Q&A with Barbell Brigade’s Powerlifter Steve Gentili! (2016)
What are your goals for Powerlifting as far as this year is concerned?
I like to set my goals one meet at a time and hold myself accountable for just that. I have a meet coming up 6/19/16and my goals for that are to break the USPA American bench press record (556 pounds) the California deadlift record (799) and the California total record (2050) in the 275 classic raw division.
What was the proudest moment in your Powerlifting career that you’ve had up to date?
Getting 1st place at IPL world powerlifting championship in Vegas last November. I broke the California state deadlift record along with hitting a 2k total.
How many calories are you currently eating per day to maintain your weight and what are some staples in your kitchen that you find help you pack on a lot of size fast?
I never really count calories, if I’m trying to gain weight I eat more, if I’m trying to loose weight I eat less. It’s pretty intuitive and it works well for me. A staple is liquid egg whites, I live alone and don’t like to cook so it’s a easy way for me to get protein in without preparing anything.
How many days are you currently training per week?
I train 4 days a week, bench, dead squat and bodybuilding days are the main focus but hit each movement twice in a week. Usually Monday, Wednesday Friday and Saturday are my training days.
How exactly do you peak before a meet as far as your maxes go? Some lifters max out a week before while some do it a few days before on a particular lift, what do you do?
Some lifters max out a week before while some do it a few days before on a particular lift, what do you do? I utilize a lot of sub maximal training and peak about 3 weeks out. I hit my openers 2 weeks out then take a full week off to recover.
How long does it take you to warm-up for a bench press max from the second you walk into the gym (ex: foam rolling, band work, activation drills..etc)?
During peak week when I’m setting a or I only work the major movement so I take my time. So for bench I’ll foam roll. Do some banded internal and external rotation for the rotator cuff then I get onto the bench and do a warm up with the bar. All of that takes about 20 minutes then I start working up in the weight so probably 35-40 minutes after I walk in the gym I’m hitting my top set for max bench.
As much as people like to say that the big 3 are easy lifts to learn, what is something that you’ve learned this year about squatting that you didn’t know before?
Well squatting has been the hardest for me and I’m just now getting comfortable with my technique after working with several great coaches on it. Being 6’3 and having long femurs its been a struggle to find the right position for me, but I found not going too wide is better for me cause I have narrow hips and it allows me to get better leg drive.
What were your maxes in your first Powerlifting meet?
My first meet I squatted 695 benched 524 and deadlifted 760.
Name me one assistance exercise that you swear by for the Squat, Bench and Deadlift (1 for each).
Squat – Paused below parallel
Bench – db incline press
Can you give me a quick cue for trainees to engage their lats during the squat?
Tuck the elbows under the bar and actively pull the bar into your back
How much could you currently OHP and how many vertical pressing variations do you usually incorporate in your programs on average?
I have no set max on OHP, I don’t utilize maximal efforts on that particular movement. Usually I do seated military once a week and switch between Dumbbells and barbells. Last heavy sets I’ve done 365 barbell seated military for 3 reps and the 150 pound db for 10.
I’ve noticed that you do a lot of your shoulder pressing seated, what’s the reason behind that?
Conversation I had with my coach who felt that it translates better to bench that standing OHP. Seems to be paying off for me.
Do you ever include any rack pulls into your training and if you do then do find that they have any carryover to your deadlift?
I don’t use rack pulls, but I do pull off off mats so about 3-4 inch raised from the floor. I feel it can be beneficial for getting passed sticking points and overloading if grip strength is an issue but I also think people overestimate the benefits
With such a strong deadlift I’m just curious to know how much do you barbell or pendlay row?
Again not something I’ve maxed out on but I use 405 pounds for sets of 10.
What do you do for direct grip work and do you like farmers walks?
I don’t do a lot specifically for grip, I go a lot of heavy db work and I feel the best way to get better grip is deadlifting anyway so adding in static holds up top or extra sets can help.
What is a benching tip/cue that you’ve learned this year that you didn’t already know last year?
Keeping my head down. I have a tendency to lift my head up and it was pointed out to me by one of the best benchers in the world that I could be loosing tightness in my back. He said ” it’s either hurting your bench or it’s not, but it’s definitely not helping”
Did you get your traps mostly from deadlifting or do you also include some direct trap work as well?
I shrug on occasion but never heavy. I feel I get enough from the heavy deads and use lighter weight for shrugs for a better, longer contraction
Core work is incredibly important, what exactly do you do for core work and do you do any direct oblique work?
Lifting without a belt is enough core work for me but something I include the ab wheel roll outs or cable chops on lighter days
When do you think a lifter should be using bands in his/her training? (Ex: S 315, B 225, D 405)
I don’t think there’s s set weight and I think it can help out at any level. Accommodating resistance is great for speed work.
When do you think a lifter should start using knee wraps, belts and wrist wraps? (Ex: S 405, B 315, D 500)
This is one question I struggle with cause I do feel like most people need to develop a bass before really getting into wraps and sleeves. I lifted for 5 years before I started using anything and I think it definitely was an advantage for me. I would say there is not appropriate weight to start using them but not to use them every workout.
What was the worst injury that you’ve ever suffered and how did you get over it?
Well I’ve had a lot of injuries in my life, but the only one related to powerlifting was a torn bicep. I had surgery and was back in the gym 4 days later doing what I could in a sling. Injuries and being hurt is just a part of this sport do you have to learn to work around limitations.
What are your 3 favorite training songs for hitting PRs?
In no order Young Jeezy “thug motivation 101″ Lil Wyte ” doubt me now” hate breed ” in ashes they shall reap”