Ed Coan Appreciation Thread
Ed Coan (born July 24, 1963) is an American powerlifter. He has been described as "the greatest powerlifter in the history of the sport" and the "powerlifting equivalent of Michael Jordan."
Ed Coan has set over seventy world records in powerlifting. He became the lightest person to cross the 2,400 lb. barrier in the powerlifting total (a sum of three lifts: the deadlift, bench, and squat). He set an all-time powerlifting record total at 2,463 pounds, even though at the time he was not in the heaviest weight class.
Ed Coan's best result in an international, and drug tested, competition is 1,035 kg (2,282 lbs) in the 100 kg weight class at the 1994 IPF Senior World Championships. This at the time was a world record.
Ed Coan's best single ply lifts:
Squat - 1019 lbs (~462 kg)
Bench press - 584 lbs (~265 kg)
Deadlift - 901 lbs (~409 kg) 
Ed Coan's best competition lifts as a 220lb lifter:
Squat - 961 lbs Bench - 584 lbs Deadlift - 901 lbs
The squat and Deadlift attempts were as follows: 959lbs and 898lbs. After the competition, the plates and barbell were weighed And the weight came out to be 961 and 901lbs
Note that Ed Coan's lifts were completed under IPF Rules. Single layered suits and standard 2 meter knee wraps.
Ed Coan has failed drug testing through the IPF three times. The first time he was temporarily suspended in 1985 for the use of Deca-Durabolin, an anabolic steroid .
In 1989, Ed Coan was once again suspended due to a positive drug test.
In 1996, at the IPF Men's Open World Championships in Salzburg, Austria, Ed Coan tested positive once again and was issued a lifetime ban from the IPF. Because this positive drug test occurred in a competition in which he placed first, his name and results have been retroactively removed from the 1996 results.
Ed Coan Bench Press Training Routine
Ed Coan Bench Press Training Routine
Excerpt from an article in Powerlifting USA
"...The point is: most writers deal in abstract thinking, reflected knowledge, not direct knowledge. Most depend on reading, studying, researching to develop their concepts. Most have never squatted 600, much less a 1000. This is not to say that their viewpoints or theories are worthless. On the contrary, truth is truth and no one has the market cornered when it comes to the truth. And a great powerlifter is not necessarily a great trainer. There is an old football adage: a great player does not necessarily make a great coach. On the other hand, let's not ignore the training and philosophy that has produced the great champions in favor of the clever writers who dazzle us with catchy phrases and reflected knowledge.
Training the Bench:
Ed's approach to upper body strength looks like this:
Wednesday: bench press, after warmup, 2 work sets. Narrow grip, no warmup, 2 work sets (60 pounds less). Incline, no warmup, 2 work sets (50 pounds less). Points to ponder: In so far as poundage: if Coan performs 2x5 with 500 in the conventional bench press, he would then perform 2x5x440 with 440 in the narrow grip bench press and finish with 2x5x410 in the 45 degree incline bench pres. He feels that his competition style benches serve as sufficient warmup for his narrow grips which in turn allow him to incline without any warmup. All told, Coan performs a total of 6 work sets. Not very many when you think about it.
Thursday: Press-behind-the-neck, after warmup, 2 work sets. Front lateral raise, after warmup, 2 work sets 10-12 reps. Side lateral raise, 2 sets 10-12 reps. Bent over lateral raise, 2 sets 10-12 reps. Points to ponder: Coan is a big believer in heavy, specific shoulder training. So much that he trains them on a separate day from his bench...
Saturday: Light bench, no warmup, 2 sets 8-10 reps. Light dumbbell flyes, no warmup, 2 sets 8-10 reps. Tricep pushdowns, 3 sets 8-10 reps, Dips 1 set 8-10 reps, Preacher curls 2 sets 10-12 reps. Points to ponder: This is a lightweight, muscle flushing, chest workout. Ed does a couple of quick sets with a weight about 60 percent of his max (340x10) with his feet on a bench. A few sets of light flyes and he is ready for triceps....
