Curtis Dennis: Thanks for a chance to interview you, Jim. Please give the readers a description of yourself?
CD: How long have you been into powerlifting?
JP: I started powerlifting in 1987 at a small gym in Easton, Pa. After I had gotten out of the Marines.
CD: Have you always been strong?
JP: Strong is a relative term. In the world of powerlifting, no. As a regular guy, I guess I had average strength with average abilities.
CD: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into power lifting??
JP: My father worked in the oil and gas industry so we lived around the world and eventually settled into Easton, Pa. I graduated from high school in 1982. I always had a fascination with weightlifting and getting stronger. While in high school, I would lift at school using the old universal equipment. During the summers I would ride my bike to the local Y and lift there.
Eventually my dad bought my brother and I one of those Sears weight sets that we put in our room. I lifted when I could while in the Marines and was then introduced to powerlifting in 1987. A couple of guys who were NJ State Corrections Officer's took me under their wings and introduced me to the sport.
CD: How long have you been lifting drug free?
JP: I have been drug free my entire lifting career. I have no problem with lifters that use; it's just not worth the risk in my opinion. I also feel that you can last much longer in this sport if you remain drug free.
CD: Name some of your other feats of strength?
JP: My best competition lifts are an 810 squat, 500 bench and 700 dead lift. While in the Marines I obtained a perfect score of 300 on the physical fitness test. 20 pull-ups, 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes and I ran 3 miles in 17:53. I'm not much of a runner and it took me over 3 years to get my 3 mile run under 18 minutes in order to get the perfect score.
CD: How do you think you stack up against other power lifters?
JP: For years I was convinced that I would never amount to much in this sport. For over 10 years I struggled with my lifting, and was very below average. With the development of my system I've been able to take my lifting to the next level. I have to be realistic, I'll never be the best, but for an average guy I am now very competitive.
CD: Do you believe with the arrival of professional power lifting, that power lifting is moving in the right direction?
JP: From a purely powerlifter's perspective, yes I do. I think pro powerlifting gives the top lifters an opportunity to showcase their talents. The problem I see is that periodically there is talk of powerlifting in the Olympics. The lifter's who reach the pro level would most likely have a difficult time qualifying and lifting in the Olympics due to the drug testing.
There is drug testing in pro football and pro baseball is now going to implement drug testing. The amount of weight a top drug free lifter can lift is usually very impressive to the average spectator. In order for powerlifting to become more widely accepted among the general public, there are a few issues that need to be addressed.
CD: I've always preached about having training partners. Do you have any training partners?
JP: Over the years I have gone through my share of partners. It's hard to find a group of guys who share the same passion for powerlifting that I do. Fortunately, over the past 4-5 years I have been able to develop a solid time as well as some dedicated partners, Blaine Rundle, Dick Crane, Chris Riedy, Luke Dalton, Pat Delvey and my wife Shannon Parrish.
CD: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a power lifter?
JP: I really didn't know much about the sport and was unfamiliar with many of the great lifters. Every month you can open up PLUSA and read about some of the top lifters in the country. Years ago, I really didn't appreciate what those lifters had accomplished because I hadn't put the time into the sport and just could not comprehend the weight they had lifted. Now I am more impressed with a lifter's longevity as opposed to a lifter who in a short time lifted some big weight and then disappeared.
Louie Simmons has had a profound effect on numerous lifters, including myself. Louie is well into his fifties and is still lifting some big weight. Not everyone agrees with his system or methods, but he is still getting under the bar!
CD: What was one of the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
JP: Motivation. The first 10 years or so of my career, I spent spinning my wheels. I was able to lift moderate weight, but could never progress to the next level. Now matter how hard I trained I just could not get over the hump. But, my love for the sport and self-motivation prevented me from quitting.
CD: Tell us about your training/workouts and how you prepare for competitions.
JP: A training cycle consists of 6, ten-day cycles. Each 10 day cycle is broken down into 2 halves, the Dynamic, or speed half and the max effort half. In training, we use bands for a majority of our workouts, using high band tension and low bar weight has made me very strong. The bands are constantly providing an enormous amount of tension; it's pushing against this constant tension that not only develops strength but speed as well.
