Strength Bites: Chad Wesley Smith October 30 2014

Ferocity is starting a new series called Strength Bites, featuring interviews with Elite Lifters. Kicking off our series today is Chad Wesley Smith. 


Chad Wesley Smith. He doesn't need an introduction, but for the rare few who haven't heard of him, he is THE man behind Juggernaut Training Systems, winner of two American national championships in the shot put, American record holder in the squat (905 in the 308 class, raw w/ wraps) and winner of the 2012 North American Strongman championship, where he earned his pro card. Here's the interview with the world famous powerlifter and Strong Man, and the Creator of the Juggernaut Method. 

Cheryl: Hi Chad, we’ve all been following you on social media and know you’re training for GPA Worlds next month. Can you tell us about your preparation leading up to it, and what numbers you’re hoping to hit there? 

Chad: Thanks Cheryl. This meet training has been going great, especially the squat and deadlift. I've been using the JuggerCube, which can be found in one of my articles on I've been traveling quite a bit during the training but that hasn't caused too many problems. As far as numbers go, I'm looking for 1000+ lbs (453+ kg) in the squat, 550+ lbs (249+ kg) in the bench and 800+ lbs (362+ kg) in the deadlift. 

Cheryl: That's incredible. Are you looking to break any world records and what are your biggest meet and gym lifts to date?

Chad: I want to challenge both the no wraps and wrapped squat world record there. My gym PRs are 855 lbs (387 kg) squat with no wraps, 515 lbs (233 kg) bench and 775 lbs (351 kg) deadlift. Meet PRs are 937 lbs (425 kg) squat with wraps, 540 lbs (244 kg) bench and 788 lbs (357 kg) deadlift, and a 2,248 lbs (1,019 kg) total.

Cheryl: I’ve always wanted to know how powerlifters got their start. It’s always wonderful to learn about their history and how they began. Can you share about how you got into lifting?

Chad: I started lifting in high school, about age 14, to train for football and track & field (shot put). I continued to throw the shot put through college and for 1 year as a post-collegiate with a PR of 20.00m. At that point, due to a number of circumstances, I decided to make the transition to competing in powerlifting. 

Cheryl: Do you mind sharing what sort of circumstances? 

Chad: My coach passed away from cancer right after I graduated college and I started Juggernaut which had me working 60-70 hours/week and just not leaving the time I needed to train as an Olympic hopeful, particularly because the shot put is one of the strongest events in the US.

Cheryl: That must have been very hard for you. But since then you've become an elite lifter, and started Juggernaut which has been an incredible resource for lifters worldwide! I remember reading that you were injured last year. Can you tell us more about how you've recovered from that and trained around it?

Chad: Last June while training for CAPO Nationals I herniated my L4/L5 and L5/S1 discs while deadlifting. Fortunately I have some very good chiropractors and physical therapists I've worked with for several years. My rehab mostly consisted of soft tissue therapy, decompression and breathing drills to learn how to brace a neutral spine position. Training was pretty light for awhile because I really wanted to take my time and make sure I could make a full recovery, so when I did come back to squatting/deadlifting I trained very light but with extremely high frequency (50-100 total reps up to 6 times per week).

Cheryl: If there is anything you could advise your younger self with regards to lifting and life, what would it be?

Chad: In regards to lifting, I'd just say to enjoy the process more than only focusing on the end result. Powerlifting is a lot of work to do maybe 30 seconds of so of work that actually matters, so if you aren't enjoying the 12 weeks of training that leads up to it, you're doing something wrong. 

In life, I suppose the same advice would apply. To enjoy the daily struggles of work and running this company by realizing how great the people you're surrounded are by and how many people you get to positively impact by doing what you love.

Cheryl: Can you share what is the greatest mistake you've made in your lifting career, and what is the lesson you have learnt from it?

Chad: I've been pretty fortunate to I think do a lot of things right and be surrounded by smart and supportive people but the main mistake would be not giving more attention to bodybuilding style accessory work

Cheryl: For aesthetics or for increasing the main lifts?

Chad: Increasing the lifts...and a bit of aesthetics (too). Haha!

Cheryl: What's your greatest motivation?

Chad: Just my own goals. I'm very intrinsically motivated-almost always training by myself-and just want to push my numbers as high as possible. 

Cheryl: Thank you Chad for your time. You've been awesome, and we wish you all the very best at GPA Worlds next month!

(Cheryl: The Juggernaut Method 2.0 is available at right here. It's a fantastic program, and I've personally run it before. It's a very well organized and structured program based on solid fundamentals of strength programming, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's easy to follow, and I've used it to bring my squat back up to its previous standard following an injury last year. If you haven't heard of it or tried it, and are looking for some fresh programming, please check it out!)