2015 Las Vegas Olympia Interview featuring Ben Tatar
By Anthony Alayon
Anthony Alayon: For those who don’t know you that well, can you tell us about some of your achievements in the iron world?
Ben Tatar: To quote the Biography of me in Iron Man Magazine:
“Ben Tatar has been contributing to IRON MAN for more than a decade. He holds a record at the Arnold Sports Festival for doing 40 pullups wearing a 50-pound vest. He also has performed a record 810-pound bench press lockout-out–the most weight for his height and weight in the world– and has benched 455.
He has written hundreds of training articles and is a reporter for CriticalBench.com IM” I also have been in many different magazines, wrote ebooks and done media at many different events.
Anthony Alayon: Ben you have been reporting, covering and doing interviews on the biggest events for a very long time. How has the Olympia changed in 2015 compared to when you first started going?
Ben Tatar: Well, when I first started going to the Olympia, there were hardly any fans! You could see the biggest celebrities and your friends without thinking about the crowds.
I saw the Olympia event as this little paradise that was relatively unknown. However, social media has totally changed that; the Olympia is constantly marketed everywhere! In the past being published in magazines was a really big deal, so people really wanted to be discovered at these events.
Although this mentality still exists, it’s much more digitally focused. The Olympia convention is also enormous today! Back then the fitness industry was more like a family where there were less people and everyone was friends with everyone.
Today the industry is gigantic with many different events going on throughout the day and there are over 1000 booths.
Anthony Alayon: What celebrity appearance surprised you the most?
Ben Tatar: Seeing Floyd Mayweather. He’s one of the biggest names in the world today. I never knew Floyd was coming until the day he showed up. He has never been to one of these big conventions before.
Anthony Alayon: Can you explain to the readers what makes the Olympia so special?
Ben Tatar: I will list ten things:
1) If you’re into bodybuilding, the Olympia is the highest prize of any event in the world. Winning Mr. Olympia has more prestige than winning the Arnold Classic in the sport of bodybuilding. That’s why the people who are into bodybuilding consider the Olympia event and everything surrounding it to be the biggest of all.
2) The Olympia is in Las Vegas. There is so much to do.
3) Most females have told me the Olympia is their favorite event. When they go to expos in South America or Europe, they notice that the conventions are a bit downscale and that they don’t know as many people. They love that it is in Las Vegas.
4) The Olympia isn’t the most crowded event as that belongs to the FIBO in Germany which has over 1 million fans! The Olympia isn’t as crowded as the Arnold in Columbus which has over 200,000 fans! However, the Olympia has over 1000 booths with less than 50,000 fans. This at least means you can walk around the Expo without getting stuck in crowded traffic jams.
5) The Olympia brings in the biggest celebrities. Some names include: Ronda Rousey, Floyd Mayweather, all the UFC Champions, Pro Athletes, John Cena, Carmen Electra, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Jersey Shore Cast, Action Hero movie stars and many more.
6) Even if you aren’t into celebrities, the Olympia has tons of events. Many martial art events are going on during the day. There are other fitness shows going on like the “The Ultimate Fitness Training Guru,” and tons of competitions. These competitions are open to people of all ages. This means that nobody really gets bored.
7) Guys love the many attractive females who are drawn to the fitness expo.
8) The Olympia is a freak show. There are so many 350lbs lean monsters all under one roof.
9) There are tons of fitness challenges and fun games around the expo. People love this and all the supplement deals.
10) For me, the Olympia weekend is history because I know so many people. These surprises each year keep my motivation fresh. Although I like the history, each event is unique and like no other.
Anthony Alayon: What night life surrounds the Olympia weekend in Las Vegas?
Ben Tatar: The Olympia is in Las Vegas so there is a lot to do. The biggest surprise at the Olympia this year was Rich and Sara Piana’s wedding. Their wedding guest included 350lbs ripped monsters, celebrities,female muscle freaks and lots of models.
After the wedding on Thursday night, I went to Surrender night club. What’s interesting about today is that the booths now promote their own VIP parties.
For example, the Shredz booth had a party at the ballroom right after the Expo at Encore with all the models and celebrities from Shredz. Some of the world’s greatest powerlifters of all time like Ed Coan and Rhino had their own gym opening on Friday right after the expo.
The XS Phil Heath after party happens in Vegas on Saturday night and you could hang with Carmello Anthony from the NBA at the Veneitian. Hey, you could jump off the tallest tower in America like I did in past years or attend a pool party at Wet Republic.
Anthony Alayon: How would you compare this year’s Olympia to last year’s?
Ben Tatar: Last year the Olympia had way more companies and booths in attendance. This year the Olympia charged companies a lot more for booth space, so many companies backed out.
Last year’s Olympia had a lot more people at the booths and even more competitions. This year’s Olympia dropped some competitions such as sumo wrestling, the world’s greatest athlete competition, the powerhouse challenge and arm wrestling.
The Olympia from a public perspective, definitely took some steps back this year.
Anthony Alayon: Who gets the freak award?
Ben Tatar: This is the hardest question to answer because the top freaks are much improved and win in their own way. I’m going to give it to actor Marytn Ford who will be in Undisputed 4. He is close to 7 feet tall and still very muscular! There are freaks bigger than he, but they are a lot shorter.
Anthony Alayon: What were the best and worst parts?
Ben Tatar: The best part is that the Olympia has so much to offer without being ridiculously crowded. The worst part is dealing with marketing agendas when you want to connect at a deeper level.
Anthony Alayon: In closing is there anything you would like to say?
Ben Tatar: Anthony, thank you so much for the interview. For those reading this interview I hope to see you down the road.
Interview with Steve Cook.
Interviewed by Ben Tatar
Steve Cook has become one of the most popular world champion fitness models in the world.
Steve has appeared on numerous magazine covers (including Muscle and Fitness,) he also won the Muscle and Fitness model search competition. Steve also has a social media following of over a million fans total. Without any further ado here is Steve Cook!
CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have achieved some incredible accolades. I will list some huge achievements you have made and tell me what comes to mind.
a) You were the Bodybuilding.com Fitbody Contest Winner:
This really is what launched my start in the fitness industry. It was a fun event that was in front of my home town. Meant a lot to me because of what I had been going through in my personal life.
b) You became the 2015 Olympia Muscle & Fitness Male Model Search Winner! (Every studs dream!)-
Such a big event! Over 240 guys entered that comp and I was so nervous stepping on stage. But I remember being confident because of the amount of work that went into preparing for it.
At the time I was in my last semester at college. 16 hard credits, working 30 hours a week and prepping for that show! I learned so much about hard work in those months. I also signed with Optimum Nutrition (ON) shortly after this comp!
c) You became the Bodybuilding.com Spokes Model Search Winner-
Coming off my win of the Male Model search I couldn’t wait to enter into the most prestigious model search in the industry.
Winning the bodybuilding.com spokesmodel search was life changing!
d) You earned your IFBB Pro Status-
With the popularity of men’s board short categories the IFBB launched its Men’s Physique category. I felt like it was perfect timing and a category meant for me.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow, those are some amazing achievements that will forever be with you! Steve, I know that you come from a big family of seven! How do your family members feel about all of your big fitness and modeling victories at the highest level?
They think it’s cool but it’s really no biggie to them. Most of them haven’t seen me compete.
They definitely keep me grounded and remind me that I’m still just the middle child who used to be afraid of the dark – lol.
In all seriousness they really aren’t big on social media or into fitness so they don’t really know what I do. They think it’s cool when they see me on a magazine and that I get to travel to such wonderful places.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: You were a college football player. After your days as a college football player, how did your training change?
The training didn’t change much. What did was my eating habits.
I no longer cared about just being big and strong, I now needed to be lean and toned. I added in more detail work into my training but it was mostly diet.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Not only are you a top model, but many people don’t know that you can bench press over twice your body weight (420lbs.) Do you have any strength tips for our readers?
Start young lol. Just kidding — kinda. I started very young, lifting with my dad. I would advise people to work a bench press program specifically designed to get stronger. I benched twice a week for many years.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: There are a lot of people out there who are let’s say, “sort of ripped.” Maybe they are strong in the gym, or play sports and maybe they are considered fit to those who don’t work out much. However, they aren’t in condition to get on stage. What is your advice for this type of individual to really get his physique to the next level so he can compete or do shoots?
My advice to them would be to focus on the diet. But to also do it in a healthy way. Slow and steady will always be the best way to change body composition. Start tracking food intake and keep a training journal. Also get with a trainer or coach that knows what they are doing to help give feedback.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have become famous. How has being known changed your life? If you go to a public gym, I’m sure it must be hard to workout without others always approaching you.
Lol that “famous” word always makes me feel silly. I mean I haven’t done anything to warrant being famous. I owe it more to Optimum Nutrition and bodybuilding.com than anything.
It’s always fun to be somewhere and have someone tell you about how you helped them…. I wouldn’t be here without them and I understand that so I love to listen to them. Sometimes it hard to get in a workout but it’s also flattering.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, what are the five main reasons most people aren’t as ripped as they should be?
Here’s the 5 main reasons:
1. They don’t know how to diet correctly
2. Aren’t training hard enough
3. Aren’t supplementing like they should
4. Lack of self control on the diet side
5. Lack of motivation
8) CRITICAL BENCH: What types of changes do you think we will see in the fitness industry in the next ten years?
That a great question. I think you will see a shift back to more aesthetic physiques on stage. I also think you will see the more of a mainstream following as the younger generation is so into health and appearances.
9) CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any fancy exercises or exercises that are different that you really enjoy doing? How is your training different from most people in the gym?
I would like to think I tend to concentrate on the details more than most. It can be something as small as curling the wrist out on a certain movement, or focusing on the negative part of the rep that makes all the difference. Training with the great Charles Glass really opened my eyes to how biomechanics plays a huge role in developing a world class physique.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, Steve at Critical Bench we wish you all the best as we know you will continue to surprise the world. In closing is there any message you would like to leave the fitness world and is there anyone who you would like to thank?
I’d love to thank ON, BB.com and everyone out there that follows and supports us. I try to be transparent with the fact that I’m all about doing things for the right reasons. At the core of that is health. Without that core everything else is unstable.
I also believe health and fitness shouldn’t be a competition… everyone has the capacity to be decent shape. Not everyone has the genetics to be a Mr/Ms Olympia but should strive for health.
It’s also something that I firmly believe we should help support others in. Make people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Ben Tatar 2015 Arnold Interview
By Anthony Alayon
1) Anthony Alayon: Before we get started, can you tell us what makes the Arnold the biggest or the best event of all?
Ben Tatar: What makes the Arnold greater than the other events in America or internationally is that the Arnold has the most competitions. It also brings in the highest quality superstars. The Columbus Arnold event has more athletic events than the summer and winter Olympics combined. Athletes from over 80 different countries come to Columbus to compete during Arnold weekend.
2) Anthony Alayon: How was the 2015 Arnold different from other Arnold’s?
