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Donnie Thompson Ready To Hang Up His Wraps After
Breaking All Time World Record Powerlifting Total
As Published in Powerlifting USA

Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - January 2009

Donnie Thompson hits biggest total in powerlifting history
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Donnie Thompson's recently recorded the highest total in the history of powerlifting. Donnie performed a 2,905 pound total at the IPA Senior Nationals which were held November 22-23 in York, Pennsylvania. Thompson squatted 1,235 pounds, benched 910, and deadlifted 760 pounds for the highest total in the history of powerlifting.

Critical Bench: Donnie, before I ask you about setting the all time world record in the history of powerlifting, humor us by introducing yourself to the Powerlifting USA readers.

There is not much that the other powerlifters do not know about me. I am difficult to get along with. I live in a place I built called the compound. It is an apartment on one side and a training facility on the other. I have a baby on the way and she should be born by the publication of this article. The mother and I are still friends but are not together. We plan to do what is best for her. Her name will be Bridget. Hopefully she will look like her mother. She is the reason I am quitting Powerlifting. I was married a while back but got rid of her non-working ass after five months. It was that or kill her. However, 'hateful wife season' didn't start yet so I did not want to be fined and jailed for choking her out. Still trying to get that license though. When I make a mistake, it is always a good one.

There is always drama in my life and that is something that will always be. I am not proud of it but when you are very intense about a mission you are on, drama surrounds you. That is my life and I will not apologize for it.

Critical Bench: Donnie, you have just totaled 2905lbs and set the biggest total in the history of powerlifting! How did it feel to set the biggest total of all time?

I was happy but not elated. It was kind of depressing. Whenever you leave room for more poundage on the platform, it is hard to celebrate. The real hell starts when you get home and play different scenarios over and over in your head of what might have been if you only got this weight or that. Then when I got home, on Tuesday, my celebration was greeted with my landlord telling me my rent check bounced, my Yukon was repo-ed and my girlfriend quit talking to me! Great welcome home. I really haven't even thought about the meet since I have been home. Too much else going on.

Donnie Thompson Training For His Record Setting Day
Mandy Stafford holds a board for Donnie as he trains for his 910 LB bench

Critical Bench: You said drama follow you, you were right. Donnie, what are your best lifts?

My Best Lifts:

1235 squat
910 bench
832 Deadlift

Critical Bench: What are your future powerlifting goals?

I do not have any. I met them all and I am quitting now. I will do no more meets. I am done.

Critical Bench: You'll be remembered forever! Donnie, people talk about you being the best squatter in the world today. Many athletes we have interviewed before mention your name as one of the greats. How does that make you feel to be called one of the best by your peers? Do you like being compared to other top notch lifters in the game?

I do not like being compared. We are all different. Also, I know everyone who can squat what I can, near what I can or more than I can. I met them, have their phone or email, and pick their brain. And they do mine. I know I am the best squatter now. If I trained for one or two more meets in my gear, I would really master it and squat the WR highest ever. I am very happy I did not pass up Vladimir my last meet. That sits well with me because I could keep going. Vladimir is going to have a hard time overcoming his injury so he may never break his old record. I am proud to say that I did not break it either.

Donnie Thompson Worlds Biggest Powerlifting Total Of All Time Critical Bench: Donnie, before you attempt a 1235lbs squat, what is going through your mind?

I try to calm myself. If I get too emotional, I try to laugh. I did this when I squatted 1235lb. Thinking of my weak points and remembering to execute helps me a lot. Sometimes I flash through all the people I feel have wronged me. This helps too. I can kill them in my mind and not get arrested.

Critical Bench: Remind me not to piss you off. Donnie, you were a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then you were signed by the Arena Football League. Did you enjoy football more or powerlifting?

I enjoyed them both equally. When I was a football player playing Center, I was the best I could be. Powerlifting I did the very best I could. So they are equal

Critical Bench: How would you compare and contrast people in the NFL to the people in powerlifting?

In football, the lesser player can hide in the midst of his teammates and ride. He will be found out eventually. In powerlifting, it is only you on the platform and you can't fake it. I have seen some lifters coast on the training of their superior lifting partners, but that is short lived. In the end, the cream will rise to the top. The training is very similar for both. The football player will not concentrate on singles like the lifter, but the training is basically the same. The back of the body needs to be developed much more than the front of the body. For years, this was not the case. Mirrors are for strip clubs and bedrooms. Keep them out of the training facility.

Squat of 1235
This was the day Donnie squatted 1235 pounds!

Critical Bench: Donnie, are you happy that you didn't stick to the Arena Football League and that you went to powerlifting instead?

