Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
June 23, 2024

Mike Schwanke Takes 3rd At 2009 The SPF ProAM

Mike Schwanke Hits 220 All-Time Record Total - June 14th, 2008

Mike Schwanke, 220, totalled 2,502 pounds yesterday at the APF Intramural Team Meet held in Kennesaw, Georgia. Schwanke squatted 1,003 pounds, bench pressed 694, and deadlifted 804 pounds on the way to the historic total. The former record total was Dondell Blue's 2,500 pounds.

Schwanke's 1003 Pound Squat

Schwanke's 694 Pound Bench Press

Interview With Powerlifter Mike "Breaker" Schwanke
Updated Interview by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com - October 2008
Originally Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
As Published in Powerlifting USA Magazine

Before starting this interview I would like to congratulate Mike Schwanke for winning the 2007 Tampa Barbell Invitational. The full power meet was APF sanctioned and the winner was based on lift coefficients. Mike recorded a 925 squat, 680 bench, and a 745 deadlift for an amazing 2350 total at 219.5 lbs.

Mike Schwanke Pulling Sumo Almost Raw

My name is Mike Westerdal and I have been fortunate enough to train beside Mike Schwanke for a couple of months now at Tampa Barbell. Mike busts his butt in the gym every practice and motivates everyone else to do the same. He's very team oriented, passionate about the sport, and extremely intense. I'm honored to do this interview with him and introduce "Breaker" to the powerlifting world. If you haven't heard of him yet stay tuned, he's just getting warmed up.

Critical Bench: Mike your powerlifting resume is just fantastic and the numbers speak for themselves! You're numbers are right there with the super heavyweights. Awesome job! So, tell us about yourself.

Well my name is Mike Schwanke "aka Breaker" I am 29 years young and now residing in Tampa FL. I have been weight training since High School and I have always have enjoyed strength related sports. I have served over 10 years in the military now, I had dual service time six being Army and four in the Air Force. I am currently a Satellite Systems Shift Supervisor and just finished my tour in Korea. Life has always been very fast paced for me, but I will admit it certainly keeps things interesting and always presenting me with new challenges.

There are many things I enjoy in life, but top on my list is weight training / powerlifting. I truly appreciate the hell out of this sport and have meet and trained with some truly inspirational people. I have been extremely fortunate to have trained with many pro level athletes and also huge reason behind my own success. Currently I train at Tampa Barbell and it is by far the best barbell club I have trained with to date! We have a great group of guys there and they are all about promoting team success, not just individual!

Mike Schwanke and girlfriend Suzanne Critical Bench: For the most part powerlifting is an individual sport, but requires the help of training partners. How important do you think quality training partners are?

They mean everything and are a vital part in the equation of success, you need them to motivate and coach you to success! You need this and it is quite simple people that you can count one and will be there when you need them, now that to me is quality.

Critical Bench: What has powerlifting taught you about life?

For me it taught me to focus my attention to one certain set of goals and not to be so easily distracted in achieving them

Critical Bench: What drives or motivates you to the best lifter you can be?

Personnel desire and training with the best; you automatically want to be where they are at and they will be pushed to stay on top of their game.

Critical Bench: Does your family understand and support your training?

No and it really does not matter if they did, this is something that I alone wanted to participate in not them.

Critical Bench: What are your best lifts?

So far my best lifts have been 925lb Squat, 680lb Bench, 755lb Deadlift and a 2350lb Total.

Critical Bench: Amazing. What got you started in powerlifting?

Well to be honest I was one fat out of shape kid "lol" I wanted to get all buff so I could get all the hot chicks. Well not all of us can be Mr. Universe, but I did find out we all have gifts hidden in the most obscure places. I really started to buckle down in High school with my weight training, back then I was a mere 162lb when I graduated. I did have a 335lb Raw Bench and a respectable 275lb Clean and Jerk. I would soon enter the Army and my lifting would soon be on the back burner for a while and just due to the nature of what the Army expects physically.

By 2003 I just really had enough of the Army and really did like the path I was on. Also my last Platoon Sergeant was a real worthless piece of shit and was really not a good situation anyone! So I bailed the hell out and tried to play the job market which was terrible at the time; but when bad things happen, good things are around the corner! Met a good friend Joey Smith at the local gym and started to take our training off from there.

Mike Schwanke Pulls 755 at the Pro Am
Mike Schwanke Pulls 755 at the 2007 IPA Cincy Pro-Am

Critical Bench: Interesting. What advice would you give to someone that has lifted weights in the past but wants to get involved in the sport of powerlifting?

Talk and train with people that know what the hell they are doing!

Critical Bench: What are your future goals?

I would love to squat a Grand, hit a 700lb bench and pull 800lb. Nothing in this world is free nor comes easy, but I am more then willing to put in my time and make these goals happen!

