Interview with Bodybuilding, Bench Press & Highland Games Competitor Amanda Micka Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - March 2009
1. CRITICAL BENCH: Amanda, tell us about yourself.
My name is Amanda Micka. I am 37 years old. My husband John and I live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I work for an attorney as a legal secretary and I am also a personal trainer. I have been competing in powerlifting for 8 years and this will be my 4th year to compete in bodybuilding.
2. CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get started in bodybuilding, figure and powerlifting? What are your best lifts?
I was actually conned into doing my first powerlifting competition. My husband John (trainer at the time) needed females to compete in a meet he was hosting and he hounded me until I agreed to do it. Needless to say, I was hooked. My best bench so far is 305 lbs. equipped and my best raw bench in the gym is 230 lbs. I did a bench for reps with 75 lbs. for 71 reps.
As far a getting involved in bodybuilding, my husband and several of my friends from the gym encouraged me to diet and give bodybuilding a try. I started competing in 2006. It's hard work but it is so empowering to watch your body transform.
3. CRITICAL BENCH: What have you achieved in powerlifting that you are proud of?
I would have to say it was when I finally benched 300 lbs. @ 148. I had been trying to get that a long time.
4. CRITICAL BENCH: What have you achieved in bodybuilding and figure that you are proud of?
Two things come to mind. First of all, just the fact that I was able to get on stage and not embarrass myself at my very first bodybuilding show in 2006. Secondly, placing 3rd at the 2008 Jr. USAs.
I remember I weighed in behind the girl that ended up winning my weight class (she was the hardest girl in the entire show). I walked out of weigh-ins and told my husband that I had made a huge mistake - that I didn't belong on that stage. Placing 3rd out of 6 women in the light heavy weight class at my first national level show was an amazing moment for me.
5. CRITICAL BENCH: You were sponsored by BMF Sports. What was that like for you?
Yes! I was so excited when I found out. I still am. Bud is a great guy and is doing an amazing job for the sport. I am really looking forward to working with him Bud Lyte the owner.
6. CRITICAL BENCH: So far in your iron journey what has been your favorite, most memorable, most powerful, craziest, funniest, and most hardcore moment?
I have a funny one what comes to mind. It was at the night show of Mississippi State Bodybuilding Championship in 2006 (my second show ever) I was sitting in the audience with my husband watching because the woman were next to last in the lineup and since I was sitting out in the audience instead of waiting backstage I was unaware that they changed the lineup so the next thing I know they called out the light weight bodybuilders - I was a middle weight. Needless to say my husband wasn't very happy with me. I did however make it backstage, oiled up, pumped up as best I could and was able to walk out with the rest of the middle weights and actually won the overall at the show. I no longer sit in the audience and watch the show - I watch from backstage now.
7. CRITICAL BENCH: I am gonna name an experience for you. Tell me what it is like for you mentally...
a) being on a bodybuilding stage?
I'm usually a ball of nerves. I try to focus on staying big, smiling, etc.
b) being on a powerlifting platform?
I am usually focused on the weight - what I have to do. I don=t notice the crowd at all or anyone around me.
c) winning a championship?
The feeling of accomplishment - what a rush. Knowing that all your hard work has paid off - it=s a great feeling.
d) the journey of lifting?
The journey for me is the best part - winning is the gravy.
8. CRITICAL BENCH: What makes Amanda different from everyone else?
I am just like the thousands of other lifters working hard everyday in the gym to try to make that little bit of progress.
9. CRITICAL BENCH: What are your thoughts on the following...
a) the people who love what you do?
They're they best. I don't know what I would do without them. Having family and friends that are supportive and encouraging makes all the difference in the world.
b) the people who are afraid of you?
I think some people are just intimidated by muscular women. I like to think I'm a nice person - that I am approachable. There is certainly no reason to be afraid of me unless you make me mad. lol
c) the people who you light a fire in them?
I love to see new lifters (especially females) come in the gym. I try to encourage anyone that may be intimidated or reluctant to start powerlifting. This is a great sport and I love to see that excitement that all lifters get when reaching a pr.
d) people who are shocked by your achievements?
I have certainly changed my physique over the last few years and I think some people are amazed at how much I have changed. When someone asks me how much I can lift I think they are shocked - especially since I'm a girl.
e) Bud Lyte?
He's a super nice guy. I think he has done and will continue to do great things in powerlifting, MMA and bodybuilding.
10. CRITICAL BENCH: What is your advice for people facing extreme adversity of any kind?
I was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 - I am proud to say I have been cancer free for over ten (10) years now. My advice would be to take it one day at a time. As far as lifting goes - BE CONSISTENT - that is the key!