Ben Tatar: The Arnold continues to grow every single year, and this year the Arnold made some huge changes. I will list 10:
1) THE WWE EXPERIENCE- The 2015 Arnold added a new event called The “WWE Experience.” When fans enter the expo, they immediately see a WWE/NXT ring. There are matches going on throughout Saturday and Sunday. After each match, the superstars sign autographs and take pictures with fans. The WWE Experience also offers try outs for fans who believe they have what it takes to be a WWE star.
2) THE ARNOLD KIDS’ EXPO- The Arnold added a kids’ expo targeted for kids between the ages of 6-16 or anyone who is really young at heart. The kids’ fitness expo has baseball, chess, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, soccer, hockey and more.
The kids’ expo also had events such as Arnold’s Quest for talent. Kids get to try numerous sports. At the booths, there are people dressed in costumes to keep things interesting. In addition, the kids’ expo has celebrities including: The band, N’Sync, Columbus Clippers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Cyclone gymnastics team, OSU cheerleaders, United States tennis association, Ohio State Football players and many more.
3) AMERICA’S NEXT GREAT TRAINER- The Arnold added a competition for personal trainers around the world. Trainers competed in a competition that tested their interviewing skills, appearance, fitness skills, knowledge and their ability to inspire.
4) MAS WRESTLING- Another new Arnold Event was MAS WRESTLING. This involves two competitors holding a stick in each hand. The objective is to take the stick out or drag the opponent over a wooden divider. Participants of all weight classes competed including smaller ladies and women who looked to be well over 350lbs.
5) DISC GOLF- Disc Golf is a new event which resembles regular golf, except it is played with a Frisbee. It looks similar to 18 hole regular golf, but the objective is to throw the Frisbee into a basket on a golf flag. It usually takes a competitor three to eight tries to get the disk into the basket.
6) MODEL SEARCH- This year the Arnold event had their first ever official model search competition.
7) PICKLEBALL- Pickleball is similar to tennis, but it is played on a smaller court. A pickleball court is the size of a badminton court. The paddles are made of composite materials including aluminum and graphite.
The ball has holes like a wiffle ball and travels 1/3 the speed of a tennis ball. This allows the game to have lots of long volleys. This game appeals to seniors as well younger folks. At a more advanced level, the game requires lots of kill shots, spins and ball placement strategies.
8) POWER X- The POWER X competition is a contest where athletes perform the powerclean, bench press and deadlift for up to twenty repetitions in three minutes. Scores are calculated by multiplying the weights achieved with the reps on the bar.
Most of the strength competitions have been about the fast twitch fibers and now the Arnold is targeting fitness strength warriors.
9) EQUESTRIAN- The Equestrian Western Horse Show made its debut at the Arnold.
10) MORE VENUE LOCATIONS THAN EVER- The Arnold also added a new venue called the “Ohio Expo Center.” They added events here such as archery, cheerleading, dance, crossfit, disc golf, equestrian, pickleball, POWER X, table tennis and XPC Powerlifting.
The Arnold Expo was also different due to having more NFL players, UFC Fighters and WWE wrestlers than ever before. The Expo was loaded with booth babes, pro bodybuilders and top notch strength athletes, like every year.
3) Anthony Alayon: How do today’s bodybuilder’s physiques differ from how they were ten years ago?
Ben Tatar: When I was going ten years ago, it wasn’t even called, “The Arnold Sports Festival.” That is how much the event has changed. However, there were always monsters, and that hasn’t changed too much.
What has changed is that the event has become more mainstream with different types of fitness athletes everywhere. For example, ten years ago it was hard to see a UFC fighter. You would have Daniel Bobish at a booth.
Today it’s just as common to see UFC fighters at the booths as it is to see 300+ pound bodybuilders. Also, today there are more 6’1 200lbs male fitness models going as sponsored athletes or NFL players, and maybe ten years ago you would see more 6’4 400lbs powerlifters at the booths. I think they have as many UFC fighters and pro athletes at the booths now as bodybuilding pros.
That’s one of the changes of the times. WWE is now on the main stage. When I first started going, table tennis was on the main stage. That really shows how much the event has changed.
4) Anthony Alayon: Tell us about the Arnold night life?
Ben Tatar: One of the events that I like attending on Friday nights is the “Make it fit” charity event for Autism. The event raises money and autism awareness. Phil Heath and Jay Cutler took pictures with fans at the photobomber. The Ohio State National Champion Buckeye team was also there. A lot of the big and warm hearted individuals from the fitness industry attend this event.
At night there is also the Arnold After Party at the Hollywood casino, where people attend and celebrate Arnold weekend! The sponsors of the party hire individuals who are dressed in mascot like outfits to give the party a larger than life feel.
The other event some people attend is the Mega Bash party at Bluestone. At this event, there are lots of costumes and celebrities from the booths. There is also downtown Columbus where people are celebrating all over throughout Arnold weekend. On Thursday Night, they had a firemen versus policemen boxing event and the “Meet the Pros,” event.
5) Anthony Alayon: What were the adversities during Arnold weekend this year?
Ben Tatar: On Friday there were lots of flight cancelations and delays due to snow storms. I heard that on Thursday over 4000 flights were canceled or delayed because of the weather. When I went to the expo on Friday, many of the celebrities who were suppose to be there weren’t there. The companies told me they were frustrated because it affected their business.
6) Anthony Alayon: What was your favorite event from the entire weekend?
Ben Tatar: I liked the World’s Strongest Man competition the best. I’m good friends with Brian Shaw and I liked cheering him on. I also liked how the Arnold Strongman Event is based on maxing out with unique events. The World’s Strongest Man contest at the Arnold is the most popular.
7) Anthony Alayon: What did you learn from attending the Arnold this year?
Ben Tatar: I have done these events for a long time, so I know where to position myself. For example, I saw Jon Bones Jones and Hulk Hogan out of the expo without anyone around. One thing I have learned is to not walk in the center of the Expo on Saturday when it is crowded.
It helps to memorize where everything is on Friday, then walk the front or back of the aisles. This got me to where I needed to go on Saturday quickly without worrying about crowd traffic jams.
8) Anthony Alayon: What are some of the things you see on the Expo Floor? Who Has The Best Supplement Booth & What Makes Their Booth Different?
Ben Tatar: For the Expo Floor you see over 900 booths. At every booth you have models, bodybuilding freaks, pro athletes, big celebrities, UFC Fighters, WWE wrestlers, NFL players, new exercise attractions, little fun exercise challenges and lots of friends who work in the fitness industry.
There are lots of great photo opportunities at every booth and people to meet who are into what you are into.
The EAS booth this year was really interesting in that they had events such as soccer kicks where fans would get points for kicking the ball into holes. Other events such as the MHP booth or Animal Cage have the strongest lifters in the world.
Every booth had something unique to offer whether it is top notch models, the best pro athletes in the world, freaks or friends.
9) Anthony Alayon: You are very strong yourself. Tell us about some of your best lifts?
Ben Tatar: Last year I set a record at the Arnold for doing 40 pull ups with a 50 lbs perky jerky vest. I also have locked out 810lbs on the bench press, the most ever for my height and weight. There is a biography on this in my Iron Man Magazine Biography. I have close grip bench 315lbs with 100lbs band tension which made the weight 415lbs at the top for 10.
I did reverse band bench press with 2 blues for 600×15 easy and 500×30. On incline bench I could rep 405 from the eye level for 10 and on the incline hammer strength machine I could do 405 for 35 or 500 for easy high reps. (That’s as high as it would go).
On shrugs off the smith machine I got 900lbs. I also like doing super wide reverse grip bench presses as they are a great bodybuilding exercise. On assistance exercises I go as heavy as the machine goes for high super set reps. Lol
10) Anthony Alayon: You’re a freak! What was it like hanging with some of the big name celebrities this year? What about the freaks and models?
Ben Tatar: I actually got to spend lots of time with Jon Bones Jones and Hulk Hogan without people around. Jon Bones Jones and I always end up fooling around, and we get silly. He took a picture with me at the Arnold, as he playfully kicked me in the head!
Hulk Hogan is also another goofball who is a lot of fun. The World Record Holder, Tiny Meeker is very entertaining and playful!
Former Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler was very laid back. At the Makeitfit party, he was very introverted unless people were taking pictures with him. DeMarco Murray was nice, and all the NFL players are analytical and charming.
The booth babes and I always play, as they would do pull ups on my arm, or I would pick them up a lot. We all just have tons of fun and if we aren’t playing, they all have a story that they would like to share for media.
With old friends like Micah who is a WBFF champion, it’s always easy because we go way back. I always enjoy meeting former New England Patriot player Marc Megna because he is inspiring. Every interaction was positive. You build bonds, and it creates excitement for the next one.
11) Anthony Alayon: Do you have any advice for people attending the Arnold?
Ben Tatar: I would say definitely check the Arnold out. It’s the best event in the world in that it has the most events and the highest quality sport stars of all expos. You will bring back memories that are forever.
12) Anthony Alayon: In Closing is there anything else you would like to say?
Ben Tatar: I will see you all next year. I want to thank Critical Bench and the Arnold for allowing me to cover the event. I’m already looking forward to Arnold 2016!
50th Mr. Olympia Anniversary Interview: Behind the Scenes w/ Ben Tatar
Interview By Chris Wilson
Coach Chris: Hi Ben “Tatar-Monster” and thanks again for your amazing pictures and unequaled enthusiasm for the Mr. Olympia. This year was the 50th Anniversary of the Big O, what made it bigger and better than in years past?
Ben Tatar: I will list 10 things that made this years Olympia bigger than in years past:
1) There were more booths than any Olympia, ever! In fact, this year’s Olympia had more booths than the Arnold! There were so many booths that you couldn’t even see them all in one weekend!
2) There were more champions, stars and models at each booth than other years.
3) This year’s Olympia had NEW supplement companies that we have never seen before!
4) The older greats were all there this year! (The industry grows because all the true old champions stay in the industry even as new ones are welcomed!) Even Lee Haney, Sylvester Stallone and even Arnold Schwarzenegger attended the 50th.
5) Every year the Olympia adds new events and competitions.
6) It is better because it has a lot of history and has been in existence for over 50 years.
7) I approached the 50th Anniversary smarter than past events. I used my time more efficiently.
8) I had more fun in Las Vegas than past years! I had so much fun; I didn’t even go to bed on Saturday Night.
9) I have so many crazy stories that I can’t write here, so email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT to hear some.
10) What can I say? More booths, models, old stars, new stars, new companies, new competitions, Arnold and the fact that I went all out created a big weekend like no other.
Coach Chris: As in previous years, there is always a debate about WHO got robbed on stage and WHO got a lot of unnecessary hype. Can you share with us your opinions about the 2014 results?
Ben Tatar: I figured that Phil Heath would win before the Olympia even started. The “After Party,” at XS was named after Phil Heath. The Sandow Trophy (The Mr. Olympia 1st place trophy,) was at his Gifted Nutrition booth and headlined after him. At his booth people would get pics taken with it. The whole event just had Phil Heath’s name on it. I know, there was a lot of hype about Kai Greene winning, but I just think a lot of people wanted Greene to win since he’s an entertainer!