The faster you can move the weight, the more weight you can lift. Training with the bands has allowed me to add hundreds of pounds to my total without adding much body weight.
CD: Tell us about your training system and the athletes that benefited from it?
JP: I touched on my system briefly in the previous question. It is a strength/speed system. Meaning, by using bands we have developed tremendous speed when lifting. Any athlete can benefit from my system. I currently have a large group of high school students that are now using the system for their off season football training. I have a wide group of individuals in all age categories that use this system to maintain their physical fitness.
CD: Does your training differ from in-season to off-season?
JP: No, we train at a high level year round. We do 1 complete training cycle after the other and compete in 5 meets a year. We are able to do this because of our high level of conditioning. Also, the system is set up to allow for plenty of rest & recovery. A big mistake lifters make is the amount of time that they take off after a cycle or a meet. It takes so long to develop the strength and no time at all to lose it. By training at a high level year round, we can improve on the gains from each previous cycle.
CD: What other things are you into other than powerlifting?
JP: With a job, wife and kids, not much else. Powerlifting is my passion. Other guys hunt, fish, work on cars, whatever, I train everyday. Rest of my time is spent getting my kids to their activities and then coaching and answering questions to all the lifters that are on my site.
CD: What supplements do you take?
JP: I think a good diet is most important. I try to eat 4-5 times a day. The last half of my training cycle leading into a meet, I'll take creatine 3 times a week and one of my partners turned me onto 1 AD from ErgoPharm. I wasn't real big on the andro's, but some of this newer stuff seems to give you a little boost. I'll take one protein shake a day as well.
CD: What do you think of powerlifters today? Any that sticks out in your mind?
JP: There are a lot of great lifters out there who have lifted some amazing amounts of weight. I get more pleasure out of seeing a skinny high school kid who isn't gifted enough to play high school sports, squat 400 pounds for the first time. Sometimes it comes easier for the gifted lifters, I've seen first hand how hard some of these kids have to work, a 400 pound squat for a 148 pound high school kid is pretty awesome.
CD: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who is just starting out in powerlifting?
JP: Powerlifting is a long-term sport. In order to be successful in this sport you have to be prepared to fail. You will not always be at your best, you will not always have a great meet, but the lifter's that stick with it in the end will be successful.
CD: What do you think of the sport of powerlifting and its lifters in general?
JP: The sport of powerlifting welcomes anyone and everyone. The sport of powerlifting doesn't care who or what you did in high school or college. Powerlifting treats everyone equally. If you do not give 100% regardless of who you are you will not succeed. There aren't too many sports or hobbies that a person can do for life. Powerlifting is one of them. A majority of the lifters are just like myself. We lift and compete for the fun of it. Most of the lifters I have come across are great and genuine people.
CD: Does physical strength run in your family?
JP: No, not even close. I am not a naturally strong person. I'm living proof that anyone can lift some decent weight, drug free as long as your willing to keep an open mind and to put your time in.
CD: What would you suggest to someone on how to getting stronger or a bigger bench?
JP: The big question is always, "how much can you bench?" So I will focus on that. Any type of structure is only as strong as its foundation. You want a strong upper body and bench, develop your foundation. 60-70 percent of your muscle is from the waist down. Incorporate squats and deadlifts into your training and develop your foundation. Increase your natural strength. Weighted pull-ups and dips will increase your natural strength.
Train smart. My system teaches to do just enough. Overtraining and the lack of rest and recovery is the primary reason why so many lifter's fail to make gains. More is not always better. My system teaches to break your workouts into mini-cycles, minimal exercises and training with bands. Training with bands has made us incredibly strong.
CD: What's next for you?
JP: I am going to continue promoting and developing my site, www.joeaveragepowerlifting.com as well as developing the lifters on my team.
CD: Is there anything else you would like to mention to our readers here at bodybuilding.com?
JP: Regardless of your passion whether it be powerlifting, weightlifting, general fitness or bodybuilding, the system that I have developed will benefit any lifter regardless of experience. Everyone wants to get stronger and that's exactly what my system will do for you.
CD: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview?
JP: My pleasure.
Check out my website @ http://zap.to/maxfusion