Please introduce yourself. Who are you? How old are you? Where were you born? Etc. Give the readers some background about yourself.
My name is Dale McLaren, I am 39 years old, I was born in Detroit, MI. I am a high school
special education teacher, but am also certified physical education and health. I have been in education for 16 years and cannot see myself doing anything else. I have many hobbies, however, my main two are powerlifting and hiking. If I had to give up either one, I have no idea which I would choose. I travel the state and country to hike and to compete at national level meets. Staying active and finding ways to enjoy every minute I get out of this life are the two things that fuel me to do better and help me wake up happy every single day.
Do you compete equipped (squat suit, bench press shirt & deadlift suit) or unequipped (no suits) or both and what weight class(s) and divisions(s) do you compete in?
I started competing as a raw lifter when I was 17 and continued for 17 years until Mark
Freeman, Josh Rohr, and Ron Fuller convinced me to put gear on. Currently I compete in the 205/93 kilo division, but have run the gamut from 181-242 over the years. Currently I am in the open division, but about to enter the masters. Pretty excited!
What was your last competition and how did you do?
The last time I competed was in May at Men’s Nationals in San Antonio, Texas and placed
When was your first competition?
My first meet was in 1993 and I was 17. It was a bench/deadlift meet and I won the 181 teen class with a 265 bench and state record deadlift of 470.
How did you improve from your first competition to your most recent?
Since I am competing raw again in 2.5 weeks, I can actually answer pretty close. In 22 years I have added about 250 lbs to my squat, 130 pounds to my bench, and 200 pounds on my deadlift. Now that I’ve thought about it, that doesn’t sound like much. I have some work to do!!
What is your next competition?
Raw Nationals in 2.5 weeks
What do you plan on doing differently for that meet if anything?
This is my first raw meet since 2012 Raw Nationals. I placed 7th or 8th, not really sure. I
was very disappointed with myself and how I prepared for the meet. The focus on 2015 raw nats was sudden and began in July, but has been intense ever since. Honestly, I feel James Townsend has trained me to a level I always knew I had in me, but was not reaching. The focus for this meet is intense and the goal is to PR everything, set a record, and win. That will be something different for me at the national level for sure.
Where are you located in Georgia and where do you train at?
I’ve moved around a bit, but currently I reside in Norcross, GA and train at Goldin Athletic
Training Association or GATA in Johns Creek. This facility is setup to train at the highest level possible and the trainers train their clients to exceed all limits.
What are your hobbies (other than powerlifting)?
Hiking/camping is my other love. Hiking all 50 states is a goal and I’m currently at 39. My current plan for powerlifting has gotten in the way of hitting some of the national parks on the West Coast that I had planned, but Georgia and it’s neighbors have plenty to keep me occupied till I’m finished.
Who is your role model and why?
The cliche’ answer is my mom and dad, but without a doubt, they are. They have always
put us first. Whatever our dreams were, they made us work for them, but also made it possible to go after them. On top of their full time jobs, they picked up odd jobs, night shifts, and sacrificed constantly for us. I knew then how how much they worked and was grateful, but as an adult, I am in awe of my parents. Through this, I put my whole self into whatever I do as they are the ones that made it possible and taught me what hard work is. I want to make them proud and work as hard as they taught me to.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I am pretty much an open book. I do not hide much from anyone, so if you ask I will tell you and sometimes even if you don't ask, I will tell you anyway. Lot’s of things are coming to mind, but due to some moral turpitude clause I signed in my contract, I will keep those cats in the bag. Speaking of cats, at last count over the years I have had around 14 cats, 5 dogs, 3 birds, 2 guinea pigs, 2 rabbits and lots of salt and freshwater fish. Not all at the same time of course.
Is there anything about powerlifting you would like to change or wish was different?
Having watched the many changes and arguments over the years, I really think the
abundance of federations is a problem. Yes everyone wants to have it their way and lift how they want to, but kids want to have it their way too. When kids don’t like a rule they whine about it then eventually figure out it was for the best. The multitude of feds creating their own rules and records and “national champions or world champions” is silly. How many national champs are there at any weight class at a given time? At most I can see how 2 feds would work; a tested fed and an untested fed. If you want the drugs, use them freely in the untested fed and I see no problem with that. If you are clean, stay in the tested fed, but if honesty prevailed, we would not need to test now would we?
