Interview with powerlifting Team USA member Meghan Pellatt
By CB reporter Ben Tatar.
Critical Bench: Today Critical Bench is here with Meghan Pellatt who has succeeded in powerlifting. She will be a member of Team USA in June as she competes in the powerliftings World Classic in Africa. Meghan, tell CB readers a little about yourself.
A little about me; I have always been a competitive person. I grew up in a small town where I played sports year round basically from the time I could walk. I have always known that I was genetically gifted with strength and became borderline obsessed, challenging strangers to an arm wrestling match, or by wrestling who ever I could. When I fell into powerlifting I knew I had found a home.
Critical Bench: What federation do you compete in and what are your best lifts?
I compete with USAPL RAW (no knee wraps, no suits, no bench shirts) in the 63 kilo open division, they are a drug tested federation. My best competition lifts were 292 squat, 170 bench and 385 deadlift. I haven’t competed in a few months so I have reached new PRs in the gym since then, 300 squat and 405 deadlift. My bench has been stuck almost since the beginning, maybe you guys at Critical Bench could help with that!
Critical Bench: Meghan, how did you get started in powerlifting?
I started powerlifting when I lived in Florida. There was a group of powerlifters that I had followed for awhile until I had the courage to ask to join the team. It was love at first lift after that!
Critical Bench: What are your future goals? (Tell us about your upcoming competition in Africa)
I have had the honor to be invited to compete on team USA at the Classic World Championship in South Africa this year. It had been my ultimate goal from the beginning and now that it is reality my goal is to have the experience of a lifetime and to medal in my weight class. To stand on the podium with the best female lifters in the WORLD would be nothing short of incredible. I’m on some pretty intense programming and I am determined to place in the top 3.
Critical Bench: What are your top 10 tips to get scary strong beyond belief? (Note Meghan deep squats for reps more than what most men squat once)
1) Warm up!!! I don’t mean a few arm circles, touch your toes and go. Take at least a half hour for dynamic warm ups, foam rolling and stretching.
2) Ask questions. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Find someone who knows what they are doing and proper technique. You have no idea how much it irks me when I see people doing quarter squats, or when I see backs bent like a fishing pole during deads.
3) Proper nutrition. Not all powerlifters are fat. I’m not a believer in cutting whole food groups out of your diet. Flexible dieting works for me, for cutting, maintaining or bulking. Fat and carbs are just as important as protein.
4) Rituals. Find one that works for you and use it every time you approach a lift.
5) Focus. I am easily distracted, so when I am in the gym I have to put my headphones on blare some music and get into the zone.
6) Stay positive. Sometimes you are going to miss a lift and you’re going to get pissed off. Allow yourself a few minutes to be mad at the world, brush it off and get back to work. Every failure is a step closer to success.
7) No excuses. When I lived in Florida I worked a full-time job and had full-time personal training clients, I never missed a training day. If you want something bad enough, you’re the only one who can go out and get it. Find time and let nothing get in your way.
8) Less Cardio.
9) Recovery. Rest days are just as important as training days.
10.) Get rid of anything (or anyone) that is bringing you down.
Critical Bench: Great tips! what motivates you?
Like I said I’m very competitive, and as a competitor I want to win. The thing that motivates me is knowing that there is a real chance that I could be one of the best female lifters in the world.
Critical Bench: So far in your powerlifting journey list us a favorite moment, funny moment, crazy moment and a moment that changed you the most Favorite moment?
Standing on the podium at Nationals with a silver medal around my neck while getting a hug from the living legend, Jennifer Thompson! (I mean she 132 pounds and benches over 300)
Funny moment: Getting interviewed, when the camera was on I felt like Ricky Bobby I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I kept touching my face, doing weird things with my fingers and I couldn’t get any actual words out of my mouth. Embarrassing.
Critical Bench: What is your powerlifting routine like?
