I have been working with Patrick now for 2 months. In that time we have accomplished a lot. He has tweaked his raw lifting technique, is starting to move and lift more efficiently, and has added 20 lbs to his raw bench, going from 350 to 370! Patrick competes as an equipped powerlifter.
In this client spotlight interview Patrick shares with us how he began lifting, why he chooses to compete in gear, his top 3 tips for increasing the bench press, his experience with Big Benchas, his plans for the future, and much more! Enjoy the the interview and please share and like this article to show support for Patrick!
Coach Ben - Before we get into how you got involved with Big Benchas, your previous training, and your current training. Why don't you take us back a bit to when you first began competing in powerlifting and why you chose to go the powerlifting route with your training?
Mackey - Well I started really hitting the gym hard about 3-4 years ago. So then I decided I wanted the gym to mean more than just "exercising". I knew I would never bodybuild, the harsh dieting and extreme high rep training doesn’t fit my lifestyle. So I looked into powerlifting and instantly after watching a few old school powerlifting vids I was hooked. Something about lifting heavy ass weights triggered this addiction to the sport which lead me into dedicating myself to the sport of powerlifting.
Coach Ben - Who are some of the lifters of the past and even present that inspire you? I know for myself I'm a big fan of Chuck Vogelpohl. I love hearing stories about how crazy he was in training and on meet day. At Gaglione Strength we have a huge banner of him up on the wall
Mackey - Im with you 100% on chuck Volgelpohl!! I started watching videos as soon as I got into geared lifting and the majority of the vids were westside barbell but I instantly started researching Chuck specifically for his crazy approach to training and competing, I also enjoyed watching old vids of AJ Roberts, another Westsider. But Chuck tops it for me as far as all time fav. That dudes intensity is insane.
Coach Ben - Chuck was definitely a unique personality! You can’t doubt that guys heart in the sport, he was a savage under the bar. You are a geared lifter yourself, meaning you use powerlifting equipment such as bench shirts and squat suits when you compete. How did you get involved in the equipped side of powerlifting?
Mackey - For the gear I never even knew anything about it. I decided to do a bench only meet by myself out in Cooperstown NY called Monster Bench, which I know you’re familiar with. I hit 325 touch and go at 170 body weight. THEN I saw these dudes pumping the crap outta each other going for crazy numbers, but they had this weird "shirt" on. I watched this guy Rich Putnam (aka Moose) go for 900 and just knew that’s where I belong. From that meet I found the Gorilla Pack powerlifting team lead by Rich Putnam.
At first I hated the damn things, how tight they are, how much pain it is during the lift, that I almost said screw this you guys are crazy!!! But Rich said he saw me being a good geared lifter and not to give it up, so we kept trucking at it with a lot of board work not even trying to touch just finding the groove. Same in the squat suit he just wouldn’t let me give it up no matter how pissed I would get he would end up talking me into it with remarks like "hey just put straps down with lighter weight" and I would fall for it every time. I feel so appreciative for everything Rich has done for me and introducing me to this side of the sport and never letting me quit. He’s my Louie Simmons, my Scot Mendelson, Tiny Meeker, I could go on with the greats but Moose is my legend.
Coach Ben - Rich is a great guy, every time I see him he's always wiling to lend a hand. Amazing lifter as well, he will bench 1000 lbs in a meet in no time. Unfortunately there have been less and less equipped lifters at meets over the years. In my opinion the fact that you have to rely more on good training partners and the sheer complexity of the lifts turns most people away. Raw lifting is easy to do and for the most part, can be done alone. Why do you personally think equipped lifting has been losing its popularity and what is it about lifting equipped that interests you?
Mackey - I feel the same way about less and less equipped lifters at meets. In fact there has been two meets where me and my other team member were the only full gear, full power lifters. Definitely feel like the black sheep at some meets which makes me appreciate RPS that much more. I feel like powerlifting has become extremely popular the last 2-3 years in which a lot of crossfitters, olympic lifters, etc, have joined the powerlifting community. In return their definition of a squat is ass to grass mentality, bench is more flat back style. Where I’m going with this is I believe raw people and new people in general think geared guys don’t go low enough on squat, don’t pause on bench which to some seems like “cheating”. I used to want to punch everyone that said that in their face.
The truth is geared lifting is a thousand times harder and technical than any form of lifting out there, the fact that you’re handling weight up to 3 times your body weight takes extreme focus and technique. Most people I know wont even give it a shot but they feel comfortable saying it’s cheating. If there’s a class for gear and a class for raw there’s nothing cheating about it. I stick to gear because my whole goal is to move the heaviest weights I can and however i gotta do it I’m game!!
Coach Ben - We had met up at a couple meets over the years where we both competed together. How did you catch on to the Big Benchas brand I launched this past year and what interested you in my online coaching program? Please explain what you were doing for training prior to signing up with Big Benchas
Mackey - Well the meets where we lifted together I believe Monster Bench was the first in which it was my first shirted bench meet. I watched you blow your shirt out with 440. Instantly we were trying to find a shirt that would fit you, I was even going to give you mine because we knew you traveled for this meet and just wanted you to do your best. I thought for sure you were giving up gear I don’t know why but I just did. Then I saw you in CT at Poundstone’s place and if I remember right we were the only shirted guys and I had no one to hand off to me, so when I saw you and your buddy Andrew I felt instant relief knowing a familiar face is here and willing to help without a problem. That meet made me interested in keeping in touch with you, for one you were back in a shirt like a G and you beat me by ten pounds. That’s because I went for 500 trying to put on a show lol.
