Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
June 23, 2024
Interview With One Of Powerlifting's Strongest Couples....
Bart Boggia and Jess Handshue

Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
December 2006

Bart 1) CRITICAL BENCH: Bart and Jess welcome to www.criticalbench.com! We have done father and son interviews before but this is our first boyfriend and girlfriend powerlifting interview together.

It's exciting to interview one of the strongest powerlifting couples.

Bart and Jess tell us about yourselves?

Bart: I'm 19 years old and live in Brilliant, Ohio. I have been lifting for 4 years and have been competing since May of 2006. My best lift is a 600 lb. bench press. I am going to school to be a cop.

Jess: I am 18 years old and live in Wadsworth, Ohio. I have been lifting for 4 years and have been competing a year and 5 months now. My best lift was at Kenny Patterson's meet. I benched 315. I'm taking a year off of school and going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh next year for Culinary Arts.

2) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow, a couple of teenagers where the male bench presses 600+ and the female has benched more than 315, absolutely unbelievable! Bart and Jess, I know you train at one of the most prestigious and hardcore gyms in the world "Westside Barbell" owned by Lou Simmons. What is it like training there?

Bart: Training out at Westside is unbelievable. It is the most intense gym in the world. Lou and the guys out there help me out a lot. So far this year lifting there, I have put 150 lbs. on my bench.

Jess: I train at Westside most weekends. I usually go up with Bart and I train with Laura Phelps and her boyfriend Shane. I've learned so much from going out there and training. Everyone out there is so nice.

Jess 3) CRITICAL BENCH: How did the two of you meet and what do the two of you enjoy doing during your free time?

Jess: Bart and I met at a powerlifting meet this year where Bart benched 450 and I benched 275. Away from the gym I like to hang out with my friends, go shopping, and go watch powerlifting meets with Bart.

Bart: I like to go hunting, fishing, watch movies, and go to other powerlifting meets to watch.

4) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?

Bart: I want to be the best. I'm going to start doing full meets. I want to be benching at least 700lbs by summer 2007. Within the next year or two I want to squat 1,000 pounds!

Jess: Next year I would like to be the first female teenager to ever bench press 400 lbs. I want to also get better at squats and deadlifts and maybe do a full meet next year. Down the road I hope to be a guest lifter at Arnold for bench press.

5) CRITICAL BENCH: Bart I see that you have a Westside Tattoo on your calves. What did everyone at Westside say about it? And Jess what do you think of Bart's new tattoo?

Bart: Well, I'm not sure what everyone thinks about it. Some people like it, some people may not. Lou told me that I could go and get one and I feel that I have earned it.

Jess: I think it's cool. I mean I never will get a tattoo just because I think it will hurt too much. For Bart to have a Westside tattoo, it means a lot to him. So whatever Bart wants I support him all the way.

Bart 6) CRITICAL BENCH: How did you both get involved with powerlifting and what is it about powerlifting that you love so much?

Bart: I started lifting four years ago for football and I have always liked it. Beginning of this year I met Mike Wolfe and he set me up with a lifting program with bands, and then I did a meet this year, and fell in love with it ever since then.

Jess: I lifted for track for four years. My senior year my brother Matt talked to me about getting into powerlifting cause he was doing it for awhile and making good gains. So he took me up to this gym in my town called the Fitness Zone and introduced me to Headhunter Powerlifting. I love powerlifting because I love getting all pumped up to either have a good work out or to lift in a meet. It's awesome!

7) CRITICAL BENCH: Give us your training routine?

Bart: Sunday- Max effort. Monday- Legs and back. Tuesday- Speed bench. Wednesday- Shoulders Saturday- speed back and legs

Jess: Sunday- Max effort Monday- Legs and back. Thursday- Speed bench. Saturday- Squat

Jess 8) CRITICAL BENCH: Who are some of your better friends in powerlifting?

Bart: Mike Wolfe. He's a real good guy and is always there for me when I need someone to spot for me. Anytime I have a question I always ask Mike. Lou Simmons is also one of my better friends. He comes in after we get done working out and tells me what I need to do to get stronger and to be a better powerlifter. Everybody that lifts at Westside always helps me if I ever have a question. Jess also helps me out and supports me 100%.

Jess: Laura Phelps is a good friend to me. She's very nice and a good person. She always helps me out with my workouts and motivates me. She's one of the few that believe in me. Her boyfriend Shane helps me out a lot too. If it weren't for Laura, Shane, Bart and the people out at Westside helping me I wouldn't be where I am right now.

9) CRITICAL BENCH: Bart, what would you like to say to the younger person who lifts heavy that might want to try powerlifting? What advice would you give?

Bart: Just try it. Everyone out there in powerlifting is willing to help you out. It's not like some of the other sports where the best of the best won't help you because you're just starting. The best powerlifters in the world will help you get stronger and support you and your training.

Jess: I agree with Bart.

Jess 10) CRITICAL BENCH: Jess, question for you only. Would you like to see more women train or are you happy with fewer women in powerlifting like there are today? Is there any message that you would like to give other female lifters?

Jess: I would like to see more women out there powerlifting. Every meet that I have been to except Kenny Patterson's I've only seen 2 or 3 women lifters lifting. I think it would be cool to have more teenage female powerlifters out there lifting so I could have more competition. A message for other female powerlifters I would like to give is to just keep reaching for your goals and keep lifting hard because I know what it's like to have many guys in the sport and guys out of the sport to try and break me down and to quit because I'm a female. Females can do anything that men can do.. Just look at Becca and Laura....

11) CRITICAL BENCH: Being a couple how do you motivate each other?

Jess: Bart makes sure that I work as hard as him in the gym when I lift with him. He yells at me and tries to get me as strong as I can be.

Bart: Jess is there for me and motivates me when I need it most. Right before a meet she gets my mind in the zone to where that only matters is to get a good lift in. When we train together she's always there to yell at me to get the lift that I am doing.

12) CRITICAL BENCH: I'm going to play a word game for a minute, tell us what comes to mind.

What will the bench press world record be in 20 years from now ?

Bart: 1150 for guys 750 for women.

Are there too many feds out there, yes or no?

We both say yes.

Should powerlifting be a mainstream sport or remain underground?

We both say mainstream.

CRITICAL BENCH: In closing what would you like to say?

Jess: No goal is too big. If you believe in yourself and have people supporting you anything is possible.

Bart: Go big or go home!


Bart's Westside Tattoo


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