Interview With Multi-Ply All American Powerlifter Jim Grandick As told to CriticalBench.com by Curt Dennis Jr. "The Brute" of Planetrage.com - January 2009
Critical Bench: Hey Jim, thanks for doing this interview, please introduce yourself.
I'm Jim Grandick from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and I compete full-power in both the 242lb and 275lb weight classes. I turned 40 this year, and I work for American Nutrition Wholesalers, distributing American Bodybuilding drinks and others all over the Midwest. I train at Big Iron Gym in Omaha Nebraska, coached by Rick Hussey. I am sponsored by Inzer Advanced Designs.
Critical Bench: What are your Best Meet PR's right now?
My PR at 242 is:
My PR at 275 is:
Critical Bench: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into powerlifting
I was a gymnast growing up, and started competing in gymnastics at an early age. I started lifting weights at 15 for gymnastics. My high school had a powerlifting club and I started competing in raw meets at 132lbs and 148lbs. After high school I still lifted weights but my focus was on bodybuilding. I rediscovered powerlifting when I was 32 years old.
Critical Bench: How long have you been into powerlifting?
Not including the high school powerlifting meets, I started seriously powerlifting after witnessing the 2001 Senior Nationals. I had known Rick Hussey since 1996, and at that time he said, "You might be an okay powerlifter." So it has been about 8 years since I switched from bodybuilding to powerlifting.
Critical Bench: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter?
Rick Hussey was a powerlifting legend in our area. I always looked up to him as a lifter and as my coach.
Critical Bench: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who's just starting out in powerlifting?
Be patient and go through the different levels of gear to build your strength base. Beginners don't need to jump right into a high-dollar bench shirt, that's a good way to get injured.
Critical Bench: Do you have a favorite out of the three or is it all 3 lifts?
The squat is definitely my favorite. I love setting up a big total with a big squat. In a meet, I have not even squatted close to the numbers that I am capable of. It's only a matter of time before I hit over 1100lbs.
Critical Bench: What are the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
People really don't know our sport. It doesn't get much recognition from the main stream public. People just don't understand why we do what we do.
Critical Bench: Tell everyone here the difference between someone who wants to look "pretty" and someone who does what we do?
The difference between a "workout" and a true training session is huge. People who want to look pretty dress in their best gym clothes with their iPods and spend an hour going through the motions, counting reps and worrying about who's watching them.
Powerlifters wear rags before we change into our gear, and spend hours in a sweaty, smelly dungeon listening to heavy metal, and working on mastering our form, speed and strength, to accomplish goals that the normal gym-goer can't even imagine to be possible.
Critical Bench: What would you tell a powerlifter if they are trying to get to the next level in the sport? Do you believe that powerlifters' have a lifestyle of their own?
To get to the next level you need to surround yourself with good people that know the sport. Good training partners and a good coach is a must. Powerlifters definitely have their own lifestyle. It takes a rare breed to do what we do!
Critical Bench: How driven would people say you are about being a powerlifter? How does it affect you outside of the gym?
People probably say I'm a little crazy, because I am so focused on putting everything I've got into being one of the best in powerlifting. I am very driven. I make a lot of sacrifices and spent an enormous amount of money to do this sport and to compete at a top level. It makes me work harder at my job so I can afford to chase my passion. On the flip side, the sport has also contributed to breaking apart some of my past relationships. People outside of the sport don't understand the amount of time it takes to pursue these goals at a high level.
Critical Bench: Do you have any training partners? How have they helped?
I have trained with some of the best, including Justin Graalfs, Becca Swanson, Nick Hatch, Aaron Wilson, Brad Heck, Richie Briggs and Brad Hein. I currently train with Shawn Frankl, Mike Taylor, Tony Acome, Michael Cartinian, Justin Redding, and Jason Coker. Having some of the best in the sport to train with is awesome motivation. We have a blast every training session. And while we push each other to set the records higher and higher, we always try to make it fun in the gym.