For now, once I finish the program I’m on I will test my maxes and start with a new one and most likely bench and squat two days a week.
Critical Bench: How do you want to be remembered I would like to be a legend like Jennifer Thompson, Kimberly Walford, Taylor Stallings or Jenn Rottsinger.
I want to be remembered as a strong woman, in more ways than one.
Critical Bench: What is your advice to woman out there who train?
Stop thinking you’re going to get bulky and lift heavy!
Critical Bench: Who would you like to thank?
My boyfriend Matt McDonald, who pushes me day in and day out to be the best, he and I come up with my programming and without him I know I wouldn’t be where I am today!
Critical Bench: Thanks Meghan! We all wish Meghan the best as she continues to amaze us all. Please visit Meghans’s gofundme link and support her:
Interviewed by Critical Bench’s Ben Tatar.
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved in the fitness industry?
I was always involved in fitness at some level. Playing competitive tennis and running in races. Also being a mother of two I knew at some point I wanted to take it to the next level. I remember telling my husband about my desire to become a figure fitness competitor.
He laughed and said there’s no way you could look like the girls in those fitness magazines. That was it, my fire was lit and I was going to show him and nothing would stop me!
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved with The WBFF and how do you enjoy being a part of the WBFF experience? After four competitions I was in a place where I felt things had to change. I knew it was time to take the next step and join a team and change federations. I had heard great things about WBFF and wanted to compete in their next competition. So, I joined a team (“Total Body Advantage”) but it was across the country.
This would be my first time not working directly with a trainer. I needed to decide if I could do this on my own. In October of 2011 I place 2nd in open medium figure with my new coach and team. They’re support made me feel the most confident I’ve felt at a competition to date!
I love being a part of WBFF whether we’re near or far all of the competitors are very supportive of each other which makes it a great fitness family that Paul and Allison were able to create for us.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you balance your family life with your fitness career?
Being a very focused high energy organized person with loads of will power I am able to create that perfect balance between the two.
CRITICAL BENCH: Who has been influential in your career?
Ava Cowan and Monica Brandt
CRITICAL BENCH: When you look at yourself in the mirror are you your best friend or your own worst enemy?
My best friend
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you find more difficult the diet or the training?
The dieting towards the end.
CRITICAL BENCH: Did you find it difficult switching over from figure to fitness?
Only that I had to wear two different outfits.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell our readers what your workout schedule consists off.
- Monday- legs with cardio
- Tuesday- chest
- Wednesday- biceps and triceps with cardio
- Thursdays- back
- Friday- legs with cardio
- Saturday- rest when off season
- Sunday- rest when off season
CRITICAL BENCH: I am going to name a topic and you give me a response in a sentence or less, here we go:
I drive a… Range Rover
My favorite bodypart is… biceps
My favorite exercise is… biceps
A fitness event during the year that I look forward to is… Worlds in Vegas
The best thing ever told to me was… I inspire them
The last time I cried was… when I won my Pro Card
I love listening to… R&B music
My ideal vacation is… A family vacation (anywhere)
One thing that I love about myself is that… I’m a real person
For fun I love to go… zip lining
I am always… put together
I love my… family and friends
My favorite health food is… protein pancakes
If I could cheat right now and not get fat I would eat… pasta
If I was an actress I would like to be in a…. action super hero
My favorite kind of animal is… my mini schnauzer
If I had to be an animal I would be… tiger
Love is… joy of family
The most fun I ever had was when… when I zip lined over alligators
I believe that… all things are possible
CRITICAL BENCH: In closing who would you like to thank?
I want to thank my children, husband and friends for all their love and support in helping me reach my goals. I also want to thank my coaches, Doug Casebier, Karen Dancer, the TBA team, and a big thanks to WBFF Paul and Allison Dillett for welcoming me in their fitness family.
