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Interview with Eric Talmant, Raw Unity Powerlifting, Part 2

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This is part 2 of a 2-part interview with Eric Talmant.

Eric Talmant is a world class powerlifter, and the founder and director for the Raw Unity powerlifting meet. He can also be found at his personal website, www.erictalmant.com.

Eric is a certified Metabolic Typing® advisor and Functional Diagnostic nutritionist. His best equipped lifts are a 683 pound squat, 391 pound bench press, and a 650 pound deadlift in the 75K weight class. His best raw lifts to date are 485 pound squat without knee wraps, 290 pound bench press, and 635 pound deadlift.

Steve Shaw: I want to get back to Raw Unity. One of the aspects you didn’t mention when I brought up other federations and their “objections” to joining Raw Unity was the issue of drugs. Did any of the natural federations object to getting on board with Raw Unity because it has open, non-tested divisions? I’m not asking you to names names. I’m more curious as to what the response was from the “natural side”?

Eric Talmant: Yes.  Several of the natural or drug-tested federations objected to the Raw Unity concept because it had a non-tested division.  For 2010, we are not doing any drug testing.

In my opinion, in order to have any chance at all in uniting powerlifting we have to start from a point of inclusion and not exclusion.  I also want to be realistic.  So, we just decided to make Raw Unity the street fight of powerlifting meets.  You bring what you’ve got, and you have no excuses.  We understand that it takes a certain kind of lifter to embrace this concept, but how realistic would it be to have drug testing at a meet whose date is set many months in advance; and which would have only one testing period per year?  Just because the other federations drug test and promote drug-free lifting does not mean that they don’t have skeletons in their closets; because I can tell you for a fact that they do.  When you have been in the sport as long as I have and have talked to so many people across all federation lines, you become educated as to how things really are.  Now, I am by no means saying anything other than this:  that there is simply a difference between drug-free and drug tested.  Now, because Raw Unity does not have the money, resources, or the power to accurately test lifters on a regular basis for the use of performance enhancing drugs we just choose not to do it.  In addition, not only do we not do it but we do not make any bones about it.

However, I will say that I applaud the efforts of the federations to hold the line on their drug testing policies.  If I was the president of a federation that was opposed to its lifters using performance enhancing drugs then I would not ally myself with someone or something that is.

Ultimately, it is the lifters that will decide.  If many of them realize there are ways to beat drug tests and to circumnavigate the rules, then perhaps they will see the Raw Unity meet as an intermediate necessary evil to uniting the sport.  If they do not support this step to first unite all lifters from all federations- and then perhaps once that is done to begin addressing drug testing- then Raw Unity will fade away.

Let me be clear that I do not have any emotional connection to Raw Unity other than to say I really hope that it is able to unite powerlifting.  If Raw Unity fails, then it fails.  If it succeeds then powerlifting will begin to hopefully evolve for the better.  Either way, I have no emotional involvement.  We put the idea out there in the summer of 2007 because nobody else was offering a solution.  As a lifter, I was tired of being a part of the problem so I decided to try and become part of the solution.  I understand that the drug issue is as controversial as it gets, but we believe this is the best option for right now.

Steve Shaw: Fill on is on how Raw Unity is growing…  How many lifters competed the first year, and how many do you expect to compete in 2010?

Eric Talmant: In 2008 we had 32 top ranked lifters compete in Raw Unity, and in 2009 that number grew to 47.  So far, we have received verbal or written commitments from 68 lifters.  Of those 68, we have entry forms and fees from about 10 lifters.

We really hope to fill our limit of 50 lifters on day 1 and 50 lifters on day 2 for an event total of 100 lifters because it will send a very powerful message to the powerlifting community  that a unifying meet is in fact possible.  Winning a national title may once again mean what it did in the late 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s before the sport began to fractionalize.

We also hope for a huge lifter and spectator turnout for financial reasons.  The cost to run a meet of this caliber is certainly not cheap, and we have been in the red the past two years.  It would be a great moral boost for the executives and organizers to end up on the plus side of the financial ledger.  We have already pledged to donate any and all profits to the after school athletic programs of Hillsborough county; so it would be a win for the powerlifting community, a win for those of us that organize and work year-round on the meet, and a win for the kids in the Tampa bay area.

Steve Shaw: I want to switch gears and ask a few questions about you. I am a training junkie, and would love to know how you approach powerlifting. Tell me about your training style and philosophies…

Eric Talmant: I trained using the Sheiko principles for about 5 years.  Sheiko training is modeled upon increasing volume with an appropriate intensity as you move up the classification chart.  The exercise selection is very “basic”; and the competition exercises along with the supplemental SPP exercises are the ones that are directly used to build strength.  It does not use a bunch of different exercises, and there are no speed days.