Critical Bench: What is training at B.I.G. like? How has it helped you? How many lifters train there?
B.I.G is an awesome place to train, one of the best atmospheres I have ever seen. We have great lifters, great equipment, and a great coach, Rick Hussey. We have anywhere between 30-40 lifters training there at all different levels. It's a great place to evolve as a lifter. My first total was 1747, and now eight years later I'm knocking down 2600's.
Critical Bench: What do you think a barbell club is about?
All about being a team from the top dog to the newest novice. Each person's lifts are just as important as the next person's. No one individual is bigger than the team.
Critical Bench: What are your workouts like? How are they setup? What training methodology do you follow?
Workouts are hard and heavy. My routine consists of doing whatever my coach has me do. It is different all the time. I do bench/chest/shoulders on Monday, rest Tuesday, deadlifts/back on Wednesdays, arms on Thursday, rest on Friday, squats/legs on Saturdays amd rest on Sunday.
I am always training for meets so I really never have an off-season. I think as far as methodology goes we train like we are lifting in the meet. Practice how you play and master your tools.
James Grandick Bench Training Footage
Critical Bench: What would you suggest to someone on how to get stronger on all 3 lifts?
Train your body's core strength. Don't forget to hit abs and lower back.
Critical Bench: What drives you as a lifter?
I am driven by the next big total, and also my coach and training partners.
Critical Bench: Was your training any different prior to your last meet?
We follow a consistent schedule for every meet. We usually max two weeks out and hit openers one week out.
Critical Bench: Tell me what was your best competition experience thus far?
I have three:
Winning the 275 class at APF Senior Nationals in 2005.
Winning the Heavyweight class at the 2005 WPO Semi Finals.
Coming back after injury and winning the 242 class at the 2008 APF Senior Nationals with a WPC World record total and winning best lifter.
Critical Bench: Do you think using bench shirts/gear is cheating?
Not at all. The rules for each organization level the playing field. If people don't utilize the tools that are allowed by the rules, they are putting themselves at a disadvantage.
Critical Bench: What is your view on training in equipment and learning them?
Use your equipment and master them before the competition. Don't go to the meet and play a guessing game with your gear. I'll say it again, "practice how you play!"
Critical Bench: What do you think is the reason for all the big numbers as of late like Kennelly's 1075, Thompons' monsterous total, Frankl's and Panora's freakish totals or Hoornstra's raw strength? Has strength training evolved?
I think strength training has definitely evolved. You are seeing people that are giftedly strong finding a sport that suits their talents. With any evolution of a sport the gear evolves too. Better gear, better training techniques, better nutrition and supplementation equals better lifters
Critical Bench: Do you think the standards went up in the sport?
I think the standards are trying to go up. I do still see some questionable lifts being passed, but you can't blame a lifter for a judges call. But I would like to think we are heading in the right direction as far as judging goes.
Critical Bench: What is your nutrition like now?
I eat about eight times a day. I have cleaned it up a lot since I have been dipping down to 242 lately.
Breakfast: egg white, turkey bacon and oatmeal
Snack: protein shake
Lunch: Subway chicken breast sandwich
Snack: protein shake
Post workout : protein shake
Dinner: Steak, potato, salad
Critical Bench: What changes are you going to have to make to go to the next level?
Keep doing what I'm doing. The work is there. The drive is there. I just need to believe in myself and execute what I'm capable of.
Critical Bench: Is there anyone you would like to thank right now?
My coach Rick Hussey deserves a huge thank you, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be where I am in this sport. Also, thank you to my sponsor John Inzer, and my good friend Shawn Frankl for talking me into making a comeback after I got hurt and was almost out of the sport.
Mike Taylor and Tony Acome, who are great training partners and are my handlers at all my big meets. My other training partners Michael Cartinian, DanGross, Justin Redding, Bobby Frankl and my entire Big Iron Team. Without the team there are no individual successes.