Critical Bench: What kind of bench shirt do you use and why did you choose it?

I first started off with double denim which I also had no idea how to use the damn thing, so after taking 500 in the face I finally started to listen to the voice of reasoning in my head. Since I am a long limbed lifter the denim does not fit my picticular lifting style or body frame, so with some research and a few trips to ECBB I switched to a poly design and took everything ground zero.

Critical Bench: Have you faced any adversities in your training?

Yeah dealing with the Militaries idea of what fitness is, if you're in this sport and having to bust your ass running they tend not to mix. Additionally with the added stress in doing grass drills and training heavy with weights you will be well on your way to road of injury. I never have a problem running and do enjoy to some extent, But running 6+ miles is just fucking stupid to me and thank Christ the Airforce has leaders with common sense.

Critical Bench: You were in the Army for 6 years and then the Airforce. Which experience was more extreme and what was each experience like? Was being in the Airforce or Army as extreme as power lifting?

Oh boy! OK It has been a great transition in my life and I am not going to bash the Army too harshly. But the Army treats you more like a number vs. the Airforce treats you like a member. I really enjoy my job and taking care of our Airman in the worlds best Airforce, for me there is no greater honor. One thing I must say about the Airforce it is very education demanding and they put great emphasis on it. Likewise it has also put me about 5 classes away from getting my associates degree; so once again I win with the Blue. Now anyone going to join the Military do not take my opinion as the gospel, I have my ideas and they are just that "Mine"! All I can say is the 3-D's "do what you want to do and do it well"!

Mike Schwanke's 870 Pound Squat
Mike getting ready to squat 870.4 pounds.

Critical Bench: Tell us about your powerlifting routine and diet?

Well I am a real supplement nerd; I take all your basics supplementation and nothing requiring rocket science. However I have learned how to cycle supplements almost too absolute perfection and I believe this has made a night and day impact with my progress! One thing I will say is to be creative, but at the same time keep it simple! Basic multivitamin and protein is a great start for any athlete who is pushing there body and needing that enhanced recovery time. Everyone has the general idea you have to make protein in shakes and why is that; think outside the box and make protein pancakes, hell even coffee creamer.

Lastly for beginners read what the hell you are taking if it says, take 1-2 scopes that does not mean 5! There is a reason why it is 1-2 scopes; just like eating would you eat 8 pieces of chicken at one time or spaced throughout the day? The answer is throughout the day and the reason why your body only processes 40-60 grams of protein and hour!

Critical Bench: Good advice and so true. I'm going to name some people and tell me what it was like training with them.

Tommy Fannon -

He has been a great friend and in my opinion one of the greatest coaches I have ever met. He lives, dreams and breathes this sport and allows you to use his experiences for your benefit. Tommy will do anything to help anyone to become better and most importantly to become a smarter lifter.

John Cena WWE Professional Wrestler -

This is actually a funny story a good friend of mine was working at Life Style Family Fitness in Tampa. I was coming down to visit him one weekend and he said he had a workout planned for me, naturally I said sure. So I get there and thinking that we were going to hit the weights, and all of a sudden John Cena comes walking and my buddy says "here is your training partner for today!" I will say this John is a supper cool guy and very down to earth and I also picked up some nice Body Builder routines from him!

Mr. Breaker Mike Schwanke Critical Bench what training philosophy do you think is the best? What are your pet peeves when it comes to the gym?

Be open minded to new ideas and take constructive criticism from experienced lifters. Be on time and never make excuses for your own mistakes it's just part of learning. Lastly always be humble and not some ego-jackass people will only hate you for it and sooner or latter it will cause your downfall.

Critical Bench: You have helped a lot of people get better including myself. How does helping a beginner, intermediate and an advanced lifter differ?

I try to give back from what I have taken and truly believe that is what separates our sport from the rest! Different levels lifters are both either easy or difficult to help and coach in the right direction.

The Beginner Lifter: This is just what it is a beginner, you have to help them ground up and invest some time in them!

The Intermediate Lifter: have some knowledge but still making small mistakes, but in my opinion the easiest to help and steer them in the right direction!

The Advanced Lifter: This is truly a double edge sword the lifter will both be awesome and teach you a thing or two. Or they will be making petty mistakes due to pride and so not take very well to criticism.

Lastly keep in mind that the coach can always be the student and we are always learning.

Critical Bench: What kind of training schedule do you follow? Do you incorporate boards, bands, chains, speed days? What's your favorite assistance exercise?

I use a hybrid split method consisting two days of powerlifting and two days of body building. I use the hell out of bands and chains with a few speed days, boards have there place but only for CNS work. My philosophy is this if you squat high all the time in your training and meet time comes around then you try to hit parallel. I bet it will be very difficult and you most likely bomb out of the meet. The same goes for boards in my opinion if you always doing 2-4 boards in your training and let's get say hypothetically you can hit 750lb off a 2 board. If you only do this type of training and never take a weight to your chest, when meet roles around you can bet that same 750lb will own your ass and you will bomb out of the meet! Keep in mind that I am a three lift competitor so I do not bench twice a week. Not bashing training methods by any means, but stating what had and is working for me.

