Charles Staley – Dave Tate Interview
Salepage : Charles Staley – Dave Tate Interview
You don’t become an expert in strength training unless you devote your entire life to it. Dave Tate is the owner and CEO of eliteftsTM, a well-known company in the strength market that offers both instruction and high-quality goods to athletes of all levels – but Dave is more than that. Dave has built a reputation as one of the most respected powerlifting instructors through years of expertise both on and off the platform.
Dave currently resides in London, Ohio, where he conducts eliteftsTM. Dave brings a unique perspective to the fitness sector based on his extensive expertise in powerlifting, personal training, athletic development, and business in the fitness industry.
GOMETAL.COM’s Samppa Nyman had some questions for Dave. Jordan Houser, Associate Editor at eliteftsTM, conducted the interview below, using these questions to provide a complete peek into the life of one of the industry’s top stars.
JH: You’re most recognized for your successful powerlifting career. You used to participate in bodybuilding while you were in high school. You’ve returned to bodybuilding-style training since retiring from powerlifting. How much do you believe bodybuilding has progressed in the decades since you competed in it and are now training in that manner again?
DT: I didn’t bodybuild for very long. It was back in the 1980s, maybe about 1986. Because I am no longer a competitor, I must base my distinctions on what I observe other people doing, what I hear from other competitors, and what I see in the industry. In 1986, I trained on a three or four-day split, with each body component exercised once a week. I also performed a lot of double split training back then, doing quads in the morning and hamstrings at night. Back then, everything was the same. I’d go back in the morning and do biceps at night. I believe that back then, we generally trained harder than what I see now. Everything felt hard, hefty, and nothing was particularly light.
The dietary side is another place where I notice tremendous difference. Dieting was all about low-fat back then. I recall diets where the maximum amount of fat was 20 grams. Carbohydrate intake was always around three, four, or five hundred grams per day. Dieting is different now since there are so many different approaches. The ketogenic diet, carb cycling, and the low fat, high carb diet are all options. It’s possible that all of those things existed in the 1980s, but I was a teenager at the time and relied on the advice of one person. I had little exposure to the industry.
JH: The fitness business has been greatly influenced by the internet. What are some recent fitness industry discoveries you’ve made? Is there anything you’ve seen that you consider to be fresh developments?
DT: Everything is always reinventing itself. What I see is the same thing that has been happening for years. New programs will constantly appear and evolve, but when you look closely at any program, you will notice that it is nothing more than a training approach being used more efficiently than it is in another program. For many years, training to fail was quite popular, and several training programs were designed around it. However, training to failure is simply one approach of gaining muscle. A regimen based on half rep training was also available. You just did partials. That’s just another training approach. It still occurs today. So, if you can figure out what training approach isn’t being discussed today, you’ll uncover the next big thing.
You often train with John Meadows. What impact do you believe he is having on the fitness industry and bodybuilding training and diet right now?
DT: I believe John is having a greater impact than he understands. He’s reintroducing old-school work habits. For many years, training for failure was frowned upon. Almost every blog and article written in the last 10 years will advise you not to train for failure. John is now coming around and says that’s OK. He’s bringing safety factors with him, so you may fail without hurting yourself. People will start implementing some components of John’s training, such as training hamstrings before quads and completing complex movements at the conclusion of the session, and say they “train Mountain Dog.” It’s similar to when I was assisting Louie in presenting a lot of concurrent and conjugate technique training and we had individuals tell us they trained Westside just because they did board presses. The fact that you board press and box squat does not imply that you train Westside. The same may be said of John’s Mountain Dog Training Program.
JH: Consider a powerlifter. He wants to keep competing at his current level, but he looks like trash. You can’t tell he’s a lifter just by looking at him. What suggestions or advice would you give him to keep pushing his squat, bench, and deadlift while still improving his appearance?
DT: I’d start by changing his diet. I’m assuming he looks like shit because he’s overweight when I say he looks like shit. Before even answering the question, I would say, “Is looking nice more essential than winning?” Winning should be one of the primary reasons you participate in sports. Powerlifters typically develop a distinct physique as a result of their training. This will determine what gets developed and what doesn’t. If a lifter wants to look more complete, simply add extra hypertrophy and bodybuilding training at the conclusion of the program. It should not make it more difficult to recuperate from the main task. I’m fine for boosting effort and volume to any lifter’s program, as long as it doesn’t imply additional recovery work. It then becomes unproductive.
