Pubblico un’ intervista fatta ad un grande campione del powerling lettone, detentore del record mondiale assoluto di stacco da terra senza attrezzatura ben 426kg! Eseguito nel 2009. Una cosa interessante dell’intervista è che vengono messe in risalto le sue individualità nell’eseguire la panca piana e stacco. Ecco, la maggior parte dei sollevatori se eseguono lo stacco con una schiena tipicamente a C, quindi schiena ricurva, semplicemente fanno uno stacco di merda. Konstantinovs no, con la schiena a C lui è una bestia e detentore del record mondiale.
(Traduzione di Andrea Ferlito)
Did you start training as a powerlifter?
At first I did gymnastics (from 6 year old), then judo, then strength training. As a powerlifter I have been training from 16 year old.
As I understand deadlift is your favourite lift?
Deadlift has always been my favourite and best lift. As a 15 year old and at a bodyweight of just slightly over 70 kg, I pulled 215 kg with a horribly rounded back and without a belt. But I like to squat and bench press as well.
How do you train squat?
I squat in every workout. For a long time, I used to do only ATG Oly squat. But now I squat on a box of various heights with bands and I also do a raw powerlifting squat in light knee wraps (I have week knees and I need to spare them). I do a heavy box squat after deadlift: I max out for a single set of 2-3 reps with bands that add 120 kg at the top. Then I take some weight from the bar, and do a set of 7-10 reps. My medium squat is a single set of heavy free squat for 4-6 reps. My light squat is also a single set of free squat.
Your competition bodyweight is at maximum, or still increasing?
I have always had a problem with gaining weight. I am skinny by nature, and gain weight very slowly. But on the other hand, I don’t get fat. In general, I have to fight hard for every kilogram of bodyweight. However, the increase in strength from every additional kilogram is substantial. I need to slowly increase my bodyweight to 135-140 kg. Then I will be really strong. Now my bodyweight is 128 kg, and for my height of 190 cm (6’3), this is too low.
I saw your raw bench press. You have very long arms, but you press with a close grip. Is it a habit? Or pecs injured?
When I was young, I listened to “wise” people who said that grip should be maximally wide – 81 cm. The range is shorter and to press heavier is easier like that. But over time, I understood that this does not work for me. My arms are long, and in the bottom position I was not able to engage muscles of the back. As a result I constantly had injuries of shoulders and pecs. But my close grip bench press has always been good. At 17 years of age, I benched 200 kg with a close grip, but with glutes off the bench. I decided not to think too much about this, and I switched to close grip. After that I had no injuries, no pain and strength has been increasing slowly but constantly. But triceps must be very strong for such benching!
Many say that deadlifting like Konstantinov, with a rounded back, is a straight road to a broken back. How’s your back, any pain?
That I will break my back I heard from as long as I started to deadlift, or for the last 16 years. I have always deadlifted with a rounded back. My legs have always been lagging in development, but results in deadlift have always been increasing. My back is prone to injuries only when I squat with a heavy weight, but when I deadlift, my back remains in the same rounded position throughout the lift, irrespective of whether I can lift the weight or not, and this protects it from injury. But you need very strong abs if you want to deadlift like that.
Could you give an example of your latest training microcycle?
I don’t have a fixed training schedule. All depends on how I feel, and if I feel that I am not recovered that I rest 1-2 days more. If the heavy training did not go as planned, then I do it after 1 day of rest.
1. Light squat for a warm up.
2. Deadlift. I do a different variant every time I train: rack pulls – 7, 11, 15, 20, 23 cm from the knees (higher than that I never pull). I do either a set of 3 reps or 8-10 depending on how I feel.
3. Bench press. I consider bench press as rest between heavy work. I bench either with touch and go with a medium grip, or with a close grip pausing at the bottom. I might do a single set of 10 reps with touch and go, or might max out pausing at the bottom. It all depends on how I feel and my mood.
4. 2nd deadlift. I pull either from a floor or from a deficit (about 9 cm). I do a single set of 2-3 reps pausing at the bottom. Then if I have enough energy, I might do another set of 6-8 reps.
5. Box squat. Heavy box squat as described above.
Workout 2 (in two days).
1. Medium heavy squat as described above.
2. Heavy bench press for a single set of 3 reps. Once in two weeks: negatives – 1-2 set for 1 rep. Then a single set of 8-10 reps with either close or medium grip depending on how I feel.
3. Cardio – 15-20 min.
1. Light squat.
2. Medium heavy bench press: a single set of 6-8 reps.
3. Speed deadlift with bands: 8×1. Bands increase weight by 130 kg at the top.
4. Pull ups with weight or bands. ONLY explosively. Very important for my deadlift.
5. GHR, hyperextensions, very heavy abs work (6 sets with emphasis on strength).
The same as workout 2.
After this the microcycle is repeated.
Do you often do sets to failure? How long do you rest between workouts after heavy bench and deadlift work?
Sometimes I max out for 1RM, but normally I try to have something left in reserve. In deadlift, I max out only in competitions or on special occasions. In bench press, I max out more often, and in the past I liked to do this routinely. Now I save myself for competitions. With box squat, I normally do a maximally heavy set of 2-3 reps, but I might also max out (but not often). After bench press, I recover very quickly because I bench with my arms and muscles only. When I used to use a wide grip, I had pain in ligaments and tendons sometimes for 5 days. Now with a close grip, all of the load is on muscles only, and they recover quickly. With deadlift, the situation is of course different. The heavy deadlift workout (together with a heavy box squat) takes about 4 hours, and after such training the body recovers much more slowly. All in all, a heavy deadlift workout is done once in 13-14 days.
For many people, it is hard to have a job and train at the same time. Do you have such a problem?
I work as a body guard, and I have to fly all over the world, which is interesting and educational. But it’s hard to train like this. I often have to train in hotels and fitness centres where nobody heard about powerlifting. Some times, all I can do is just push ups and squats with a friend on my shoulders in order to maintain muscles somehow. I lose 4-5 kg after each travel. One can forget about eating 5 times a day when working. Some times, all I get is just a breakfast and a couple of protein snacks. It takes me 2 weeks to rest after such travels. But all of this is really not essential, the most important is the wish to train, and if you have it, you’ll find time for training.
How do you prepare psychologically to competitions?
Psychological preparation is very important for me. Especially for the dealift. I would say that I am in a state of a controlled rage, and I am thinking only about one thing: SPEED. When my friends support me, they always shout “speed”.
What do you prepare for right now?
I want to rest a little, and then I will start heavy training again, especially in deadlift. I don’t want to use gear, so I will continue training without it. My next goal is 441 kg deadlift RAW. Many ask me when I am going to beat Andy Bolton’s record. I find this funny. I would be happy to meat him in a competition without gear in a bodyweight class of 140 kg. But I don’t think that Andy will agree to this. Some people can get a lot out of gear, but others – not much. It would be much more simple is everybody competed without gear. Many are tired of all these mega records set in gear. The real strength is not in extracting maximum out of gear. This is my opinion about it.