I played 5-6 years in Arena football. I have zero regrets leaving it. The pay sucked so I decided to be in another sport that was harder and payed even less, Powerlifting!

Critical Bench: Yup, and you propelled to the top in a sport that was equally challenging and paid less than pro football. Donnie, what is your advice for the beginner who is learning how to squat and would love to squat big?

Learn how to squat correctly right from the start. Squat away from the knees and push out on your knees. Wall squats help with this. If you squat badly for years, it is nearly impossible to relearn. You will always revert back to your old style when you get heavy and lose your emotions. Incorporate the box squats into your routine but not exclusively. Keep changing things up. Then build all the muscle groups up that work the squat. Glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, abs and lower/upper back. As you can see, there is plenty to do after your last set of squats.

Donnie T Critical Bench: Donnie, give us your squat routine.

I squat heavy on Mondays and light on Fridays. I incorporate gear into the heavy day now. I spend time on assistant work and never shirk it off. I do not miss the extras. Even if I have to do them the next day. That is why I am walking away from Powerlifting and not limping away.

Critical Bench: How should the beginner or intermediate squatter squat differently than you do?

I think they should use a progressive overload system to build a lot of muscle. Most of these guys do not know muscle's address. You can't tell them apart from the audience. Also pull the sled a lot. Build the back of the body or develop it as much as possible. Don't rely on the lifting gear like the advanced guys do. They are developed and the beginner and intermediate is not. The tendons and ligaments in the joints need to be very strong over time so use full range and lock out your lifts. Do not cut them short ala bodybuilding style.

Critical Bench: Good tips, thanks. Tell us about your eating plan for powerlifting. What supplements do you take?

I eat three meals a day like everyone else. Just a little larger than some people. Then I try to drink shakes in between. I use Maximus from atlargenutrition. I sought them out based on references from athletes and other lifters. Not cause I could get it for free.

Critical Bench: Will you share your powerlifting routine in detail?

No I will not. It sounds ridiculous when people read it and they are only looking in a keyhole of what I have been doing for 28 years. My routines are mine that I have learned and put to the test over many years. I have finally learned to incorporate gear in training. I lift heavy squats of some kind on Monday's. Wednesday is my heavy bench day. Friday is my light lower body day. Sunday is my light upper body day. Tuesday and Thursday are my rehab and recovery days. That is it. As far as specifics, it would do more harm than good to disclose my training information!

Critical Bench: Fair enough. How does your family feel about your powerlifting success and the fact that you are the best in the world right now?

My family could care less about my Powerlifting. I have never fit in society and even in my own family. The only family member that ever understood me was my mean grandmother, Grandma 'V'! She died eleven years ago so my family Powerlifting 'feelings' went to the grave with her. My parents have helped with money in the past, but always wanted me to quit.

Monster Deadlifter Donnie Thompson
Donnie deadlifted 760 lbs on this historic day.

Critical Bench: What other adversities have you had to overcome?

I started competing in 1998. I was a commercial gym owner. Gold's Gym opened up right next to me about nine tenths of a mile down the road. My membership dropped from 800 to 400 overnight. I just bought a house for $175,000! I was engaged to be married that summer. Long story short, my expenses all went up, my income cut in half and everyone seemed to bail. I lost my house to foreclosure. I turned my truck back in to the dealer and the bride to be, left me! I sold my gym to a wolf in waiting for practically nothing. All my life's work was gone.

Powerlifting was the only thing that made any sense. I overtrained and went down to the 220 class. I averaged 15 training sessions a week. So, I rented a small warehouse downtown and made a powerlifting gym there called the compound. I was jobless until 2006 (I worked, but not real jobs with benefits or respectability) when I got into physical therapy and strength development. I love it and it is a great job. My totals went up tons when I started working for Progressive Sports! My friend, Mike Johnston, got me the job.

Critical Bench: What's next? What would you like to do in the future?

I really enjoy rehab work and the strength end of it. However, I could see myself being a strength coach at the University level. That is where I would have the biggest impact as far as job stimulation and effecting people's lives. I will never be broke again. I plan on being a millionaire in eight years.

Critical Bench: Awesome. Donnie, tell Powerlifting USA a secret about yourself that people don't know.

My life is really out in the open and always has been. It is filled with drama. However, the one thing that a lot of people do not know about me is I am a true romantic at heart. I would love nothing more than to meet a woman who is into me like I am into her. I have had close encounters but they always end tumultuously! I have met someone now that fits the bill. I just hope she can stick it out with me through the baby and my temperament. Donnie Thompson is very difficult to get along with emotionally. It will take an act of God to get her to stay with me. I am trying to tone my meanness down around her so I won't screw things up. If I end up by myself, I deserve it for the way I am to her and others sometime.