Ed cycles on all his exercises. Cycling, by definition [well, not quite. CRG], is concentrating on different repetition ranges at different times over the course of the training cycle... Here are his cycling repetition guidelines:
Week 1-2 10 rep sets
Week 3-4 8 rep sets
Week 5-8 5 rep sets
Week 9-10 3 rep sets
Week 11-12 2 rep sets
Week 13 1 rep set
Week 14 1 rep set
Remember those two work sets Ed does on all his major exercises? This is the weekly rep strategy for those work sets. This is called cycling and is designed to peak strength. Each week he adds 15 pounds to the previous week's work set weight. 15 pounds represents a paltry 2.5 percent of his max bench. Small jumps, done consistently and spread over a long 14 week cycle, adds up to big increases. Small weight jumps coax strength and power gains from the body. Week after week, the body is acclimated to slightly heavier loads. Exercise technique is simultaneously refined. Everything is done to develop momentum. This is a classic and timeless strength strategy. Compared to the army of arm-chair muscle gurus, Coan's conservation and impeccable pedigree stands out like a bright moon on a pitch black night. While not as trendy-sexy as newer models, this is the most effective system of strength building ever devised. Period."
"Ed Coan designs a cycle for you: We asked Coan to apply his cycle logic to a hypothetical 270 pound bencher who wanted to break the 300 pound barrier: "We can do it, but it'll take a thirteen week commitment from the lifter." Here's the breakdown:"
Week 1 190x2x10
Week 2 190x2x10
Week 3 200x2x8
Week 4 210x2x8
Week 5 220x2x5
Week 6 230x2x5
Week 7 240x2x5
Week 8 250x2x3
Week 9 260x2x3
Week 10 270x2x2
Week 11 280x2x2
Week 12 300x1
Ed Coan's Peaking Cycle
Powerlifting Heads-Up Ec Coan Peaking Cycle Calculator
Ed Coan Bench Press Training Cycle
2,500 pounds and beyond
4 Day Routine
Squats 7-10 sets of 2-8 reps
Leg Extensions 2 sets of 10-12
Leg Curls 2 sets of 10-12 reps
(In the off-season, high bar squats to activate more of the quads and sometimes front squats afterwards).
Seated Calf Raises 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Bench Press (regular grip) 7-10 sets of 2-8 reps
Wide-grip bench 3 sets of 8-10
Incline Dumbell or Barbell Press 2 sets of 2-8 reps
Flyes (high reps) 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Tricep extensions (a whole bunch) 2 sets of 2-8 reps
Regular deadlifts or S-L Deadlifts 8 sets of 2-8 reps
Bent-over Rows 2 sets of 8-10 reps
(Coan does these with 485 for 8 strict reps - "no problem.")
Pulley Rows 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Pulldowns 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Hammer Strength Back Machine (alternating which Hammer machine he utilizes)
2 sets of 8-10 reps
Rear Delt raises 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Close-grip bench 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Shoulder Press 5 sets of 2-8 reps
(either Behind-the-Neck Press, Front Military Press, or Seated Dumbell Presses. Coan has done a Seated Behind-the-Neck Press with 400 pounds)
Side Laterals 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Pushdowns 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Light Barbell Curls 1 set of 20 reps
King Coan's Power tips
•1) Keep it simple. Ed Coan's lifestyle can best be described as relaxed and routine. His time outside of the gym is designed to serve as a support system to increase recuperation and build maximal strength. His training is definitely "old school." His routine is basic and to the point. He does not waste his energy with complicated formulas which adjust his total workload in accordance to planetary alignment. He lifts brief and heavy - and then goes home and grows stronger.
•2) Don't overtrain. When asked the area in which most bodybuilders can most benefit from the experience of powerlifters, Coan explains it would be in their ability to avoid overtraining. The more objective nature of powerlifting (you are either getting stronger or you are not) gives a more direct feedback to symptoms of overtraining. Wise men pay attention to this.
3) Perfect practice. Build positive neurological patterns by practicing perfect form at all times. You have to be able to put yourself in the perfect position to make the weight. In the squat for instance; this includes walking up to the bar, positioning yourself underneath it, placing your hands exactly where they need to be, squeezing yourself under the bar, and feeling tension in the right bodyparts in order to have everything perfect. All of these things must become automatic - and you have not even taken the bar off the rack yet. At this point, you walk out of the rack, taking the same number of short steps that you always do, you breathe the same way and when you set up you KNOW the lift is going to be successful. You know this because the lifting process is exactly as you have done it countless times before in practice and visualization. You have programmed yourself for success. This same process is applied to all of your lifts.
