Q&A with Lightweight World Record Holding Powerlifter: Richard Hawthorne (2016)

Q&A with Lightweight World Record Holding Powerlifter: Richard Hawthorne (2016)

Q&A with Lightweight World Record Holding Powerlifter: Richard Hawthorne

Richard Hawthorne

On the Fitworldexposed website we talk a lot about how to gain size and strength. More specifically, we talk a lot about the importance of having big and strong glutes for an impressive lower body and powerlifters are hands-down the athletes out there with the biggest and strongest glutes as far as I’m concerned because their sport revolves around Squats and Deadlifts.

Today we have a VERY special guest who goes by the name of Richard Hawthorne. Richard is known to be as the strongest pound for pound lifter on the planet in powerlifting because he totals over 11x his bodyweight. Some of his best lifts are a 550lb+ squat, 300lb+ bench press and a 600lb+ deadlift which is extremely strong.

This is why if you want to get good at anything then you have to learn from the best because they didn’t make it to the top by accident. Powerlifters have dedicated their lives to getting stronger totals and the wisdom/knowledge that they have is worth its weight in gold.

Lets get into it.


What made you take on Powerlifting as opposed to something like Olympic lifting or Bodybuilding?

A neighborhood friend and his brother convince me to give powerlifting a try in my ninth grade year of grade school. Iv been hooded in it for the past 17 years.

How many calories are you currently eating per day and how do you manage to maintain such a low bodyweight all year round even though you are getting stronger?

Well I don’t keep tabs on my calorie intake, never have. This (5’3 132 give or take) is my natural frame and body weight when I am lifting. I could easily be lighter if I choose to not lift. Lol how do I continue to get stronger maintaining the same bodyweight?! Let’s just say this, the methods beliefs and the approach that everyone have been stuck on for generations leaves holds in the  process of getting stronger to where they have to rely on other variables to get stronger. What’s crazy is that it’s an unwritten belief that we have to gain weight to become stronger and with that very belief hinders us to not even try or question that notion with the help of the ego, everybody wants to be jacked and tanned. The body is very simple but is the most amazing mechanical system in existence. I am in the process finishing my book, no specific date or name just yet, but it will change the whole industries outlook and approach. There will be denial but you won’t be able to deny it.


What is the worst injury that you ever had to experience and how did you get over it?

All 17 years of my lifting career I’ve been extremely proud of the fact that haven’t had a gym related injury at all considering the weight to body weight ratio that I have produced and preformed. The worst thing I had to deal with was shortly after The CAPO meet where I break the all time world record total down in Australia. My knee got messed up wrestling a 300 lb + drunk on Super Bowl night. Stupid huh? I believe it was a meniscus issue which happened to me before, my 8th grade year of grade school.  I lost 60 % of my range of motion in my right knee going into the 2014 Raw Unity meet down FL that February. I indulged in some compression’s and muscle stemming to get through that meet but long term recovery involved a lot of confidence boosting, blood flow work to the area, stretching and yoga for range of motion and a shit ton of patience I was forced to acquire. April 2016 was my first time back on the platform for a full meet since then. I’m proud to say I finished that meet with a 10x bw performance SQ 528  B 286  DL 562 TL 1376 @ 131 bw.

How many times were you deadlifting per week when you were pulling over 600lb?

I only deadlift once a week.


The Sumo deadlift is one of the best exercises out there for building big and strong glutes, but most people just pull it off the floor as if they were doing a conventional deadlift with a wide stance. What are some other common mistakes that you see along with some important technique cues/tips that you could give people who are trying to get really good at pulling sumo?  

Well that’s a loaded question as far as mistakes and bad cues, I can go all day but the most common is using the back as a henge with both Conventional and Sumo. To be honest they are both suppose to be the same exact movement while one of them demand more muscle recruitment from the lower extremities while the other does not. When both are done properly, it should not be more than a 5° difference, lesser or greater strain, pressure or load on the back but 99.95% would like to argue and think otherwise but Who am I? I’m just a 132 that thinks differently and lifts big.


What does your typical warm-up look like before deadlifts? For example, what do you do before your first warm-up set? Do you do any glute activation drills, dynamic work, foam rolling…etc? If so then what would you typically do in order for your body to be ready to pull massive amounts of weight off the floor?

