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Maryana Naumova Interview

Maryana Naumova Interview

Interviewed By Ben Tatar

Maryana Naumova has done something that no other girl has done. At the age of 13, Maryana has bench pressed 240lbs while weighing in at only 130lbs. There has never been a a girl younger than 15 years old, in any weight class, who has bench pressed what little 13 year old Maryna has benched. Let’s get to know her in  this interview.

CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Maryana. I’m 13 years old. I’m from the Russia, Moscow region. I was raised in the small city of Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. My height’s 173 cm 5’8.  My weight is 64 kg, 140lbs. Last year, in May, my heightwas  164 cm which means that in less than 1 year I have grown about 9 centimeters.

My best RAW bench press is 110 (kg./240 lb.). I was doing a bench press with a board height of 7 cm with a weight of 287lbs. for 2 reps.

Many call me “Red Princess of Barbell” or “Red Bench Monster.” I like it.

CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, at 13 you benched 240lbs RAW as a female. This is INSANE. (hahaha.) How do people respond to your insane bench pressing ability? How do younger people respond? What about females? What about males who are your age? what about males over 20?

Everyone gives an absolutely different reaction.

I have a lot of fans and people supporting me who write and tell me kind words. They tell me how they see me as an example and that I motivate them.

However, there are a lot of haters who are envious.

CRITICAL BENCH: What do the haters say to you?

They write nasty things about me such as I use steroids, that my parents force me to do the bench press and I that I’m hurting myself.  These are bad people.

CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any gym stories involving haters? Do the haters bother you?

I notice that  when I come to train, the guys who bench less than me, get frustrated and they leave the gym. They completely stop training.

It’s cool.) This motivates me to lift more weight.

CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, you need to help some of the guys out it looks like, haha. What are your top 10 tips to a bigger bench press?

mhpI do not have Top 10 Tips))))).

I recently read a book by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I realized that I’m doing everything the way he advises.

The most important tip is to have a goal and achieve it by any means necessary. You also have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that anything is possible. This goes for any goal you want to achieve.

If your goal is to bench press more than others, you have to understand that you need a good coach and a gym that has everything you need. You need to eat adequate food and get good sleep & rest.

CRITICAL BENCH: What are the 5 reasons why lots of people aren’t hitting their full potential on the bench press?

There are several reasons for which people do not achieve success in the bench press.

  • improper training.
  • too frequent changes in the training program. People read too much on the Internet, are constantly changing training plans as they think that would be better. And as a result, they do not progress with their goal. Any training program requires time.
  • poor nutrition.
  • too much training and not enough recovery.
  • bad warm up – this leads to injuries.

This are things that are necessary to avoid.

CRITICAL BENCH: When did you discover you were so strong? What got you started in bench pressing?

My father is an athlete. His friends are also athletes and champions whom all got me started. I have known them since childhood and I liked them. I watched films with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is my idol.)

My father competed in the bench press competition. He took me with him when I was 10. I wanted to try it and that is how it all started.

CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?

I do not want to be the strongest woman. The sport of female powerlifiting will require that you  take performance enhancing drugs which I do not want to do.

Perhaps when I am 18, I will not set a bench press record.

I want to try body fitness. I have many girl friends who compete in this sport. I want be an example to their peers, not only in Russia, but all over the world.
I fought a lot on TV, I go to schools, meeting with children and I propagandize a power sport. It’s cool!

CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, do you have a favorite bench presser?

I have a big dream – to get acquainted with Ryan Kennelly. I am familiar with all of the coolest benchers. I still want to meet him).

CRITICAL BENCH: Hopefully, you and Kennelly can one day meet. What do you enjoy doing away from weight training?

I study at school. I enjoy doing photography, and I have pets. I have rabbits that I love and a younger sister.

CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any crazy stories that you would like to share?

I have a story about my classmate who I gave some of my protein chocolate bars to.
He ate it and then his parents promised to take my parents to court. His parents believed that the boy will have health problems, and they are blaming sports nutrition.  Now I will not give protein chocolate bars to classmates. I eat them myself.)))))

CRITICAL BENCH: What a story. Maryana, way to make history in the iron world while being so young! It has been a pleasure getting to talk to you today. In Closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?

