Interview With Single Ply Powerlifter Todd Schott As told to CriticalBench.com by Curt Dennis Jr. "The Brute" of Planetrage.com - April 2008
744 Deadlift for an American record 4-28-07 WV State Championships
Critical Bench: Hey, thanks for doing this interview, Todd, Please introduce yourself.
My full name is Todd Schott. I'm 5'11", currently 260 lbs. I lift in the NASA federation, drug-free and single-ply.
Critical Bench: How long have you been into powerlifting?
Introduced to and started training May 2003. My first meet was November 2003 at a regional NASA meet in Ravenswood, WV.
Critical Bench: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into powerlifting?
I grew up with 2 brothers (one named Mark who also is a good powerlifter) and a sister. I credit my mother and father who taught me strong work ethic. I believe my initial strength came from good old fashioned farm work growing up until I made the weight room my second home around 17. I always wanted to be strong and not so much a bodybuilder.
My trainer/training partner Mark Huffman got me started in powerlifting. We met at the local YMCA and he asked me if I was interested in training with him and a guy name Maurice Smith, a world class drug-free lifter back in the 90's.
Critical Bench: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter?
I have my favorites like everyone else, but I look up to anyone with great work ethic and a certain drive that not everyone can obtain.
Critical Bench: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who's just starting out in powerlifting?
Ideally, find a group of veteran lifters and learn as much as you can. Technique is the most critical at first. If you get that far, the rest is determination, will power, nutrition and recovery.
Critical Bench: Do you have a favorite out of the three or is it all 3 lifts?
Critical Bench: What are the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
Finding training partners and spotters. Also, overtraining and learning to stop when something hurts.
Critical Bench: Tell everyone here the difference between someone who wants to look "pretty" and someone who does what we do? The difference between a workout and a training session.
Someone that wants to look "pretty" - Normally, guys that are only concerned with arms and chest, look in the mirror a lot, grunt when the weights are above average for the normal guy and do not squat because they hurt their knees playing high school football.
For me, there is a satisfaction of leaving the weight room/garage knowing that I left no doubt I gave 100% the whole time. You can feel that whether you're doing speed work, high volume or near max weights. Everyone can do this, but it's a choice, and a choice I make consistently. It's what separates US from THEM.
Critical Bench: What would you tell a powerlifer if they are trying to get to the next level in the sport? Do you believe that powerlifters' have a lifestyle of their own?
Seek out advice, don't be afraid to be critiqued, there's always something you can learn to improve. You have to be willing to make sacrifices.
Depending on how seriously you take the sport in turn affects how much the lifestyle differs from the normal person. I always worry about my eating schedule and bringing extra food when I'm away from home.
Critical Bench: How driven would people say you are about being a powerlifter? How does it effect you outside of the gym?
Very driven. In a social setting, once everyone gets over the initial understanding that just because I'm strong doesn't mean I need to pick up the heaviest things, life is normal. It only affects my social life, meaning they don't understand that it is a 24 hour-a-day hobby.
Critical Bench: Do you believe in training in the methods of Westside Barbell?
I do use some methods and have had many discussions about this. As it was pointed out, and this makes a lot of sense, look at the raw lifts and see how much they have climbed in the last 10-20 years. Not much at all. Find something that works, keep a positive mental attitude and don't over train. Do not believe there is one single training method that works better than another.
Critical Bench: What are your workouts like? How are they setup?
First off, Mark Huffman makes all my workouts up. He has studied a lot of Fred Hatfields methodology and incorporates other methods as he sees fit to my training regimen. As I have advanced he has introduced chains and recently bands to my workouts.
My workouts vary depending on how far out I am from a meet. Normally I do cycles of speed work (4-8 week cycles) then a raw peak phase ending with a heavy triple (6-8 weeks). Building up to a meet I would plan 12-16 weeks out and start by building my base strength back up for (4-6 weeks) after a short speed phase, then a suited peaking cycle for the meet (6-10 weeks) building up to a heavy double with full equipment.
Speed work normally incorporates chains and bands and I used the periodization method for peaking cycles.
Critical Bench: What would you suggest to someone on how to get stronger on all 3 lifts?
Once you have the technique down and a training regimen, eat right, train smart and recover.
Critical Bench: What drives you as a lifter?
Most people like to believe they have a gift which allows them to be good at something. I've set goals for myself and that gives me the drive to train hard every time I go to the gym. I have a ways to go, but that gift I mentioned earlier just may be the determination and work ethic I've developed over time. I want to see just how far I can go drug-free.
Critical Bench: Was your training any different prior to your last meet?
The only thing we really experimented with was deadlift. Normally I deadlift every other week. I deadlifted every week until 2 weeks out for the last meet. Although this is hard on the body, it did help perfect my technique as I approached the meet and built up my confidence. I did a 22 pound PR but had to take almost a month off afterwards partly from burnout and overtaxing my CNS.
Critical Bench: Do you think using bench shirts/gear are cheating?
Not if you enter a meet that allows them.
Critical Bench: What is your view on training in equipment and learning them?
I train in equipment 6-8 weeks out from a meet. The rest of the year I train building my raw strength. I do think the more you train equipped the better you will be equipped. The method I use to build my strength doesn't allow much time between meets to practice. In the end, I rely on my raw strength gains and hope they carry over with the added suit.
Critical Bench: What do you think is the reason for all the big numbers as of late like Kennelly's 1036 and Frankl's freakish total or Hoornstra's raw strength? Has strength training evolved?
Well you picked three of the best. I can't say that anything revolutionary has occurred. I guess we will have to wait until they retire and start doing seminars.
Critical Bench: Do you think the standards went up in the sport?
Every time new "improved" equipment is introduced standards go up.
Critical Bench: What is your nutrition like now?
I'm on a heath kick and thinking about cutting down to the 242's. Normally, per day 4500 cals, 300-350 grams of protein, multivitamin and glucosamine. I treat nutrition the same way I do my training. Do the best I can and leave no doubt later.
Critical Bench: What changes are you going to have to make to go to the next level?
Better fitting suits and learning the shirt better.
Critical Bench: Is there anyone you would like to thank right now?
I would like to thank my family, friends and especially my trainer/training partner Mark Huffman and my brother Mark Schott for advice and helping at meets. I couldn't have made it this far without their support. Also, thank you for the interview.