Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
May 18, 2024
Interview With Powerlifter Joe Mazza
by Ben Tatar

1) Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself?

Well I am married to my lovely wife, Lorna and we have three great kids: Joey, Gianna and Franco, to keep us busy. We live in New Jersey, near Verona, where I grew up. I worked as a detective in Newark, NJ for over 15 years and am now with a suburban NJ law enforcement department. I have set the all time record in the bench press, benching 615@165 and I'm still getting stronger.

2) Critical Bench: Tell us about your journey and road to your first 135lbs bench press, 225, 300, 400, 500, 600 and beyond and tell us about your training to conquer all those specific barriers?

I have been lifting and involved in some type of athletic activity since I was a teenager, I focused a lot on my upper body development because I liked it and because it helped me in the sports I competed in. I used to do the old 70's flat back benching and a lot of body building type workouts, just because that's all I knew. The greatest barriers I had to deal with were mental. I've always found a way to make time for my workouts and the numbers I hit were only ever determined by what I believed I could do. One of the biggest contributing factors to getting to a 600+ pound bench press at 165 bodyweight was training with the right people. You have to put yourself in a place that's not just talk. You have to believe in what you can do and back that up with your training. I started training with Mike Miller at Nazareth Barbell after the first Bench America. I felt I had reached a point in my training where I needed the support and coaching skills of someone who could get me to the next level. Mike not only believed in my natural abilities, but was able to work a program for me that challenged my physical limits and then leapt off the edge! 600 is not a stopping point, it's just a number on the way.

3) Critical Bench: What is the best bench press advice that you were ever told?

The best advice I ever got wasn't really advice. I was at the Arnold Classic last year where I was set to exceed 600, I had done 605 with ease in the gym, but during warm-ups, my shirt blew. It split right down the middle. That could have been it right there for me, but my coach Mike Miller looked me dead in the eye and without missing a beat got me in my back up shirt- that I had never even benched in- and said, "do your job". We walked up to the platform and I got in the mid 500's in a shirt I'd never worn. Three words said it all. Months of physical and mental training, sacrificing my family time, money, effort---it was all on the line, it was all up to me. I had to do it .It was my job. I owed it to myself and to everyone who helped me get there.

4) Critical Bench: What is your favorite thing about benching and what is your least favorite thing about the bench press?

I love the whole thing! From taking the hand off and owning the weight to locking it out and making it mine. The most frustrating thing about benching is getting a shirt right. Once you have that though it's all good. Inzer has been great about that. They have gotten my custom shirts done and to me in 2 days! They really know how to support a lifter.

powerlifter joe mazza 5) Critical Bench: There are many great benchers out there but you will go down as one of the very best bench pressers ever. What do you feel that you do that gives you an edge over the rest of the competition?

I train with one of the best minds in the sport. If I worked out where guys looked at what you couldn't do or with guys that thought, well you got 400 but it's going to be a long way to 500, I'd still be trying to get 500! Not only is the mind set here right, but it's backed up by training techniques that work!

6) Critical Bench: In order what are the 5 most important factors when going for a bigger bench press?

Mental Preparation
Effective Physical Training
Proper Nutritional Support (MHP of Course!)
Top of the line Equipment (Inzer Only)
Support of my family

7) Critical Bench: How should the beginner bencher train, how should the intermediate bencher training? and how should the advance bencher train?

Anyone who is serious about their training and has personal goals that they are committed to has to surround themselves with people who know more, do more and think bigger than they do. You have to be pushed to the edge and then jump off. Knowing that you have support allows you to go beyond what others perceive to be your physical limits.

8) Critical Bench: What are the adversities had you have to overcome and how has the bench press made you a stronger man overall?

Getting through shift work on the job, family commitments, balancing my personal life with my athletic goals---that been a real challenge, especially after changing jobs this past year. Getting through it all and remaining not only competitive , but at the top of my game has given me the confidence to know I can face whatever comes along and deal with it successfully.

9) Critical Bench: What is your advice about using a bench shirt and training in one?

Find one you like, that compliments your natural lifting style and body type, get serious help from a professional and learn how to use it correctly. You can spend years or months making mistakes and learning bad habits. Go to someone who has gone through all of that and is willing to teach you.

10) Critical Bench: What is your best bench and assistance exercise maxes?

My best competition bench was last fall 615 at 165. I've done 715 off the 4 board lately for sets and reps---that's motivating!

11) Critical Bench: Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone reading your interview?

Thanks to my wife and kids for their support and patience. Thanks to Mike and Deb and everyone at Nazareth for their help in training and accommodating my schedule. Thanks to Gerard Dente and Frank DiJianne at MHP for the best nutritional supplements on the market and the financial support to get to these meets and to John Inzer of Inzer Advance Designs for the Ultimate in equipment!!

You can contact Joe at: detmazz@epix.net


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