** MM is Monstermuscle Magazine in the interview
George Halbert is one of the most well known big benchers from resent years. Benching 733 at just 220 and 683 at 198, he is clearly a very elite bencher. Monster Muscle is glad to have him here for this interview.
MM: Thanks for sitting down with us for an interview. I know most people know you already, but lets start with a brief introduction. Will you give me a history of your powerlifting career?
HALBERT: I have been lifting weights for about 17 years since my freshman year in high school. My favorite lift has always been the bench press. About 8 years ago I came down to Westside with a best lifts of 473 at 221 raw, my best with a shirt was 475. Within 3 weeks I benched 520 with a shirt at Westside. I have broken 10 all-time records in 3 weight classes. When I first started at Westside I tried all 3 lifts for a while and made my elite at 275, however I realized my gift was the bench and now only specialize in the bench press.
MM: We all heard you injured yourself at the Arnold Classic this year. What exactly happened?
HALBERT: Well two weeks before the Arnold on my last set of my max effort workout my left pec knotted up and inflamed my tendon. Normally two weeks would have been sufficient time for recovery, but because I diet the last two weeks to make weight I did not perform my rehab workout on my pec and in addition my diet pulls fluids out of my muscles and tendons which I think helped keep my tendon inflamed.
I did not even think my tendon was still hurt when I began to warm-up at the Arnold but at my 405 warm-up I felt my tendon tweak. I tried to convince myself that my shirt would protect this injury even at max weight, but luckily Louie Simmons and Bob Youngs were there to talk some sense into me and I withdrew from the meet. The tendonitis is no big deal as I have had this injury in either pec at least 15-20 times in my career.
The biggest disappointment was I had promoted this meet on our local television station, our local sports radio station and had many friend, family and fans in the audience to whom I would like to apologize, but this was for the best for my career and for my continued quest for strength gain. However, the rest of the field at the Arnold showed the audience a spectacular bench press competition. In the heavyweights Mendelson, Kennelly and Zemmin moved some serious iron with Scott's 755 lb vaporization being the highlight.
In the middleweights Salvino shined and is close to coming up on that big 600+ at 181. He was very nervous in the warm-up area but on stage his competitive side came out. In the lightweights Marcus made a triumphant return to the Arnold. I knew he was going to have a good meet after he told me in the warm-up area that his training was not going so well, because that's exactly what he told me 18 months ago in Daytona when he broke the all-time lb-for-lb bench press.
MM: I have watched your video and it is clear you have spent some serious time studying strength training. When did you start using bands?
HALBERT: Actually Louie Simmons is the one who has spent some serious time studying strength training I am just a beneficiary of all of his hard work. About 3-4 years ago bands found their way into our gym and now our gym is full of them. I personally believe bands will be the wave of the future as they add many more dimensions then free weights alone. I will write a future article on the bands as there is so much to cover.
MM: In the resent few months you have really turned into an entrepreneur. You manufactured a great video and you distribute strength training bands. What, if anything, is next?
HALBERT: After the Arnold last year a former great bodybuilder and powerlifter Jim Seitzer told me that I had a duty to share my training with everyone else. I wasn't so sure that everyone wanted to know or even cared, but the response from my video has been great and it's a great feeling to have a positive impact on other people and to help people realize that they can achieve much more. I also realized that since the bands work so well and I believe that they will play a huge role in the future in gyms everywhere that it would be a good idea to help distribute them. I also have done some seminars which is challenging for me not from the knowledge aspect but from the live presentation aspect but I am becoming more comfortable in this role and my seminars have all gone well. My big dream is to put on an annual bench press meet that lifters can look forward to competing in.
MM: Who would you say has had the largest effect on your training?
HALBERT: This is an easy one. Louie Simmons is the man when it comes to strength training. His ability to focus in on all aspects of an idea from the inside and out is amazing. What's even more amazing and gives hope to many out there is he is self taught. He did not study in school but knows more than any College Professor on strength training than I know. Also, although he has all this knowledge his open-mindedness and willingness to learn keeps him progressing forward. I continually look to him for ideas on training.
MM: We heard the tragic news about your training partner. How is Fusner doing?
HALBERT: Rob is handling everything very well. He is very positive and I believe he will return in a few years even stronger than ever. Rob is young and intelligent and will overcome this obstacle, hopefully soon too as he was a vital part of our workouts.
MM: if you could give one blurb of advice to the novice lifters across the USA, what would it be?
HALBERT: Very simple, educate yourself and surround yourself with reliable and dedicated workout partners.
MM: While I have you in the spotlight, would you like to give a formal "thank you" to anybody?
HALBERT: There are so many people. My dad for taking me to the APF nationals and YMCA nationals when I was a kid. Westside barbell, my wife and Joe Lester. Also thanks to Kieran for trying to promote our sport, he gets a lot of criticism, I even disagree with some things, however he pushes onward and I personally appreciate his efforts and his vision. Also all those people out there that cheer for me and believe I can go even farther. I'll try not to disappoint you all.