Donnie Thompson taking a breather during training

Critical Bench: Donnie, what drives you to be the best?

You need to find one thing in life that you can pursue that you love. Fortunately, I have had two things, football and Powerlifting. With football, you are limited to the team and administration, but Powerlifting had nobody to hold me back. Numbers are attainable and make sense to me. You can always best yourself. Before I die, I wanted to tell my kids that their daddy did this one thing, and did it to the best of his ability! And whether I failed or won, I was at one time the very best I could be! I left nothing on the platform.

Critical Bench: When you aren't powerlifting, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to watch my John Wayne DVD's. I can't get enough of the Duke. When this world starts going crazy to me, I put a Duke movie in and life makes sense again. Men need to be men again. Watching a few John Wayne movies a week is a good start to fight against the times we are in, this age of gayness and tough women.

Critical Bench: That's hilarious. Donnie, how do you see the future of powerlifting?

Lifter consolidation. Federations exist to serve the lifter, but lifters are like sheep and follow blindly. It is ass backwards. Without the lifter, Powerlifting competitions will cease to exist. Everyone that is a federation loyalist, tell me what benefit that is to Powerlifting. The rules are the same across the board for Powerlifting. We have open, raw, equipped and drug free. Pick one and do it. The Internet should be used to post results. Websites can offer lifters advice. In ten years, things will fall into place. Promoters are already trying to be gracious to the top lifters in each division. Once the venues pick back up, television contracts will come and the public will see more than just a weight being lifted, they will see the person who is lifting. Right now there is zero respect for the lifter who accomplishes great things. I think it is a lack of understanding. Most lifters are just gym bums. They could not possibly comprehend the training it takes to be a national and world champ.

Critical Bench: What is the best and worst advice you were ever told before?

The best advice was the advice Louie Simmons gave me in 1998 about training properly. I researched it out and put it to the test. I was patient and believed in it. It worked. Changed my whole philosophy on training.

The worst advice I ever had was my friends not stopping me from getting married! I blame them because one of them could have knocked me upside the head and told me not to do it. I blame them for me marrying such a scumbag!

Bench Press Training

Critical Bench: What makes Donnie different from everyone else?

My determination does hands down. I suffer from lack of confidence at times, depression and anxiety. I overcome them all in time. It takes me a little longer to develop than my competitors but I am steady and never ever quit! I am determination from my bone marrow out to the hair on my skin. Also, I lost my fear of heavy weights. I never think a weight is too heavy. I just am never scared of any attempt I take. Most people can never overcome their emotions. I learned to.

Critical Bench: What makes Donnie happy and what ticks Donnie off?

What makes me happy is a gym full of lifters trying to get strong. What ticks me off are people quitting and not showing up. Why did you waste my time in the first place? Then they blame me for their failure! That pisses me off. Everyone that has come across me knows my commitment to Powerlifting. I live and train in a gym made for it. Don't show up if you are not on the same page.

Max Effort Squat Training - August 2008

Critical Bench: Donnie, people will be talking about you in 100 years from now. How do you want to be remembered?

I really do not care if I am remembered. That is not important to me. Like the general said with some of the words twisted to meet my point- "Old lifters never die, they just fade away!"

Critical Bench: Donnie, it has been a pleasure. In closing who would you like to thank?

My parents, Don & Adrienne Thompson. My brother Joshua. All my training partners past and present. Some of the lifters I admire and patterned myself after; Garry Frank, Paul Childress, Matt Smith, John Stafford, Andy Bolton, Brian Siders, Ed Coan, Shawn Frankl, Louie Simmons, Beau Moore, Gene Rychlack, Chad Aichs, Clay Brandenburg, Ryan Celli, John Manly, Chuck Vogelpohl, and many others I can't remember this minute.

Sponsors: Richard Sorin, Sorinex Equipment. Scotty Mills, PASCO Inc., Mark Blackberg - Jungle Gym. Chris Mason - atlargenutrition. Will and Marge Millman. The Montanari Brothers - Gold's Gym New Haven, CT. Dave Tate - Elitefts. John Inzer - squat suit. Progressive Sports Physical Therapy.

Personal: Jessica Fulmer, Mandy Stafford and her Mama, Tim Fogle, Mark Challait, Nicole Dominick, April Stroud. Neil Foy, Tom Frederick, Billy Mays, Tom Korbini, and many others that were there for me.

Donnie Thompson Breaks World Powerlifting
Total Record with 2905lbs



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