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Old 04-20-2011, 06:16 PM   #1
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Default Tom Martin Interview

Tom Martin Interview With Muscle and Brawn

You are involved with both track and field and powerlifting. Can you tell us about your athletic background and how you got involved with both sports?

In school we were encouraged to take part in a lot of different sports. I showed some talent for track and field, particularly the jumping events, so I started to take the sport more seriously. As I got older and started to put on a bit of muscle, i gradually made the switch to the short sprint events, 60m and 100m. In my late teens I achieved a 100m PB of 10.53 seconds which got me 2nd place at the English Schools Championships, a national junior competition. Unfortunately due to injuries, I've been unable to progress from here, but have managed to do well in the indoor seasons with a 60m PB of 6.73 seconds.

As part of my training for track, I lifted a lot of weight! In my last season before making the switch to powerlifting, I deadlifted 661 lbs weighing about 175 lbs. I was encouraged to enter a competition and make my numbers official on the platform. I intended to do it as a one off, but I qualified for the nationals, so decided to get some equipment and find out what I could really do!

Did you realize while you were progressing in weight just impressive and substantial your numbers were?

When i reached a 280kg deadlift, I realised I had the potential to break records, but I never really appreciated how substantial it was until I entered my first competition, and had deadlited more than all but one of the SHW's. Mark Felix pulled 400kg that day, but nobody else in any of the weight classes came close to my deadlift. I expected I'd pull something good enough to win my weight class and possibly the weight class up as well, but thought beyond that I wouldn't stand a chance! This opened my eyes to the possibility that I could take this sport quite seriously!

Can you tell us a little bit about your training approach leading up to your first competition, and and changes you have made since?

My training approach was pretty standard leading up to my first competition, basic 3 day split, 1 day bench, 1 day deadlift and 1 day squat. I'd gained a lot of strength in the past deadlifting twice a week, but my coach thought I should try a more standard approach to avoid over training. My strength gains stopped while I was doing this, and only started again quite recently when I switched back to high frequency training. At the moment I deadlift 3 times a week (as well as squatting up to 9 times a week), all heavy! 1 session is working up to a heavy single while stood on a 4" platform. Another session involves working up to a heavy set of 5, straight leg deadlifts, and my 3rd session involves working up to a heavy single partial deadlift. I try to add 5kg to each session every week, and I cycle the bar height on the partials. I pull from 18" bar height for 3 or 4 weeks, then the next few weeks is from 15", then I attempt a new 1rm from the floor. I managed to pull over 900lbs from 18" this cycle, and am currently up to 800lbs at 15". I'm hoping for 750 from the floor at the end of this cycle!

There is such a huge, and often misguided fear of overtraining in modern lifting. What have you learned about frequent training and the body's ability to adapt?

I agree, 99% of the time people are too quick to cry 'overtraining'. That vast majority have never done anything close to overtraining. Sure, injury's happen, but I believe in most cases this is due to doing the wrong things too often, not the frequency of their training. For example, I can't bench press (usually) more than twice a week without getting shoulder problems. I don't believe the problem is benching frequently, I believe the problem is my poor leverages, less than optimal set up and bar path putting more stress on my shoulders than is necessary. I'm working on correcting 2 of those problems, and I am 100% certain that I will then be able to aproach the bench press the same way as I have squats and deadlifts, without (or with significantly reduced) shoulder pain.