4) Mental approach. Coan redefines powerlifting psyching standards by his calm intensity. Unlike some others that believe in screaming, smacking their training partners and head-butting the nearest wall (and this is before even leaving for the gym), Coan is known for displaying a calm demeanor. While his approach requires more discipline, the results speak for themselves. Rather than resorting to theatrics to psyche himself up, Coan advocates lifters to "get fired up on the inside - keep it in - otherwise you will just waste energy that could go into your lifts." Anyone that has witnessed Coan prepping before a lift will attest that he exhibits an outward relaxation. If, however, you are close enough to look into his eyes, there is an intensity that is frightening.
Also, when approaching a heavy training weight, a competition lift or a new personal record, the key is to keep out negative thoughts. Do not waste time in front of the bar; just lock yourself into your starting position and move the weight.
5) Consistency. Give it time. Steady consistent training will build steady consistent progress. A review of Ed Coan's career illustrates that he approaches his training as a lifetime process. While others have had their lifting careers cut short by injuries or burnout, Coan's slow, steady gains have lead to a collection of progressively higher world records.
All bests and competition lifts were performed with IPF approved equipment. Only one bench shirt. Only one squat suit.
Squat: 1003 pounds
Bench: 573 pounds
Deadlift: 901 pounds
Current all-time world record Total: 2463 pounds @ 239 pounds bodyweight
Special note should be given that he has never really maxed out in a gym
Squat: 975 pounds
Bench: 585 pounds
Deadlift: 900 pounds a double
Current Men's Junior IPF World Deadlift Record Holder in the 82.5 kg class with a 347.5 kg pull in Dallas in 11/24/84
Current Men's Junior IPF World Total Record Holder in the 82.5 kg class with a 875 kg total in Dallas in 11/24/84
Current Men's Open IPF World Squat Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 423 kg squat in Johannesburg in 11/18/94
Current Men's Open IPF World Deadlift Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 390 kg pull in Jonkoping in 12/4/93
Current Men's Open IPF World Total Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 1035 kg total in Johannesburg in 11/18/94
Current Men's Open USPF Squat Record Holder in the 90 kg class with a 390 kg squat in 1985
Current Men's Open USPF Squat Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 436 kg squat in 1991
Current Men's Open USPF Deadlift Record Holder in the 82.5 kg class with a 360 kg pull in 1984
Current Men's Open USPF Deadlift Record Holder in the 90 kg class with a 390 kg pull in 1985
Current Men's Open USPF Deadlift Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 409 kg pull in 1991
Current Men's Open USPF Total Record Holder in the 90 kg class with a 1000 kg total in 1985
Current Men's Open USPF Total Record Holder in the 100 kg class with a 1090 kg total in 1991
1984 IPF World Champion in the 82.5 kg class at Dallas, TX with 327.5 kg squat, 200 kg bench, 347.5 kg deadlift and a 875 kg total
1988 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 410 kg world record breaking squat, a 227.5 kg bench, a 362.5 kg deadlift and a 1000 kg world record breaking total in Las Vegas, NV
1988 IPF World Champion in the 100 kg class at Perth, Australia with 377.5 kg squat, 225 kg bench, 370 kg deadlift and a 972.5 kg total
1989 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 422.5 kg world record breaking squat, a 232.5 kg bench, a 378 kg world record breaking deadlift and a 1032.5 kg world record breaking total in Las Vegas, NV
1990 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 422.5 kg squat, a 232.5 kg bench, a 395 kg deadlift and a 1050 kg total in Hollywood, FL (Special note: the world record breaking squat, deadlift and totals were not IPF records because he was suspended after the 1989 worlds)
1991 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 435 kg squat, a 247.5 kg bench, a 407.5 kg deadlift and a 1090 kg total in Dallas, TX (Special note: the world record breaking squat, deadlift and totals were not IPF records because he was suspended after the 1989 worlds)
1993 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 422.5 kg world record breaking squat, a 252.5 kg bench, a 390 kg world record breaking deadlift and a 1065 kg world record breaking total in Greensboro
1993 IPF World Champion in the 100 kg class at Jonkoping, Sweden with 390 kg squat, 237.5 kg bench, 390 kg deadlift and a 1017.5 kg total
1994 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 410 kg squat, a 252.5 kg bench, a 340 kg deadlift and a 1002.5 kg total in Austin
1995 USPF Men's US Champion at the 100 kg class with a 425 kg world record breaking squat, a 250 kg bench, a 370 kg deadlift and a 1045 kg world record breaking total in Baton Rouge, LA
1995 IPF World Champion in the 100 kg class at Pori, Finland with 410 kg squat, 240 kg bench, 350 kg deadlift and a 1000 kg total
1996 IPF World Champion in the 100 kg class at Salzburg, Austria with 410 kg squat, 242.5 kg bench, 380 kg deadlift and a 1032.5 kg world record breaking total (He was disqualified very controversially, see the interview for details, he beat his other competitors by over 70 kg in the total)
An Interview with Ed Coan
by John Koenig
When you go to the gym tomorrow, I want you to head to the squat rack and load it up with twenty 45 pound plates. That's right, put ten on each side. Now just stand back and look at it and try not to pee your pants. Guess what? Ed Coan has squatted about 50 pounds more than that. Over the next week, see how much you can squat for a single rep. Then do the same with the bench press and deadlift. Add those numbers up. If you can squat 500, deadlift 450, and bench 300, well, you're only at about the halfway point to equaling Ed Coan's total. Scary, huh?
