Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
May 18, 2024
Interview With Powerlifter Kerry Self of the Raw Dogs
Interviewed by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com - October 2007

Bench Presser Kerry Self of the Raw Dogs

Critical Bench: Kerry, thanks for the interview opportunity. Start off by telling us a little bit about yourself.

I was born & raised in Pennsylvania. I moved to Leesburg, VA in 1989 and met my husband, John Self. We've been married for over 16 years and have 4 kids (Dogs, haha). Before powerlifting I had taken martial arts for years and competed in Tae Kwon Do tournaments. My first powerlifting competition was a USAPL meet in July of 2004. I own and manage a title company so between training and the business I stay pretty busy.

Critical Bench: You're part of the RAW Dogs powerlifting team, give us the scoop on that.

The Raw Dogs are a team of drug free powerflifters who compete raw. We are all very competitive so it is fun talking smack and pushing each other to go heavier or to get that one more rep. It is very important to surround yourself with others who have the same interest and dedication to the sport.


Kerry Self Promoting Redline Critical Bench: Where do you currently train and with whom?

I am sponsored by Gold's Gym in Leesburg, VA. I train there four days a week normally. Our lifting crew consists of about 10-15 people and continues to grow.

Critical Bench: Cool, I grew up about 45-minutes from Leesburg. Your husband John is an accomplished lifter and founder of the RAW Dogs. Did you guys meet through powerlifting or is this just something you had in common?

No, actually John is my high school sweetheart and we've been married for over 16 years now. My husband has always lifted weights but we did not start powerlifting & competing until about 3 years ago.

Critical Bench: What federations do you compete in and why?

Currently the only federation I lift in is the 100% Raw Federation. I am only interested in lifting in drug free federations and only compete in the raw division. Since USAPL is now starting to keep raw records and raw lifting is getting more popular I am actually planning on doing a USAPL raw full power meet in December. I really don't see myself ever competing with a bench shirt or other assisted gear. One of the rewards of powerlifting is being able to hold my own if need be and not having to rely on putting a bench shirt to defend myself or use my power.

Critical Bench: Makes sense with our martial arts background. You're a world record holder in the 100% RAW fed. What are your best competition lifts, and gym lifts?

My best competition lifts to date are 180lb bench and a 275 lb deadlift. When I am at a meet my nerves sometimes tend to get the best of me. I just recently did Nationals and only ended up at 170lbs because I bombed my last lift due to being so nervous. I am not ashamed to admit this is definitely my biggest weakness that I am still trying to overcome.

Critical Bench: I was actually your side spotter. If it's any consolation I didn't notice any nerves. Those are some amazing numbers Kerry! What motivates you to be a world champion?

Powerlifter Kerry Self

My husband! He is my biggest fan and supporter. We really enjoy training and competing together.

Also, another motivator for me is getting the word out to women and letting them know just because you are a powerlifter doesn't mean you are going to turn into a man! This is a big misconception among women. There are not enough women in the sport as it is. I am hoping by writing my monthly newsletter for VPX and competing this will help draw more women into the sport. I will be the first to admit I never thought in my life that I would ever be a powerlifter. My husband convinced me to do a meet a couple of years ago because one of his friends backed out at the last minute and ever since I've been hooked.

Another reason is the attention that comes with it. It's always nice getting in magazines, doing interviews, and being sponsored.

Kerry Self Powerlifter Fitness Model Critical Bench: How has Christ given you strength and touched your life?

I became a Christian while dating my husband back in 1989. God is first in our lives and our marriage. My faith is definitely my backbone and gives me strength to get me thru each day. I try to be a good witness to others in hopes of drawing them to Christ.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength

Critical Bench: Amen. There are a lot of misconceptions about women and weights. You touched on this already but what would you tell a woman that doesn't want to lift weights out of fear of getting too big or masculine?

You can be feminine and be a powerlifter! Muscle tone is sexy and men love it. Believe me, you will not start looking like a man or taking on masculine features by just lifting weights. This only happens when women take steroids or other drugs. It is unfortunate that some have to resort to them. It really does affect the sport and scares women from hitting the weights at the gym. Find yourself a motivated training partner and go for it. Set goals and don't get stuck on the same routine and weights. Remember to change up your workouts and only do a weight that you can only get 4-6 reps. If you can do more, then it's time to go up in weight.

Critical Bench: Is there anyone in the sport that you admire or look up to?