Also sending out a special thanks to all my fans for their support and inspiring me to best athlete I can be.
as told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar
Jake Prazak has bench pressed 909 at 220lbs and 920 at 242lbs. These are both world records. Let’s meet bench press world record holder Jake Prazak!
CB: Jake, tell us about yourself.
JP: I am 35 years old and live in the small town of Rock Falls, Ia. I am married to Jessica and have 4 kids. Hunting, fishing, lifting, and wrestling is how I spend most of my time. My family by far is the most important thing in my life.
CB: Jake, you benched 909 at 220lbs and 920lbs at 242lbs, both world records. What went through your mind after you achieved both of those lifts? How did you celebrate?
JP: They both felt amazing. In bench there are a lot of ups and downs. To finally get the records was a relief because I had been close so many times. We celebrated just like we do after any competition…with lots of beer to replace lost carbs and rehydrate.
CB: Tell us about your bench press routine!
JP: Monday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, close grip bench, accessory triceps
Tuesday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Squat/Deadlift, leg accessory, bi’s, forearms
Wednesday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Upper Back work and some more shoulders
Thursday- Shoulder preventative maintenance
Friday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, Bench, accessory chest
Sunday- Shoulder preventative maintenance, bodybuilder day (core, cardio elliptical sprints)
CB: Can you tell us a little more about what you do during shoulder preventative maintenance days and why they are important?
JP: I look at my body as a complex machine. If you don’t do any preventative maintenance (PM) on machines, especially the complex and most used parts, they will start to not work correctly and eventually break. That is how I look at my shoulders. Your shoulders take a beating daily, they need to be taken care of. For my PM for shoulders I do active stretching, light band work, and several different rotator cuff movements.
Bill Carpenter with Jake Prazak
CB: Jake, give us 10 keys to a scary strong bench press!
JP: 1-Training partners that are on the same page as you
2-Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when to deload, no program should.
3-Do not get into a comfort zone…handle weights that takes you out of that zone.
4-Analyze how each accessory exercise you do can help your bench
5-Don’t worry about anyone else’s numbers but your own.
6-Eliminate as many distractions as possible throughout each day.
7-Constantly work on improving your form, setup, and technique
8-Know how to supplement correctly.
9-Travel and do a training sessions with the best out there. This hands on knowledge is priceless.
10- HAVE FUN and be yourself.
11- SPEED, SPEED, SPEED
12. Orgasm often…best thing for your body by far.
CB: Thanks for the 2 bonus tips :) Thus far in your bench press journey, list for us a) your favorite moment b) a crazy moment and c) a moment that changed you the most
JP: a.) Watching any teammate hit their first multi-ply bench
b.) Watching bones break, quads detach, bicep tears… it’s so painful and crazy to see in person.
c.) Hearing my kid’s voice over everything else while laying on the platform.
CB: Where do you train? What is it like?
JP: I train at N.I.P. & Fitness Center. I own it with one other partner. It is a 5100 sq ft, brand new facility in Mason City, Ia. We have Powerlifting, Strongman, Dedicated Women’s circuit and lots of pin select and plate loaded equipment. We cater to everybody, no matter what your fitness goals are. www.northiafitness.com is our website. We have a forum and online supplement store. You may also find us on Facebook under N.I.P. & Fitness Center.
CB: That’s awesome. Everyone make sure to check out Jake’s gym. How did you get started in bench pressing? Did it ever occur to you that you would be a world record holder? That makes you one in 7 billion people. How does that feel?
JP: I started bench pressing in 5th grade and never quit. My first competition was when I was in 10th grade and I think I benched 185. I never in a million years believed I would hold any all time world records. It doesn’t even sink in until you say, “7 billion people” and then you start to look back and realize what you have achieved.
CB: What are your future goals?
JP: In the near future, I want to up the 242 record and within the next 2 years want to be the lightest ever to bench 1000.
CB: What are your 10 favorite exercises for a bigger bench press?
