Interview with Powerlifter & Football Player Blaine Sumner Curt Dennis Jr. "The Brute" of IronBrutality.com – March 2011
CB: Hey, thanks for doing this interview. Please introduce yourself.
BS: My name is Blaine Sumner and I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering and I'm working on my M.S. in Engineering and Technology Management. I am currently training for Pro Days and Combines in my pursuit of the NFL dream. I'm looking forward to the Draft and becoming a starting Nose Tackle (NT) in the NFL.
CB: What are your Best PR's right now?
BS: Squat – Raw (Belt only) 775x3, about 860 one rep max
Geared (single ply) – 905 in meet, 1,000 in gym (high)
Bench – Raw 455x4
Deadlift – 725
Hang Clean - 425
CB: How long have you been into powerlifting?
BS: I started lifting for football early in High School and got really serious when I was a senior and just loved it. It has helped me tremendously with football.
CB: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into powerlifting?
BS: I've always played 3-4 sports a year since I was little. I was a very skinny kid. I entered high school at 6' 0" and 145 lbs., skin and bones. I left at 6' 1" 255 lbs. My Dad was a powerlifter back in his day and we found the Rocky Mountain Lifting Club in Aurora, Colorado run by Dan and Jen Gaudreau and my numbers took off from there.
CB: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter?
BS: I didn't look online or read magazines when I was an up and coming lifter. I thought it was all too much and people should just lift and not worry about the latest and greatest routine. I looked up to my Dad since he showed me the basics and really got me into it. He let me know how important it was. He didn't push me too hard and was a great role model. Dan and Jen are also incredible with their knowledge of the sport. They're a huge reason I am where I am today. Nick Ward (from our gym) is another one; he is intense and will be the strongest lifter in the USAPL soon.
CB: What is the craziest thing you have ever seen at a powerlifting meet?
BS: Definitely seeing 500 lb. Jeff Lewis fall backwards with 900 lbs. during a squat at the Arnold a few years ago.
CB: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who's just starting out in powerlifting?
BS: Don't read all the magazines. Don't get on the websites. The best thing you can do is find a good gym and some strong guys, and lift your butt off. Anyone starting out has huge potential for fast gains. Just make sure form stays good.
CB: Do you have a favorite out of the three or is it all 3 lifts?
BS: Squats, easy!
CB: What are your goals right now?
BS: Right now I am lifting to make me more explosive and become the best, healthiest football player I can be. I don't know when I will be doing another meet, but I am still hitting PR's in every lift. My goal is to get drafted and become critical player on a successful team. Lifting wise, I'd like to squat 900 in just a belt to IPF standards. I'd also like to see my deadlift and bench catch up!
CB: Tell us about your football experience thus far?
BS: I've played football since I could walk. When I was in elementary school, I was the smallest kid on the team and played Nose Tackle. We moved up to the mountains of Colorado in the 3rd grade and they moved me to Middle Line Backer (MLB) (I was still the smallest player on the team) I played MLB all through high school and was pretty dominant being 250 lbs. my senior year. When I went to the Colorado School of Mines they moved me back to NT and I was about 260 lbs. when I reported. I've played my whole collegiate career between 315-330 lbs. I've received multiple All-Conference and All-State awards. I look forward to playing in the NFL.
CB: What are the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
BS: The biggest for me was when I started getting real big and people (mostly high schoolers) started accusing me of using steroids. I have never touched them and it got frustrating listening to lazy people try to discount my efforts. Injuries are also difficult to overcome and it's important to stay on top of regeneration using foam rolling, stick rolling, ice baths, etc.
CB: 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.
BS: I thought being 340 lbs was being pretty! It's just different goals. I don't like the phrase "functional strength" but powerlifters train to be able to perform something. People who look "pretty" aren't really functional, they like to look the part of someone big and strong, but the true big and strong people do what we do. A workout is when you run around doing all kinds of machines and focusing on muscles. Watching them in the mirror and trying to concentrate on muscle parts. A training session will focus on movements and pushing yourself till you want to puke with massive loads. If you want to be a serious lifter, you do training sessions.
CB: What would you tell a powerlifter if they are trying to get to the next level in the sport? Do you believe that powerlifters' have a lifestyle of their own?
BS: You truly need to make it a lifestyle if you want to get to the next level. Every day you wake up and are on your way to school or work, be thinking about how you want to hit a huge PR in the squat that night in training. You need to eat a ton of food and consume shakes constantly.
CB: How does it feel to be entering the NFL draft?
BS: It's an exciting and nerve wracking experience. Lots of unknowns, but all I have control of is my training. I am becoming faster, more explosive, athletic, and stronger by the day. Whatever team decides to take a shot on this D2 kid will be lucky.
CB: How driven would people say you are about being a powerlifter? How does it affect you outside of the gym?
BS: I am one of the most driven/motivated people I know. It affects me outside the gym a little but I don't like talking about it. When people on the street ask me what I do, or "how much I bench" I try to brush it off. But they can tell when I start eating!
CB: How has powerlifting made you a stronger person away from the sport?