I have a deep respect for all drug free powerlifters. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of how much dedication you must have to lift and compete on a regular basis in the sport.

I've met a lot of good people over the years. One person in particular that I do admire and would like to give credit to is John Shiflett. His meets are always very relaxed and a lot of fun at his gym in Stanardsville, VA. He has proven you can have fun in the sport and keep it clean at the same time so people can bring their families to watch and support them. John is very compassionate about the sport and it doesn't matter if you are a child, man or woman he treats all the same. In saying that, it is no surprise that he draws such an amazing group of lifters at his meets.

Critical Bench: What challenges have you faced in your bench pressing journey?

Well, most recently I pulled my back out doing deadlifts. When the doc told me I couldn't lift for at least a week or two and even then we would have to play it by ear I was upset because I only have a few weeks until worlds to train. The injury is still there but is slowly getting better. I just hope it heals in time for the upcoming meets.

Kerry Self Deadlifting

Critical Bench: So do we Kerry. Tell us about your training regiment. What days do you train what body parts? Reps, sets, special exercises?

I normally train 4 days a week. My workouts normally consist of 3 sets of a weight that I can only do for 4-6 reps. My workouts usually take between 1-2 hours because of the length of the breaks I take in between sets and because we have such a large group we tend to talk a little more in between sets.

Monday is strictly chest. I do flat bench along with 2 or 3 other chest exercises switching up periodically

Tuesday is back & biceps

Thursdays are close in bench, triceps and shoulders

Saturdays I normally rotate deadlifts or squats and also do several other leg exercises

Critical Bench: We know you're drug free, but do you take any supplements? Which ones?

Yes, but no where near as much as I should. My husband fusses at me on a regular basis for not taking my supplements or drinking enough protein. I take fish oils, a good multivitamin, VPX Nitronx & Zerocarb Protein, VPX CEX creatine, and drink VPX No Shotgun before my workouts.

Kerry Self Critical Bench: Sounds like you have your supplements figured out. Looking back on your powerlifting journey thus far what is your all-time favorite moment?

The first time I ever put up 180 lbs bench at one of John Shiflett's meets in Stanardsville, VA. I train consistently and very hard so when I better my personal best that makes all the pain worth it!

Critical Bench: Outside of powerlifting what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I saw something on your myspace page about herping. For those that don't know, what's herping?

Too funny! I always tease my husband and his friend Dean about being professional herpetologists. When we have some free time we like to go to different parks and go "herping". My husband is really into frogs, salamanders, snakes, etc. I am good with everything except for the snakes. He put a pond in our backyard this summer and instead of frogs or fish it's turned into a snake hotel. I've been dying to get out there to do some landscaping but refuse in fear of running into a snake.

I really do not have a whole lot of free time but when I do I enjoy spending time with my husband, eating out, shopping, working outside in my yard, and spending time with the dogs.

Critical Bench: Interesting..haha. Do you have any sponsors at the moment?

Yes I do and I would like to take the time to thank them;

VPX (http://www.vpxsports.com/)

Shawn "Bud" Lyte with BMFSports (http://www.bmfsports.com/)

Mike & Michelle with Gold's Gym, Leesburg, VA

Kerry Self Back Muscles Critical Bench: Kerry, what are your future goals both personally and as a lifter that you'd like to accomplish in the next 5-years?

To become stronger of course and up my records :o) My goal is to continue building strength without going up in weight class. I hope to reach a 200 lb bench sometime in the future. Also, I am looking forward to doing more full power meets in 08'.

For 2007 I am currently ranked in the 100% Raw Federation as follows:

1st place with Gina Benton in the 123lb class with a 175lb bench press;

1st place in the 132 lb class with a 180lb bench press; and

1st place in the 132 lb class with a 275 deadlift

See the current rankings here.

Critical Bench: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Any parting words or anyone you'd like to thank?

Kerry Self and Husband DJ John Self I would like to thank you Mike, and Critical Bench for the opportunity of doing this interview.

Also, thanks to: VPX for all their awesome supplements; Paul Bossi and the 100% Raw Federation.

Of course I have to say thanks to the team and everyone who trains with us at Gold's: My husband, Jonathan, Flip, Jason, Fireman, Misha, Dean, Steve, Jessie, Branch, Ryan, Tower, James, and all the girls who recently started lifting, Tracey, Naomi, Jess, Jennifer, and Melinda.


Kerry Self Bench Workout Footage


Powerlifter Kerry Self


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