I've learn a lot about frequent training. The most important lesson was the necessity of building up a good solid conditioning base first. If you've been deadlifting heavy once a week for years, and jump straight into deadlifting heavy 3 times a week, you'll have problems because you're body won't have adapted to this kind of training. To overcome this, you can take one of two routes. The first idea I had was to simply add one extra deadlift day into my week, until I adapted to that, then add another day in after that. This did not work very well for me at all, within a couple of weeks of suddenly deadlifting twice a week, it was clear I wasn't able to recover properly from this. I admitted defeat, and was willing to accept the standard training principles of only squatting and deadlifting once a week. Later on, while returning to the gym from a hamstring injury I got sprinting, I had the idea of doing straight leg deadlifts to strengthen my hamstrings. The amount of weight I could use because of my hamstring injury was really small, there was no muscle soreness from doing the exercise whatsoever. This gave me the confidence to repeat the exercise 3 times a week, because the weight I was using wasn't heavy enough to require any length of recovery time. I was very successful with this, as the weeks went by, I gradually started adding more weight to the bar. My capacity to recover from frequent training was improving quickly enough to accomodate the extra weight I was using, so I just kept gradually adding more and more weight, and by the end of it all I was deadlifting really heavy, 3 times a week, and recovering just fine in between. Not only has I trained my muscles to lift more weight, I'd also trained them to recover quicker with a simple progressive overload system.

So in summary, what I'd learnt was to set the amount of times you want to train a certain exercise, and stick to it straight from the beginning, but start off really light so it doesn't affect your recovery, then add weight to the bar over a period of time. Since then, this has been the basic layout to all of my training cycles. Your body WILL learn to recover faster, in exactly the same way it learns to move more weight.

Regarding frequent training, is this something you did instinctively, or did you pick up bits and pieces from other lifters or coaches?

It's a training principle I was exposed to while sprinting, we would run every day, and we would run fast every day. I could see no reason why lifting weights should be any more taxing, sprinting is clearly a very CNS-intensive activity, if we could get away with doing that every day, why not squatting heavy every day? Or even twice a day. So I guess you could say it was instinctive for me to approach training this way, but it took a long time for me to figure out the best way to actually do it. Other lifters and coaches were very discouraging of this approach, but then you hear all the time that this is exactly the way the Eastern Europeans and Russians are training. Clearly it's not something that someone should do without any preparation, but it's obviously possible if you approach it sensibly and take the time to allow your recovery system to catch up before going really heavy.

Regarding CNS activation, I want to ask you about warming up. It's a topic rarely talked about. Can you take us through your warmup procedure? And if you're about to heavy squat, how many sets do you generally perform before your working sets?

Warming up isn't something I pay a lot of attention to. Perhaps I should, but let's say I was attempting a 660 squat, I'd take the bar for a few reps, 275 for a few reps, 495 for a single, 605 for a single then 660 for a single. It's big jumps in weight, but compared with someone going for 315 or so, it's probably a similar amount of sets.

Sometimes, if I'm feeling stiff and sore, I'll take a few more sets with just the bar and do some box jumps or something dynamic, before putting any weight on the bar. Deadlift is usually done after squatting so warming up isn't really an issue.

I saw a few of your videos on Youtube. Amazing weight, especially the rack pulls. Could you tell us about some of your best lift totals, and what your long term lifting goals are, and if you plan on competing in the future at the same body weight?

Thanks! My best (gym) lifts at the moment are a 660 squat, 400 bench and 730 deadlift all at under 181 bodyweight. I'm hoping to replicate these soon on the platform, and increase on the deadlift. Last week I pulled 770, not from the floor, but starting on blocks 2" from the floor, so it's damn near there!

Short term, my goals are to be the lightest person to ever deadlift 800lbs in competition. I'd have to do it at under 181, long term my plans involve filling out and moving up a couple of weight classes to see what I'm capable of squatting and benching with improved leverages. I'm enjoying lifting in the IPF so I'm going to stick with them and work towards world records and championships.

Let's talk about diet. How closely do you monitor what you eat, and do you follow the bodybuilding style, frequent feeding protocol?

I'm careful with my diet, I don't monitor it too closely, but I eat very clean. I'm not concerned with when and how I get my proteins and carbs in specific amounts, I just try to eat a lot of good quality food, and don't eat things which won't make a nutritional contribution. It's a very basic and intuitive plan, we all know the types of things to avoid, it's not difficult.

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