Critical Bench: What makes you different from the other lifters?

I would say one being Military, I am restricted to weight standards and have to run and have to do the whole total physical concept. Second I would say drive and dedication in willing to achieve my goals and always wanting to be a better lifter.

Michael Schwanke 910@220 - IPA Cincy Pro-Am 2007

Critical Bench: How do you see the future of benching?

Simple answer the numbers will only get more insane and the bar to get set higher and higher each year.

Critical Bench: What do you think about the new AFPF federation? Do you feel there are too many feds or do you welcome more competition?

No I do not welcome it we already have enough federations and just making one more just puts us that much farther away from grace. I say fix the problems where they are at vs. spawning new federations and keep this sport from becoming even a bigger clusterfuck.

Critical Bench: Thanks for the interview and the insight Mike. Appreciate your time and wish you the best in your future meets. In closing is there anyone who you would like to thank or any final words of wisdom?

First and foremost: I would like to thank the service members of our Armed Forces deployed throughout the world. I personally thank you for what you are doing and for the sacrifices you do in your daily lives!

Second: I was once under this magical elusion that a double ply bench shirt would = 600lb+ bencher. I got a news flash for everybody that also believes this your wrong! It now has been 3 years using equipment and I am still learning new tricks with every workout. I see many internet jockeys bashing lifters and the whole raw vs. equipped is just fucking stupid. First off the hating must stop; I have not one problem in admitting somebody is better then me. Mater of fact there is always someone who will be better then you and it's a good thing it keeps you from being complacent. But likewise there are standards and they must be enforced in competition, if the lift is questionable and it gets flamed then it was well deserved.

I would like to thank all of my training partners past and present. Tommy Fannon, Blaine Stussy and all the members of Tampa Barbell, Alan Thomas of APT Pro Gear, Joey Smith, Rodney Coates & Barry Williams, Granite City Barbell, Chris Smith & Joe Deverville of Sci-Fit Nutrition in Macon GA. Reggie Felty, Jason Powell, Robert Hames aka the Korea Crew, Paul Wolford and CriticalBench.com for taking the time interview and post my story!

In addition I'd also like to thank Inzer Advanced Designs
Inzer Powerlfifting Gear


Mike Schwanke Benching a 626 Opener

Mike Schwanke Competition Resume & Results
Weight Class: 220 & 242 Full-Power

  • 06/06/99 Ft Bragg, NC. Base Bench Competition. - 380lbs Raw Bench in 181's - 2nd Place.

  • 06/06/00 Ft Bragg, NC. Base Bench Competition. - 405lbs Raw Bench in 181's - 1st Place.

  • 03/04/04 Western NC. Bench Press Championship - 460lbs Bench in 220's - 5th Place.

  • 05/21/05 Charlotte, NC. YMCA RAW Championship - 500lbs Raw Bench in 242's - 1st Place.

  • 06/15/05 Sanford, NC 100% Raw State Benchpress Championship - 450lbs Raw Bench in 242's 1st Place.

  • 08/26/05 NGBB GA. APF State Championship - "Bombed Out" in Full-Power 242's "Valuable Lesson Learned" - you got to open smart and get in the board first!

  • 12/17/05 Irmo, SC APF State Championship - 1940lbs Total in Full-Power 242's 2nd Place (Elite).

  • 01/28/06 Clayton, NC APF State Championship - 2044.7lbs Total in Full-Power 242's 1st Place (Elite).

  • 10/14/06 8th Army Powerlifting Championship - 2180lbs Total in Full-Power 220's & above 1st Place (Overall Meet Champion)

  • 06/02/07 Callahan FL AAPF State Championship - 2270.7 Total in Full-Power 242's Guest Lifter (Elite).

  • 08/20/07 IPA Cincinnati Powerstation Pro/Am - 2295 Total in Full-Power Pro Division 220's 1st Place (Elite).

  • 10/13/07 Tampa Barbell Invitational Meet - 2350 Total in Full-Power 220's Meet Champion (Elite).

  • 02/23/08/ Orlando Barbell Classic - 2355lbs Total in Full-Power Pro Division 220's 2nd Place (Elite).

  • 04/19/08 APA Thunder Bay Meet - 1500lbs Sub-Total in Mens Open 220's Push-Pull 1st Place and Best Overall Lifter.

  • 06/14/08 APF Intramural Team Meet - 2502lbs Total in Full-Power 220's Overall Best Lifter and All Time World Record Total in the 220's (Elite).

April 2008 - Shwanke Benches 700 & Pulls 800 @ 220


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