There are many legendary names in the world of powerlifting, names that almost stop traffic when they're uttered. Of current competitors in this field, few have the cachet of Ed Coan. Coan holds more than 100 official and unofficial world records in the squat, bench press and deadlift. At a bodyweight of 240 pounds, Coan has totaled nearly 2500 in competition, and plans to break that barrier this year in a meet. Break down 2500 pounds into three lifts and think about it. That's some mind numbing weight getting tossed around.
In real life, Ed Coan proves to be quite a regular guy, with no ego problems, a sense of humor and a real straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip attitude. Ed recently took time to speak to Testosterone.
Testosterone: Are you, pound for pound, the strongest man alive?
Coan: In powerlifting, I'll say yes. But I can't do what Olympic weightlifters do, for example.
T: What do you think about guys like Greg Kovacs? His handlers like to tout him as one of the world's strongest men, yet I don't think he competes in powerlifting or strongman competitions.
Coan: Based on his size the guy has to be pretty damned strong. That's obvious.
T: Yeah, the guy supposedly weighed 240 before he ever picked up a weight.
Coan: A lot of these numbers claimed by some are done while using Smith machines and machines in general. Do the Kovacs claims bother me? Well, the claims are made in the context of advertising. It's mentioned in the ads to sell more products. So it's no big deal; you just take it for what it's worth.
T: Why are you a powerlifter, as opposed to an Olympic lifter or a bodybuilder?
Coan: Probably popularity in my area. When I first started, I entered a bodybuilding contest and did horribly. This was before they even had music. It was pretty bad. I was sixteen years old. Right after that I went into a powerlifting contest as a Class 3 Novice. I won and was awarded the "best lifter" award. I thought, "I don't like to lose weight and get smaller and stuff like that anyway." Not that I was very large at the time, I was very light — in the 165 pound class. At my first meet the squat racks didn't even go low enough. They had to take the weights off and put them on my back!
T: But you're not that short. What are you, five-foot six?
Coan: Yeah, now, but I was four-eleven in high school.
T: How long have you been a competitive powerlifter?
Coan: 21 years.
T: So you continued on as a powerlifter and moved up into the 181 class. What were your lifts there?
Coan: My squat was 782 pounds. I actually did 804 but the judges said I was high. I deadlifted 791 and I benched over 450. I had done 485 in the gym but I tore my pec. Back then, I was benching three days a week, thinking that was better!
T: Many high school kids still do that today. Now, these are pretty unusual weights for anyone, much less a teenager. Did you understand that you were different; did this feel magical to you?
Coan: Every time I touched a weight when I was younger, it would just go up. It didn't matter what it was.
T: Did you know anything about nutrition and proper training then?
Coan: I just had the magazines mostly. We had Ernie France; he was an hour's drive away. We had James Vrouss; he was a great bencher at 165, did a 479 bench without a bench shirt. He managed a Chicago health club I worked out at. I just kept doing what felt good to me, read everything, and tried everything to see what worked.
T: Did you compete in other sports in school?
Coan: The only sport I competed in was wrestling. My first year in high school I was 98 pounds.
T: What notable competitive lifts took place along the way?
Coan: In the 181 weight class it was the 791 deadlift, which actually wasn't hard. At 198 I was totaling over 2200 and actually made my first 500 bench at 198 pounds. This was before bench shirts. I squatted 859, benched 501, deadlifted 791.