Many people were ready for a change and feel that Greene’s ATTITUDE could take bodybuilding to a more exciting level. Others are strongly against Greene and look at his antics as unprofessional and degrading to the sport. For example, Greene bumped Phil the night before the Olympia and a lot of people were smack talking Greene. I try to stay out of that. LOL. However, Phil gives back a lot to the sport with all of his charitable endeavors such as The Make It Fit Foundation (for Autism). Phil I think is still the man and champion for at least one more year.
Coach Chris: What was more fun, hanging with the 275 lb shredded BEASTS or taking pics with the 100 lb hotties?
Ben Tatar: Interesting question. It’s so different. The models and I always get along really well. I also love reconnecting with the champions who I have already interviewed. Over the last fifteen years of being in the industry, it has been amazing how much socializing with them has changed. It’s different since I bond with them all in ways that are unique. However, I will say that going into this event, it was different than in the past.
In the last few years, social networking has changed drastically. Ten years ago, it was all about the phone and websites because models or shredded monsters didn’t have a Myspace or a Facebook. If bodybuilders or models wanted to be promoted, they would need to solely use magazines or the internet. Fifteen or even ten years ago, I was one of their only connections for fame. Back then the turnover with models and pro bodybuilders wasn’t as high which allowed for more of a “reunion” type of feel during every single event.
Today social media is different because social media is about people wanting followers on Instagram or on their Facebook fan pages and there are many other apps. This makes social media different because most people are posting things for thousands of people to see or watching thousands of their friends’ postings. If someone isn’t your best friend, social media usually isn’t one on one private conversation based. If you look at the Critical Bench fan page, you post, and tons of fans click “like”, share or comment!
In addition, changes in social media have led to a greater turnover rate of models and monsters at the supplement booths. I suspect that the supplement companies are looking for people with larger and different followings to endorse their products. As a result of this, I went into the 50th Olympia knowing less people than I did at past events. This also means that many of the 275lbs Monsters and models who I was meeting, were new to me and the industry. Despite, the changes in social media, I made it all work and I had a kickass time! It’s usually more fun meeting the booth babes than it is meeting a 275lbs shredded beast for the first time, but I still can’t generalize because I know so many of them in different ways.
Coach Chris: You’ve now attended your share of Mr O’s and Arnold’s, where does this years event rank?
Ben Tatar: My favorite Arnold of all time was the 2011 event. My favorite Olympia of all time was the 2009 event. The 2009 Olympia was better than this one because it had a lot more star power. You had Stone Cold Steve Austin, Trish Stratus, John Cena, Batista, Hulk Hogan, Carmen Electra (just to name a few,) and tons of bodybuilders & fitness models at every booth. Back in 2009 the bench press contest was on the main stage with easy viewing.
There were also fewer fans in attendance which made the 2009 event easier to network. The economy was stronger back in 2009 which meant that the companies and the city of Vegas was peaked. Also, since the industry was strong, I was seeing people who I have known for a long time at all the booths. 2009 I think was the best year for Olympia’s to date.
If I had to rank them, here is my top 10! Starting in at number 10:
10) a. 2013 Olympia– I jumped off the tallest tower in Las Vegas& United States, and I did well in the World’s greatest athlete contest. The reason these other cool things happened was because the Expo wasn’t the best.
The 2013 Olympia Interview with Ben Tatar can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-2013-olympia-interview/
10) b. 2008 Olympia– This one wasn’t as good as the 2013 Olympia, but I have to mention it because the weekend was crazy! I really put the Tatar Terror on this event! Also, it brings back so many powerful memories since so many old friends were there.
The 2008 Olympia Report with Ben Tatar can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/2008-olympia-pictures.htm
“Ladies & Gentlemen…We have another TIE”
9) a. 2010 Olympia– This was a special time because I saw Mike Westerdal and I also saw my Grandparents in Palm Desert right after. The reason it gets number 9 was because the actual event wasn’t as good as other ones.
Another interview with me: http://www.criticalbench.com/2008-Arnold-Expo-Report.htm
9) b. 2012 Arnold—The 2012 Arnold ties the 2010 Olympia for the 9th spot. This event was way better than the events before 2005. This event was also way better than the 2011 Arnold and the 2008 Olympia. The 2012 Arnold was special because my relationships had grown, I made forever deep friendships, the big stars were there and I had an incredible weekend! This event seemed ideal while it was happening on all cylinders. The issue with the 2012 Arnold when I look back in retrospect was that a lot of the people who I loved in the industry would never return!
The Ben Tatar 2012 Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/tag/2012-arnold-sports-festival/
8) 2013 Arnold—This was big because it was the Arnold’s 25th Anniversary. The 2013 Arnold (The 25th Anniversary,) was similar to the 2014 Arnold. There were great after parties, charity parties and great times with friends. I met lots of great friends, saw old ones and the parties were incredible. The 2014 Arnold was a little better than the 25th Anniversary because I made more history.
The Ben Tatar 25th Arnold Anniversary Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-interview/
7) 2014 Arnold—I set an all time record for doing 40 pull-ups wearing a 50lbs vest, and I competed& succeeded in the Arnold table tennis contest. A lot of my records set at this event are hung in gyms and restaurants all over. I did private charity events with Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Ed Russ, and the after party was outstanding!
The Ben Tatar 2014 Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/ben-tatar-2014-arnold-interview/
6) 50th Olympia Anniversary–This year’s Olympia was big as you can see in the first question. I was going all out in pool parties, at XS, Freemont street, flying helicopters, hanging with greats, more babes than ever and freaks everywhere.
5) 2007 Arnold—-The 2007 Arnold was big because the fitness industry was better. It was a time where the industry was more about being HARDCORE and a paradise to men. It wasn’t about making as many events as possible to make more money. I had been enough times to where I knew how to play the Arnold, I saw close friends who are no longer alive, and it was just a more badass time. I was screaming in excitement a lot at this one.
The 2007 Ben Tatar Arnold Report can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/arnold-classic-2007.htm
4) 2006 Arnold—This one was great because it was new to me! I walked into the Expo and I saw all the Pro Athletes, Models, Pro Bodybuilders and everyone who I have ever interviewed. It was like attending this paradise and covering it for Critical Bench. At that moment, I knew I was living my dream. I was off the wall getting high on supplements and shaking. I was amped on excitement the whole time, and the whole event was a huge memory.
The 2006 Ben Tatar Arnold Interview can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/arnold-classic-2006.htm
3) 2009 Arnold— This was a big one because the fitness industry was peaked in a hardcore state rather than trying to make it more family like to attract more people. I remember getting models booth jobs, did the human barbell, set some records. Everyone I knew was there, and the industry was top notch at this time.
The 2009 Ben Tatar Arnold Report can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/2009-arnold-pictures.htm
2) 2009 Olympia—This event would have made for a great movie if the whole thing was televised! It was at a time when I knew how to master Vegas and the Olympia event. Everyone I knew was there. The event had more star power than ever, and I just had crazy adventures all weekend.
The 2009 Ben Tatar Olympia Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-llzn6Y92w
1) 2011 Arnold– The 2011 Arnold was my favorite one yet. All the people I knew were there. All the stars were there, and everything was peaked to the maximum.
The 2011 Ben Tatar Arnold video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOKwO6VWjrA
In closing, all the events were special and peaked in different ways. At the end of the day, the events on this list and off this list are the best since they are all connected. I’m very grateful for all of them. What a ride! I give a special thanks to Critical Bench for the opportunities for coverage.
Coach Chris: Please project for us where you see PRO bodybuilding in the next 5 years? Is it possible for these guys to get even freakier or do you feel there will be a shift to a more tapered and aesthetically pleasing look, like the Old School muscle guys of the 70s? Less bloated and more appealing.
Ben Tatar: I think PRO bodybuilding is already changing. At the 49th Mr. Olympia the smaller 212lbs pro weight class (the show down class,) emerged. There is also a men’s physique competition as one of the big Olympia headliners. Also, I’m aware that some of the supplement companies have replaced the larger pro bodybuilders for smaller physique competitors at some of the booths.
I remember posting a picture of the biggest bodybuilder in the world, Craig Golias, from the 2014 Olympia on the Critical Bench page and most everyone disrespected him.
We are also living in a time where we are seeing bodybuilders dying before they hit their 35th birthdays. I also think the biggest freaks from 15, 10 and 5 years ago were bigger than today’s top freaks. I think of the biggest bodybuilder lifters I have known such as Greg Kovacs. Greg was 6’4 and 440lbs (Who died last year,) which was much bigger than the stereotypical jacked freak at today’s Olympia of 6’4 340lbs.
None of the freaks at this year’s Olympia were as big as names like Andre Tilt Henry, Jeff Maddy, Jeff Lewis, OD Wilson, Vitor Richards, and strongman Glen Ross from their primes. I think you could make a human bigger, (as that is a mentality where no limits exist,) but I don’t think it’s as universally desired. I think there are more shredded freaks today than there were ten years ago who are over 300lbs, but less who are over 350lbs.
For the more tapered physiques, I think that Old School Bodybuilding is making a comeback, but maybe not like the 70s because it’s not too rare to be ripped at a regular size today. Society is just different. At the Olympia there were lots of people who wanted to see the girls in bikini’s more than the ripped guys competing in the physique competition. FAR more people attended the bikini contest than the men’s physique competition.
The bikini competitions and the female aspect of fitness is what is really on the rise! Even when you look at the thousands of commentators at the Critical Bench page, you often see thousands of people consistently saying things like 1) The Freaks are Gross and aren’t healthy or fit. 2) The ripped guys are called gay and are seen as individuals with inferior complex disorders who don’t lift a lot… I don’t think either side is going to become that popular from a mainstream perspective.
People are interested in other things now with the rise of other sports and styles of training. However, I think everything weight lifting and fitness related will always be popular! People will always want to be strong, fast, jacked and attract! It doesn’t matter if they are a Rockstar, athlete, comedian, philosopher, big brother, little brother, father, coach or any of the above!
People who look healthy and who are strong will always be role models! People who are healthy and who are strong will self actualize! People who are healthy and who are strong will have confidence because they will attract people to them… I think from that angle, the fitness world is evolving! From that angle, the fitness world will evolve! From that angle, the fitness industry will have great surprises every single year. From that analogy, the world of training hardcore and fitness will always be a celebration.
Ben Tatar 2014 Arnold Interview
By Anthony Alayon
1) Anthony Alayon: How is the Arnold different from the Olympia?
Ben Tatar: The Arnold has more of everything. It has more athletic events, top athletes, supplement booths, celebrities and fans. There is nothing else like it. The Arnold has more competitors than the Olympics. You can’t get an experience like the Arnold anywhere else.
2) Anthony Alayon: How many people attend the Arnold?
Ben Tatar: Over 175,000 people attend the Arnold Sports Festival as 40,000 attend the Olympia weekend.
3) Anthony Alayon: How was this year’s Arnold different from other Arnold’s?
Ben Tatar: There were more events. The Arnold added swimming and tennis. There are people from over 80 different countries who compete in the Arnold. For me, this year was different because I got to compete in the Arnold table tennis competition against the best in the world.
4) Anthony Alayon: How was the 2014 Arnold bigger than the Olympics?
Ben Tatar: The Arnold Sports Festival has over 50 events where as the 2014 Olympic games only had 15 events. The 2012 Summer Olympics in London had 40 events, where as the Arnold has over fifty events.