All I do is take my time and warmup properly with the movement, I’m about to perform. I have my beliefs about stretching, foam rolling and isolating muscle activation before any movement. Most people have failed in experiencing the second wind in lifting. We are no different from fighters, runners and any other Sport that requires conditioning. My typical warm up for a meet or the cage would look something like this.
520×1 or 550×1 depending on raw or single ply 

A lot of lifters out there don’t know how to engage their lats in deadlift variations, what are your best pieces of advice on doing so?

Lol y’all are gonna hate me… My advice is, You don’t. I’ll say this, a relaxed runner is a fast runner. We are always trying to control our muscle activation, WHY? Do we actively activate our hamstrings and glutes when we walk? Think about that, I won’t elaborate it because I’mma leave that for my book and seminars. My job is to get people to start thinking and questioning what’s really going on, how the body supposed work and be used.


After pulling the slack out of the bar on conventional deadlifts, whats the second cue that you like to think about?

Stand up, after slack is alleviated everything is firing and working simultaneously for a smooth one movement, when perform properly. Once my hands reach the bar, there is no more thinking. I would like people to understand that there’s cues for deadlift but there are no cues on a periodical bases during the Lift.


What is a breathing technique and cue that you would use for bracing your core in order to save your spine and lifting maximum amounts of weight? What are you imagining when you are breathing in this fashion and where do most people go wrong with this technique?

Just the regular, breath before, hold and exhale on the extension to exert more core activation etc., to keep it simple but it goes far more deeper than that. The breath, is the most important of all, it exists on three dimensions of the lift But no one likes to indulge in all that boring stuff.


What is the most weight that you have ever rack pulled from knee level and do you find rack pulls helpful for improving your deadlift off the floor?

The last time that I’ve done rack pulls was in 2006. I found them to be harmful to your technique and form. I never have problems locking out weight if I get the bar off the floor to mid shin as long as I keep the lift to one movement.

What are your top 3 favorite assistance exercises for bringing up your deadlift and why?

Deficits because you’re working with a deeper range of motion and negatives to train controlling your body and the weight.

What are some conventional deadlift lockout cues that you are constantly thinking about once the barbel passes your knees that a lot of people don’t consider?

with a one rep, your knees and hips need to lock out simultaneously. This is just thinking about the deadlifts in general.


When in your opinion do you think a lifter should start using bands for stuff like rack pulls, deadlifts, presses…etc? When do you think it is appropriate for a lifter to be using them (ex: S405, B315, D495)?

I don’t do any of that In my training to tell you when it would be good for someone to do so. My thoughts, Form and technique is essentially strength. I can’t say that those things do not help lifters get stronger but I can say that they leave holes that allow lifters to miss out on elements that they need to develop mentally and physically along the way to reach their full potential.

When in your opinion do you think that a lifter should start using a belt for his/her training? (ex: after 500lb Deadlift)

I don’t use a belt in my training until a few weeks out of competition but that’s only because I have 17 years of training with the belt. I believe everybody needs to start off with a belt and less you have a coach by your side at all times But to specific when poundage. I would tell lifters to use the belt

50 or 60 pounds under the weight their Core usually starts to deteriorate.

I find that my core tends to break down when I pull heavy, what direct core work do you do in your training and do you happen to do any direct oblique work? Also tell us what rep ranges you like to work with when doing core work and how many times per week would you typically do direct ab work?

I take it you are referring to abs. I don’t do ab work. Most people misunderstand what the core actually is and when I talk about the core they think I’m referring to ads and obliques. The core is a group of muscles and flexors that connects the body together as a whole to be one unit. With that being said every movement I do whether it’s deadlifts tricep extensions or jump ropes I incorporate my core.


Do you think that Powerlifting will ever be in the Olympics?

I wish it would and I would like to say yes but with everything, in the presents of separation is the downfall. It said the powerlifting is one of the most influential in self building sport to ever exist.

Thank you for your time! If you would like to see more of Richard then you could find him at:


Powerlifting videos of training and competition lifts of the members of SouthernElite… and of other Great lifters across the US.


Richard Hawthorne
(Lb 4 Lb Strongest)
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