T: My shoulder hurts just hearing these numbers! December of '99 you had a 2463 total and you recently attempted 2500. What happened?
Coan: It's actually not a matter of "attempting to do it." If conditions are right I'm strong enough to do it.
T: Have you done it in the gym?
Coan: No, I don't go that heavy in the gym. I always leave the heavy ones for meets. They don't mean shit in the gym and I'll end up overtraining. That's what I used to do when I was younger, but I could get away with it then. Overtraining is really common in powerlifting, just like bodybuilding.
T: Take me through a typical week of your workouts.
Coan: Monday is squat and other leg stuff. Depending on the season, like now in the off season, I don't wear any equipment — no belt, no wraps, nothing. I'll do pause-rest squats. I just stop on the bottom until someone says "up." Then I work up to whatever reps I'm supposed to for the day, take 45 off, then do high-bar, close-stance pause squats, which is more quadriceps work. That's pretty much my weak point, my quads. From mid-thigh up to my mid-back is where all my strength is. Sometimes I rep out on a squat machine or a hack squat machine for some blood movement into the area. Then I do one-legged leg curls.
T: Do you do lunges?
T: Leg extensions?
Coan: I used to, but as long as I do high-bar squats and pause squats, there's no need for them. They end up screwing up the track of your knee — just as going all the way down screws it up right away.
T: Do you ever do box squats?
Coan: No, I don't need them, though some people get a lot out of them. The only problem with box squats is the majority of people who do them end up squatting high. When you go off the boxes to the regular squat, you'll end up sticking your ass far back, feeling for something, and ending up bending over too far and squatting high.
T: What about chains and bands?
Coan: I've never used them.
T: You're old school, huh?
Coan: Well, I tried floor presses, but they aggravated my shoulders. Next I'm going to try some board presses as an assistance exercise. At least you're still laying on a bench. Take different height boards, set 'em on your chest, and bench like that. But I'll only use these as an assistance exercise. As opposed to a machine, you keep your normal groove.
T: Back to your weekly program. Monday you squat?.
Coan: Tuesdays off. Wednesday I go in and do all chest and triceps, usually two sets of regular bench, two sets of extra-wide grip inclines, a set of high-rep flyes, then I'll go to triceps. Lying dumbbell extensions with a hammer grip, stretch it as far as I can, for three sets. Then I'll do pushdowns for three sets; sometimes I'll throw in some dips, depending upon how my shoulder feels.
T: Low reps?
Coan: No, in most of my assistance work I never go below eight reps. The rest of it is traditional powerlifting type of work, lower reps. There is a time after meets when I'll do some regular bodybuilding stuff. Gotta build some muscle! Thursday is usually off. Friday is deadlifts and all back work. This Friday, since it's off season, with no belt or anything, I'm deadlifting off a 4-inch block. It actually teaches you to push more with your legs since you have to bend over so much farther. It's a lot ****ing harder!
Most powerlifters I know who no longer compete, they'll squat and bench, but won't deadlift! It's too difficult. Then I do stiff-legged deads off the blocks, then rows, regular pulldowns, then some type of Hammer pull-down machine, like high rows. Afterward, I'll do chins for reps, then bent-over laterals. I do my rear delts on back day.
T: That's a big workout.
Coan: Yeah, I like working back.
T: Do you do anything for your traps?
Coan: No, if I do too much trap work it seems like everything gets tight up there. I can't lock out and rotate my shoulders back for deadlift.
T: Do you work out over the weekend?
Coan: Saturday I come in, do some close-grip benches, then I work my shoulders, which is usually behind-the-necks or seated militaries. Then I do front and side laterals, maybe a couple sets of curls, then I work my forearms and a little grip. I've been working my forearms and grip more lately.
T: Do you use straps on anything?
Coan: Yes, on my stiff-legs, if I go real heavy;I don't want to use the same grip I deadlift with. I'll go double-overhand and hook it.
T: What's "real heavy" for you?
Coan: This cycle, I'll go up to 600 for five reps, off the floor squat, no belt. Rest-pause at the bottom. Once in a while, while getting ready for a meet, I'll stand on the block, do bent over rows and go up to 551 for three, no belt.
T: Something that really jumps out at me is that you're very much into periodization. Give it to me in a nutshell; why is periodization critical?