5) Anthony Alayon: That’s interesting: What celebrities did you see at the Arnold?
Ben Tatar: I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham (famous action movie stars.) Larry Fitzgerald (one of the best NFL receivers,) and Marcus Lattimore from the 49ers. Many other NFL stars were there, such as MVP running back Jamal Lewis and the great Lynn Swan from the 70s Steelers.
UFC champions, Jon Bones Jones, Chris Weidman and Cain Velesquez were all there. All the Mr. Olympia and Arnold champions, including Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Ronnie Coleman, Branch Warren, Dennis Wolf and the rest of the pros were there.
Some of my old heroes like Mark, “The Hammer” Coleman and Don Frye were in attendance. The bench press champions, Tiny Meeker and other world record holders in powerlifting, along with the World’s strongest man competitors were competing or working.
I also saw Buster Douglas who beat Mike Tyson. Other UFC fighters included Ryan Bader, Frankie Edgar “The Dragon,” Lyoto Machida, Bobby Lashley and many WWE wrestlers were there. I got to see all of them.
6) Anthony Alayon: How was the Arnold night life?
Ben Tatar: The Arnold night life was really good. My good friend, Alexis Young won the Rockstar Bikini Contest on Thursday Night. On Friday Night, I went to the “Make It Fit” event which was a great fundraiser for Autism. Phil Heath and Jay Cutler were there.
The 1000+ pound squatter, Ed Russ, his pro strongman brother Mathew and many great spirited people made it a fun event. Saturday Night, I went to the Mega Party event. Every single celebrity was at the Mega Party and there weren’t a lot of fans there since it was for workers/celebrities. It was great getting to party with everyone.
7) Anthony Alayon: Who gets the freak award?
Ben Tatar: For size, it’s Ed Russ. Anytime anyone sees him, he is instantly remembered forever.(laughs).
8) Anthony Alayon: What was the biggest surprise at this year’s Arnold?
Ben Tatar: The biggest surprise was running into Oxygen Magazine Cover Model, Natalie Hunt at the MegaParty. I haven’t seen her in over five years and I presumed she was done with the fitness industry.
Then for entertainment, she put me in the sharpshooter (a WWE wrestling submission move by Bret Hart,) like she did at the 2008 Arnold which can be read here: http://www.criticalbench.com/2008-Arnold-Expo-Report.htm Wow- times goes by fast!
9) Anthony Alayon: Tell us about the record you set at the Arnold!
Ben Tatar: There was a contest to see who could do the most pull-ups with a 50lbs perky jerky vest. Of the hundreds and thousands of people who tried, I set the record as I did 40. I set the pullup record at the Olympia in Vegas before, but this one was better since I did 40 pullups with a 50lbs perky jerky vest.
10) Anthony Alayon: Who inspired you the most at the Arnold? What was the best advice you got?
Ben Tatar: I’m not sure because I’m not looking for advice like I use to. It’s mostly about insightful conversations, love and entertainment. However, I want to thank the GLC2000 booth for being really good to me. I also am inspired by Mark Coleman because he is such a great human being.
He’s not just loved by people who don’t know him, he is also really valued by people who have known him forever.
11) Anthony Alayon: What are some of the exciting attractions in the expo and around the convention?
Then you have the main stage where the “World’s Strongest Man competition,” or another big competition is going on. There is really so much going on everywhere and it’s amazing how many people you run into who you haven’t seen in years. For example, I ran into Steve “KONO” Konopka unexpectedly.
I’m running into fans who I don’t know and people I have interviewed who I haven’t met. There are lots of exciting stuff going on all the time.
closing is there anything else you would like to say?
12) Anthony Alayon: Sounds like a total blast. In
closing is there anything else you would like to say?
Ben Tatar: Special thanks to Critical Bench for the press pass. Special thanks to the GLC2000 booth for their VIP treatment. Anthony, thanks for the interview. I had a great time at the Arnold and it was a spectacular event. I really went hard, sacrificing meals and sleep! It was a true rush from start to finish!
10 Keys to a World Record Bench Press
By Ben Tatar
During the past 15 years, I have interviewed thousands of the best bench pressers in the world. I also have locked out 755 lbs in the bench press. How would you like to bench press well over 1000 lbs?
Whether your goal is to set consistent personal records in the bench press or world records, follow these 10 tips for the biggest bench press possible.
If you want to hold a world record in the bench press, you can’t be bench pressing flat on your back like a gym rat. For example, when you bench press, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
That diminishes the stroke 3 inches. If you fill yourself with air which shortens the stroke, you’ll bench more weight.
Arching your back while keeping your butt on the bench and squeezing your thighs into the bench shortens the distance the bar must travel. Use leg drive, and push off the floor to activate the legs.
Widen your grip. Tuck your elbows in, bench to your lower chest and press the bar up in a straight line.
You’re then benching an insane weight less than 6 inches. If you want to bench press a world record, you’re going to want to move the weight as few inches as possible.
2) TRAINING FOR PERSONAL RECORDS
If the bencher wants a personal or a world record, the bencher shouldn’t look for a bench shirt right away. The bencher should do 1-2 heavy bench sets with low reps on chest day instead of 10-20 sets with average intensity. The bencher should get their back, triceps, shoulders, traps and everything else scary strong first.
This means have a chest/triceps day, a legs day, a speed bench and shoulders day and a back and traps day. Also, stop doing casual assistance bench exercises like regular dips with body weight and start doing drop set dips with 4, 25 lbs plates on your lap.
Do this exercise between 2 benches (with good form,) as a spotter removes the weight each time you fail. (More and heavier plates can be applied when strength increases.) The bencher should have everything strong to avoid injury before even thinking about using a bench press shirt.
3) THE SLINGSHOT
Before getting a bench shirt, get the SLINGSHOT by Mark Bell. It lets people get their first taste of simple gear, and anybody can easily use it.
4) BENCH PRESS SHIRT
The heaviest weights ever benched were with a bench press shirt. Most advanced lifters would advise the bencher to have a solid foundation of strength and have their technique down before using a shirt. If you’re just starting with a shirt, you should get the Rage from Inzer.
You will see fast gains immediately when using proper technique. Another shirt option for the beginner would be a single ply shirt from OVERKILL. The more advanced bencher, who has a great arch and benches off their abs in a shirt, should get the Rage X from Inzer, the F6 from Titan or either the double ply or triple ply shirt from OVERKILL.
Double ply is more forgiving for staying in the groove of the shirt. You will bench more with a triple ply if you can keep flawless technique (hard to do without years of practice.) Ryan Kennelly has the biggest world record bench press to date, and he used a Phenom shirt.
Rage shirt can be purchased- http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=rage
Advanced Rage X shirt can be purchased: http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=ragex
Phenom Shirts can be purchased: http://www.inzernet.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=05_PHENOM<
5) TRAINING FOR WORLD RECORDS
Bench press world record holders do exercises like: bench presses off boards, bench press lockouts inside a power rack, benching with bands or chains and bench pressing off the floor. The bench press world record holders spend hours doing heavy low rep work with such exercises.
Boards can be bought:
Bands can be bought:
6) USE ASSISTANCE BENCH PRESS EXERCISES BEYOND THE WORLD RECORD
Back in 2006, I was talking to bench press world record holder, Jay Fry. I said, “Jay you benched 650, would you try stepping under 900 lbs?” Jay replied, “I might get killed.” I suggested he try the bands, boards and a bench press shirt at the same time. Jay was brave enough to try my suggestion.
He benched 935 lbs with the shirt/bands/and boards. His confidence went through the roof, and when he tried 710 lbs at his body weight 181, it no longer felt heavy. He set a bench press world record.
Then in 2009, he continued to practice my suggestion. He then benched 750 lbs at 181 lbs. Nobody has even come close to benching his world record.
If you want to be a bench press world record holder, make sure you are bench pressing with a shirt, board and bands hooked to the top of a squat rack to achieve extra overload. Everything will then feel light when it’s actually time to set the world record.
7) PEAKING AND DELOADING
The top world record bench pressers (with and without a shirt,) will spend 3 straight weeks training pedal to the metal, then they will make the 4th week easy. This is to avoid overtraining and plateaus. Finally, make sure you train your shoulders with active stretching, light band work and different rotator cuff movements throughout the week for shoulder maintenance work.
8) SPEED DAYS
During shoulder days, bench a weight 40% of your bench max for 8 sets of 2-3 reps fast. Use 30 second rests between sets. If a bencher can move the light and middle weights fast, he/she will have the explosion to blast through much heavier weights.
9) TEAM MATES/ENVIRONMENT
If you want to get on the fast track to a powerful bench press, you need to go to a bench press seminar or train with the best. The best bench pressers love helping others. If you need help finding hardcore gyms or the best lifters, email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT
10) GETTING THE WORLD RECORD
If you want a world record, you’re going to need as much attitude and diligence as possible to get through the most menacing workouts. Getting a bench press world record is going to take time, so always keep a warrior mindset of no limits, but be patient and play it smart.
The world record holders are consistently attacking the weight and their goals with fury. The path to the ultimate bench press has been paved. How far you go now is all in your bench press warrior mind.
2013 Olympia Interview with Ben Tatar
By Anthony Alayon
Anthony Alayon: For those who do not know you that well, can you tell us who you are and how you have helped Critical Bench throughout the years?
Ben Tatar: I have been with Critical Bench since 1999 and have written hundreds of training articles and ebooks. I have interviewed hundreds of celebrities, UFC champions, pro athletes, world record holders, bodybuilders and iron greats. I’m also known for attending many conventions and reporting on events.
Anthony Alayon: Moving on to the Olympia. What makes the Olympia weekend great?
Ben Tatar: The Olympia is an amazing event. I will list 10 things that make the Olympia great:
1) The best of the best are always there, the best athletes, celebrities, bodybuilders, powerlifters and strongmen.
2) The Olympia is in Las Vegas. This gives the Olympia a real vacation and glamorous feel.
3) The Olympia Expo is in a big convention, so you have quality time to talk to the stars. I have had more conversations with people at the Olympia than any other event.
4) There is so much to do at the Olympia. There are thousands of people who share your interest, competitive events and entertaining attractions such as the Animal Cage.
5) You have all of Vegas to enjoy, so the opportunities for fun are endless.
6) You see old friends who you don’t get to see often. It’s like reuniting with a friend in a paradise-like setting.
7) You meet new friends in a great setting.
8) There are great restaurants, casinos and parties.
9) Champions are made.
10) There’s lots of great energy everywhere.
Anthony Alayon: How many people show up to this event?
Ben Tatar: There were approximately 40,000 for the Olympia Expo. Also, about 10,000 people show up for the Mr. Olympia competition. Another cool thing about the Olympia is that all the big names past, present and future are there.
Anthony Alayon: What were some of the athletic events that went on during Olympia weekend?
Ben Tatar: There is bodybuilding, powerlifting, bench pressing, arm wrestling, World’s Strongest Man, World’s Ultimate Athlete competition, cross fit, all types of model searches, mixed martial arts, boxing and even Sumo Wrestling.
Anthony Alayon: Did you compete in any of the events?