Since April of this year, we have been experimenting with the Abadjiev philosophies of the general adaptation theory.  There are no light days.  Every training session calls for a high limit (at least 90%) of my maximum ability in each training discipline.  I also compete more frequently now than in the past.  Before I would do 4-5 meets a year.  I now compete once or more a month.  Now, there is no off season.  The “Bulgarian Method”, as we have come to understand it and apply it to powerlifting, contradicts most basic strength training principles.  There is no periodization-no transition stage or preparatory stage.  All training is a competition stage.

I really don’t want to say too much more because we are learning as we go.  I will say that the Tendo Unit has played an invaluable role in this type of training so far.  The Tendo Unit measures how fast the bar is moving in meters per second, and it does not lie.  It can give you a good idea of when to shut things down, and when there is still more in the tank-even though you may not think there is.

After being stuck with the same raw total for over a year, I recently PR’ed my total in August and just exceeded that this past weekend in September.  Not only is my total up, but so are my individual lifts.

I guess that no one training philosophy is always going to work.  You have to find what works for you, use it for all it is worth, and then go on to the next thing.  I think that for the rated lifters, the repetitions with the right intensity (Sheiko) are the way to go.  Once that stops producing results, then it is time to focus on intensity over volume.

Steve Shaw: Tell us a bit about Metabolic Typing. What is it, and how did you get involved?

Eric Talmant: Metabolic Typing® is based on the idea that for genetic or hereditary reasons people are different; in terms of what foods are good for us.  Metabolic Typing® is a systematic, testable, repeatable, and verifiable methodology that will precisely determine the right foods for you; as opposed to someone else.  In other words, what can make one person healthy may in fact make another person sick.  For example, broccoli may be fine for one person; but for me it pushes my already too-acidic body chemistry even further acidic.  I need foods that are going to push me alkaline.

The HealthExcel System of Metabolic Typing® does not treat disease;  but rather seeks to build health and balance body chemistry through properly evaluating, identifying, and addressing each person’s biochemical individuality; thus unleashing the body’s natural, inherent and powerful capabilities of restoration  to build and maintain vibrant health.

I have always been involved with nutrition, and I found Metabolic Typing® through trial and error.  It simply worked better than anything else I had ever tried.  Seven years and two hundred clients later it is still better than anything else out there for building and maintaining vibrant health.

Steve Shaw: I want to talk long term goals. Where do you want to see Raw Unity in 5 years? 10 Years? And how about the sport of powerlifting in general?

Eric Talmant: We don’t really have goals for Raw Unity, per se.  The three things that enrich one’s life are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm.  We will always continue to try and grow the meet and give the best raw lifters everything they deserve when they decide to invest their hard earned money in Raw Unity.  As long as the lifters continue to support our vision of a true raw championship, then we will continue to promote and run Raw Unity.  However, if the lifters decide to go somewhere else then that is fine!  We will accept that and roll with the punches.

If the lifters continue to come to Raw Unity then eventually it will become a really big thing, it will probably wind up on television, and the sport of powerlifting will hopefully begin to return to something remotely similar to the “glory years”.  It is cliché, but there is strength in numbers.  Just imagine if all of the strongest powerlifters decided to compete under one roof and one set of rules to truly determine who is the strongest?  That is a highly marketable idea in the United States of America.  I see more and more of the business end of this as more and more opportunities come up for Raw Unity.  Since I am not a businessman, I can only offer my input as a competitor and as a meet director.  Nevertheless, once the lifters unite behind a single idea or competition then it is just a matter of time before it is picked up and marketed.

As the lifters support Raw Unity, it makes us want to work harder and harder and bring more exposure to the event.  We enjoy running the meet for the lifters, and I think the enthusiasm shows whenever you email one of us or when lifters come up and talk to me at meets.

So where do I want to see Raw Unity in 5 or 10 years?  I honestly have no idea.  Whatever is meant to happen will happen.  If Raw Unity is meant to be the vehicle that will bring powerlifting back somewhat to what it once was, then we would be flattered and honored have that distinction.

It would be nice to see the sport of powerlifting seen for what it really is-an incredible display of limit strength whose athletes are as talented as any sport’s athletes.  Inclusion in the World Games is a great thing for powerlifting; and if we can represent ourselves in a professional manner like that more often then I think the sport can become what it used to be in the 70’s and 80’s.  We just need to take full advantage of the opportunities when they arise; and keep egos in check when doing so.

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