Interview with Powerlifer Wade Johnson by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Wade Johnson is a powerlifter. He has bench pressed 585lbs, deadlifted 655, and squatted 860 in competition. Although, those aren't world records, how often do you see people deep squatting 860? That's what I thought! Wade Johnson has also been a writer for magazines such as Monster Muscle, interviewing other great powerlifters in the weight lifting community. Not only is Wade a successful powerlifter, he's a father of four and a man who is well respected in the powerlifting community and quite knowledgeable about powerlifting too. Here at Critical Bench, we welcome none other than the bear himself, Wade Johnson!
1) Critical Bench: Wade welcome to Critical Bench. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Wade Johnson and I'm 6' 2" and roughly 310 lbs. Kris and I have a
family of 4, Wes 15, Katie 12, Zack 11 and J 8. All are into athletics of
some kind and all 3 boys have at least deadlifted in a meet. So, it's
completely a family affair with Kris being an accomplished athlete and
2) Critical Bench: How would you describe your journey to approaching a 600+ bench?
My journey was somewhat painful and arduous. Now that I'm approaching a meet
bench of 600+, the biggest thing for me was learning my form and maintaining
it, protecting myself from injury, learning the equipment, and being
3)Critical Bench: What are your best lifts?
4) Critical Bench: Were you always very strong?
I've always been genetically big and somewhat strong. I was just a big
country boy as a kid and worked on farms when I was growing up, so you had
to be strong just to get by.
5) Critical Bench: Who do you think is the greatest bencher ever?
That's a tough one. To narrow it down to one might be pretty unfair. The
moment that sticks out in my mind the most is when I saw Kaz hit 661. But
there are so many. I've been influenced by tons of them.
6) Critical Bench: Yeah and Kaz hit the 661 after mis grooving the weight raw which made it even more impressive to watch. What do you think are the most important factors when trying to get a bigger bench press?
Form, form, form. Nothing takes the place of your style and good form.
Learning the equipment as well.
7) Critical Bench: What bench press assistance exercises work best for you?
I don't know that I would say I use a lot of bench type assistance
movements, meaning isolation exercises. I think it's best to stick with
multi-joint movements for all the lifts. The staple of my bench program is
flat bench and medium grip declines. That's all I do and it's really helped
8) Critical Bench: What made you become a powerlifter?
I saw powerlifitng as a kid when it was still on TV and liked it right away.
I had the traditional little concrete filled plastic set and would save
money so I could get the "bigger" 10 kilo plates. I had a thin leather belt
that I kept my pr's marked on the inside with a sharpie. That's where it
started for me and I've always wanted to be strong.
9) Critical Bench: What goes through your mind before stepping under a big weight? Where do you get your motivation from?
If I'm doing right, I'm focused on the execution of the lift and see little
else if anything. My motivation comes from always striving to better myself
and my family. I have a son that has huge potential, so I try to keep the
bar raised for him.
10) Critical Bench: What is your advice for beginners?
To start at the beginning and not skip steps. For example, if you are
climbing a huge staircase and you skip steps, you might go up a bit quicker.
However, should you misstep by doing so, you usually have to start over or
you've taken several steps back. Take one step at a time and make sure you
plant both feet firmly on the next step before you go to another. The grass
is always greener right under your feet. And, honor the journey. Rome wasn't
built in a day, hell, your house wasn't built in a day. Enjoy the process
and make it fun.
11) Critical Bench;: Great pointers- What are some of your craziest powerlifting experiences?
I will put it like this in a list:
Lizard Lick/Clayton crew
Scott Taylor at a Chinese Buffet
Some of the NASA crew at the Cimarron steak house in OKC with 40 oz steaks
and the list goes on...
12) Critical Bench: Wade, tell us about your great nutrition plan? You must have a great nutrition plan to be so strong!!
LMAO, look at me. Do I look finicky?
To be honest, when I do right, I try to eat lean meats like steak, chicken
and fish. I will eat up to 5 cups of vegetables a day. That and my Beverly
International supplements have been the mainstay to my food plan and
nutrition program. I still have a huge weakness for pizza though.
13) Critical Bench: Give me some motivating words to get to that 600+ bench that you have! What does it take?
It takes the mindset, the heart, the drive and the willingness to suffer more pain
than the next guy.
14) Critical Bench: What's your philosophy about training method? What training style do you think works best? Metal Militia, Critical Bench, Westside, Average Joe, 5x5, what?
A consistent routine is what works best. You can label it as whatever type
of method, style, training routine; but until it's really a routine, you are
spinning your wheels. Consistent training will take much farther than any
15) Critical Bench: Do you think bodybuilding exercises should be in a bencher's routine?
I think that's more a mindset than say a powerlifter doing BB movements. I
do lat movements, hammer curls, traps and shoulder movements to aid my
bench, but I'm nothing like a bodybuilder. That's not to make a negative
statement, it's just that we are two different animals. I just want to get
stronger. Being bigger and buff is not in the equation for me, and that's
probably for the best...LOL. I certainly admire the guys that pursue the
bodybuilding. The training and food discipline are far out of my reach and
the posing trunks? No thanks.... hahaha
16) Critical Bench:. Can you tell us about all the great people that you met in powerlifting and what it means to you?
There are way too many to list. So many folks have a had a hand in my
career, such as it is. First, I would have to say Kris. Without her, I
couldn't do this period. She and I get up at the crack of dawn 5 days a week
to train. She makes sure that I'm taken care of and supports me 100%. She
trains, competes and runs meets. She judges and even spots and loads. Again,
without Kris, I wouldn't be who I am.
Our kids. They all help at meets and are part of our strength and
conditioning classes we have each year. They are my inspiration.
Our morning training crew. Blonde ambition is Kris, Rebecca, Kimbo and
Sherri. They never cease to amaze and work their collective asses off. Jeff,
Jim, Fallon and Diesal. Without you guys and your support, I simply would be
another gym guy. Also, Josh who is in New Mexico now. We miss you and still
think about you all the time. This has been the back bone of my training for
a few years now. They are awesome.
My coach and mentor Bobby. He knows how I feel about what he's done for me
and how much I owe him.
North Georgia Barbell. I'm still reeling from my experience there. Jon Grove
is going to be even bigger in this sport beyond the platform, you just wait
and see. And that group of folks is frightening.
All at the WDB and WTU. Thank you folks for your support and interest in my
All at the APA for your faith and support.
The Clayton Crew. You guys have no idea what you mean to me.
The Maryland crew, for all the same reasons.
To the federation leaders. Without you guys, there isn't a sport. Thank you!
RDC and the Klein's for all their support. You make the gear, I lift in it.
And Jason Wells, where ever you are, you are still the man. Thanks for your
support and interest early on.
So many folks, I hate to leave any out. I would like to thank all the folks
at Gaines Fitness in Hermitage, TN. They let me train and keep some of my
gear there. You gotta love that.