Interview With Washington Redskins DE Phillip Daniels As told to Powerlifting USA by Mike Westerdal of a CriticalBench.com Transcription of Audio File - August 2009
CB: Hey everybody, this is Mike from CriticalBench.com, I'm really excited today. Some of you guys might not know, I grew up in Northern Virginia as a huge Redskins fan. I live in the Tampa Bay area now so I've had a chance to go to some of the Skins, Bucs games that turned into a big rivalry over the last couple of years. So I'm pretty psyched...
We've got a defensive end from the Washington Redskins, Phillip Daniels, on the line right now. A lot of you guys know - that follow powerlifting, Philip is also an off-season power-lifter.
He's here today to talk to us about a hardcore gym that he just opened up. It's called Monster Garage Gym located in Illinois, and he opened it with 2 times WPC Powerlifting champion Eric Maroscher, and this is going to be a great interview, because some of the commercial gyms and corporate fitness centers, they can make you sick with all their rules and it's hard to get a hardcore workout accomplished.
What's up Big Phil? Thanks for being here today man.
PD: Thanks for having me!
CB: You missed last year with a knee injury, right? How's that going? Have you gotten back into any heavy lifting yet?
PD: My knee is great. You know... I did rehab... real hard up until I hurt it. Probably early March I started getting into the heavy lifting. I think I was squatting about 500 in early March. So, actually, I'm exactly where I was last year, squatting wise and strength wise. So my knee is doing great, it's doing real good!
CB: Awesome man, glad to hear it. How did you originally get hooked up with Eric Maroscher from the powerlifting team? How did you guys meet?
PD: It's a long story, but I'll try to make it as short as possible.
I was sitting in my office here in Illinois, just trying to find a gym that I could train in, a powerlifting gym, because I did powerlifting in the past. So I went to look around on the Internet and I found this site called PowerliftingWatch. I was clicking around that site, I saw they had a space where it said "gyms" and then they had "gyms per state". So I clicked on Illinois and looked at all the gyms in Illinois and I saw there was a gym in my area and I'm like "Monster Garage Gym".
So I sent him a quick email, told him who I was, that I was from the Redskins and I was looking for a gym to train at. That I had previously powerlifted in Seattle and I just wanted to try to get stronger and ... "you know, if you can help me out, let me know."
We went back and forth. I think at first Eric really didn't know, I mean didn't trust that I was a football player who wanted to powerlift. He didn't know that I was a powerlifter before, so he started to ask all these questions and he actually wanted to know what my numbers were. And I gave him my numbers from powerlifting meets up in Washington and Seattle.
In that process, Ronald Legeretta, I know Ron has a crazy last name, Ronald who was a powerlifter, he's the guy on the team, who was a big time Redskins fan. So Eric mentioned it to Ronald, and Ronald said "yeah, bring him in man, you know, he's good, he's strong". He eventually convinced Eric to give me a shot. So Eric emailed me back and said, hey come in, and gave me the days that they train and told me what days and everything and I said cool. They were training that Saturday.
I had just finished with football, it wasn't a week out and I was already getting into lifting. So, I told Eric that "I was gonna come to meet the guys, that I won't train on saturday, that I was just gonna come to meet the guys". So I get there, you know... well, let me go back...
I told him that I was just gonna meet the guys but I changed my mind an hour later. I emailed Eric back and said, "you know I'm gonna train". So I go in and train with the guys on that saturday, and we get along great, I mean from the first time we met until now, we hit it off and we've been doing great together.
CB: That's real cool. Where's Monster Garage Gym? I'm not familiar with Illinois. You mentioned the town, is it near Chicago?
PD: No, Monster Garage Gym is in Waukegan, Illinois. The address is: 2755 Delany Rd., that's in Waukegan, Illinois, the zip is 60087. Easy access, right off the 41... everybody will know where 41 is, if you live in northern Illinois.
That is the address, it's a great gym and this is the location.
CB: Do you train strictly powerlifting? I mean you gotta do some conditioning and agility stuff too. So, do you work in with the team some days and do your own thing on other days? What kind of routine do you do or is the same thing they're doing?
