May 2012 - Vol. 35 No. 6
by Curt Dennis Jr.
Hey, Marty. Thanks for doing this interview. Please introduce yourself.
My name is Marty Killion. I am 41 years old and live in Laramie, Wyoming. I am a fully retired "injured in the line of duty" police officer.
What are your best PRs right now?
My best paused raw bench is 515 pounds. This was done before I had my two shoulder reconstructions in 2008. Right now I am working back to that mark, but it has taken some time. I hit 485 in two different meets in 2011 as a master competitor.
How long have you been into powerlifting?
I was introduced to powerlifting in 1993. That interest has been interrupted several times over the years because of injuries.
Tell us about your childhood and how you got into powerlifting?
I came from an athletic background growing up in Iowa and participated in several sports: football, baseball, swimming and wrestling. I focused on wrestling through high school and attended college on a wrestling scholarship. My junior year of college, I was having instability problems with my shoulder and it was determined I had over-developed front delts but under-developed rear delts. To avoid any further dislocations, the athletic department and coaches had me work with our strength coach. It was there that I got bitten by the powerlifting bug.
Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter?
Ed Coan, Kenny Patterson, Louie Simmons and Kirk Karwoski.
What is the craziest thing you have ever seen at a powerlifting meet?
I was standing right next to Rob Luyando when he tipped 900-plus pounds on his waist at the "Biggest Bench at the Big Show." He was okay and came back to get best lifter. The drops on these multi-ply shirts are pretty scary. You can see them coming—their elbows slip forward or back—but you can't help the guy unless you are standing right there.
What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter who's just starting out in powerlifting?
Be realistic and start with raw lifting to ensure your basics are covered and solid. You're not going to speed the process up with a magic pill or being short sighted. It is a long road and you have to earn it and work hard to continue to pass through those initial gains. Become a student of the sport and watch the guys who are getting it done on the platform.
Do you have a favorite out of the three or is it all three lifts?
I am a bench-only raw lifter.
What are your goals and when is your next meet?
I'm competing at the APA Raw Nationals in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, on April 21, 2012. I have the opportunity to represent myself and my team, Rock Solid Barbell, as well as compete side-by-side and head-to-head with great friends and many of the top athletes in raw powerlifting. I would consider a raw bench press less than 500 pounds a failure regardless of placement or title. I need to outwork my competitors, continue to push myself to the edge and get that 515 behind me.
What are the challenges of coming up as a powerlifter?
The public's perception of powerlifting and strength sports and overwhelmingly negative press on drug use in relation to athletic performance. Also, there are so many new federations are out there, it could pull away from the integrity of our sport.
Tell everyone here the difference between someone who wants to look "pretty" and someone who does what we do? Essentially, the difference between a workout and a training session.
I don't knock anyone on what they do. It is none of my business if you want to look sculpted or your goal is to move big weight. Few can do both though. There are not many Stan's out there. I can only speak of what I do or what I see done. You want to be a serious powerlifter? You have to leave it in the gym every time you step in there and still have the foresight to train smart.
What would you tell a powerlifter if they are trying to get to the next level in the sport? Do you believe that powerlifters have a lifestyle of their own?
Absolutely. Powerlifters have their own lifestyle. I think, to a lot of us, this is not a hobby. It is one of the important things that make us happy. You're going to have to be solid all the way around to get to that next level; hard work ethic, the ability to retain information and apply it to your training, the ability to take being humbled and walk back into the punch to move further up the ladder, a solid core of people you trust and can rely on to be there—on time, every time—take your recovery and nutrition seriously, and on and on. It does not end.
How driven would people say you are about being a powerlifter? How does it affect you outside of the gym?
Those I let in close to me have told me I am a little crazy and not the norm. I even had a doctor tell me that, but he used bigger words. I have had several set-backs, some simple, some not. When I broke my neck and it had to be reconstructed from C3 through C6, I was physically out of the sport for several years, but not mentally. I was in three years of vestibular, vision, physical and speech therapy in reference to this neck, leg and brain injury. I am still here today bending bars, I have my own drive. There is life outside the gym?
How has powerlifting made you a stronger person away from the sport?