As far as the online training, the training I was doing was kind of winging it depending on how I felt or what I wanted to do that day, not what I should do that day. Rich is a partner in a contractor company in which he works like a mad man, we make jokes about if he trained as much as he worked he’d be untouchable. With that he doesn’t have the time to put in to coach us as individuals. So I only got coaching when lifting. I started training on my own and went pretty far alone but going down the road of coach-less training my raw technique went to the gutter and ended up hurting myself deadlifting with the mentality of getting the weight up however I had to, which caused serious back rounding leading to sciatic issues I’ve been working through.
Online coaching in my OLD opinion was a money scam for famous lifters just so people can say oh Brandon Lilly is my coach or Brian Carroll is my coach etc. with you I felt like you were hungry for this coaching and brand you were launching, and with the support of Gaglione Strength gym being voted one of, if not the best powerlifting gym in upstate New York. I felt comfortable with you helping me after watching you improve so much pretty quickly. I noticed I was kind of at a sticking point for a while while others were growing I knew I needed critiquing and fine tuning if I wanted to continue powerlifting.
Coach Ben - You originally contacted me on a strict bench program aimed at increasing your bench press numbers and we have since transitioned into more of a full powerlifting program. How have your results been since joining Big Benchas in both the bench press as well as the other powerlifts?
Mackey - I reached out for bench only because I could perform that painless and that was the only lift I felt I was doing pretty good at so with minor help from you it would only get better in which my raw has. The only reason I didn’t go full power right away was because of this problem I was having at lockout with the squat and this pain I would get deadlifting, I didn't think I would be getting help fixing the problem, kinda like setting myself up for failure on a program that I couldn’t comfortably perform. I was wrong in the worst way you have spent more time identifying the problem and revising the program over and over for me that I’m back enjoying the lifts because I can perform them properly. Definitely excited to be back performing the three main lifts correctly no matter what the weight is right now.
Coach Ben - I am extremely please at how you've progressed. You work hard in training and the results show for themselves. You are constantly sending me lifting videos and applying my feedback, that tells me you are really invested in getting better and it’s nice to see. What would be your top 3 tips for someone out there looking to improve their bench?
Mackey - Top three tips would be #1 stay open minded to different exercises. #2 don't change directions in training just because things aren’t going your way, fight through the tough times. #3 love every lift. If you don’t love what you do it’s pointless.
Coach Ben - interesting you say love every lift. Recently I've been telling people to bring more heart to their accessory movements. It’s easy to breeze through lifts on the backside of your program without thought but in order to separate yourself from the pack you need to understand these lifts are helping you lift more weight on the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. While they might not make up the bulk of what contributes to your strength gains, they most definitely make up that final 20%, and if you don't bring that focus you do with main lifts you're missing out on potential strength gains.
Mackey - I use that line because, I’ll use bench press as an example. I love bench, so I love doing new exercises that improve my bench. I can’t tell you a bench exercise I hate, from bamboo benching, chains, feet up etc. I take that same approach for my other lifts for the simple fact that I’d like to do this sport for as long as I can because I love doing it.
Coach Ben - I know you have been taking some time off lately from competing, we are currently working on building up some of your weaknesses and getting you ready to put together a great equipped meet. When can everyone expect you to get back out there on the platform and what kind of goals do you have in your lifting for the upcoming year?
Mackey - I’m shooting for september at Fair Haven Fitness. It’s going to be my first time going full gear full power in a year and Fair Haven is a meet I’m extremely comfortable at. I’ve competed there raw and equipped. Jaime and Megan always put on some of the best meets I’ve competed at so I feel it would be a good place to get back on track. My goals this year are simple and reasonable, shirted bench 550-580 squat 650-700 deads being my worst lift a 550 pull would be my highlight of the meet.
Coach Ben - How do you feel being a part of Big Benchas? Please summarize for everyone how training has been going. Would you recommend the online coaching program?
Mackey - Programing so far has been awesome. Took a little to address some issues but I felt like they have been attacked quickly by constant revising programs due to how certain lifts feel or starting a new position with the bar for me going from low to high bar squatting has been such an improvement for me physically and mentally. Your online coaching style has changed my views on online coaching in a major way. Monday through sunday you have always responded to my vids, came up with new exercises targeting things you’ve seen in my vids, all around great experience and highly recommended for anyone.
Coach Ben - Awesome buddy I appreciate this interview and look forward to that RPS meet, I know you'll kill it. The plan is in place. Do you have any social media outlets where readers can follow your progress?
Mackey - Ya man I’m pumped for September. Everything about it feels good, from the location to the meet prepping I feel ready. For the social media part you’re my dude for that lol. I just got my FB page so I’ll have tons of progress vids heading your way to put up on your pages
If you'd like to join Team Big Benchas and get started with our online coaching program, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I look forward to hearing from you and helping you reach whatever goals you might have!