PD: Well, basically, the team is up in Virginia, I'm here in Illinois. I'm pretty much on my own but I do both. I've got a couple of different facilities that I train at. I train with the guys, I powerlift with the guys when they are doing their powerlifting thing. So I go and powerlift 4 days a week and then I go and I workout in another facility called EFT where I do a lot of conditioning. They workout a lot of guys, college guys coming through and my son trains there. I go there and do all my conditioning, my running, sled pulling, sled dragging and everything.
I get the best of both worlds. I kind of get the power and then I get the fitness, the speed, the quickness.
CB: Good schedule you have set up, nice. So, at the Monster Garage Gym, that's strictly powerlifters, or do you get other athletes coming in there trying to get stronger? What is the environment like in there? What kind of people train there?
PD: Strictly powerlifters. I'm probably the only athlete that's in there.
I would love to have more athletes and train, we've got the Bears right here. I just can't convince the guys to come in and do powerlifting … you know, when it comes to hard work, a lot of guys don't want to do that. They don't want to put themselves and their body through that. But yeah, we got a lot of great powerlifters in there. You know 2 time WPC powerlifting champ Eric Maroscher, Ronald Legaretta, Pete Hurley… all those guys come through and they workout and they train hard.
Monster Garage Gym is just one of those gyms that is strictly for powerlifters, for guys who want to get strong, guys who want to push their body to the limits but at the same time, Monster Garage will keep you safe.
CB: Right, it's not for everyone, but if you want to get stronger, for sure, this is the kind of place you need to find. Everybody knows WestSide, Barbell, in Ohio, and they get a lot of athletes coming in there. They get stronger from what they learn... so I'm sure you'll have different people stopping by too. On the website: www.monstergaragegym.com it mentions 24/7 access. Does that mean that it's open for other people to join too that don't want to train with the powerlifting team, want to get stronger and want that kind of atmosphere?
PD: Yeah, I mean, any team can come train at Monster Garage Gym any time they want to, as long as they don't mess with our time.
We give you a key, you go in, you train whenever you want to. It's 24 hours all access. No problem with it. The gym is just a great addition for guys to just come in and get the training that they need. We don't have to be there, you know, but at the same time, I think that most teams or others that visit train in a totally differently way that we train, and we are all for that.
We just want guys to come in, enjoy the gym, get stronger. We give you a key, and your team can come in. If you want to join, you know, our powerlifting team, that's good too. We'll happily accept you to come in and train with us.
We'll give you a key, you can go in any time you want to.
CB: That sounds good. The only rule is don't do barbell curls on the monolift.
PD: Exactly, people do crazy stuff sometimes.
CB: I've trained in regular gyms in the past. Now, I go to a wharehouse gym and I currently train at Tampa Barbell... So I definitely, don't think I can ever go back to a commercial gym where they don't have the equipment you need for athletes and powerlifters. I mean, you guys have bands, chains. You can use chalk, obviously, you got the monolift for squatting, reverse hyper...You've got all that specialty equipment that a serious athlete is gonna need. So, why do you think so many people are just getting sick of commercial gyms? Seems like a trend, people are just starting to want to find their own place to train or start their own places. Why do you think that's starting to happen?
PD: Well, for one, guys who try to get strong, get really strong, commercial gyms don't give you any kind of safety. In a powerlifting gym, you got guys spotting you, you got guys behind you, on the sides. You got guys who are really going to make sure you're safe.
And commercial gyms, you don't have anyone to spot you, so you've got to actually get a guy standing around in the gym to come give you a spot. But you don't know who this guy is, he doesn't know who you are, he might not be a great spotter. He might not hand the weight off to you the way you want it, it might just be terrible.
In a powerlifter gym, you got guys that you know, that train with you, train every day. And you got guys that hand off to you all the time, they know exactly how you want it and they know exactly how to spot you on the squat and all that stuff.
That's what makes it different. Of course you mentioned, you can use chalk, powder, bands, chains... there are no bands and chains in commercial gyms.