Yes, I have recourse to the iron world.

I want to thank my parents, they help me a lot.  I also want to thank my coach Vyacheslav Solovyov. Without him I would have failed.  He – a great coach!

I want thank the company ProMeraSports and my friends – James Stoppani, Dan Onishuk and Mike Bridges. These are very good people, they helped me a lot in the U.S., the Arnold Classic. I’m very grateful! I would like to thank Critical Bench for the interview and I also would like to thank the company, which helps me with air tickets.

Thank you!

25th Arnold Anniversary Interview with Ben Tatar

25th Arnold Anniversary Interview with Ben Tatar

By Mike Westerdal

CB: How did this Arnold compare to others?

BT: Wow, they are all so different. Every year the people change, so Arnold events are never alike. Every year the Arnold creates new surprises and spontaneous fun.


CB: What’s the VIP after party like?

BT: There are 2 Main VIP after parties. There is the Official Arnold after party at the Hollywood Casino. This event is probably the biggest and fanciest one. At this party, there is lots of free food. Many people are dressed up in outrageous costumes and this party takes place in a glamorous environment. Some of the hardcore competitors attend this one and Arnold gives a speech.

There is another after party at the Old Boma. This one is more hidden from the general public and attracts many celebrities, supplement sponsors and the booth girls.

Caitlin Hixx and Jenna Webb Magazine stars

I was at charity events and parties every single night during Arnold weekend. All of them were a blast.  I only slept 2 hours each night, but I was fired up the whole time.

CB: Who got the biggest freak award from this year’s Arnold?

BT: Well, that’s an interesting question. There are a few divisions of freaks. You have some of the World’s Strongest Man competitors who are the height of NBA Centers, who have the thickness of SHW powerlifters. I also saw a 6’5 amazon woman who was jacked like a male bodybuilder with tattoos. Another category of freak would be the 5’10 400lbs powerlifting freaks like Ed Russ who are the thickest of all the freaks.

Then there are people who are freaks because of their performances and not because of their looks. Speaking of which, what was really funny was that the World’s Strongest Man winner at the Arnold was Vytautas Lalas who is 5’10 (short) and 300lbs which is lighter than the rest of the World’s Strongest Man competitors. The bottom line is that there are freaks all over Columbus. I’m going to give my freak award this year to Mark Felix though for deadlifting 1,128lbs in the Arnold deadlifting competition.

This is an all time World Record, and Mark Felix did this at nearly 50 years of age!!! Yup, with the combination of Mark Felix setting an all time deadlift record with such ease and being around 50 years of age is what gives him my Freak Award for this year!

CB: Was it more crowded than last year?

BT: Last year the reported attendance at the Arnold was 175,000 over a four day period. This years attendance was also 175,000.


CB: Were there any big name attractions that people could meet this year?

BT: The Arnold always has celebrities. There are always movie stars, WWE champions, UFC Champions, NFL Super Bowl champions, Gold Medalists, top pro boxers and the greatest athletes in the World. In addition, there are world record holders, iron champions, freaks of nature and magazine models.

CB: Tell us about the 2013 Arnold competitions.

BT: What is interesting about the Arnold Sports Festival is that people are competing in lots of different events ranging from: World’s Strongest Man, Pro Boxing, Scottish Highland Games, Mighty Mitts, Amateur MMA Festival, DanceSport Challenge, 5K run and pump, Archery, Arm Wrestling, Art at the Arnold, USA Boxing, Cheerleading& Dance, Fencing, Grappling, Gymnastics, Jump Rope, Cross Fit, USA Powerlifting, XPC Powerlifting, The World’s Strongest Hands, Survival Race, Table Tennis, Ultimate Teen Challenge, Track& Field, Weight Lifting, Bikini, Figure, Bodybuilding and so much more.


With all these events going on, you’re going to obviously get a crowd for every single event. Each event that you attend has its large following of fans with hundreds or thousands of competitors. Even the cheerleading and dance competition has a total of over 4,000 competitors. The Arnold 5K and Pump had over 850 competitors.