JP: 1-Splitting wood by hand
3-Close Grip Bench
4-Dumbbell military presses
5-Incline Straight Bar
9-Close grip bench with bands
10- 12 oz arm curls
CB: #1 and #10 are my favorite. How are you going to remember your bench press journey? How do you want to be remembered?
JP: I will remember all of the great friends I have met throughout the world. Powerlifters in general are the most down to earth, non self centered people I have ever met (for the most part)…until you disrespect them! That is what I will remember and love about the powerlifting community. I don’t really care how I am remembered, everyone else will decide that on their own.
CB: Well, Jake you’re so much stronger than the rest of the world. How do people usually respond when they discover that you can bench press over 900lbs?
JP: Most don’t believe it and most don’t understand multi-ply lifting.
CB: What was the best advice you ever received? What was the worst?
JP: Best: You have to live in your shirt. Worst: You train in your shirt way to much.
CB: I’m going to name a powerlifting topic. I want you let me know what comes to mind.
JP: Me in 11th grade. I thought I was big shit getting 225.
CB: 315lb. bench presser
JP: Believe me, I don’t mind taking plates off for you. I want you to be 405 lbs presser. I am just happy you are bench pressing and wanting to get better.
CB: 405 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 315 lb presser.
CB: 500 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 405 lb presser.
CB: 600 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 500 lb presser.
CB: 700 lb. bench presser
JP: Same as the 600 lb presser.
CB: Bencher who fears the shirt.
JP: You have to surround yourself with people who know how to use them…they will cure your fear.
CB: Bencher who disses the shirt.
JP: They have obviously tried it…they just can’t handle multi-ply benching. Do you want to say you bench 400 raw or 600 equipped? Human nature in all of us says we want to say 600 equipped. Sounds way cooler! Raw and equipped are two completely different sports. I got really bored with raw and became addicted to handling as much weight as possible. I have the utmost respect for anybody who competes and will never diss anybody.
CB: People who look up to you.
JP: Don’t be scared to talk to me and ask me any question. This is what I enjoy.
CB: Your fans.
JP: Thank You!
CB: A bencher comes up to you and says, “I haven’t gotten stronger in years. I need help! I feel like I have reached my potential and I’m just not into it.” What do you say to get them going again?
JP: I say get into it and stop feeling sorry for yourself. There many people who have it way worse than you. So be thankful you can even lift weights! Once they change their attitude I will help them as much as they need.
CB: What’s your nutrition plan?
JP: I have no nutrition plan. I try and eat as clean and healthy as possible. I try and stay anabolic 24/7. Everybody knows what they should and shouldn’t eat, I don’t need it on paper. I love burgers, brats, and beer!
CB: I’m going to list five aspects of powerlifting. Tell me which you think are most important: Diet, Genetics, Mind/Heart, Training Partners, Rest.
JP: Mind /Heart
CB: Jake, if you could be any kind of animal, what would you be?
JP: A dog…They are pretty intelligent and obviously for the other reason.
CB: What makes Jake different in the gym than everyone else?
JP: I am driven to be the best at what I do. I am not happy with 2nd.
CB: Jake, it has been great interviewing you today. You have really shocked the world with the numbers you have been putting up in the bench press. We wish you all the best with everything you do. In closing who do you want to thank?
JP: I want to thank my wife Jessica and my kids for the sacrifices they have put up with while allowing me to be selfish in accomplishing my goals in this obsession of mine! They are my biggest fans. My training partners deserve a lot of credit as well, without a dedicated team no records would have been broken. My sponsors Rudy Rosales with OVERKILL STRENGTH EQUIPMENT, American Muscle (http://americanmuscle.us/), Rhino Power Gear (https://www.rhinopowergear.com/), HAAS Chiropractic, Synergy Worldwide (http://us.synergyworldwide.com/). I am proud to represent these elite companies. I take who I represent very seriously. Finally, thank you CRITICAL BENCH for taking the time to get to know me!