Ben Tatar: I competed in the World’s Ultimate Athlete competition. This is an event to crown the greatest athlete. Athletes perform events such as a fast ball baseball pitch, a three point shooting contest, throwing footballs through tires and a grueling physical obstacle course. The obstacle course includes carrying things like big logs over boxes, climbing over big walls and pulling sleds.
Anthony Alayon: What was your favorite part of the entire event and why?
Ben Tatar: My favorite moment of the event occurred when I picked up my Media Credential Pass at the Orleans Hotel. As soon as I picked my media credentials, I looked back at all the years I have been going to these events. I thought about the people I planned to see and remembered people who use to go to the events. It was a deep and intense moment for me. Then I walked into Meet the Olympians event, I saw the strongman in the Lobby and my dad with a media credential pass as well. My dad and I were celebrating. The energy around me felt intense. Every moment from these events that I have ever experienced entered my mind simultaneously! I screamed “Yeah, Westy,” even though he couldn’t hear me. I thought of everyone. I was like “Thank you God,” and then I patted myself on the back for my choices. Then I was like, “I’M HERE!” It was a powerful experience, and then I took that energy into a laser-like focus for an amazing weekend.
Anthony Alayon: Tell us a crazy or fun thing that you did during Olympia weekend?
Ben Tatar: I jumped off the tallest building in Las Vegas, the stratosphere. You can see my video below.
Ben Tatar: I’m giving the freak award to WSM all-star, Robert Oberst. He stands at nearly seven feet tall and weighs well over 400lbs. He has a bigger beard than Santa Claus, and he is awesome.
Anthony Alayon: Name us a bodybuilder from the 2013 Olympia who really impressed you and tell us why?
Ben Tatar: I always found Ben White impressive. He is not only an IFBB pro bodybuilding great, but he is also the strongest bodybuilding bench presser of all time.
Anthony Alayon: What are the costs of attending this event if someone wants to go?
Ben Tatar: The Olympia Expo only cost $25 per day. The cost of hotels vary wildly.
Anthony Alayon: Tell us who made history at this year’s Olympia weekend event.
Ben Tatar: Phil Heath won the Mr. Olympia competition. In the men’s 212lbs bodybuilding competition, James Flex Lewis emerged victorious. The physique professional winner was Mark Anthony Wingson. The Muscle and Fitness model search winner went to Sergi Constance. On the women’s side, Iris Kyle became Ms. Olympia. She also set a record for winning more Olympias than anyone in history. This includes surpassing Arnold. The woman physique winner was Dana Linn Bailey. My friend, Nicole Wilkins took the figure again. Adela Garcia won Fitness, and Ashley Kaltwasser won Bikini. In the America’s strongest man competition, Brian Shaw made history! Shaw has truly become a strongman champion icon winning these competitions repeatedly! Craig Tullier won the Olympia’s Arm Wrestling war.
The heavy weight, Tectar from Norway won the Arm Wrestling heavy weight championship. In Sumo Wrestling, Sumo Dan Kalbfleisch won the Gold. For powerlifting, Henry Thomason was the most impressive heavy weight powerlifter, totaling 2,298lbs. Al Caslow and Micah Marino dominated in the powerlifting 181lbs weight division. Al totaled 1,973lbs and Micah totaled 1,967lbs. April Shumaker prevailed victorious in the female powerlifting division, totaling 914lbs. The best bench presser for the big men was Matt Houser, benching 826lbs. Joe Mazza weighing 181lbs was the most impressive pound for pound bencher as he benched 617lbs. The best female deadlifter was Kristy Scott, as she deadlifted 523lbs. Damon Myers weighing 198lbs won for light lifters, deadlifting 766lbs. The man who deadlifted the most of anyone was heavy weight Brent Willis, deadlifting 881lbs. The Ultimate Athlete Champion was Mark Sayas. Mark was in 14th place after day one, and he made a huge comeback to win the World’s Ultimate Athlete competition. As you can tell, lots of people made history in different avenues of iron and athletic excellence during Olympia weekend.
Anthony Alayon: What made this year’s Olympia different from other Olympia’s?
Ben Tatar: This year’s Olympia Expo was in the Northern Hall. That made this year’s Olympia the biggest one to date. There are always new faces, celebrities and champions. Therefore, for me, these events never get old, and I will keep returning.
Interview with strength athlete and interview All-Star Ben Tatar
By Dean Bennett for CriticalBench.com
Critical Bench goes one on one with strength athlete and one of the best iron game interviewers of the past decade, Ben Tatar.
CB: Ben, it’s great to be interviewing you today. Let’s learn about the strength athlete who lives the dream, interviews the stars, and lives on the edge: the famous Ben Tatar Monster.
BT: Thanks Dean. It’s great to be doing this interview with you and Critical Bench today.
CB: It’s awesome to be interviewing you. First question, Ben, how did you get started in going to events like the Olympia, and Arnold? How did you get started on this epic journey?
BT: Ever since I was a teenager, I was writing for Critical Bench and other magazines. I was also interviewing the best powerlifters, bodybuilders, models, and athletes in the world. Everyone who I interviewed wanted to meet me. Then everyone invited me to go to events like the Arnold and Olympia. The rest is history.
CB: That is awesome! List for us a great moment during your journey, a crazy moment, funny moment, and a moment that changed you the most?
BT: Greatest moment was when my family raised millions of dollars for autism as we rollerbladed from Florida to Maine, over 2000 miles. This also increased global awareness and was all over every TV station including Good Morning America. It was such an adventure and a great cause. We do stuff like this frequently. In fact at last years New Years party we raised so much money, that the first teaching hospital, headquartered in Mirebalais, Haiti was built . We have raised millions of dollars for Autism, muscle diseases, and all kinds of things. We are frequently doing these types of things to make the world a better place.
A crazy moment is just the fact that I know all the strongest monsters in the world, and that I’m friends with every single one of them.
Funniest moment, I’m always laughing as I have seen stuff in life that is more outrageous than all the scenes of the movie The Hangover!! A moment that changed me the most, was probably when I interviewed the living legend Dave Draper as a young kid for Iron Man Magazine. Once I did that, I had confidence and I would later go on to do social networking and weight lifting business with names like Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Carmen Electra, Ray Lewis and many more.
CB: All big things! How are celebrities different from normal people? Which celebrity was coolest and which was the biggest jerk?
BT: It depends. You can’t generalize. People are people,and some people just really excel in a special interest. What we do is not who we are, it’s just what we do. If I was the best in the world at something or the worst, I’m still Ben Tatar. It’s just about taking a passion and seeing where one can go with it! The people who are the best in the world just take a skill that they have as far as they can and some get known for it. They fear like others, but they have courage to face their fears and make their dreams realities.
As for the celebrities that I didn’t like, well I told John Saunders that I was going to throw him in the pool at an ESPN pool party at Barry Melrose’s house. (laughs). The Ultimate Warrior is another one who was difficult, he gave me my shortest interview of all time. Jenny McCarthy was one of the craziest but in an inappropriately cool way. People like Tito Ortiz and The Rock are different in real life than what you see on TV, because they aren’t living through their persona and they are motivators instead of playing controversial entertaining personas. As for a really cool one, I always liked Barry Melrose. We could talk about anything for hours. 9 out of 10 of them have been great in real life.
People ask me these questions all the time. It’s easier for me to discuss topics in private, so my email is moc.liamgnull@retsnomratat
CB: Are the celebrities usually hard to talk to or easy?
BT: Very easy because they get to go in depth about their successful journeys that they are proud of.
CB: Everyone loves the Tatar Monster. Everyone from hardcore athletes, pro athletes, to models. Do you find it hard to get along with the toughest fighters and the toughest monsters in the world?
BT: As for the tough guys in general, it’s funny because people fear the tough guys, but the toughest people are often the nicest people in the world. It’s a lot easier for the toughest monsters to be nice guys than it is for the Average Joe’s to be nice guys because the toughest guys usually get respected. People usually don’t pick on the toughest monsters, so it’s easier for them to be nice.
Also, the toughest guys have a stereotype of being mean bastards, so they will be extra nice to people as their kindness then has added value. With average guys on the other hand, if they are too nice, then some of them are afraid of being perceived as sissy-like and they might try to act tough in order to overcompensate. Plus, tough guys often have a true confidence about themselves and don’t need to prove themselves. Now, I understand that when you know the toughest monsters in a much more personal way, there is a great chance that they have a lot of badass stories, but when you are working with them in a setting where they are being paid to be nice, and in my case (giving them publicity,) it makes it very easy for them to be super pleasant to be around. In addition we have a lot in common which makes conversations natural.
CB: Very true. You’re smart Ben. I liked your tough guy analogy. From an interview give us a very crazy moment!
BT: When I was interviewing Frank Shamrock, I asked “What was the craziest thing that you have ever experienced in a fight?”
Frank Shamrock said ” Well, one time I was so dehydrated in a fight that my mouth was so dry and since my mouth was so dry, I had trouble breathing for 8 minutes. So I clinched in the stand up wrestling position and I actually licked the sweat off my opponents shoulders! And after I licked the sweat off my opponents shoulder, I recovered. Then I was able to kick his ass!”
After that, there were hundreds and thousands of comments going on over every message board. Especially, the Sherdog message board. This was when the UFC and Frank Shamrock were both in their primes,and it was a big deal. They even made comic t-shirts based on Frank’s response to the question.
CB: That’s funny. You have been all over the world, do you have a favorite place?
BT: Wow, that’s a good question. Every place and person I’m with is so unique. I have been blessed to have been able to go to so many different places. When I go to SF, my family there presents me with an experience that can’t be matched. When I go to a big charity event in Boston, I feel the same way. When I’m jet skiing in the Caribbean at full speed or when I’m at home boating, wake boarding, and cliff jumping all summer, it’s the same. If I’m going to Vegas to party, or Florida to do the Tough Mudder or just relaxing at the beach, it’s all good. It’s not just one specific thing, but I’m blessed to have had so many different experiences in life.
CB: How are you going to remember your journey?
BT: As Mike Witmer once said, “when you’re on your death bed, you want to look back at your journey as a ride…. You then will want to look back and say, ‘Whoaaa what a ride.'” I will remember my journey as an amazing RIDE! It has been a real Tatar Nation Euphoria Planet Tatar Pandemonium Paradise! I was a warrior during the hard times and I cherished the happy times. Every night when I go to bed or when I have a minute to myself, I look back and I smile!
There is a book called “Moonwalking with Einstein” which argues the premise that we are the sum of our memories. I thank God that I got to live as me and all of my memories are with me forever.
CB: Ben, you have done great! What is your advice for others who would like to be successful?
BT: Do what you love and enjoy every minute of it. I always live by the motto that the journey is the destination as we are never “there.” Even when we become great, new stuff comes up, so it’s about finding meaning in what we do. Enjoy it forever, and greatness will always be natural.
In the end, everyone who amounts to anything faces peaks and valleys, adversity, and glory! It’s the people who are deep enough to find unconditional meaning in this crazy world are the ones who live life happy.
CB: What’s harder when you bench pressed over 600lbs with bands, bench press locked out 755lbs and bench pressed for 455lbs off the floor, or interviewing superstars?