Coan: You need to change your intensity; you can base that on reps or the amount of sets. Sometimes I'll even do more sets to change the intensity rather than go heavier. Or I'll change the speed at which I work out. I'll grab a stop watch and go faster. There's a time and a place for everything and if you beat yourself up all the time in the gym, you're not going to last that long.
If it was good enough for some of the guys who came before us, who actually invented periodization, it's good enough for us. We just put our little changes in it here and there. Some assistance exercises help. Louie Simmons has some cool ones, so sometimes we throw something in to keep us from getting stale. But, I think sometimes it's more a matter of getting stale in the mind, because if you switch assistance exercises it changes your whole mind set and you can push it hard for the next few weeks.
T: Is technique important in powerlifting or do you just heave the damn weight up there?
Coan: It is, but it's easier to just muscle your way out of things than it is in something like Olympic weightlifting. But if you put enough weight on your back you're not going to lift it if you're out of form.
T: What do you do on your off days? Do you do any cardio?
Coan: I never do cardio! My off day consists of active resT: stretching, writing routines, some personal training, that's it.
T: Do you have your workouts all planned out ahead of time?
Coan: Sure, I know what I'm going to do that day and for the next so many weeks. The assistance exercises can vary, but I generally have it all written down. In the off season what I like to do is not to wear equipment, deadlift off a block, do pause squats, and change stuff around like that. You want to find out where your weak points are or where you need to get stronger. Just don't wear equipment when you squat or deadlift. You'll find at weak point really fast; you'll find out by how fast you bend over. Some peoples' noses will be touching the ground.
There was a powerlifter by the name of Uri Splinoff from the Ukraine. He had a big gut, but it wasn't fat; it was like a big muscle belly. I saw him squat 947 without a belt and he stood straight up. He didn't even bend forward. He did a squatting type of good morning with over 800 pounds. I asked him about wearing a belt and he just laughed, tapped his belly, and said, "We build our own belt."
T: You're five foot six; what do you weigh these days?
Coan: Anywhere from 230 to 240 pounds. I eat five times per day, try to get a lot of protein in, and when I cheat, I cheat.
T: You're not tracking your calories, grams of this and that, etc?
Coan: I'd go crazy. Working out is tough enough. I think that's why all the bodybuilders I see are so crazy. We have some bodybuilders in the gym who don't compete anymore, but they try to stay on these diets, and they're all crazy. It's one thing to try to eat good, make sure you get this and that, but give it a rest. If you've got a purpose, a contest for example, that's one thing, but come on, you have a regular job, you have to train, have a life!
T: Do you use many supplements?
Coan: Yeah, vitamins, minerals, primrose oil, some stuff for energy, couple of protein drinks per day, liver, aminos, etc.
T: Do you use anabolics?
Coan: I have. I don't think anyone is going to squat over a thousand pounds if they don't use a little something, whether it be for recovery or whatever.
T: I wouldn't think so either, but it's a topic people are fascinated by.
Coan: Everyone already assumes someone is doing something anyway. Louie Simmons caught so much shit on all the powerlifting forums for saying in his T-mag interview that he hadn't been "off" for 28 years. That's the kind of publicity nobody wants, but I'm not going to be hypocritical and say that I haven't done things.
T: Is this type of assistance something you employ in the off season or during the competitive months?
Coan: Vice versa — during the season. Now with the money involved in some meets, up to ten grand a meet for winners, a lot of people are going to do whatever they have to do. You want to be healthy enough to do it. For example, there's one at the end of this year in November where there's supposed to be a $25,000 prize.
T: Are you going into that meet?
Coan: [Laughs] Heck, yeah!
T: Now, you're 38 years old. I've read that powerlifters don't peak until they're in their 40s.
Coan: If you can stay healthy. That's the hardest part.
T: So are you in your prime?
Coan: I'm in my prime as far as using my intelligence more when I train. I may have been stronger at 198 and 220 than I am now, but that could be from the little injuries that I've had that have held me back a bit.
T: Genetics verses intelligent training. What's your take on that topic?
Coan: Genetics come into play to limit you, like say if you had extremely long arms. You won't be great on the bench. If you have extremely short arms, you won't be a great deadlifter. On the other hand, if you train like shit, good genetics don't mean anything.
T: What king of genetic profile makes for a good powerlifter?