I think, for one, when you come to a powerlifter gym, I mean, just the atmosphere of knowing all the guys around you and the way you train, and being able to use the bands and chains and do all those things, I think that's what makes it different, and I think a lot of people leave commercial gyms and come to powerlifting gyms because of the atmosphere and how we go about lifting, and also to get strong.
Working out in a commercial gym, let me tell you, it's hard to get strong, a lot of commercial gym won't even let you put on a lot of weight on the bar.
CB: I know, you can put only like 225 on the bar at some places.
PD: Exactly! They will limit you what you put on the bar. If you put too much, they're gonna come and tell you "we don't allow to put so much weight on the bar so you might have to find another gym".
Monster Garage Gym is the perfect gym because you can put on what you want on the bar.
We have people in there, like Eric Maroscher, 2 times world champion. Guys like my son who has been lifting for a while. All the guys that are in there are going to help you and spot and tell you what to put on next, don't go too heavy and stuff like that but at the same time, you're gonna get stronger.
I think that's the difference from going to a regular, commercial gym and going to a powerlifter gym.
CB: For sure. You pretty much summed it up. Safety though is huge in this environment. Every time you want to be the best at something, you got to be around people that got that same drive and are fired up about it. People that are going to keep you safe, and a place where you get all the equipment you need. So, you don't want some pencil neck trainer at a commercial gym coming up to you and telling you that you're benching wrong or kicking you out of the gym for stupid stuff like that...I'm all fired up man, I'm ready to go and workout right now...
PD: Any time you go up to a commercial gym, you can almost tell that when you get a lot of weight on bar (if they allow you) that everybody is stopping to look at you like you're crazy. I mean, I'm trying to get stronger but at the same time, they are thinking, "you are going to hurt yourself."
CB: Yeah, that's funny. In a commercial gym, you're like the strongest guy in there. People are just staring at you. You go to a barbell club or a powerlifting gym and you just kind of blend in with all the guys.
CB: I'm not even strong anymore at my gym.
PD: Exactly. I'm competing with myself, pretty much
CB: I saw your videos on... I think it was PowerliftingWatch... where you did an APF meet in 2008. You hit a 722 squat and deadlifted 600. That was impressive man. I swear, it looked like your warm-up sets. I don't know if that was getting close to camp or what was going on. Football is your livelihood... that's how you're making a living. Do you go "balls to the wall" at the meet right or do you treat it more like workout? I'm just asking because the lifts looked so easy.
PD: Well, to tell you the truth, everything looks easy to me. You know, everything I do looks easy...
Everything I do in competition I do it in my workouts so, you know, Eric does a great good job trying to keep me safe. He knows my progression, he's not going to try to get me hurt. If you have the proper technique you won't get hurt. Last year, I wasn't even close to getting hurt. I could probably have done 800, easy.
I go to the meet, with a goal. We have numbers already written down that I want to get. So that last meet, 700 was my goal. I got 700 on that second lift.
So, we don't just pile of bunch weight on there and try to beat some kind of record or anything like that. We just go up another 15 pounds or whatever. I just try to get a PR for myself, and I'm not trying to hurt myself in anyway, but I'm trying to get a PR for me.
I'm competing with myself pretty much. I'm just trying to get something I'm comfortable with.
Everything that I do at the meet, I've come close to in the workouts. Like the week before I did the 722, I did 680 in the workout. It was really easy. So I knew I could do 700 and something...
That's it, you know. We just stay safe. People that said that powerlifting can injure you and stuff, that's only because you are not lifting right. You don't have the proper technique.
CB: Yeah, some people have big egos and try too much weight they aren't ready for. Just take it nice and steady.
PD: Exactly. For all of you that say that powerlifting can hurt you...OK. I powerlift, I didn't get hurt doing powerlifting, but I got hurt playing football. You can get hurt playing football and that's fine. But when you pile a lot of weight on the bar you risk injury? I risk injury every time I line up on the field. If you don't push yourself in the offseason you're not going to have any success on the field. So I push myself to get stronger and hopefully it pays off on the field...
CB: Overall getting bigger and stronger should keep you safer on the field.
PD: Exactly. The stronger you are, you keep your flexibility, all those things. They play a major part and I remember... when I played in Seattle in 99 and that was one of my best years.