BT: Probably when I bench pressed 455lbs off of the floor because it could have killed me. However, I loved doing both. I found it harder to run the Tough Mudder (long distance,) because I did the whole thing without properly training for it. My buddy Mike Westerdal finished it with SECOND degree burns all over his fingers (CRAZINESS,) and I kept going and finished it! Although, it kicked my ass, I kicked its ass right back! I ended up finishing it after experiencing a calf muscle pop and a strain in my hamstring, LOL! It was super painful, yet a lot of fun! Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
CB: Ben, how did you get so strong?
BT: To simplify, it is making what is weak stronger,(we are only as strong as our weakest link, so everything must be strong!) Another factor is knowing when to peak, (a program like Critical Bench helps one with that,) and having the mental fortitude to blast through heavy weights. The answer to being really good at anything is to apply passion and ATTITUDE into everything you do and surround yourself with the best. Your greatness will take off.
CB: Do you ever get nervous before doing an interview?
BT: The Tatar Monster doesn’t think in that context. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to do things that I love. I make things happen and one thing always leads to the next. All I know is that I’m going to enjoy it all. I know that some of my most uncensored stuff with others during interviews was the best stuff. I remember when huge bodybuilder Quincy Taylor was raging during an interview, and I just smiled because I knew it would make the story interesting. It turned out to be his favorite interview ever and one of the most real and hardcore interviews that I have ever done.
CB: What makes Ben Tatar different from everyone else?
BT: Well, everyone is different, but I will list 11 things about me that are unusual:
1) I have jumped and hit my head into 9 foot ceilings, ripped water bottles with my hands, cracked eggs while only touching the opposite ends of the eggs (which was thought of as impossible to many,) and I have a few other crazy world records that you can email me about.
2) I bench pressed 415lbs while having a vertical over 40 inches high. The average NBA player was listed at 29 inches.
3) Not only am I super-super explosive and strong, but I was able to run the Tough Mudder (half marathon with 28 intense crazy obstacles.) People with fast twitch fibers aren’t suppose to do super long races like that. I think I was the only one who did tough mudder and completed it without even really properly training for it. That is what some people told me.
4) I know thousands of the world’s toughest men, celebrities, and models. (This is rare.)
5) I help lots of people with charity events, and I do my best to inspire people who need help.
6) In life, I make every moment count. I always try to make history. I look at everyday as my first, and everyday as my last at the same time. Whether I’m relaxing or doing something big, I’m into it 150%.
7) I’m a self entertainment machine. Most people need to be doing something outside of themselves to be entertained, even though I’m often living it up, I’m also just entertained just by my mind.
8) I’m very ALIVE. I have like 5 million exciting different mindset zones that I can enter at any given time.
9) I’m always celebrating life. There is always something to celebrate in my world.
10) I have been published thousands of times.
11) I have tons of life experiences since I have traveled throughout my whole life and always lived fully.
Oh, wow, there are so many more and I could keep going, but I will stop here(laughs). I think people should write things about themselves, and they will see that there is so much to be happy about.
CB: You are multi faceted. List three things that makes Ben Tatar a great writer and interviewer?
BT: Well, there’s a few things:
For writing–I’m a walking encyclopedia with an amazing memory. I also can analyze things from any angle, and I stay true to everything I say.
For interviewing–Some people tell me that I know them better than they know themselves. Therefore, I usually have an intuitive ability to know what to ask people. I also market everyone in their most authentic and best possible light.
Most of all, I did every article and interview with a passion and a zeal that the best of the best just love.
CB: Right on! Ben, do you like writing articles more or interviewing and why?
BT: I love both, but interviewing frees me to do the things that I like such as boating, traveling, training, putting on charity events, enjoying life, and living to the fullest. Doing interviews allows me to live a life that I love, and it allows me to showcase the dream life that others are living.
CB: I know you were asked this years ago, but today what is most important to you, looks, strength, toughness or health?
BT: I think the answers change during different times in one’s life. To be honest, I am pretty satisfied in every department. Obviously, you need health in order to have the other three, so I would pick that. I would say spiritual toughness might come before health depending on the extent because there are sick people in the world without good health who are happier than wealthy people. Such self actualized, enlightened people have an unconditional appreciation for life, and can even find infinite worth and beauty in things that most people don’t notice.
Toughness might be more important than strength, because one has to be tough before one can be strong. For example, if one has the toughness to overcome a near death experience or a very tough unfortunate (or fortunate) adversity of any kind, that can give one a toughness for life that can make one strong enough to achieve anything! For looks, that is in the eye of the beholder and I think if a person is healthy, and takes great care of themselves, attractive appearance will naturally radiate.
CB: What makes Ben Tatar happy?
BT: I’m high on life. I’m happy beyond reason. If you’re happy for a reason, you’re not happy when that reason isn’t happening for you. Unconditional happiness doesn’t come from a reason, unconditional happiness is THE reason! To add to that, I just make history everywhere I go, and share great memories with everyone I meet. Each life high just builds off of each other until I get super high on all levels, and like my planet t-shirt shows, I have the world in my hands!
Like I once said, “You know when someone works their whole life and wins a gold medal or when a team wins a championship and everyone just goes nuts? You know how that sensation lasts for maybe a few days? Well, I feel that sensation and it lasts forever. That is what it is like living as Ben Tatar. It’s like winning a championship and feeling that ultimate amped up euphoric bliss sensation 24/7 and sharing it with life.”
CB: Those Planet Tatar shirts are cool. Do you have bad days?
BT: Planet Tatar shirts, hats, capes, posters, action figures, and the whole nine yards! (laughs.) As for bad days, we all have shortcomings. However, most of the time they make life interesting and teach you what you must need to learn to evolve. In many cases the best have probably failed the most, and that is why they are the best. Like the saying goes “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but rising every time we fall!”
PART 2— The Olympia/Arnold/and more about Ben.
CB: Now let’s enter part 2 of this interview as we go one on one with Ben Tatar about the 2011 Olympia and a bit about the Arnold. Ben, you can’t compare Las Vegas to Columbus, but you can compare the Olympia to the Arnold. How are they different? How are they similar?
BT: The Arnold is the Olympia on steroids. The Arnold is so much bigger than Columbus, that Columbus gets swallowed into the Arnold. During Arnold weekend the city of Columbus is no longer Columbus, it is “the city of Iron”! When you walk down the streets of Columbus, it’s like the Olympics as you see thousands of athletes from other Countries and weight lifting monsters on every street corner. During Arnold weekend Columbus turns into a whole new planet, it becomes MONSTERVILLE-LAND!
CB: So, Columbus gets swallowed into the Arnold, as the Olympia gets swallowed into Vegas.
CB: So, how do the crowds differ between the two events?
BT: The crowds at the Arnold are much larger. It’s funny because if you go to the Arnold or UFC Fan Expo, the crowds are huge, but at the Olympia you can mostly just talk to everyone. For example, during Arnold weekend it took an hour for the general fan (who didn’t have a media credential pass,) to get a quick picture with former UFC champion and Strike Force champion Josh Barnett. At the Olympia, there was no line to see Josh Barnett and I could have an hour long conversation with him. The Olympia is much more personal than the Arnold (since it isn’t as busy,) but the Arnold has more weight lifting monsters and more of everything else.
CB: More fake boobs (or cosmetic work) at the Arnold or the Olympia?
BT: I would say that the Arnold has more cosmetic work (since there are more girls,) but population density wise, Vegas by far since they are more selective with who they bring in.
CB: Are the models better looking at the Arnold or the Olympia?
BT: I will say that the models are more elite at the Olympia. This is because the Olympia is smaller so they only have room for the most elite. The Arnold is very large, so they can expand the talent pool. Vegas also has easy access to the Vegas and California girls since it is close.
CB; Describe the two freakiest freaks you saw at the Expo –one male, one female.
BT: Freaky is defined based on what one is or isn’t used to. To me they are all normal, since I communicate with them every day. I’m surrounded by trophy women and monsters and much more! If I had to pick the most impressive freak, I would pick Stan Efferding Rhino. Think about it, he weighs 275lbs and he totaled 2,226 which is the most in the world right now. He is the most impressive in my eyes because he is not only a professional bodybuilder, but he has the world records in raw powerlifting.
I also want to give a shout out to Big Ed Russ who is freaky huge. I just recently interviewed him for Powerlifting USA Magazine.
CB: You are a master of persuasion and read people well. Some of us involved in strength sports only dream of attending a major industry event. Others are lucky to attend the Arnold or the Olympia, but for you, attending ALL of the major industry events is just part of the plan. You go to a lot of events. In your opinion, are bodybuilders getting bigger? Do you think they’re approaching the limits of human possibility?
BT: I don’t think we are getting close to the limits. Like they say, nothing is impossible. Even the word impossible says “I’m possible.” Much of what can’t be done now, will be done in the future. Take today’s NFL, Big Ben Roethlisberger from the Pittsburgh Steelers is bigger than most of the NFL lineman were in the 70s.
Or my favorite example, nobody had really bench pressed 800lbs clean at the start of 2000, then by 2010 we saw our first 1,076lbs bench press by Ryan Kennelly. I think we can always create ourselves into something larger. However, I think that bodybuilding was more popular a few years back. Today the expos have a stronger focus on pro athletes, sports performance, and UFC fighters.
CB: Ben, you have access to everything and everyone, but for the average Expo attendee, how accessible are the athletes? The Arnold gets gridlocked by early afternoon. How is crowd control at the Olympia?
BT: The Olympia isn’t bad. If you want to see a crowd, go to Gillette Stadium or any sold out NFL game, now THAT is a crowd! I think when I did Tough Mudder, the bathroom line was longer than any of the Olympia lines were.
CB: I go to Packer games all the time at Lambeau Field. That is a crowd! Now, moving onto the 2011 Olympia in particular, at the 2011 Olympia Phil Heath was crowned the new Mr. Olympia. How did people react?
BT: Most people weren’t surprised. The crowd was respectful of the decision. Jay and Phil are so close and such good friends it was really like Jays’ brother winning and not a competitor. The Kevin English-Flex Lewis judging was much more controversial and had much greater crowd reaction.
CB: The Olympia Expo is made up of many different events. What seemed to be the crowd favorite?
BT: Well, the biggest attraction during Olympia weekend was the Floyd Mayweather fight. For the expo itself, fans enjoyed everything from the Animal Cage (bench your body weight for reps,) to watching the best lift in the cage, to kids martial art competitions, and even little challenges to see how many pull ups they could do.
CB: There was a pull up contest and you did the most at the Expo of everyone there. You set the record with 40 and then stopped. Which is amazing. How did it feel to set the record?
BT: It wasn’t that big of a deal. I have done 53 pull ups in training. I wasn’t surprised.
CB: Tell us about any new talent you saw in bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman? Any names to watch for?
BT: For up and coming–Mike Caruso for strongman, Ben White for bodybuilding (who won strongest bench presser in bodybuilding in past years,) and your good friend Brandon Braner who is bench pressing nearly 900lbs and well over 600lbs RAW.
