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May 28, 2023
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Interview With Powerlifting Legend Kirk Karwoski

by Monster Muscle

After being off the platform for nearly a decade, and with the sport changing so dramatically in the interim, "Captain Kirk" Karwoski made his first public power lifting debut in eight years at the AAU World Championships held in Laughlin, Nevada. Despite the dramatic renovations, in power lifting equipment during his absence, weighing a lean and ripped 240kbs and wearing only a belt, Kirk celebrated his legacy by lifting raw.

He made 8 out of 9 lifts beginning with a series of beautiful deep squats making 749lbs, 804 and finally an amazing 826lbs effort which was stopped short of completion by a thigh muscle tear. In the bench press, Kirk represented well with a 446lbs opener, then a 463lbs second and then missing a 479lbs third attempt. Despite his earlier injury, Kirk opened with 705lbs in the deadlift, and successfully completed 749, and 771lbs on his second and third attempts.

Twelve years ago, Kirk competed amongst the giants of the day, and everyone watched in awe at the weights being handled- clean legal lifts wearing single ply squat suits, standard length knee wraps and single-ply bench shirts. That was over a decade ago and Kirk is now matching those awesome lifts made by those awesome men- but without wearing any supportive gear. At age 38, Karwoski's lifting and display of strength was truly monumental.

Captain Kirk Karwoski is stilled considered to many the greatest 125kg champion of all time! During Captain Kirk's reign, he increased the World Record in the squat by 100lbs from 903lbs to 1003lbs and increased the Total record from 2204 to 2309lbs. Aside from his accomplishments on the platform, Karwoski will always be remembered for his leadership, conviction and betterment of the sport.

What made you decide to comeback?

Kirk: This wasn't necessarily a comeback. My training (Which I never stopped) was going well and a few people prodded me at the right time and this meet worked. I always wanted to do a raw meet.

Why did you pick the AAU to lift in?

Kirk: The timing of this particular meet was perfect! I am glad it worked out because the meet was well run and the people were great. The atmosphere was fun and energetic. Thanks again to the meet director, Martin Drake..

Kirk Karwoski Lately there has been tons of controversy over equipment and rules performance. Did this play a roll in you choosing to lift raw?

Kirk: As far as controversy goes, right now there are different federations with different rules. That is fine as long as we are using a common set of standards. Since the standards change from federation to federation. I think the top 100 rankings should include the federation that the lift was done in. I have never been a big advocate of gear. I used to hate the single-ply poly gear that we used to wear. But when you compete, you cannot give up a significant advantage like that to your competitors. So I used it, as do the competitors today. Personally, I would prefer to only use a belt and wraps. Even with my "old school" train of thought, raw is radical.

Do you think there is going to be a resurgence of unequipped of "raw" lifting?

Kirk: It seems like lately there is a lot of interest in raw lifting. After this last meet I can say that it takes a lot of BS out of meets. It expedites instead of the old "I'm in the hole, let's wrap knees, pull my straps." it is "I'm up, pull my belt and let's go." It made the whole thing more fun for me. The other fact is that if power lifting is ever to go to the Olympics it will have to be raw. The Olympic Committee simply doesn't like gear.

Tell us about your motivation?

Kirk: I would like to comment on motivation. Most power lifters share some common defects, as a whole for whatever reason, LOVE to punish, beat and torture ourselves beyond the limits of mind and body. It is our spirit that prevails. This defect of intelligence and sensibility pushes us onto the next level, makes us better and stronger. We all have lifted sick and badly hurt,, When this subject comes up with normal people and other meatheads, we all have the prideful smile when we talk about lifting with a 100 degree temperature or a torn groin. Thank God that therapy doesn't work on us. I would like to share some movies that have helped me on the rare occasions that I needed help to give my all to a workout. These are good to watch on a workout day when you are not doing other thing.

1) Vision Quest with Matthew Modine 2) The Program with James Kahn 3) The Replacements with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves

What does your training week look like?

Kirk: My ideal training week is:

Monday- squat and leg work

Tuesday- close grip bench and arms


deadlift and back, Saturday- Bench, chest and shoulders.

I like to do the primary movement and four assistance exercises each workout. However, in my geriatric condition, training for the raw meet, I had to back off due to the lack of knee wraps. I squatted and dead lifted alternately on the same day, i.e. one week I squatted, the next I squatted 60% and pulled. It worked well and my knees felt healthy.

For a big guy you have extremely low body fat. What is your food intake like?

Kirk: Back in the day I used to work my diet really well. Now I find that as long as I eat 6-7 times a day, and get 150-200g of clean protein, I can eat whatever I want.

What supplements do you take?

Kirk: I just take a multi-vitamin, B complex and Glucosamine. Since I am not beating myself into the ground constantly I don't need to spend the money at GNC.

Where do you train and who do you train with?

Kirk: I lift at Gold' Gym but do my heavy lifting either at my long-time training partner "Big Medium Bob" Myoss's house or the Coliseum in Columbia, MD. My main training partner is Julie Scanlon, my hottie girlfriend and all time 165kbs female squat and bench press record holder.

What do you have planned for the future?

I plan to continue running my printing business during the day and wearing my ass groove into the couch at night. Maybe I'll drive by a gym every now and then.


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