most about your strength journey?
Everything, mostly the places I have been, the objects I have lifted, pulled or carried. But mostly just being able to do a sport I use to watch on TV when I was in high school saying wow I wish I could do that and I did.
CRITICAL BENCH: In closing who would you like to thank?
First I have to thank Jared Spybrook for getting me into the sport and coaching me Sunday mornings on how to get better, all the members of the Motor City Strongman Crew, Aaron West, Justin Blake, Andy Ranoni, Dean Nescimben, Brad Berlin, and everyone else from the state. There are way too many to name for the state of Michigan. Gary Skop and Marlon Booth for being there to keep the drive alive and my friends and family that come to my contest or watch my YouTube videos. Would like to thank everyone else I did not mention and all the promoters for putting on great contest.
CRITICAL BENCH: Thanks for doing the interview with us. It has been a pleasure.