It is a humbling sport and those pretty short sighted may think they are winning, but truth be told you have to fight to stay even with the iron. You hit your PR and get that sense of accomplishment, but not three feet from you are two 5-pound plates ready to go on the bar and kick you in the teeth. Powerlifting keeps you real, focused and driven.
Do you have any training partners? How have they helped? Tell us about them.
I train with my wife, Hally. She is a competitive raw powerlifter. She can handle herself in the gym and has saved my butt more than once. I know my safety is her priority as much as hers is to me when we train. She is an accomplished raw push-pull athlete, now moving into full-power. Hally and I train in two different gyms: Smartsports in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and at the University of Wyoming, Half-Acre Gym, in Laramie. Depending on the workout and where we are in relation to a competition will determine where we will train.
What are your workouts like? How are they set up? What training methodology do you follow?
It is a hybrid Westside style approach to training. We train four days a week with a cardio day in the mix. I like to train heavy, but you cannot do this year round for a couple reasons. I took what I have found to work with me and applied it. I train pretty instinctively, so nothing is written in stone until I am in the gym, but I love the partial max effort training, bands, chains and high volume training.
What do you think attributes to a big bench nowadays?
Outworking your competition and training as smart as possible. This sport is injury after injury; to approach this without putting thought into it is going to lead to a train-wreck at some point. Proper nutrition, rest and pre-hab are very important.
What would you suggest to someone on how to get stronger on all three lifts?
I started in powerlifting as a full power guy and through the years and injuries it has been brought down to bench-only. I want to compete.
What drives you as a lifter? What is your mindset like during training?
My heart drives me. I am very self-competitive; I do not need much nudging to stay motivated.
I train with intensity and focus. I approach powerlifting as work and take it seriously. We video a lot of our lifts; one reason being it can be sort of a blur to recall. I get focused and I get under the bar.
Was your training any different prior to your last meet?
It is always changing from meet to meet. It seems like I always think I got it figured it out and after evaluation post-meet, I find things I need to change.
Do you think using bench shirts/gear are cheating? What's your point of view on raw powerlifting?
I am all raw and have no interest in the geared lifting for myself. That being said, we are all powerlifters—I support everyone. I wish everyone the best. Geared and raw are two completely different approaches to a singular sport.
What is your view on training in equipment and learning them?
I would not know. I wear only my wrist-wraps.
What do you think is the reason for all the big numbers lately like Kennelly's 1,075 and Frankl's freakish total or Hoornstra's raw strength? Has strength training evolved?
The equipment is very different and dramatically improved from ten years ago. The training has evolved to be more effective. Powerlifters are taking their nutrition and recovery more seriously. All of these apply to the raw athlete too, except the use of limited basic equipment. Our coaches are seeking out new methods to train their athletes and the sport steadily moves forward. You're also referring to three guys who have fantastic genetics for strength coupled with an excellent work ethic.
Do you think the standards have gone up in the sport?
Powerlifting is an important lifestyle for many of us and to ensure our sport is here until the end of time, we hold it to a very high standard. I respect our sport so I don't cut it or our athletes any slack.
What is your nutrition like now?
We have re-vamped my nutrition and I am responding positively. Hally is kind of a health-nut and I was pretty much "see it and eat it." She has influenced how I eat now and it is much cleaner and healthier. I find now I feel better during the long workouts and have better recovery. It seems like I eat more now than I ever have, but am staying leaner.
What changes are you going to have to make to go to the next level?
Stay healthy. This is an issue I deal with day to day being permanently injured. I started this with a boat load of exercises and through the years it is whittled down to 4–5 different exercises I rely on to get stronger and not injure myself any further. I do what I have to do to get where I need to be for me to be happy. I have the drive to get there or I would have been out of this sport a long time ago.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
My wife, Hally, and my kids, Ashley and Zach. Their support means the world to me. I want to be the best bencher out there, but I also want to be a good husband and father. I also want to thank anyone who has supported me through the years, either in the gym, church or some medical treatment. Also, my powerlifting team, Rock Solid Barbell, additional training partners Ken MacMillan, Sean Baker and Kelly Parks, and the beasts from The Brotherhood—they all know who they are.
*photograph courtesy of Marty Killion/CriticalBench.com