Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
June 4, 2023
Interview with Powerlifer Wade Johnson
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

Wade Johnson is a powerlifter. He has bench pressed 585lbs, deadlifted 655, and squatted 860 in competition. Although, those aren't world records, how often do you see people deep squatting 860? That's what I thought! Wade Johnson has also been a writer for magazines such as Monster Muscle, interviewing other great powerlifters in the weight lifting community. Not only is Wade a successful powerlifter, he's a father of four and a man who is well respected in the powerlifting community and quite knowledgeable about powerlifting too. Here at Critical Bench, we welcome none other than the bear himself, Wade Johnson!

1) Critical Bench: Wade welcome to Critical Bench. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Wade Johnson and I'm 6' 2" and roughly 310 lbs. Kris and I have a family of 4, Wes 15, Katie 12, Zack 11 and J 8. All are into athletics of some kind and all 3 boys have at least deadlifted in a meet. So, it's completely a family affair with Kris being an accomplished athlete and powerlifter herself.

2) Critical Bench: How would you describe your journey to approaching a 600+ bench?

My journey was somewhat painful and arduous. Now that I'm approaching a meet bench of 600+, the biggest thing for me was learning my form and maintaining it, protecting myself from injury, learning the equipment, and being patient.

3)Critical Bench: What are your best lifts?

860 squat
585 Bench
655 Deadlift

4) Critical Bench: Were you always very strong?

I've always been genetically big and somewhat strong. I was just a big country boy as a kid and worked on farms when I was growing up, so you had to be strong just to get by.

5) Critical Bench: Who do you think is the greatest bencher ever?

That's a tough one. To narrow it down to one might be pretty unfair. The moment that sticks out in my mind the most is when I saw Kaz hit 661. But there are so many. I've been influenced by tons of them.

6) Critical Bench: Yeah and Kaz hit the 661 after mis grooving the weight raw which made it even more impressive to watch. What do you think are the most important factors when trying to get a bigger bench press?

Form, form, form. Nothing takes the place of your style and good form. Learning the equipment as well.

7) Critical Bench: What bench press assistance exercises work best for you?

I don't know that I would say I use a lot of bench type assistance movements, meaning isolation exercises. I think it's best to stick with multi-joint movements for all the lifts. The staple of my bench program is flat bench and medium grip declines. That's all I do and it's really helped me..

8) Critical Bench: What made you become a powerlifter?

I saw powerlifitng as a kid when it was still on TV and liked it right away. I had the traditional little concrete filled plastic set and would save money so I could get the "bigger" 10 kilo plates. I had a thin leather belt that I kept my pr's marked on the inside with a sharpie. That's where it started for me and I've always wanted to be strong.

9) Critical Bench: What goes through your mind before stepping under a big weight? Where do you get your motivation from?

If I'm doing right, I'm focused on the execution of the lift and see little else if anything. My motivation comes from always striving to better myself and my family. I have a son that has huge potential, so I try to keep the bar raised for him.

10) Critical Bench: What is your advice for beginners?

To start at the beginning and not skip steps. For example, if you are climbing a huge staircase and you skip steps, you might go up a bit quicker. However, should you misstep by doing so, you usually have to start over or you've taken several steps back. Take one step at a time and make sure you plant both feet firmly on the next step before you go to another. The grass is always greener right under your feet. And, honor the journey. Rome wasn't built in a day, hell, your house wasn't built in a day. Enjoy the process and make it fun.

11) Critical Bench;: Great pointers- What are some of your craziest powerlifting experiences?

I will put it like this in a list:

Lizard Lick/Clayton crew
Jeff McVicar
Iron Bear
Chain Gang's
Scott Taylor at a Chinese Buffet
Some of the NASA crew at the Cimarron steak house in OKC with 40 oz steaks
and the list goes on...

12) Critical Bench: Wade, tell us about your great nutrition plan? You must have a great nutrition plan to be so strong!!

LMAO, look at me. Do I look finicky?

To be honest, when I do right, I try to eat lean meats like steak, chicken and fish. I will eat up to 5 cups of vegetables a day. That and my Beverly International supplements have been the mainstay to my food plan and nutrition program. I still have a huge weakness for pizza though.

13) Critical Bench: Give me some motivating words to get to that 600+ bench that you have! What does it take?

Wade Johnson Powerlifter

It takes the mindset, the heart, the drive and the willingness to suffer more pain than the next guy.

14) Critical Bench: What's your philosophy about training method? What training style do you think works best? Metal Militia, Critical Bench, Westside, Average Joe, 5x5, what?

A consistent routine is what works best. You can label it as whatever type of method, style, training routine; but until it's really a routine, you are spinning your wheels. Consistent training will take much farther than any method will.

15) Critical Bench: Do you think bodybuilding exercises should be in a bencher's routine?

I think that's more a mindset than say a powerlifter doing BB movements. I do lat movements, hammer curls, traps and shoulder movements to aid my bench, but I'm nothing like a bodybuilder. That's not to make a negative statement, it's just that we are two different animals. I just want to get stronger. Being bigger and buff is not in the equation for me, and that's probably for the best...LOL. I certainly admire the guys that pursue the bodybuilding. The training and food discipline are far out of my reach and the posing trunks? No thanks.... hahaha

16) Critical Bench:. Can you tell us about all the great people that you met in powerlifting and what it means to you?

There are way too many to list. So many folks have a had a hand in my career, such as it is. First, I would have to say Kris. Without her, I couldn't do this period. She and I get up at the crack of dawn 5 days a week to train. She makes sure that I'm taken care of and supports me 100%. She trains, competes and runs meets. She judges and even spots and loads. Again, without Kris, I wouldn't be who I am.

Our kids. They all help at meets and are part of our strength and conditioning classes we have each year. They are my inspiration.

Our morning training crew. Blonde ambition is Kris, Rebecca, Kimbo and Sherri. They never cease to amaze and work their collective asses off. Jeff, Jim, Fallon and Diesal. Without you guys and your support, I simply would be another gym guy. Also, Josh who is in New Mexico now. We miss you and still think about you all the time. This has been the back bone of my training for a few years now. They are awesome.

My coach and mentor Bobby. He knows how I feel about what he's done for me and how much I owe him.

North Georgia Barbell. I'm still reeling from my experience there. Jon Grove is going to be even bigger in this sport beyond the platform, you just wait and see. And that group of folks is frightening.

All at the WDB and WTU. Thank you folks for your support and interest in my work.

All at the APA for your faith and support.

The Clayton Crew. You guys have no idea what you mean to me.

The Maryland crew, for all the same reasons.

To the federation leaders. Without you guys, there isn't a sport. Thank you!

RDC and the Klein's for all their support. You make the gear, I lift in it. And Jason Wells, where ever you are, you are still the man. Thanks for your support and interest early on.

So many folks, I hate to leave any out. I would like to thank all the folks at Gaines Fitness in Hermitage, TN. They let me train and keep some of my gear there. You gotta love that.

In closing:

Lift heavy, train smart & eat more pizza


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