I need powerlifting to stay strong and do the things that I do on the field. Anybody that says I'm taking a risk, I don't think it's a risk, I think it's an opportunity to get better. That's how I look at it.
CB: You have to look at the positive. You can't focus on the bad things that can happen. Where you wearing gear in that meet or do you guys compete raw? What does your team mostly do?
PD: Well, we wear single ply. Single ply will keep you safe, it's not going to give you too much, but at the same time you'll be able to feel the weight.
I see a lot of guys with multi-ply gear and it's just too much. I just want to do something simple where I know that most of the weight is me, you know what I'm saying?
All that while keeping safe.
But the whole team, we all use single ply, we do a pretty good job in the single ply. We can do a lot more weight by going double ply and all the suits and everything but why?
Why put on that suit that will do most of the work for you? When you can go single ply and you do most of the work? So that's how we feel.
CB: That's true. Just a preference... people lift the way they want to lift. You lift for yourself anyway. You already mentioned that the lifting is making you a better football player, you think it's making you more explosive too? Some of the heavy squatting, do you think it's helping you come off the ball better?
PD: For me as a defensive linemen, the key is the first three steps. We have to get through the big guys in the first three steps and the rest is just the luxury in getting the quarterback sack and getting to the back field.
When I got into powerlifting a year and a half ago, that was my whole goal to get faster and quicker. Get more explosive coming off the ball and I've done that.
Just in the practices, …, I can tell a big difference. After the first three steps, I've made my decision, and made my move... now I just have to get to the quarterback. I think that guys who lift, who powerlift and build their bodies that way, they have a lot of explosion. They come off the ball and hit people in the mouth.
That's the thing I wanted. Powerlifting works for every position, if you think about it, every position needs that burst, that initial burst to get where they are going. We'll see this year, I think I'm stronger this year.
CB: Good to hear. You definitely see it on the field, as you just explained. Do you guys get tested in any one rep max lifts or do the coaches not want to risk injuries? Do you get tested in anything when you get back to camp?
PD: We don't get tested, you just show up and play.
CB: So at the NFL level you're expected to be in shape, you're a professional, you're a veteran.
PD: They risk a lot, they have so much money invested in you. They don't allow you to really put a whole lot of weight on the bar and stuff. They do more sets and reps, those kind of things
The teams have a lot of money invested in your. They don't allow you to really put a whole lot of weight on the bar and stuff. They do more sets and reps and those kinds of things.
CB: A lot of hammer strength exercises I would imagine.
PD: Exactly. On my own, I like to set some reps on days that I need to do it, they don't do power on days that I need to do power. The only time I remember getting tested was my first year when Mike Holmgren when I got to Seattle. We did a lot that year, we got tested on everything. We did 315 for reps. The D-line did atleast. I remember doing that and thinking, "Man guys were doing 10-12 reps". But there is no testing when we get to camp in lifting. You just go out and play football. I'm probably the only guy who knows where I'm at when I get there because I did powerlifting.
CB: I was just thinking, you might not even know what people's max are on the bench. I'm curious who is the strongest Redskin? I'm assuming it's you. Anyone else you see pushing 4-500 lbs on the bench?
PD: I definitely put myself up there somewhere. But bench press is not my strong point. My legs are my strong part. There are some strong guys that can bench alot, but I'm not sure about their maxes. They talk all the time about what they can do, but I don't know. It would be really tough to see who the strongest guy is...
CB: Same thing happens when people come into the gym too and they tell you what they lift and you don't find out for sure until they workout with you.
PD: And a lot of times, what they say they lift ain't what they lift. Most guys they bounce off their chest and the weight is already halfway up and they just lock it out. Their bench might not be the bench that a powerlifter is looking for.
CB: You have an awesome off season work ethic, looks like you bust your ass. You think some rookies that come in that just kinda take it for granted and how hard it is to string together a long NFL career and don't start out with the same dedication to the weight room?
PD: Yeah, I think some rookies and some young guys take for granted how much they need to look at that part of it. You can go out there and run all day, but if you don't have the strength, the power to get off blocks or get around people, it's not going to work for you. I think they do take it for granted. I hope to become a strength coach. I want to get my guys strong first and then concentrate on the conditioning.