Coan: Big hips, big ass, and between medium to long arms. Most tend to be shorter guys. If you're six foot or over, you'd have to compensate by weighing 350 pounds to balance out your leverages.
T: What do you think of the supplement industry today?
Coan: It's good and bad. You've got some shysters out there, and since you have to keep ahead of the other guys, some people are coming up with some unique stuff. You just have to weed through it. A lot of stuff is like the "supplement of the month" type of thing. Those stupid double-blind studies are a bunch of crap; they make up some results and fund the studies themselves. For the most part it's good, though. The competitiveness makes people stay on their toes.
T: Do powerlifters use creatine?
Coan: Yes, but I don't. I end up dehydrating and having to drink too much water. It wouldn't be worth my while, but some guys swear by it.
T: What's the deal with all these different powerlifting associations?
Coan: At one time it was only the AAU, then the AAU got rid of powerlifting, I think, and it was the USPF. While the USPF was still in operation, because there was no testing at all then, the people who wanted to compete drug-free started the ABFPA. Then Ernie France wasn't happy with the way the masters competitors were being treated on the world level, so he started the APF, which was only meant for masters competitors when he started it. Then because the USPF started testing at their nationals and such, that's when the APF arose. No drug testing.
T: Were you kicked out of some organization once?
Coan: Oh yeah, the IPF. I failed the drug test. Actually, I failed three times. First time, in '85, I got caught for Deca. I hadn't taken any for more than nine months. Only now everyone knows how long it stays in your system. At the time they had just come out with testing software for Deca, but none of the Americans knew this, so we all got nailed.
Then the next time was in '89 where I got nailed for a ratio test. I asked for my appeal, traveled to Holland for my appeal, but when I got there the powers that be said, "No, we're not going to hear it." It was definitely against my due process, even though under the rules, I was supposed to get a hearing.
Then this last time was in '96 where I got nailed for a Testosterone ratio violation. You're going to love this: there was no chain of custody documentation. I'm walking down a hallway with the general public, thirty feet, with an open container. You went to choose your cup to pee into; it was on a desk in a room, an open stack of plastic cups. They just said "take one." There was no control, nothing; they were opened and unsealed. They were in the room with everyone else in there.
T: The potential for tampering was overwhelming!
Coan: The head of the international federation coached the guy who took second to me on stage, who was from his country. After your last lift, someone stays by your side as your shadow. If you want a drink they go get it for you, etc. You know who was my shadow? The brother of the guy who took second to me! So he went out and got me things to drink. This was in Austria. Then, from the time I gave my piss sample to the time it ended up in Sweden (the sample was driven to Sweden), there's no documentation of where it was or who had it. Only people saying, "I had it, put it in an unlocked and unsealed cooler, and put it in my hotel room."
In the IPF rules, they have no rule about this whole testing thing. It was a bunch of horse's asses. I'd admit it if I was wrong, but I don't even know.
T: Let's play word association. I'll throw some names at you and you tell me what comes to mind. Don Reinhout.
Coan: I never met the man, but you know what? He just went through six bypasses just this past week in Cleveland. Heard he's doing real well. I watched him in the strongman competitions when I was a kid, but never got to see him compete or meet him. He was one of the first big monster lifters. Those were tough dudes.
T: OD Wilson.
Coan: Broke my heart when he died; he was a big, huge, monster teddy bear. He was six-six and 420 pounds. Had some fat on his waist, but everything else was pretty darn hard. I used to get him fired up for meets; I'd stand on a chair and call him racial names to get him mad! His eyes would turn unbelievable colors and I'd just shit in my pants. I walked on a nude beach with him in Perth, Australia. It was like the parting of the seas! He was the only huge black guy on the beach; the sight of all these scared white people running out of his way was hilarious!
T: The World's Strongest Man Contests. Do you watch them?
Coan: Oh, yeah, I like them. I like the old days the best. I think now there's a bit too much of the running stuff. Especially if they're carrying big weights, they're going to have more injuries with the big guys running. Look at Filippi's knee; it's popped twice already. I know Kaz, I know Jamie Riez really well, I've met and talked to John Paul when he was still alive, and I met Magnus von Magnussen last year at the Arnold Classic. He's bigger than I expected; he was also a genuine guy.
T: Bill Kazimer.
