Interview With Powerlifter Matt Burgett As told to CriticalBench.com by Curt Dennis Jr. "The Brute" of Planetrage.com - September 2009
Critical Bench: Thank you for doing this interview, please introduce yourself:
Matt Burgett, I'm 26, I train at Bama Barbell in Tuscaloosa Alabama and compete in the 242 weight class.
Critical Bench: What are your Best PR's right now?
Bench- 725. Squat- I haven't gotten a squat in at a meet yet, but I plan on going over 900 at my next meet. Dead lift- 550 I did this 2 years ago, my dead lift now is a lot better
Critical Bench: How long have you been into power lifting?
I started training in power lifting my junior year of college when I gave up football. So about six years.
Critical Bench: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into power lifting?
I grew up on a small farm so I was always a bit bigger than other kids my age. Then when I got into junior high I started lifting weights for football. I started training harder in high school and we had a great strength coach and he got me hooked on lifting. I didn't play football for the game I just played to lift weights. When I got to college I walked on at the University of Alabama. The strength coach at the time was Coach Pollard and he was a great coach and he really got my lifts up. When there was a coaching change going into my junior year, I left the team and started working out at the school's weight room. There I started training with Brett Thornton, a power lifter, I started training like a power lifter and started learning gear.
I didn't start competing because about a year after that while working as a bouncer I was shot three times, two in my leg and one in my wrist. So I had a broken wrist and the docs told me I would never be able to bench anything heavy ever. Well about six months after that I was back to benching around 400 again. Then a year after that I tore my quad in my right leg and my patella tendon in my left leg, and they found on x rays that I had a ruptured disk in my back. I couldn't walk for a month, and had a metal rod and wire holding my left knee together for three months. The doc told me I would never be able to squat or dead lift anything heavy. Six months after surgery I was back to squating over 400 again. So I've had some injuries holding me back but I finally did a meet a year after surgery and benched 565 and pulled 550. Then I hooked up with Bama Barbell and my maxes have taken off.
Critical Bench: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a power lifter?
Coan, Kaz, and Kennelly.
Critical Bench: What is the craziest thing you have ever seen at a power lifting meet?
A guy wearing two or three pairs of briefs. I can't remember how many and then putting on a canvas suit. I was like wow that's some serious geared lifting. Then I have to say to at the last meet a guy doing reverse grip bench. That was some serious old school.
Critical Bench: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who's just starting out in power lifting?
Find guys who know what they are doing. Find guys who have competed or are competing. Power lifting is totally different than just lifting weights in the gym. Even guys who lift raw still have to learn to train like a power lifter, gym rats can't just get on the platform and think they are going to win.
Critical Bench: Do you have a favorite out of the three or is it all 3 lifts?
The bench press without a doubt. The only reason is that I am finding that benching in the shirt comes real easy to me. Squats are a lift that I'm getting better on. Dead lift is without a doubt my least favorite but I'm working on changing that.
Critical Bench: What are your goals and when is your next meet?
900 Squat, 765 Bench, 675 Dead lift. My main goal is to hit a 2300 lb total
BMBB ME SQUAT & ME BENCH SESSIONS -WEEK OF 07-26-09
Critical Bench: What are the challenges of coming up as a power lifter?
Finding people to train with. Everybody wants to be strong but not many people want to put in the work to get there, or take advice on how to get there. Plus you have to find the right people to train with because lifting in gear you need people to help you with the gear, to help put it on, to spot you, and to teach you how to use the gear.
Critical Bench: Tell everyone here the difference between someone who wants to look "pretty" and someone who does what we do? The difference between a workout and a training session?
I don't train to look pretty, my knees have six inch scars on both of them. People who want to look pretty don't want to do the main lifts to get them strong because they're scared because it doesn't feel as good as the leg press or the smith machine. Power lifting can hurt but to get stronger you have to go through the pain. Benching to a one board doesn't feel good, and hitting depth in full gear really hurts, but you have to do it. The difference between a workout and a training session is easy a training session gets you stronger and teaches you what you need to do to hit your goal.
Critical Bench: What would you tell a power lifter if they are trying to get to the next level in the sport? Do you believe that power lifters' have a lifestyle of their own?