A powerlifter’s program will include accessories for two reasons. The initial step is to create a movement that will carry over to a primary lift. If you know that a board press improves your bench press, you must identify which lift will aid your board press. If it’s triceps extensions, you’ll do them to improve and build the movement pattern of the board press.
The second purpose for using accessories is to increase muscle mass. Muscle mass does not create the same amount of strength as maximum or explosive strength growth, but it does produce strength. Examine the other weightlifters in your weight class. If they all have massive, hanging triceps and you don’t, it’s a solid indication that you need to grow some triceps.
The final aspect of muscular mas accessories is strength. You can grow muscle without going overboard. Bodybuilders have been doing this for a long time. When your aim is to gain bulk through hypertrophy training, avoid movements like lying triceps barbell extensions, which can damage your elbows. Look for an activity that requires less joint torque and compression. This is the point at which you should start thinking about more bodybuilding-type motions that are lighter, slower in speed, have a greater contraction, and are much easier to recover from.
JH: You’ve been hurt a lot in your career. This is unavoidable in the sport of powerlifting. EliteftsTM sponsors a lot of big-name lifters in the sport right now, and injuries are unavoidable. What do you tell a lifter who comes to you with an injury? What are the most crucial factors for a lifter to consider while returning to achieve additional progress?
DT: I always recommend that they consult a doctor. It is critical to have a solid relationship with an orthopedic who understands your physical plan. Lifters are not the same as other orthopedic patients, thus it is critical to talk with your doctor.
When I was still competing, I got quite skilled at recovering from injuries – nearly too well. I wish I had taken more time off at the beginning of the rehab so that I could have pushed harder in the conclusion. When a lifter is hurt, the first thing that comes to mind is “how long is this going to take?”
In my opinion, the activity that would best heal my ailment was the same one that had caused it in the first place. Because this was generally the competitive lift, the primary aim was to reestablish range of motion. This should have meant full joint range of motion, but it always meant the ability to squat, bench, and deadlift. I began benching as soon as I could get my hand near enough to do so. I usually started with a reverse band set up to a three board with only the bar if it had a shoulder or pec problem. This implies it weighed almost nothing, but when you’re four days out of surgery and can’t even lift your arm, this is all you can do. Allowing myself to strain early in the therapy meant I wouldn’t have to worry about the damage after I returned to the 500-pound fury that caused the problem in the first place.
Doing 65 pounds for a one-rep max the week after surgery wasn’t enough to tear anything off, and it was far superior than trying to do 65 pounds for 30 reps later in the recovery. When the muscle begins to fatigue and fail, you are more likely to be hurt again. I was able to work my way back up to bigger weights than I had before the injury, and I never had to deal with the mental nonsense. I’d already been working out for months, and the weight was simply a bonus.
JH: Many of your injuries occurred before you began exercising at Westside. Louie is often talking about how his training methods helped him to prolong his career after it appeared to be done. This is something you’ve mentioned previously. Westside has a reputation for never stopping going hard, and even when you should have quit three sets ago, you put on another plate and climbed under the bar. How was it like to train in this setting? Is Westside’s ‘crazy environment’ reputation justified?
DT: I wouldn’t call you insane. It was the usual for us. We refused to back down, even when Louie told us to. When I went there, it was a tiny facility with 25 elite level powerlifters, all of whom were ranked in the top 5 or top 10. There were some egos, but we didn’t care. We were eager to see everyone else succeed. But we used to attempt to injure each other in the gym every day. To be as competitive as we were, we had to be willing to do things that other people would not. We had to travel to locations where other lifters would not.
I could tell you a story about every maximum effort day. A normal max effort day can look like a very good morning with the safety squat bar. Because I struggled at this bar, I believe my best from a low hang was 485 pounds. I’d do 405 and feel like I’d died. I’d sit down and reflect on how ridiculous that was. I knew it was going to be difficult as soon as I went beneath the bar. It took me four seconds to get up, and when I sat down, the person next to me asked, “you think you’ve got another one?” I tell him I’m not sure, and the next man gets up and performs it for five dollars. You immediately think, “Mother fucker. If he can do it for five, I should be able to do it for 455.”
