Q&A With Steve Pulcinella. Owner of IronSport Gym! (2016)
First off, thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer these questions. I remember first finding out about you when I had my ACL surgery a few months ago and I watched your video “Rehab is for old ladies”. This video was hands down one of the clips that made me feel the most confident in my ability to recover because it showed me that most injuries are just a bump in a road and its something that most real athletes go through. Would you mind explaining to the viewers some of surgery procedures that you had to go through and how you got over those humps in the road?
I have had 4 minor knee scopes done, tore both my Achilles tendons, a couple other on my one ankle and foot, one from a shoulder and pec injury, one on a torn quad and dislocated knee and one on my prostate.
What was the hardest injury that you’ve had to deal with and what was one that didn’t even phase you for half a second?
The quad tear took the longest to come back from, I really tore it up good. It’s also the one that hurt the most. I have had a couple meniscus repairs done where I got dropped off at work afterwards and worked the rest of the day. They are not a big deal.
You definitely have one of the thickest necks on Youtube, what kind of direct work do you do for it? Mine is slightly over 18″ and I’d like to get it to 20″, what are some of the necessary steps without getting into too many details?
Mine is mostly just a product of lifting weights and genetics I guess, From time to time I’ll an exercise where I’ll lay face up on a bench and hold a 25kg plate on my forehead and and do forward raises like that. Use a towel or something as padding or else you’ll have YORK BARBELL imprinted on your head. I mainly just do these because if I don’t my neck seems to get all jacked up.
Do you ever do any neck bridges or any neck isometric holds variations (ex: neck planks)?
Nope, None of that.
I see in some of your videos that you do neck work where you are biting a towel and you do extensions in that way, why exactly do you do this? Jaw strength?
That was just another one I’ll do here and there for my neck, I just find the biting makes your neck contract a little hard plus it looks cool.
I saw in one of your clips from a few years ago that you do snatch grip high pulls, do you think that they contributed a lot to your trap/upper back development? Also what other kind of Olympic lifting variations are you into for hypertrophying that area?
High-pulls have always been my go-to upper back, trap and explosive movement. I have always done, power-snatches and power-cleans from both the floor and the hang as well as heavier overload high-pulls. I always really enjoyed doing them plus I think it really helped with my throwing for highland games especially the caber and 56lb weight for height. I do throw shrugs into the mix here and there too.
When do you think a lifter should use bands on lifts like deadlifts, squats, presses, rows…etc (ex: S405, B315, D495)?
Only if you are working on speed really. The weights you can lift doesn’t determine when to use bands. But like I say, there are never any hard and fast rules to ANY of this.
I actually got the idea of doing barbell back extensions from you! How much of a carryover do you think this has to your other lifts?
I always get credit for inventing this but I actually saw Josh Bryant mention them in a seminar and started fooling around with them. The first time I did them I thought I gave myself appendicitis, pancreatic cancer and some sort of Bifida all a the same time. It’s a pretty unnatural feeling at first. I have had better carryover from doing higher reps with them than when I would do over 400lbs for low reps.
Whats your take on direct ab and oblique work, how important is it and what kind of core work do you do?
I honestly just do those standing ab strap machine crunches a couple times a week. I know it’s super important and every strength hammers it into people to do more but I just don’t. I guess because I have sooooo many other weak points that core was so far down the list for me. I don’t know.
I see in your clips that you row a lot which is important for upper back strength and size, how much was the most you’ve ever barbell rowed?
When I was in the prime of my youth and hugeness I remember doing 550 for about 5 reps. I always loved heavy rows and pull-ups.
How did you feel when all of those “do you even lift” t-shirts and memes came out with your face on them?
At first I was confused, where the hell did this meme come from? And then I couldn’t believe how big this stupid thing blew up. I just think it’s funny.
As a gym owner, what are the top 5 things that you think are ESSENTIAL for creating monsters? Also what do you feel like is missing from most commercial gyms?
Where do you see your gym in the next 10 years?
I totally suck as a business man so I have no specific ideas on future progress or goals. I just want to keep updating the gym little by little so it’s the best that I can make it and give everyone in my area a haven away from the lame chain gyms.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Just an honest small business owner who worked hard, a good dad and grandfather. Nothing else really mattered.