To get to the next level you have to arrange your whole day around how are you going get that next pr at a meet. Power lifting is a lifestyle
Critical Bench: How driven would people say you are about being a power lifter? How does it affect you outside of the gym?
I think people say I'm very driven. I get questions all the time about the scars all over my body, and when I tell people what happened, they all say "and you're still doing it?" I never let it affect me.
Critical Bench: How has power lifting made you a stronger person away from the sport?
When you tell people what you do they never doubt your work ethic and your dedication. It puts your priorities in line.
Critical Bench: Do you have any training partners? How has they helped? Tell us about BAMA BARBELL.
I have two main training partners, Jon and Curt. If it wasn't for them I would not be anywhere close to where I am today. Bama Barbell is no nonsense group of guys trying to get stronger. We train in a garage with a bench and a mono attachment and lots of lots of weight. We are always looking for lifters who don't care about anything but lifting big weight. If you want to be a gym rat hero don't stop by, but if you want to get into or are a power lifter you're welcome to come and lift.
BMBB Matt Burgett 805 3-Board@ 242
Critical Bench: What are your workouts like? How are they setup? What training methodology do you follow?
Our workouts are set around the big three. We have a heavy bench day that Shawn Frankl has drawn up for us. We have a heavy squat day that Brian Carroll has help put together for us. Then we have our dead lift program that Ed Coan used. Finally we have our acc. bench day that is mainly working on light raw benching and heavy shoulder work.
Critical Bench: What bench shirt do you use and why? Do you have any tips about how to get your bench shirt and use it to get the most of your lifting efforts?
I use a double ply rage x and a double ply phenom. You need to find a shirt that works best for you. Some people love a rage x and hate a katana and some people are the other way around. You just have to find what works best for you and get in it and start learning the groove and work it down. But that doesn't mean get a new shirt and through on a ton of weight and try to take it all the way down. A big thing that some new guys lose sight of, is getting a new shirt and they can't touch right away. You have to break a shirt in and give it some training sessions before you go all the way with it.
Critical Bench: What would you suggest to someone on how to get stronger on all 3 lifts?
Eat. Work hard on your core and all the other muscles that support your three big lifts.
Critical Bench: What drives you as a lifter? What is your mindset like during training?
Always setting pr's. I always try to hit my sets and try to do more than I did the last week.
Critical Bench: Was your training any different prior to your last meet?
Not really. My last meet I just benched in so I put more work on my lock out work. Going into a meet I try to keep my body healed up, so we may back down on some of the volume work.
Critical Bench: Do you think using bench shirts/gear is cheating?
NO. If you want to lift raw, lift raw, if you want to lift geared, lift geared. Don't bash someone who wants to do one and not the other.
BMBB TRAINING WEEK OF 8.16.09
Critical Bench: What is your view on training in equipment and learning them?
You have to put the time in the gear to be good in the gear. Never lose sight of your raw work though.
Critical Bench: What do you think is the reason for all the big numbers as of late like Kennelly's 1075 and Frankl's freakish total or Hoornstra's raw strength? Has strength training evolved?
People are getting stronger. Strength training has evolved, now you have the internet and you can find all different kinds of programs, people are learning what works best for them. Does gear play a role in that? Well yea but the strength is there with or without the gear.
Critical Bench: Do you think the standards went up in the sport?
Every meet the standards go up. There's always going to be guys breaking records.
Critical Bench: What is your nutrition like now?
I eat what I want. I make sure I get my protein in everyday. I was raised on meat and potato's and I stick to that.
Critical Bench: What changes are you going to have to make to go to the next level?
I'm still kind of new so for me I'm still learning. A big thing for me is keeping my body healthy. The older I get the smarter I am getting about listening to my body and training smarter.
Critical Bench: Is there anyone you would like to thank right now?
My parents for giving me short arms and lots of beef and potatos! My training partners Jon and Curt. Megan my girlfriend for putting up with me and all my empty jugs of protein that I keep in the kitchen. I have to say thanks to Jesse who puts on all the SPF meets all over the country, and is always great to all the lifters.