Over 1,500 people competed in the Archery competition. In the Joust, hundreds of people compete and fans are allowed to participate as well. Over 285 fighters are competing in Boxing. Athletes from 25 different countries are competing in Strongman. In total there are athletes from over 60 different countries competing at the Arnold. There is no event in the planet that is like the Arnold!

CB: Do you have any final thoughts about your trip to the 2013 Arnold?

BT: I was fired up from start to finish. I remember feeling so high on life when I got on the airplane after the Arnold. I have positive memories from this trip that will live on with me forever. If I could sum up the 2013 Arnold in one word, that word would be. VICTORY.

UFC Heavy Weight Champ, Cain Velasquez


Big Man Teiko Reindorf Interview

Interview with Big Man Teiko Reindorf As told to by Ben Tatar

CRITICAL BENCH: Teiko, tell us about yourself.

My name is Teiko Reindorf aka TKO , aka the Enforcer, aka the Chocolate Thunder.

I am a personal trainer/ ex- bouncer based out of Toronto, Canada and it is my personal mission to make Big Men Strong.

With that said, I want to clarify something about my interpretation of strength.  It isn’t just what you do in the weight room or on the field.  The strength I’m talking about applies to all areas of your life.  Hopefully you’d like to join me on that journey.

CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about what you do and your website.

My website is called and it is the one and only site on the web that teaches big men how to become strong and little men how to become BIG.

On my site you will find articles about training, stories from my days working the door at seedy Toronto nightclubs as and frequent updates detailing my experiences as a trainer in downtown Toronto.

 CRITICAL BENCH: What are your top 10 training tips to getting as huge and ripped as possible? (What are your tips without having to constantly sacrifice one for the other.)

– Huge is a mindset… it’s something you decide you want to become. Once that decision is made, everything becomes easy

– I’ve never met anyone who became big by talking about it. Get under the bar!

– Until I see one of these so called ectomorphs carry five meals to work and eat em – I ain’t listening to any excuse why they can’t grow.

– When it comes to mass, volume is king

– When it comes getting strong, focus on intensity.

– It’s impossible to grow when you are injured. Put time aside for soft tissue work and recovery.

– Eat real food whenever possible, people have been getting big and strong way before we started taking supplements.

– You know that exercise you hate to do? That’s the one that will get you stronger.

– Train with like-minded people. If your training partner whines or misses workouts – ditch him, he doesn’t respect your time or training goals.

– There will be a time when you won’t be able to put up the numbers you once did… until that time comes – go all out.


  CRITICAL BENCH: What are the 5 biggest mistakes you see other lifters make?

– Trying to talk their way into a physique. All of that theory doesn’t matter when a weight is bearing down on you.

– Not knowing when to back off. Sometimes your body has had enough, you’ve gotta learn to listen to it.

– Ignoring their blind spots. Everyone has a lift they excel at (whooptyfreakin doo) the guys I respect are the ones who figure out how to get better at the things they suck at.

– Not warming-up properly. It doesn’t matter when you are twenty and full of piss n vinegar but once you start getting older skipping warm-up is a recipe for disaster.

– Going to gyms where they play Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. Your environment is everything. If you are around studs, you will become a stud.

 teikowebCRITICAL BENCH: How do you see the future of the Iron World?

– Lifting has become huge. Everyone is training now. The industry will further splinter off into little cells like it has been. I’d also like to see someone develop a system, which incorporates the best of all training systems, but I think that is a long ways away.

CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your diet. Do you have any special diet tips for bulking or cutting?

LOL diet? Hold on lemme put away these chips.

No seriously though, I’ve been a big boy my whole life and after many failed attempts at dieting… I am done with diets. My advice to people is to eat real food and train hard. Don’t bother being too militant with your diet unless you are stepping on stage somewhere.

CRITICAL BENCH: If people visit your website, big guys can learn how to get stronger. Why do you think there are so many huge guys that are weak?

Huge guys are weak because they are lazy or are doing the wrong type of training. 

The laziness is a direct result of being blessed with big boy genes, when you don’t have to work quite as hard for size – it becomes really easy to get complacent.

In terms of inappropriate training… this all falls back on the whole bodybuilding thing. Almost everyone who gets into strength training cuts their teeth with bodybuilding.  Most people realize somewhere along the way that bodybuilding, though effective for size – stinks when it comes to building strength.

