Matt Buttimer Interview
April 2012 - Matt Buttimer
1. Please introduce yourself. Who are you? How old are you? What are your hobbies (other than powerlifting)? Please give the readers an idea of what it’s like to be you.
My name is Matt Buttimer, although most people just call me Buttimer or Butts. I am 25 years old. Outside of powerlifting I enjoy playing or watching most any sport, watching movies, reading, and playing the “who sings this song” game with Corey Brown.
2. Where are you located in Georgia and where do you train at?
I live in Atlanta and train at Quest Gym in Duluth.
3. What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Nothing, I am an open book.
4. What is your occupation?
I am a structural engineer for Pruitt, Eberly, Stone and design the structural systems for residential, mixed-use, commercial, and government buildings.
5. Do you find that your occupation interferes with competing or vice-versa?
Occasionally if a project deadline is approaching I will need to stay late to make sure the project is completed, which may cause me to miss a training day. But in general the demands my job/company put on me do not interfere with my training, and my supervisors know the days that I train and are very accommodating to my schedule.
6. How many years have you been competing?
Just over three years.
7. How did you get into powerlifting?
Well growing up I was always involved in athletics – baseball and soccer when I was young, football and track in high school. My high school lifting program is slightly sub-par but I was still dedicated to it and enjoyed it. My diet was not that good though, in that I was not eating enough. So I was getting stronger but not gaining weight. So in college I focused on gaining weight (I came into college weighing only 130 lbs.), so most of my training was more of a bodybuilding type split (although I never had a desire to compete in bodybuilding). For a stretch of about two years I got into MMA and trained for that, but I found that I missed the gym too much, so I stopped that. But even with weight training I was missing some sort of competition. Luckily I saw the movie Bigger, Stronger, Faster and the director of the movie is Mark Bell’s older brother (who also competes in powerlifting) and part of the movie was him interviewing Mark about powerlifting. So that got me interested and soon after I found out that Northeastern University had just started a powerlifting team so I joined in the middle of my senior year.
8. What are your biggest squat, bench press, deadlift and total numbers?
My best equipped numbers are: 573 lbs. in the squat, 402 lbs. in the bench press, and 562 lbs. in the deadlift. My best raw numbers are: 429 lbs. in the squat, 286 lbs. in the bench, and 540 lbs. in the deadlift.
9. What titles, records and achievements did you accumulate in your powerlifting career?
Nothing of significance yet, but I have had the opportunity to compete in two collegiate national championships and one men’s national championship.
10. Can you describe your training philosophy and/or a typical training session?
Well I have tried a few different styles/philosophies for strength training and powerlifting (bodybuilding split, Westside, Max-OT, 5x5, Wendler’s 5-3-1, RTS, etc). For the last 6 months or so I have had Josh Rohr write my training programs, when before I had been writing my own (to some success), and have been seeing some very positive results. It is nice to have someone a bit more knowledgeable write my workouts and also someone who isn’t biased to my training (unlike myself). Recently my weekly workouts have consisted of 4 days of training consisting of: benching (with variable intensity) all 4 days including accessory lifts, squatting plus accessories on Saturdays, and deadlifting plus accessories on Tuesdays.
11. Do you compete equipped (squat suit, bench press shirt & deadlift suit) or unequipped (no suits) or both?
I compete both equipped and unequipped.
12. What weight class(s) and divisions(s) do you compete in?
I compete in the 181 lbs. weight class in the open division.
13. What is your favorite lift, squat or bench press or deadlift or all three?
14. Who is the most impressive lifter you have competed against?
Hmm, no one person really comes to mind. There are a couple that I have competed against multiple times that have always put up strong totals and they are Brooks Conway and Reece Verbois.
15. Who do you think is the greatest lifter of all time?
Well I am going to go old school and say Paul Anderson (Georgia represent!). Other than that some more contemporary lifters that I hold in high regard are: Ed Coan, Kirk Karwoski, Mike Tuchscherer, Jaroslaw Olech, Andrey Belyaev, and Andrey Malanichev.
16. When was your last competition & how did it go?
My last competition was this past weekend at the Battle on the Border in Fort Mill, SC. I competed equipped and set squat, bench, and total PRs – so the meet went really well. My performance was good enough to help Team Georgia win the team title.
17. Do you have any upcoming competitions? If so, when and where?
My next competition will be Men’s Nationals in Orlando, FL on June 23rd, 2012.
18. How do you prepare for an upcoming competition?
Well the last week is a deload week, but it’s definitely active recovery as I am still performing some light lifting. Mostly though the last week is about mental preparation, as I go over in my mind (as odd as it may sound) all of my attempts and all the set-up and cues I use and imagine nailing each lift.
19. Describe your nutritional intake for an upcoming competition?
I am generally 5-7 pounds overweight going into the last week and cut my caloric intake in slightly, but drop my carb intake quite a bit. So basically a lot of eggs, tuna, chicken, and veggies.
20. Is there anything you will do differently to prepare for your next competition that is different from your last one?
I had a pretty successful last meet, so I don’t plan on changing much of my preparation. But the one thing I want to focus on is how much sleep I am getting night to night. It has been between 6 to 7 hours and I want it to be between 7 and 8.
21. How many meets do you compete in each year?
Up until this past year because of school obligations and moving three times I was only averaging about a meet a year. This year I will compete in three to four meets and it is my intention to compete in that many on average from year to year.
22. Who is your greatest competitor/rival?
Without the slightest bit of arrogance - myself. I could win a meet but if I didn’t set any PRs I won’t be happy, or I could come in dead last and set multiple PRs and be ecstatic. I am always about trying to better myself and not look ahead at someone else. If I focus on myself and what I need to do to get stronger, the success and accolades will follow.
23. What advice & tips would you give to a powerlifter that is just beginning? If you are just beginning, what advice have you received from other lifters or coaches?
That is a loaded question, as there is plenty of advice I could give to a beginner. But for the sake of brevity I would say that if they truly want to become strong and make gains they need to become a student of the sport – learn from everyone and anyone and be open to any and all training styles. Everyone is different and responds differently to training, so the more knowledge you have in your arsenal the quicker and more efficiently/effectively you will see progress.
24. How has powerlifting changed your life?
One word: immensely. I have met some of my best friends through powerlifting. It offers an outlet for my competitive and active nature, keeps me healthy and focused/goal-oriented, and relieves stress. Powerlifting’s benefits are enormous and I would recommend it to anyone.
25. Do you stay in touch with lifters you compete against?
Not too many, but a few.
26. Why did you decide to compete?
See question 7.
27. What is your #1 or most prestigious meet you ever competed at in your career?
2010 Men’s Nationals as a junior level competitor.
28. Do you compete in any other strength sports such as Olympic lifting, strongman, highland games, etc?
29. What is your favorite memory from any powerlifting competition or event?
Watching Joe Cappellino bench 705 at 2011 Collegiate Nationals.
30. Anyone you would like thank for helping you along the way in your Powerlifting career?
There are plenty of people and groups I would like to thank because if it wasn’t for them I would not be nearly as successful at powerlifting as I am today. First I would like to thank Joe Cappellino, Luis Jaimes, Mike Zawalinski and everyone else from the Northeastern University Powerlifting Team for introducing me to the sport and fostering a strong passion for the sport and inspiring me to reach new levels of strength. Secondly I would like to thank David Jurgens for his guidance and insight in helping me grow in the sport and the rest of the UCLA Powerlifting Team for their support. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone at Quest Gym who has provided a great training atmosphere, and especially Josh Rohr who writes my training programs, from which my lifts have increased greatly.
31. Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for your time and best of luck in your upcoming powerlifting endeavors!