Coan: I started powerlifting because of seeing him on TV. Very nice guy. At one of my meets, he came and had a special award made for me, a huge cup saying I was the greatest powerlifter in the world! In Sports Illustrated he even mentioned me, saying I'm the strongest powerlifter in the world.
T: Louie Simmons.
Coan: I've known Louie since the old YMCA days when I was a kid, and he's always been the same guy. He's never changed; he's just Louie. I like those Westside guys; they're all real. Some of the new guys I don't really know, but I know Kenny, Angelo, Chuck, some of those guys. Usually you find in powerlifting a great deal of camaraderie; people are very nice.
T: Ian King.
Coan: I sat in for a little bit of one of his sessions in Canada. That bald-headed dude knows his shit, doesn't he? I've not known him for long, but he's a nice guy, knows what he's talking about. He's not afraid to try different things and always has a reason.
T: Is there anything in the world of powerlifting or weight training that's really got you pissed off these days?
Coan: I like good judging. I think the equipment is getting a bit out of hand. But you gotta go with the flow. You can't compare my 2463 total to Kaz's 2425, except I wore a bench shirt, a single ply, loose shirt. I only wore one skinny old squat suit, and I don't wear a suit to deadlift.
T: Do you know Anthony Clark? Why does he bench with a reverse grip?
Coan: I think it's easier for him; he can lock it out easier. I think that's the only reason. If that thing slips though, he's gone. It can only happen one time.
T: We get a lot of questions from athletes involved in sports with weight classes. They want to know how to "make weight." Some of them resort to some risky behaviors. Got any tips in that area?
Coan: Too many people wait until the last minute before they try to drop their weight. Just start long enough before. Most powerlifters just don't know how important nutrition is. If you up your protein and start eating cleaner carbs, all of a sudden your joints start feeling good, your weights start going up and you feel bigger and tighter. As for making weight, some guys still do Lasix, of course.
[Editor's note: Lasix (furosemide) is a prescription-only drug used to treat fluid retention (edema) and high blood pressure. Bodybuilders and athletes use it for its diuretic effects.]
T: But doesn't Lasix make you feel weak and physically drained?
Coan: Well, some organizations have 24 hour weigh-ins. So by the time you compete, bam, you're big and hydrated again. In most tested competitions Lasix is banned, so the answer is to diet or just find another weight class. This is what I did. I just got sick of losing weight so I just kept going up in weight classes. Also, there comes a point where you could get hurt being that lean while lifting that heavy. I just wanted a challenge so I kept moving up.
T: Tell me about Quad's Gym.
Coan: There are two locations in Chicagoland, one in Calumet City, one in the city itself. Both are hardcore, black equipment, no chrome. I train there.
T: Sounds good. Listen, thanks for the interview, Ed. Good luck with 2500!
When we left Ed he was headed off to a Henry Rollins concert. Rollins learned of Coan when he was interviewing Dennis Rodman for MTV and saw a picture of Coan up on the wall. Rollins contacted him and has been a huge fan of Coan and powerlifting ever since, even hooking him up with tickets when he comes to town for a show.
Learn more about Ed Coan by reading Marty Gallagher's new biography of him, entitled Ed Coan? The Man, The Myth, The Method. Ed also has a series of three training videotapes, detailing the squat, the bench and the deadlift. Watch Coan squat 975, deadlift 901, bench 575, even do a 400 pound behind-the-neck press. Each tape is about 50 minutes long. Both the book and videos can be purchased through Coan Quest, 745 North Torrence Ave., Calumet City, IL 60409. Call 708-862-9779 or visit QuadsGym.com for more info.
Coan/Phillipi 10 week Deadlift Routine Calculator
Tsampa.org: Coan-Phillipi 10 Week Deadlift Routine
Ed Coan's estimated squat percentages based on
WEEK 1: 77.4% x 3
WEEK 2: 79.0% x 3
WEEK 3: 80.5% x 2
WEEK 4: 82.1% x 2
WEEK 5: 79.0% x 5
WEEK 6: 81.0% x 5
WEEK 7: 83.1% x 5
WEEK 8: 85.1% x 5
WEEK 9: 87.2% x 5
WEEK 10: 89.2% x 5
WEEK 11: 91.3% x 5
WEEK 12: 93.3% x 3
WEEK 13: 95.4% x 3
WEEK 14: 97.4% x 2
WEEK 15: 100.0% x 1
WEEK 16: 84.6% x 5
WEEK 17: 100.0% x 1
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