11. CRITICAL BENCH: What was your childhood like?
I had a great childhood. I grew up on a farm. My dad wanted boys but got three girls. I was certainly the biggest tomboy of the three. We had to help out on the farm. John says that's why I am so strong - all that hay hauling. lol
12. CRITICAL BENCH: How is the powerlifting scene different than the bodybuilding scene? How would you compare and contrast the worlds as you have done both?
Powerlifting is certainly a much friendlier sport than bodybuilding. Powerlifting is one of those sports where competitors cheer for other competitors. It doesn't matter if that person will beat you if he/she gets the lift- you cheer for them anyway. Everyone helps each other.
Bodybuilding is a very self-centered sport. It's very rare to find that sort of cheering or encouragement by your fellow competitors at a bodybuilding show. Diet is not as big of an issue in powerlifting as it is in bodybuilding. I am certainly a much happier powerlifter than bodybuilder as my husband will vouch.
13. CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
Same as they have always been - keep training hard, get stronger and work on my weak areas.
14. CRITICAL BENCH: What do you enjoy doing away from the gym?
Working in my yard, spending time with family and friends, traveling and eating. You can ask any of our family and friends, the Mickas like to eat. Every trip is planned around food - we love trying new restaurants. lol
15. CRITICAL BENCH: How does your family respond to your lifting?
They didn't approve at first but it has grown on them. They worry about me getting hurt of course.
16. CRITICAL BENCH: Is there a such thing as too strong?
I don't think so. I don=t think any lifter is ever satisfied. When I finally got 300 - I wanted to do more. That=s just human nature I guess.
17. CRITICAL BENCH: Give us your bodybuilding routine and powerlifting routine.
I train like a bodybuilder but add some specialized exercises to increase my bench press. I do lockout work, kettle bells, use bands and chains and do speed work. My trouble area is speed - I need to be more explosive off my chest.
18. CRITICAL BENCH: How has your bodybuilding and powerlifting routine changed now compared to 5 to 10 years ago?
I train as hard as I ever have. I am certainly handling heavier weights than I use to and
working on my weak areas in both powerlifting and bodybuilding. Every competition whether its powerlifting or bodybuilding I try to analyze what areas need improving and try to accomplish that before the next competition.
19. CRITICAL BENCH: How has your perception in regards to training and life changed since you became such a big time force in iron sports?
I have to say this sport has increased my self confidence and self esteem so much. I never thought I would have achieved the accomplishments that I have so far. I have more I want to accomplish though. I am certainly more willing to try different things. I would love to compete in the Highland Games this year and maybe even do a Strongman.
20. CRITICAL BENCH: How do you see the future of bodybuilding and powerlifting?
I think powerlifting is a growing. I would love to see more women get involved with the sport. To me, I think female bodybuilding is a dying sport. I think figure is taking its place. They are starting the new bikini division this year and it should be interesting to see where the sport goes from here.
21. CRITICAL BENCH: What goes on your mind before a big lift? What about on the bodybuilding stage?
I try to stay focused on what I need to do and not get intimidated by the weight. Getting set up - big arch, stay tight, big breath and trying to hit my groove. When you bring the weight down in your groove and blow it up like it's nothing - it's magical.
22. CRITICAL BENCH: What sport is harder bodybuilding, figure or powerlifting would you say?
For me it is bodybuilding. The dieting is the hardest part for me. I love lifting weights and I don't mind the cardio that much but I have a hard time with the eating right. I usually have to diet 10 or 12 weeks and after about week 4 I start to get a little irritable needless to say. I feel sorry for my poor husband because towards the end I am so moody and rather hard to live with. However, watching the transformation makes it all worthwhile.
23. CRITICAL BENCH: What is it about the RAW powerlifting fed that draws you in?
I lift both raw and equipped and in several different federations. I believe you need a strong base to lift equipped. Raw meets are certainly more fun and less stressful but I enjoy doing both.
24. CRITICAL BENCH: What is the best and worst advice someone has ever given you before?
The best advice I ever got was to be consistent and that advice has certainly paid off. As far as bad advice - I take the approach to listen to what everyone has to say and take from it what I can use that will benefit me.
25. CRITICAL BENCH: How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a good person.
26. CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you happy?
I can't even say my husband's name without smiling so I would have to say my husband - he is the greatest. Having a good day training at the gym, hitting a pr, eating good food and spending time with family and friends all make me happy.
27. CRITICAL BENCH: It has been a pleasure. In closing who would you like to thank?
Thanks to powerlifting I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I would like to thank you for asking me to do this interview - it's truly an honor. I would like to say a big thanks to BMF Sports for sponsoring me. Bud, thanks for giving me a chance. I would like to thank my wonderful husband, John Micka for all of his love and support and for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself - I couldn't do it without him. I would like to thank Jody and everyone on Team NHB - you guys are the best.