BS: It helps me deal with stressful situations, scary situations, and things that would make a normal person nervous. Going into an interview, public speech, or anything else seems easy once you have had 1,000 lbs. on your back with no safety rack and it's just you and the weight and one of you isn't going to make it.
CB: Do you have any training partners? How have they helped? Tell us about them and who they are.
BS: Everyone at the Rocky Mountain Lifting Club (RMLC), especially my Dad, the Gaudreaus, and Nick. My teammate Marc Schiechl is also training for the NFL and has a crazy bench for someone his build. Long arms and no arch, he can press around 445, look for him to hit 40 reps. I like people who get amped up about lifting and get after it in the weight room.
CB: What are your workouts like? How are they setup? What training methodology do you follow?
BS: I, surprisingly, don't follow a set routine all the time. I have an excel spreadsheet that Dan has helped me with. But I go based on feel. I know if I don't have a meet or game for awhile, I'll work in the 5-8 rep ranges. If I can't afford to be as sore, I'll go lower reps, 2-5. Nick will tell me a number he thinks I can hit and I'll go for it. I deload when I feel overtrained. I know I have a lot to learn about training but I'm pleased with my squat results so far.
CB: Do you see a benefit with powerlifting training for football?
BS: Absolutely. I think powerlifting is the best training for football. When you are in the weight room, your goal is to get stronger. You get faster and more athletic on the turf. And nobody is stronger than powerlifters. Nobody has been able to withstand me firing out of my stance and I never get moved by double teams.
CB: What would you suggest to someone on how to get stronger on all 3 lifts?
BS: Bench – do your speed work and make sure your back is wide as a house, lots of lats. And do heavy board work so weights feel light.
Squat – I love just free squatting heavy, I don't do bands/chains/boxes hardly ever. Don't be afraid of going heavy and getting after it. I've found that heavy good mornings are the best assistance exercise.
Deadlift – Find a stance that works for you and do cleans as well. They have helped me with speed off the floor.
CB: What drives you as a lifter? What is your mindset like during training?
BS: I usually get real pumped up and need some good, loud rock music on. I love improving in life and powerlifting is a great tool for improvement. It is something measurable, I know that if I squatted 10 lbs. more, I AM getting stronger.
CB: Was your training any different prior to your last meet?
BS: My last meet was USAPL Raw Nationals in July 2010. And I actually didn't even train for it. I did geared nationals the month before and took that seriously. But after that I was 100% in football mode and was preparing for the season with more running and explosive lifts. I knew I wanted to do that meet and it was in Denver so, I just had to do it. I've never "peaked" for a meet or anything; I just love being strong 365 days a year.
CB: Do you think using bench shirts/gear is cheating?
BS: I know I'm a hypocrite for saying it, but yes. I've never benefited extra shoulder health or anything from them, all they do is add pounds to your bench. With a shirt you don't know how strong a cat really is. I can out bench Brad Gillingham in a shirt, but take it off, and he will smoke me. I want to find out who really is the strongest.
CB: What is your view on training in equipment and learning to use them?
BS: I don't have much experience here. I usually lift with my football team so I can never get in my gear, Sometimes I can only get in it 1-2 times before a meet but I know the more you are in it, the better you become with it.
CB: What do you think is the reason for all the big numbers as of late like Kennelly's 1075 and Frankl's freakish total or Hoornstra's raw strength? Has strength training evolved?
BS: Training has evolved with the use of bands/chains/routines. But look at NFL player's sizes in the past. People are just getting bigger and stronger. And if growing up you hear someone benched 1,000 lbs. you know it is possible, so you set your sights on 1,100 lbs. Everything is evolving.
CB: Do you think the standards went up in the sport?
BS: Not really. I think there are WAY too many federations. I like the USAPL because I feel if I win nationals, or set an American record, it is legit. I know the other feds are too, but I wish there was more unity and people weren't so critical online.
CB; What do you think is the reason why bodybuilders and powerlifters are crossing into each others' sports like Matt Kroczaleski and Stan Efferding?
BS: I think you become so successful at something, you want a change, or another challenge. And bodybuilding to powerlifting can be a pretty sensible transition.
CB: What is your nutrition like now?
BS: I take a huge shake in the morning with protein powder, oatmeal, peanut butter, and fruit. Throughout the day I am not on a diet, but whatever I eat I make sure to order as much meat as possible. Unlike most 300+ lb. football players, I'd be real small if I didn't lift and eat like I do. It's pretty easy for me to lose weight if I'm not on top of my food consumption.
CB: What changes are you going to have to make to go to the next level?
BS: I've just recently begun to understand the importance of regeneration. Foam rolling, stick rolling, ice baths, and active recovery. These help anyone stay healthy regardless of what they do. I'd also like to become more flexible for football.
CB: Is there anyone you would like to thank right now?
BS: Definitely my parents for being the most supportive people in my life. Everyone at RMLC for providing a great atmosphere to train. Dan from Con-Cret for showing me the best creatine in the world. My agent Kevin Poston and friend Jeff Ruffin for believing in me and taking a chance on me to provide a shot at the NFL. My trainer Loren Landow for making me a better athlete. And my girlfriend Julie for taking care of and putting up with me!