This time, standing up takes longer, and I’m seeing stars at the top. The person next to me says it didn’t look well and wonders what I’ll do next. The number 475 is then placed on the bar.
That was the case at Westside. Everyone pushed the envelope as far as they could. They were the most difficult training circumstances I’d ever encountered.
JH: You formed an attitude that you’ve already discussed throughout your time at Westside. This is known as Blast and Dust. How does this approach function, and how has it influenced the way you live your life today?
Blast and Dust is an all-or-nothing game. When I was preparing for a meet, it became the most important thing in my life. It overtook job, family, my own health, and everything else. It’s on full blast the entire time. Everything else in my life would not fall apart at this time, but it would become neutralized and would not improve. When I first began the company, I found I couldn’t do it with my training because by the time I finished whatever goal I had, there was so much crap I was behind on. When I was focused on the firm, I experimented extensively with DC training to reduce training sessions to 30-45 minutes rather than an hour. An hour and a half each week is more manageable than five hours per week. I still have stages in my training when I push myself quite hard, but I’ve arranged it around my weekends. As I’ve become older, I’ve discovered a better balance in the middle rather than being on one side or the other.
Don’t get me wrong: it sounds fantastic. To live a balanced life, to prioritize the things that are important to you, sounds perfect. Is this even possible for an expert level lifter? Is it possible for a top lifter to strike a balance?
DT: No. I’m not sure whether there ever is such a thing as a balanced existence for anyone. You aspire to be, and this should be your ultimate objective. It’s similar to your ideals or whatever map you use to guide your life. Whatever those values are, you may not always live them completely, but they will serve as your benchmarks. When you fall, you know you have to return home.
You’ll notice when you’re drifting away from those targets. You’ll be anxious. You will be unable to sleep. You’ll be thinking about other things all the time. You’ll feel as though you’re living in a state of anarchy. I believe that high level athletes, elite businesspeople, or anyone else who is incredibly enthusiastic and concentrated on one thing lose sight of going home. They start doing things they wouldn’t typically do and rationalize it by stating, “I had to do that.” After three or four repetitions, the entire pendulum has moved and this is their new normal. Before they realize it, they’ve strayed so far from who they want to be or who they think they should be that they’ve forgotten who the fuck they are.
This is often what it takes for an individual to attain their exceptional level. I’m not saying it’s correct, but that’s the way it is. Along the way, they suffer consequences in their personal relationships, and the route to get there is fraught with peril.
I won’t claim that if you attempt to be balanced, you’ll always have a mediocre life, since that’s not true. What you consider successful determines your life.
JH: We’ve discussed your past, but what are you doing now? Consider the past year once you’ve completed all of your training. What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment this year?
DT: Last year was a disaster. It’s a difficult question because we’re approaching the end of a year in which I spent the majority of it recovering from hip replacement surgery. I was still attempting to find delight in training. Sometimes it’s simply training, and it’s awful. That was the case for the most of the year. I couldn’t really push myself since I was also attempting to get my shoulder back into position while rehabilitating my hip. I was attempting to repair the robot in order to push whatever my next challenge would be. It’s aggravating when training is tedious. It is cyclical in nature and quite repetitive. It causes you to make lifestyle adjustments since you aren’t as strict with your food, which isn’t really required. After all of this, I believe my biggest accomplishment is knowing I’m ready to go hard and blast again. As a 46-year-old with a hip replacement, you’re not wondering, “How long will this take?” You’re wondering, “What am I going to be able to do?” It’s frightening to consider that your desire to push yourself could be fading. It’s much more difficult when it’s been a part of your life since you were 13 years old. I need to train with a goal in mind. I’ll have to face that finality sometime, and it’s one of my greatest worries in life. So, what am I going to do? I don’t believe I’ll be able to continue, but will I have to? I’m not sure. I know it’s not going to change easy after this year. I wasn’t sure for a long.