The strength is the key than you can start running and agilities. They'll get better, because all the muscles will start working together for a common goal. A lot of young guys they really don't which is why they only stay in the League for 3-years. The average lifespan for a NFL player is 3 yrs. It's 3 yrs because the guys are not willing to go out there and do the things they should do. Guys need do all the right things while nobody is looking.
CB: Some of the younger players just do the mandatory team workouts?
PD: Exactly. They workout at the facility with the teams but once they leave the facility, what are they doing once they leave the facility? What are they doing on thier own? Those are the things that matter.
I think some young guys just throw that aside. "I got here for a reason, I worked through college, so now I'm gonna coast through", that's why guys don't make it long. I think you gotta keep going, gotta keep looking for new things to do and new ways to get stronger in order to be able to make it in this league for a long time.
CB: Great advice man! Thanks. This is a powerlifting interview but the D line is looking stacked this year, pretty deep with the depth. How do you respond to that coming into camp knowing there are rookies, that haven't even stepped on the field yet but are still considered competition. Or do you not look at it that way?
PD: You know, I never shy away from competition, I love competition. For me, I just say "bring it on". I mean, I've been in the league for 14 years for a reason, I don't see how young guys are going to beat me out. The only way I'm going to give them the chance is when the team doesn't want me anymore, that's the only way, you know.
I am with my workouts and what I've done in the off-season, I prepare myself to be one of the best in my position so, I'm not even worried about young guys coming in. But at the same time, with me saying that, I'll say this: I'm trying to help the young guys too.
I was young at one time and I needed somebody to mentor me and get me to where I am. I had guys like Cortez, Michael Sinclair, those guys in Seattle, now you know I'm an older guys and the younger guys come to me for advice all the time and I will help them. I even call right after they got drafted and let them know if there's anything they need or any questions they have about the D line, come to me and help them out.
That's the kind of the guy I am. I'm trying to win the SuperBowl and I don't really care about the competition and everything as long as I'm still on the team. Whether I'm a backup or star, it's all the same to me, I'm a guy who wants to win and I think the team knows that. I help these guys out, a lot of people say "you are helping the guy take your position" "No, I'm helping the guy who can help me win the SuperBowl". That's how I look at it and that's the only way to look at it. I mean, if I didn't have guys to help me when I first got here, then I wouldn't be in this situation that I am in right now.
What better advice can I give to a young guy then go out there and do the little things, make sure you don't make mistakes. Let them know how I got to where I am.
I'm definitely willing to help them out but at the same time, I say bring the competition on. I love it.
CB: That's good to hear man. I had a feeling you were going to say that but I just wanted to hear it.
PD: After the knee injury, during my first interview with the media, I told them, "You know what? I'm gonna train hard and I'm gonna come back." I didn't want to end my career on an injury. I just couldn't do it. The way I trained and the rehab I went through and the things I put my body through to get back to where I am, I'm going to go out there and give my best. Someone else will have to come in and beat me out, I'm not going to go out on an injury.
It's going to be a battle, but right now, they still have me on the starting lineup, so, I'm glad we got Jarmon, Orakpo and a few other guys.
I'm looking forward to helping the young guys out, but at the same time, I'm looking forward to being back on the field and helping my team.
I think my presence, last year, was missed in a lot of ways and I hope we can get to a SuperBowl this year.
CB: Yeah, for sure. All Skins fans are glad to have you back. I know it's a battle recovering from a knee injury. I know I blew my knee out right after college. I don't want to wish that upon anybody. Glad to hear you're coming back strong. You mentioned where the gym is. Where can people go to learn more about the gym, if they want to pay a visit, if they are interested in joining or get more info about it?
PD: You can get more info, by going to our website www.monstergaragegym.com or you can call 847-542-LIFT. There are some cool training videos at the site as well.
CB: Alright. Thanks a lot for the interview Phillip. I know you're taking time out of your busy schedule for this and I want to wish you the best of luck this season coming up. I'll be watching you and keeping an eye on your powerlifting career, wish you the best in that too Thanks a lot!