The big guys you see who haven’t been able to move past this are the same ones who never get any stronger.

CRITICAL BENCH: Also, why are so many small guys strong but not huge?

It’s gotta be the whole Napoleon complex thing. A lot of small guys go extra hard in the gym to offset their size, it’s a bit of a gift and a curse.  When done properly it can yield massive results but if unchecked… it generally leads to burn-out or injury.

CRITICAL BENCH:  what should huge guys who are weak do differently to be strong?

Aside from man-up?

Honestly I think your success is largely based on who you train with. I’ve made my best gains in size and strength by training with people who force me to train harder. Hmm now that I think about it, my best training partners have all been little guys!

In short, if your training partner isn’t borderline psycho about sticking to a training plan – get a new one.

CRITICAL BENCH: Do most people want to be huge or strong?

Personally I think most people wanna be both huge and strong. I never buy it when a guy tells me he doesn’t wanna be too big and I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t wanna be stronger. Guys who say things like that don’t believe they can be bigger or stronger so they try to downplay it.

 CRITICAL BENCH: Tieko, what is it about weight training that you just love?

It’s a vehicle for transformation. When I started training I was a fat little butterball. Through my dedication to the iron, I’ve evolved into something much greater.  Nowadays I try to convince people to call me The Chocolate Thunder.  That never would have happened if I had never lifted weights.

CRITICAL BENCH: In closing is there anything else you would like to say?

Just that training should be more than just something physical you do. Each time you walk into the gym you are faced with an opportunity to test yourself and you should never forget that.

Go Big Or Go Home

– Teiko

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Meghan Schwartz ABFF Women’s Bikini Pro Interview

Meghan Schwartz ABFF Women’s Bikini Pro Interviewed by Ben Tatar.

CRITICAL BENCH: Meghan, tell us about yourself.Megfinals5

I’m 24, live in Florida, have a dog, and a boyfriend who is unbelievably supportive of my bikini career. My background is in dance, mostly ballet, and I think that’s why I’m so comfortable on a stage “performing”. Both of my parents were competitive bodybuilders in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, so that’s where my passion for fitness and competitive nature stem from. I’m a certified personal trainer through NCSF, certified group fitness instructor through AFAA, and a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. I currently teach Hatha Yoga classes, fitness­yoga classes, and Hot Yoga (105 degrees!!). I feel so extremely blessed to earn a living by using my passion for fitness and helping others!!

CRITICAL BENCH: Meghan, you’re the new ABFF women’s Bikini Pro. Give us some detail about how you became the ABFF women’s bikini pro and what it is like?

I can’t believe I’m an ABFF Pro! It’s still overwhelming to me!! Its especially crazy because this was my first ever bikini contest! My coach, IFBB Figure Pro Belinda Hope, told me I was ready to do the Clearwater Super Natural, and even though I had my own personal doubts, I put my faith in my coach and showed up ready! I trained hard and followed my diet!!

CRITICAL BENCH: What are your top 10 tips to having that ultimate bikini body?

Top 10 Tips:

1. Don’t let ANYONE influence you into bad decisions (I’ve stayed home or just had water while my friends are out eating and drinking whatever they want)
2. Don’t bring bad food into the house! If its not there, you won’t eat it!
3. Brush your teeth after every meal, it helps to kill any craving for sweets or desserts
4. Don’t give into “fad” diets. Stick to lean proteins and lots of veggies
5. Food prep! Food prep! Food prep! Take a day to cook most or all of your food for the whole week; that way, you know exactly what’s in your food and its fast and ready for you to eat
6. Cut back on the sugar, sodium, and processed foods
7. Watch out for dairy!
8. Find exercises that you love! I love group fitness classes and find it much more motivating than working out alone
9. Squats and lunges!
10. Have a cheat meal every once in awhile. If you don’t give back to your body, you’ll plateau and find it harder to lose weight (90% of getting the bikini body is the diet, the exercise is the easy part!)

CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?

My future goals are to earn my IFBB Pro card and try to turn this passion into a career as well. I’d love to keep competing for as long as I can and follow any opportunity that comes along with that. I want to keep teaching yoga and continue my education in the fitness industry.