Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
February 23, 2024
Paul "Tiny" Meeker Interview
by Tom McCullough

Published in Powerlifting USA March 1999

Tiny Meeker TM: Tiny, could you give the readers a little background about your life?

PM: Yeah, I was born May 28, 1971, in Houston, Texas. Since then I have lived most all of my life in Humble, Texas. I graduated for Humble High School in 1989. I also did a couple of years in college but didn't go any further than that. While in high school I played some football and basketball. I was also an All-District defensive tackle. Currently I work as a bouncer and body guard and I am five foot nine inches , weight 282 pounds, have a 55 inch chest and 22 inch biceps.

TM: With measurements like this most of us can see that you aren't exactly tiny. How did you ever get the nickname of "Tiny?"

PM: One of the first places I ever worked for had two guys working there named Paul. One was me and the other was this tall skinny guy. Every time someone yelled Paul, we both turned around. So as a joke, everyone started calling me "Tiny." So the name just kind of stuck with me. As you can see, every year I keep getting tinier (hahaha!).

TM: How long have you been weight training?

PM: That is kind of a hard question because even as a kid I lifted weights. When I went into the sixth grade I had the opportunity to actually work out with George Foreman at the Humble High School weight room. But I didn't actually started powerlifting until my sophomore year in high school. When I was 15 years old I actually weighted 240 pounds. I had a 315 pound bench press. During my sophomore I made All-District powerlifting champion and in my Junior year I made All-Region powerlifting champion. Unfortunately during my senior year, they kicked the powerlifting program out so I wasn't able to continue my competition. I probably would have been the Texas State champ if this had not happened.

TM: How did you get started back in the sport of powerlifting?

PM: After I graduated from high school basically I was just training on my own. No one else was really around. I later started training with one of my old high school coaches Dougald McDougald. He started teaching me proper lifting form. Around 1995, I ran into Bob Garza who held a world record in the bench. Bob is basically the one who got me back into the sport again. By then my bench press was already up to about 500 pounds. Bob finally talked me into entering the USPF Texas State Bench Press Championships where I took third place with a bench of 451 pounds. A couple of months later I went to the USPF Texas State Powerlifting Championships second place. From that meet on I usually took first place until I was finally beat by a guy named David Reece in an ANPPC meet.

TM: Who is the person or people you admire and who inspire your lifting?

PM: Of course Bob Garza would be at the top of the lift. He is the one who taught me the basics and mechanics of the sport. Anthony Clark has also done a lot for me. At my first meet, I was kind of let down with doing only 451 in the bench. Anthony sat down and talked with me and gave me a lot of encouragement. He also gave an idea of what I needed to work on, so I have a lot of respect for him. My new training partner John Stewart is right up there too. If it wasn't for John, I probably would have quit the sport. John, who also has a world record put the fun back in training and brought me to where I am now. I love this sport now and it is so much more fun.

TM: Tell us a little bit about what you have accomplished in the sport of powerlifting and what accomplishments are you most proud of?

PM: Like I said earlier I have won several Texas State meets in the USPF and a state record in the WABDL. I also hold a Texas record in the ADFPA at 551 pounds in the 275's, which I think I set in 1996. I have a NASA World record of 540 pounds in the 275's, which was actually a bad day for me. In the ANPPC I hold a life time SHW world record at 590. With the APA I hold the WPA world record of 606 pounds in the 308 drug free weight class.

TM: What has been the biggest challenge to your lifting success?

PM: To try to keep lifting heavier and heavier without getting injured. As I continue to lift I learn more and more about how to train smarter. The last year I have really learned a lot about my body.

TM: What are some of your future goals in the sport of powerlifting?

PM: My all time goal is to bench 700 pounds in the 275's totally drug free. I know that when I finally do this I'll want more. But I will stick with 700 pounds for now.

TM: Tell us a little bit about how your training schedule.

PM: Right now we mainly only train on Monday and Tuesday. After my next meet I plan to change it up to include some leg work. I was involved in an automobile accident and haven't been able to train legs. But now I feel like I can start back. But, basically on Monday I work bench press and triceps. I do flat bench press alternating heavy and light days. The I usually go really heavy on the decline with no less that 2 reps. After that I do some heavy lock outs. Then I will move on to either the cable or scull crushers for the triceps. On Tuesday, I will come back and work back and biceps. I fell like the biceps are important for stabilizing the bench and the back is important for the explosion of the bottom.

TM: How important are training partners for you?

PM: I think a good training partner is the most important thing you can ever have. In my opinion, you will never ever obtain your goals in you life of lifting if you don't have some one to lift. For instance just the lift off in the bench press, if you always try to take it out yourself, eventually you could blow your shoulder out. Especially when you are hitting weight like I am.