With that said, Stan Efferding Rhino was the strongest man at the Olympia, period. He’s only 275lbs and he is out lifting all the 308s and super heavy weights in raw powerlifting.
CB: I agree, those are great lifters. What was it like seeing celebrities like Carmen Electra, Ray Lewis, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, Trish Stratus, Bones Jones, Shogun, Chuck Liddell, HHH and many more stars at such events?
BT: In a basic sense they are charismatic and crazy.. They are like most people, but more eccentric and nuts. They have to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be the celebrities that they are today. I like all types of people.
CB: What about the huge powerlifters, bodybuilders, fighters, and models? What are they like?
BT: Although, many of them look larger than life, most of them have had the passion to overcome adversity and succeed. They’ve had what it takes to achieve goals most thought to be unattainable and made the world believe. Most of these people are passionate about what they do, and they carry that passion with them everywhere. These people also live the life they love, and do well, or they wouldn’t be at the Olympia. So, if you also share that passion, it’s very easy to bond with them.
CB: Did the death of IFBB pro Art Atwood or the great 700+ raw benching machine Nick Winters affect the mood of the Expo?
BT: Every year at these events, people want to see names like Art Atwood and Nick Winters. Art was a guy who was 350 lbs. and had an 8 pack of abs. Nick Winters was a guy who would bench press in the ANIMAL CAGE and every year he was stronger than everyone else. These monsters made people believe in themselves as they had talent that was clearly ahead of our time. These monsters were also very nice to people away from the gym. Whenever we lift, their presence sparks our hearts and souls and whenever we set a personal best or help another lifter, we see their smiles. Everyday Art Atwood and Nick Winters are with us.
CB: What surprised you the most about the Olympia Expo?
BT: That is what I love about these adventures, there is always a surprise every 10 feet! (laughs) I was surprised to see my old friend Shay Lynn there. I haven’t seen her since the 2009 Arnold! She’s doing awesome.
I was also very happy that I got to see my friend Tito Ortiz who I had just interviewed. Tito Ortiz had higher UFC payperview buy rate ratings than the Rock and Hogan did for the WrestleMania’s. Tito not only gave the UFC the ratings to make it famous, but he also has been main eventing since 1997! I got to see Tito and his lover Jenna Jameson.
CB: That’s awesome that you got to interview one of the best in the world like Tito Ortiz. What was it like interviewing him?
BT: He was awesome! He talked to me on the phone for well over an hour. Just read our interview! Tito is also super nice in person.
CB: Of everyone out there, who would you wait in line for the longest to see?
BT: I have a media credential pass to the really big events, so I have access to special spots and don’t have to wait in lines. Special thanks to Mike Westerdal for hiring me to do the coverage.
CB: Agreed. Las Vegas is like a big carnival. How did the addition of bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen and fitness models add to the carnival atmosphere there?
BT: The Arnold is more like a 24/7 freak Carnival show since the Arnold is bigger than Columbus. The Olympia isn’t bigger than Vegas, so Vegas stays Vegas unless you stay at the Orleans hotel. (That is where most of the competitors stay.) Most people in Vegas are scattered. To me the Olympia and Vegas are like two separate vacations in one. I’m always in CA or AZ before Vegas and or after, so it’s non-stop good times.
CB: Great attitude. Las Vegas is known for its huge buffets. Any stories from the big guys?
BT: We know that Mike Wolfe has eaten a 6 lb. burrito and a 10 lb. BBQ platter. I think he has the record! I don’t know of any lifter that has topped that! I think in Vegas, it’s different than local Ponderosas in small towns because the restaurants hold lots of people. If a powerlifter eats 6 plates of food at Ponderosa that can clear the buffet out. You and I know, that most buffets run out of food when the powerlifters come in! (laughs)
CB: Which big guys in powerlifting would make for great sumo wrestlers?
BT: I don’t know, maybe the SHW powerlifters should have a sumo contest like they did in the world’s strongest man competitions back in the 80s? For SHW’s, I think Mike Wolfe would be really good. He has a big gut and a very low center of gravity. Wolfe is getting all the records! (laughs) He has the longest interview I have done (100+ questions), he eats the most, and I think he would have the potential to succeed as a sumo wrestler.
CB: (Laughs) I agree! When you met the Sumo Wrestlers what were they like? I I understand there was an altercation between you and the sumo wrestlers. What was THAT all about?
BT: Well, anywhere you go, there are lots of people out there who have an INSECURITY. I asked a sumo wrestler with an insecurity the wrong question. I asked one of the 5’9 330lbs sumo wrestlers with skinny arms and a big gut why he wasn’t as big as the 600lbs sumo wrestlers that we see on TV. I was curious to know if weighing 600lbs opposed to 350lbs was an advantage and to analyze the variables. He seemed to get really sensitive over the fact that I told him that he wasn’t that big. You know, one of my friends said to me “These guys don’t look like sumo wrestlers, they look like dorks in diapers.” Whenever you talk to lots of people, there will be people out there who react off of an insecurity and that just happened to be one of those situations.
People in the iron industry can be nuts, as I remember at my first Arnold I got high on energy supplements, got in conflicts with some people. Even back when I was 13 years old, I had a massive powerlifter wanting to kill me for asking him the “big” questions. I guess I always had BRASS BALLS.
CB: (Laughs) you do have brass balls. Speaking of the sumo wrestler, would you publish or submit an interview like that?
BT: I always keep it professional. Take a 400 lb. powerlifter for example. I always give them the option on whether we discuss what it is like being the biggest powerlifter in the game, or we can discuss who they are as a man behind the monster. Most of the time, they want to focus on their funny personalities and all of their funny stories. Then after I market who these monsters are as people with their great stories, they tell me that it was the best and most professional interview that they have ever had. Whenever I interview people, I market everyone in their best way, and develop great friendships that last forever..
CB: Can you tell us about some parties in Vegas?
BT: I have been to lots of different types of parties in Vegas from pool parties, my own hotel room Planet Tatar crazy parties, bars, clubs, after parties, VIP parties, and you name it. I would say that my favorite parties were my own parties. It’s always better to create your own fun than it is to depend on some other source for fun. I can have fun doing just about anything.
CB: Who got huge since the last time you saw them? Who got small? Who got fat?!? C’mon Ben, dish it!
BT: The thing is,if anyone got small or fat they wouldn’t be invited to return back to the Olympia. The Olympia isn’t as big as the Arnold, so only the best really compete or work the Olympia. I have seen some people return to the Arnold out of shape, but they usually get replaced shortly after.
CB: Athletes come from all kinds of backgrounds. Pick an athlete who overcame a great adversity.
BT: It’s tough to pick one person because some people overcome physical adversities and some people’s adversities are personal matters that we can’t see. Anyone who has ever gotten close to anyone or amounted to anything has experienced great adversity. The great thing about adversity is that it teaches us to be grateful for everyday, and to be thankful for life itself. Conquering adversity also creates glory. God has made us tougher than the adversities that we face. Adversity is like a blessing in disguise as adversity builds toughness, creativity, spirituality, wisdom, and the inner strength to achieve accomplishments that are necessary to evolve human kind.
I will give a shout out to Nick Scott (wheel chair bodybuilding icon from bodybuilding.com.) He has done fantastic.
CB: What adversities have you had to overcome? Were you always successful?
BT: I think when I was younger I faced challenges much as I do now, the difference is now I enjoy the challenges that I face. Today my challenges that I overcome are based off of my talents. For example, a few years ago I graduated college. Today I might be, interviewing a celebrity, traveling, putting together a charity event, and doing big things that give me a good feeling.
However, when I was younger the challenges weren’t fun like they are now. For instance, when I was really young, I caught meningitis from my friend and I was very close to being dead. I’m lucky to be alive (as most people who have it don’t make it,) so it showed to me that I was always STRONG before I even was old enough to know that I was strong. You know adversity to me now is a reminder of my glory, but when I was really young and faced adversity it was HELL on earth. The thing is even during my most difficult times, behind everything I did, I had FIRE, PASSION and HEART!!
All it took for me to be successful was to take to my my FIRE, PASSION, LOVE, PAIN, HEART, and SOUL, and combine it into a POWER, a power of one, a power of intuition, a power of STRENGTH, the POWER OF THE TATAR MONSTER to do anything I wanted and to see the best of everything and to become part of the best of everything until it all became the best of me and one of me!!!! As a result THE TATAR’S MONSTERS, Planet Tatar was born!!! Now everyday is about CHALLENGE, ACCOMPLISHMENT, VICTORY, MAKING HISTORY and CELEBRATION.
For anyone going through anything, if life sucks, that is okay! That “life sucks” drive, is the same drive of your dream life and then some! That fire has NO LIMITS and is INFINITE!! Just like the world is!! Find a positive passion and…Just REDIRECT that BEAST, and let it UNLEASH!!
CB: Ben Tatar for president! So, are you glad that you faced adversity?
BT: Absolutely! If you can kick adversity’s ass, you will have the strength to make your dreams come true. Adversity has given me the strength to attain the body, mind, heart, spirit, soul and strength to live the life I love. It has made me everything I ever wanted to be and THEN SOME. It also motivated my family to raise millions of dollars for different charity events and it motivated me to inspire other people, which naturally creates a matrix of good karma everywhere.
For any of you out there who are facing adversity, just love your friends, make every moment count, live your passion and be the best you can be. With adversity, there will always be the silver lining in the cloud, the key is to tough it out until you get there! Once you embrace adversity into greatness, you are strong for life! Adversity is what makes the ride and glory of success worth it. Adversity is the key to seeing greatness in the simple things, while having the toughness to also own greatness during the toughest challenges. Therefore, whether you feel like you’re on top or in a tough spot, inspire! The thing with adversity is, as long as you inspire people despite your current state of being, in the end you will be a hero!
CB: Wow, Ben, that was intense and powerful! What was your hardest moment so far in your iron journey?
BT: My hardest moment was when my mentor and close friend Mike Witmer passed away. That’s the tough part about being in the industry and knowing thousands of people, you have to experience such incidents. I talked to Mike everyday for many years. I’m grateful to always have him in my spirit and to have known him. Life is wonderful. It lets us really get to know such great people. Read my tribute to Mike Witmer here.
CB: Do you have a favorite moment in your iron journey?
BT: For long term favorite moment–After you live a dream, memories are often even greater than the dreams. I sometimes look back at everything and I’m just like WOW! It’s funny, sometimes my favorite moments aren’t when I’m on the vacations themselves, but on the plane flights when I’m just living in so many great memories. I call my excitement TATARAIDE and my eternal happiness BENFINITY. It’s often easy to be in this state during down time since I have so much to be grateful for.
CB: Do you have any regrets?
BT: Why regret our mistakes when our mistakes guide us to a better life? I used to frequently say “only regret the act of regret itself.” You could always do things differently, but like they say “Love adversity. It is like a river and will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle.” Therefore, in the end I think any mistake we make is like a friend that guides us into living the life that is most true to us! Sometimes, it’s hard to understand this when we are facing tough times, but if we take the “old man perspective and play life backwards,” it’s easy to see that things do work for us in the best way. Especially if we maintain a deep outlook and rise every time we fall.