What is your occupation? Does it interfere with competing or visa versa?
I am a high school special education teacher and have actually taught preschool-12th grade. My schedule is pretty set, so I am able to train in the afternoon 4 days a week. How did you get into powerlifting and how many years have you been competing? I got into powerlifting through my HS phys ed teacher. There was a local meet and the
promoter came to visit our class and demo the lifts. The very first time I ever deadlifted, I picked up 405 with ease. I knew at that moment that this was my future sport. Until that time, I thought wrestling or bodybuilding was where I was headed.
Are you involved in powerlifting in any way besides as a competitor?
I volunteer all the time and take great joy in helping other lifters learn about powerlifting, enjoy the sport, and stay safe in the process. As we say in the spot and load biz: It’s all about saving lives.
What are your biggest squat, bench press, deadlift and total numbers? And how do your best training numbers
compare to your best competition numbers?
Squat - Meet 683 - Training 690
Bench - Meet 490 - Training 501
Deadlift - Meet 650 - Training 655
Total - 1805
Squat - Meet 525 - Training 575
Bench - Meet 352 - Training 405
Deadlift - Meet 645 - Training 660
Total - 1505
What advice would you give a new lifter just starting out?
I’ve always taken the long hard road with most of my ventures and powerlifting is included. I suggest soaking up as much knowledge as you can and talk to those that have been there done that; there are plenty of us around. I am not an expert by any means, but I’d say fairly experienced in this sport for sure. ASK ASK ASK and ASK again! Lastly, eat well, sleep well ,plan well, and train your ass off if you want to succeed.
What are your short term goals now as a lifter?
I am about to enter the Master 1 category and plan to take every title possible. 1. Win Raw
Nationals 2. Top 3 at Raw Worlds 3. Win Equipped Nationals 4. Top 3 at Equipped Worlds
What are some long term goals you would like to achieve?
Stay healthy, stay competitive in the open, and always enjoy my time doing
Who is your favorite powerlifter of all time?
Kirk Kawoski or Ed Coan both are incredible lifters. Every Powerlifting USA that came out when I was a kid was filled with articles and pictures of them. They were my heros.
Can you describe your training philosophy and/or a typical training session?
My trainer, James Townsend has me on a program we call TownSheiko. It’s a hybrid of the famous Russian coach, Boris Sheiko. Basically, I squat 4 times a week, bench 4 times a week and deadlift 4 times a week. High volume is the name of the game.
What is your favorite lift, squat or bench press or deadlift or all three and why ?
Deadlift all the way. Of course I benched first as a kid, but I was actually good at deadlift the first time I tried it and loved it every since. Grip and Rip!!
Who is the most impressive lifter you have competed against?
Ian Bell. The guy is the strongest and has the most amazing technique I have ever seen. Against him, 2nd is now 1st place. I don’t care what Ricky Bobby’s daddy says.
Do you have any rivals in powerlifting?
The Evil Mark Freeman. Just kidding, it’s all in fun and I do enjoy seeing him progress. Even though his first 601 deadlift cost me 2nd place at last years States, I was very happy for him. Afterall, it’s about time he joined the 600 deadlift club.
If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what would be the reason?
This year is going to be the most amazing year for my powerlifting career. 2 national titles,
2 top 3 medals at 2 worlds, and 1 state championship are pretty good reasons to celebrate. Losing my step father and brother within 4 months of each other this year and turning 40 in January has made me rethink what I am doing in this life. I definitely was not wasting my time before, but going big and enjoying as much as possible is the name of this year's game and I am playing it as hard as I can.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you to every single person who has been there for me the past year
and thank you to everyone that has pushed me throughout my life in every aspect to get me where I am now. To
my long time good friends in no real order: Jeff, Josh, James, Mark, Brooks, Doc, Tony, and all of SSF, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much you mean to me.