TM: Are there any tips you could give us on how to use gear in training and in a contest?

PM: Yes, always wear your wrist wraps. When you get to about 3/4 of you max you really need that extra support in the wrist. As for belts, some people feel they important and some don't. As for bench press shirts.....I think bench shirts are very important. They offer lots of protection when you are really pushing the weight.

As for training in a shirt, I use to not use a shirt in my training. However, I found that I was actually benching as much with a shirt in contest as I did in the gym without one. So after I started getting deeper in the sport I began talking to more and more people such as Anthony Clark, and I learned that training in a shirt is very important. I think you should at least train in your shirt at least two or even three times a month just to work on your form. If you are not use to the shirt, it can even hurt your lift. If you learn how to use it correctly, it can help you dramatically. If you just put it on at a meet and never train in it, you may find that you have the same bench or only just slightly more than you had without the shirt.

TM: Do you train in the same bench press shirt that you use at a contest?

PM: I like to train in an old shirt and as I get closer to a contest and lift heavier weight, I use a tighter one. At a contest you really want to get as tight of a shirt as you can. But you also need to work with that shirt before the contest to get use to the feel.

Tiny Meeker Bench Presser

TM: What are your preferences in bench press shirt?

PM: I personally like the single ply polyester only because they are very easy to get on and off. If you prefer to wear the double poly shirts you have to be real careful to have to pull both the inside and the outside of the shirt down. Right now I am wearing the Inzer denim with Velcro back. It is so easy to put on and in between your lifts you can unstrap it. I feel like this particular shirt gives me much better support and spring. For me, I have found that the poly shirts work best coming off the chest and the denim shirts work great off the chest too, but they also work more in the triceps during the lockout. But once again, if you don't learn to use the shirt during your training, it isn't going to work as well for you.

TM: Do you have any special techniques or secrets in using gear you would like to share?

PM: Now if I told you this everyone else would be using it (hahaha!). No actually, my best advice, like I said is to train in you gear and learn how to make it work for you.

TM: Tell us a little bit about you diet. What do you eat?

PM: Except during contest time, I actually eat horribly. Because of my work, I usually eat a lot of fast food. When I get ready for a contest I try to start eating better. I am a steak and potatoes kind of guy. I eat a lot of protein and lots of carbos. As for calories, I don't watch that too much. But I do try to drink plenty of water.

TM: What supplements do you use?

PM: I'm really not a supplement person. I've tried creatine, but it didn't really do too much for me. I always take my vitamin C to keep from getting sick as much and also use protein shakes on occasion. Especially when I'm trying to gain weight. That's basically all I ever do as far as supplements go.

TM: Do you have any tips you could share on making weight in those heavier weight classes?

PM: I lift in the 308's and 275's so I always need to gain weight. I have found that I have to eat a lot more, but I also try to eat more frequently. I try to eat up to 5 times per day. If you are trying to gain weight you must also cut any cardio exercise you are doing. If you are doing a lot of cardio exercise you are just not going to gain weight. You will just need too many calories.

TM: What has the sport of powerlifting has done for your life?

PM: My life is certainly getting a lot better because of it. It may even get better if I land some big sponsors. Over all powerlifting makes me a happy person. I am a very competitive person. So when you get out of school, there isn't really a lot you can do. With powerlifting , sky's the limit. You can be any age and be in this sport.

TM: How do you see the sport of powerlifting in the future?

PM: If you had ask me this last year, I would have said that I was worried. But now I am starting to see a lot of exciting things happening. I personally would like to see more meets, one national champion and one set of world records. There are some federations, as I understand it that are working hard to make this come true.

TM: Do you actually believe powerlifting can make it to the Olympics in the near future?

PM: They got snow boarding and beach volleyball in the Olympics, so I can't see why powerlifting won't eventually make it. The reasons why I hear that they don't do it is a pretty bogus thing. I think that we will make it into the Olympics sooner or later.

TM: Would you like to see this sport unified or do you enjoy having a choice of federations to lift in?

PM: I not too sure I would like to see just one federation, but I think we may be able to cut down on the number of federations we have just a little. Lately it has gotten kind of ridiculous with so many national and world champions. I think I would love to see one set of records and one national and world champion.

TM: Do you have any advice for lifters just starting out in powerlifting?

PM: Don't worry so much about winning, your time will come. You have got to be patient. Keep training hard and good things will happen.

TM: Are there any final comments you would like to make or people you would like to thank?

PM: Yes, I would like to thank Bob Garza for bringing me back into this sport, my training partners John Stewart and Sheldon Weingust. I would also like to thank you and Mike Lambert of Powerlifting USA for making this possible. Certainly I have to thank my Mom and Dad, all my friends, and especially would like to thank God for giving me all this strength.


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