CB: Agreed. Okay, less serious for a minute. If you could be any kind of animal what would you be?
BT: An Eagle.
However, to quote what my friend Reinie once called me, I’m happy being the superhuman, animalistic Ben Tatar Monster Machine!
CB: (Laughs) Back to the Olympia again. Ben, tell us about the amazing bench pressing that went on there?
BT: It was quite the freak scene for the mainstream person. I mean, for the mainstream person you saw lots of 5’2 275 lb. ladies with tattoos and piercings deadlifting 500lbs or ladies their own size deadlifting more than most adult men who train. It’s not stuff the ordinary person sees day to day. You also see a lot of 6’3 350 lb. bald headed monsters with tattoos on their heads about to smash over 800 lbs on the bench press or lean guys lifting more than huge bodybuilders lift. For the freaks, it’s inspiring for all of the larger than life bench pressers to all be in the same room. You don’t see the best of the best under the same roof very much.
CB: What was the weakness of the bench press competition?
BT: The weakness of the competition was that it wasn’t WPO like. There wasn’t a stage, smoke, lights, card girls, music, energy, and the competition feel where you feel you are in a different world. It’s not as spectator friendly. Powerlifting is working on bringing this type of energy back. We need Seanzilla on the mic!
CB: Also, talking to you years ago back in 2002, you predicted a 1000+ bench would happen when nobody else did. You psychic! Can you tell us about your thoughts back then?
BT: For my thoughts, well, I knew Ryan Kennelly was doing lockout work with 1000+ pounds, and the shirts were constantly evolving. The shirts were also very popular, so it was only a matter of time before it would happen in an extreme sport like bench pressing, where there are no limits, or finish lines.
CB: If you could improve ONE thing about the Olympia, what would it be?
BT: I usually don’t think about how the Olympia can improve, just how I can improve. If an event isn’t that good, I create a cooler event behind the scenes. Also, what one place or event lacks, another place or event has. That’s why I go to many different places and do many different things.
CB: Do you gamble? If so, did you win?
BT: I used to gamble a lot more when I was younger, so it’s not like a new thrill for me. I used to go to casinos and bodyguard a genius who behaved like Beavis and Butthead with the intellect of the Rainman. Those were the days. Too many stories, so email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT for them. I’m too busy seeing people to be gambling. A lot of people get a euphoric feeling from gambling like Michael Jordan and it becomes an addiction. For me, I can be in Euphoric Bliss whenever I want.
CB: You have been in this industry for a long time. Some people stay in for a few years, but you have lasted for over a decade. What is it like to see the industry change?
BT: One thing that I’m proud of is not only was I able to write articles and interviews
for magazines at such a young age, but I have also been able to have consistent success throughout my whole entire life. I stayed consistent and I plan on helping people in this industry for the rest of my life. The industry never gets boring because I don’t ever get boring. I have adapted to every paradigm and change in the best way possible. I have gotten along with so many great people in it, and the Tatar Monster will see you all soon!
CB: The one and only Ben Tatar everyone! It has been great talking and learning about the awesome talented Ben Tatar today!
Guest post by Ben Tatar (www.criticalbench.com)
Part 1— What Is The Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder is labeled “The Toughest Event on the Planet.” Tough Mudder is almost a half marathon that includes 28 obstacles. One of the reasons why Tough Mudder is so hard is because it doesn’t matter if you’re a runner or a strength athlete, as one of your weaknesses will be exposed.
Runners are going to need lots of upper body strength to get through 28 grueling obstacles which they aren’t built for. As for very strong people, they will have to do a lot of running (which involves lots of slow twitch fibers,) that doesn’t work in favor of their muscle fiber make up.
Tough Mudder also has challenging obstacles that tackles mainstream fears such as jumping off planks, (the fear of heights,) electric shock therapy, (feels like you’re getting punched in the back by Ray Lewis,) running through fire, (we saw people on the course complain about this,) going under water in pools of of ice,(which is uncomfortable and can make you sick,) and going through small dark underground tunnels and many other similiar yet crazy Tough Mudder extravaganzas.
Part 2— Tough Mudder vs the Warrior Dash
I did the Warrior Dash last summer. The Warrior Dash is a 3.5 mile run that has lots of obstacles. The Warrior Dash is marketed as a really tough event because for the average person, the Warrior Dash is very tough. When people finish the Warrior Dash, they wear T-Shirts that say “I SURVIVED THE WARRIOR DASH.” The Warrior Dash is pretty mainstream and it’s something that the Average Jane or Average Joe can pretend to be tough off of to people who don’t know better.
I did the Warrior Dash, and I did Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder was THOUSANDS of times harder than the Warrior Dash. In my eyes, The Warrior Dash was just a party with costumes and a fun dash through obstacles. Tough Mudder on the other hand was like “torture entertainment!” Some people assume that “Tough Mudder is probably like doing the Warrior Dash 4 times,” but in reality it was much harder than that because every extra mile you go in the Tough Mudder Event, you’re beat up that much more. In the Warrior Dash at mile 3 you’re finishing, and you’re feeling really good. As with Tough Mudder, at mile 3, you’re just getting started! Then each mile takes that much more life out of you. Tough Mudder really does test your mental grit.
I remember doing the Warrior Dash and during the Warrior Dash I relaxed during the first mile, then during mile 2 and 3 I passed thousands of people as I was never passed even once! This made me believe that Tough Mudder would just be another joke like the Warrior Dash was, boy was I wrong.
Part 3— Perception vs Reality
Before Tough Mudder started, I was very cocky. I didn’t really practice 9 mile runs or anything, I was just like “I’m the Tatar Monster, there isn’t anything I can’t handle, and bring it on!” I was like “there are people who dont look like long distance runners finishing this, and there are people who are a lot older than me finishing this, so whatever. This is just like going to an amusmenet park.” These were all misconceptions that I had. The truth is, just because someone doesn’t look like a runner doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing super long distance runs every week!
Then again, when I did the Warrior Dash, there were people who looked like runners and I passed and beat thousands of them. Therefore, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you have to depend on your own training in contrast to the event. If youre not running a half marathon at least twice a week, or if you haven’t been weight training your whole life, Tough Mudder is no joke.
In fact there are THOUSANDS of competitors on Tough Mudder day who don’t finish the Tough Mudder Challenge. You know, thousands of people go into Tough Mudder saying “I can run 12 miles, and Im serious enough to do these obstacles,” but the numbers show that over 20% of the people who think they will complete Tough Mudder, don’t complete it.
Part 4—The Beginning
When I did Tough Mudder, I felt happy just for taking on a badass challenge. I was actually relieved psychologically during the event because I knew the hype of doing tough mudder was over and the challenge had begun. During the event, I always remembered my dad’s message “Always leave some fuel in your tank.” However, I must admit that since I wasn’t running on a consistent basis, my legs were a bit sore after 2 miles.. Which was nuts because as my legs got sore only 2 miles into the run, I knew I had 10 miles to go. hahaha.
Part 5— Getting Hurt
Around mile 7, I went to the ground as I popped my calf muscle after lots of running and sprinting up a mudhill. I was like “Okay, I have a popped calf muscle, and I have another 5 miles to go!” I was like “TIME OUT,” and I stopped some people, where I took a gel pack. It felt like my calf muscle ripped off my socket, but like in the NFL, you massage it a bit, take a gel pack, and the sharp pain fades. Then I remember at mile 9 doing the same thing to my hamstring! I got a sharp pain, where two ladies ended up stretching me. (Showing some tough Mudder Camaraderie.) I kept going though, and despite my physical pain, I still felt happy inside (I was smiling,) because I knew that the Tatar Monster could handle this, that he could handle any physical challenge as long as he was conscious.
Along the way, I did see other fit people getting hurt, screaming they couldn’t continue. I would look at them, and be like “my hamstring is pulled and so is my calf muscle, but it’s fun” I would go..”GET INTO THE PAIN, in Pain there is GLORY!”
Part 6—- The Obstacles
One of my favorite parts about the Tough Mudder challenge was that no matter how much pain I thought I was feeling physically, I could always kick the obstacles ass! There were like 30 monkey bars, and lots of people couldn’t make it past two of them. I would storm through obstacles like the monkey bars with ease. Even at mile 11, where my calf was cramping and my hamstring felt like it had a knife inside, I remember having to go up that ramp that is seen in the video below and stacks of hay. I just remember blocking the pain out, going off adrenaline, and smashing it! I was able to embrace all of my adversities into excitement. Completing all the obstacles well despite pain, would always keep me smiling through everything.
Part 7—– The Finish Line
At the finish line my teammates Mike Westerdal and Chris were happy drinking beers. They were celebrating pretty hardcore. They had trained much more than I did for this. They worked hard for this and celebrated hard. I remember finishing and the finish line kind of surprised me… I was pretty beat up and I was like “I’m done?” For me, after you go so far, youre expecting such events to never end and they do end. I felt like I was in a car wreck, but I was also ready to keep going because for me personally, when youre going so far, you never think you’re going to just stop until you die.
When I was going that far, I was no longer think in reality, you think of making friends with pain, conquering obstacles no matter what, and then when all the craziness just stops, youre just kind of shocked. Even Championship Pro Athletes often say, “We worked so hard this year, and we won the Championship, Although we have won the championship, in our minds, it’s like we are getting ready for the next series, and i’m surprised this series is over.” Tim Thomas, the goalie of the Boston Bruins stated after he won the Stanley Cup last year “It still hasn’t kicked in, if I’m completely honest,” Thomas said. “I can’t believe it’s over. We’ve had our battle meter up so high for so long; it feels like we’re moving onto the next series or something.” You know, I felt like I was ready for the next mile, just in a more beat up form than my previous mile.
When I did finish though, I loaded up on a protein shake, ate some Burgers, and then my mindset was back into reality again
Part 8—- Tough Mudder Quote
Mike Westerdal told me that I was probably the only contestant to finish Tough Mudder who wasn’t practicing long distance runs.
I conquered an event that has a label of being “the toughest event on the planet,” just through my own guts, persistence to fight guts, and toughness. Through the physical intensity of it all, I felt glory after every mile and obstacle during the event..
I heard some marathon runners say that Tough Mudder was harder than marathons because they struggled with the obstacles, and the obstacles took them out of rhythm. For me, the obstacles were a nice distraction from the running, and made me feel glory between each each obstacle. They made the event entertaining.
Part 9—-My Advice For Others
Tough Mudder was a day of pain, glory, entertainment, and camaraderie! You can’t anticipate what will happen before Tough Mudder starts until you do it. There is one thiing we know though, Tough Mudder is a challenging MYSTERY, but as long as you stay strong and complete it, youre one of few who have made tough mudder HISTORY!
If you think you’re ready for Tough Mudder, I suggest you bringing 3 gel packers, drinking lots of water to prevent cramping, and having enough nutrients before the event. A lot of it is nutrition as well. Most of all get ready for an epic challenge with friends and let the games begin!
Part 10— Looking back at Tough Mudder–
I was glad that I completed Tough Mudder. It was a very challenging ride, but I will always have my glory and pride for doing it.
…If you want to get out of your comfort zone, and prove you are tough in all areas, give tough mudder a try. Only the strong survive.