Pete Bush Interview

December 2013 - Pete Bush

1. 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 Pete Bush, but I have been known to respond to the sobriquets: Pedro, Honey, Pete Bush, Bush, Pete, Petey (to a select few), Dad, Freak show, Snootch, the right Reverend and Mr. Pig. I am about to turn 41 years old, inching ever closer to my fifth highest priority life goal: winning the IPF World title at 73.I figure all the competition will have retired, died, or still be too young to stop me. After that, it’s nothing but booze and hard living for me. I plan to cash out at 76.

I was born in Elmira, New York but moved to Georgia when I was but a child of the tender age of 5, and have lived here since then. I am almost 41, by the way.

I am currently the father of three boys of questionable appreciation. Logan is 22, Nate is 20 and Gage is soon to be 18. I am soon to turn 41, myself. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for almost 22 years. Her name is Christan, some of you might know her from her love of me, the Georgia Bulldogs and her skill at the scorer’s table. She is married to a guy who is about to turn 41. Our marriage has been the best ten years of my life.

I am currently a college student. Which is funny, ‘cause I am about to turn 41. I also work full-ish time and try to keep up my training when the time and mood strike me.

2. Where are you located in Georgia and where do you train at?

I currently live in Valdosta, Georgia under the secret identity of a struggling college student with a mortgage and rent. I train at the student rec center on the beautiful campus of Valdosta State University (soon to be my alma mater), with its hexagonal plates and strict no-gym bag policy requiring me to rent a locker. There are also a lot of kids who work out there. Lot of kids. I have recently begun training at Kinetix Sports Performance on Perimeter Road in Valdosta. First time in almost 24 years of lifting that I have had access to a glute-ham machine and bumper plates. It is a little restrictive in times to lift, but it has what I need.

P.S. I might be a little to enamored of the bumper plates. I have recently added high-pulls with a full drop into each and every workout.

P.P.S. Bumper plates are fun.

3. What are your hobbies (other than powerlifting)?

Not many people know that I am quite enamored of yard work. I actually hate the great outdoors unless I am either destroying some aspect of it or bending it to my will. I also have a rather large collection of toys. GI Joe, Star Trek, Star Wars, Wolverine, Tinkerbell and Batman. Words can’t really explain it to the layman; the layman will just have to experience it for his/her self, and then exclaim: “I can’t believe this guy is turning 41! He has more toys than my 5 year old! So young at heart. You, know, honey, I bet this guy could win a world title by the time he is 73.”

I am also a writer. I write stuff. Apparently only bad poetry and short stories that defy placement in genre. Most of them are kinda like post-modern, sci-fi, grounded reality type cautionary tales. I have not had much success in writing.

I also love to read. “Favorite book?” You ask. The Sun Also Rises, The Remains of the Day and I Know this Much is True. Hemingway, Ishiguro and Lamb, respectively.

I also love music: Tool, Clutch, The Beatles, Chevelle, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Vigilantes of Love are my faves.

I am also soon to turn 41.

I also love movies. The list is too long, too categorized to list here, but if you send me an email, we can rap about it (like the kids say).

I also love psychology. Cognitive Behavior bent, yo.

I also love physics. But I hate math. Conundrum!!!

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?

1) One of those push mowers that does not require gasoline. The oldie types. This would be used to help destroy or bend the jungle to my will.

2) A multi-tool. Cause I am practical.

3) The Captain and Tenille: Song of Joy on Cassette or 8 track. This would give me something to live for. I have the album on vinyl and cd, so I would want to get back home to further the collection. For those of you not in the know: “Muskrat Love” is the worst song of all time. Yes, it is on Song of Joy. No. You cannot ask.

5. Who is your role model and why?

Socrates: Reminder to always do right, regardless of the cost.

Terry Kader: Master of Sport Mechanic and All’Round Great Guy, My Personal Mechanicing Lifeline: for the understanding of sacrifice.

Nate Bush: Reminder to treat everyone the way they wish to be treated, and for perseverance in the face of difficulty.

6. What is something that most people don’t know about you?

a. I have done a lot of theater.

b. I have written three novels.

c. I struggle with depression and anxiety

d. I am about to turn 41.

7. If you could ask anyone from history any question, who would it be and what would you ask?

Though I am not a Christian, I think I would go with Jesus. I would ask him what was really going on.

8. Is there anything about powerlifting you would like to change or wish was different?

The fracturing of the sport has diminished it. I remember looking forward to the issue of Powerlifting USA (back before the interwebs) with the results from Men’s Nationals. It was a laundry list of the best lifters in the world. You had your USPF and you had your ADFPA, and that was really the major split in the sport. The differences were understood. Now it has just gotten ridiculous. Federation after federation after federation. Raw, raw with wraps, classic raw, single ply, double ply, mutli-ply. It is a different world than when I started.

The worst part is the loose interpretation of the rules of performance. Yes, mistakes were made back “in the day” but with so many fringe organizations, the problem has gotten egregious. Judging standards have fallen way down.

That being said, the raw movement has exploded. When I was coming up, if you powerlifted, you had to get some wraps at least. Raw has been the best thing for the sport in a long time. Makes it far more approachable.

And, my biggest soapbox is that a monolift squat is not the same as a walked out squat and should NEVER be compared. Not saying one is better or worse, just different.

9. What is your occupation? Does it interfere with competing or visa versa?

I am currently a soon-to-be-41 year old college student and full-ish time warehouse manager with Ashley Furniture Homestore in Valdosta, Ga. I have been fortunate enough to be able to have a pretty open schedule in order to compete.

10. How did you get into powerlifting and how many years have you been competing?

Whew. The strength and conditioning coach at Bradwell Institute was Denis Ference (who I owe a great debt of gratitude to), and he was the state coordinator for the ADFPA back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He gave extra credit in bodybuilding class (guh) for guys to come help out at the meets. I went to the Region 3 meet in 1989, I think. I was intimidated, I almost got killed by a dropped squat and I was hooked. I started training the next week. I did my first meet in the summer of 1990. Seeing as though I am almost 41, that would put my lifting career at roughly 24 years.

11. Are you involved in powerlifting in any way besides as a competitor?

I absolutely love coaching. I get more charge out of my guys doing a meet than anything (other than lifting myself). I also am a state judge in the USAPL and the USPA. I have volunteered to spot and load on several occasions. I also tend to just pick out a few people at meets and talk garbage to them in order to get the most out of there potential. J

12. What are your biggest squat, bench press, deadlift and total numbers?

My best lifts at 242 are 595 squat, 363 bench and a 644 deadlift. At 275, I have done 645 in the squat, 405 in the bench and had a 600 deadlift. All these numbers are raw. My best lifts in gear (way back in the day) 735 squat, 475 bench, 600 deadlift.

13. What titles, records and achievements have you accumulated during your powerlifting career?

I currently hold the state open squat record at 242 and the Masters American Record in the squat and total. I also hold the American squat and total record in the AAPF at 242. I think my greatest achievement is having all my kids and my wife all compete in meets. My sons hold a bunch of state records and have or held 4 American Records.

14. Can you describe your training philosophy and/or a typical training session?

As I get closer to 41, I believe in volume with a purpose. When I am training right, I have a lot of volume, but is all geared toward the hitting my weaknesses and making me stronger in the lifts. As an example: my last workout was thus:

Second Squats of the week: up to three top sets.

Speed bench: 9 top sets.

Deficit Pulls: 4 tops sets interspersed with crying and swearing at myself.

Sumo breakdowns: 4 tops sets. More whining.

Rack Pulls: 4 top sets

Pendlay rows: Crying and whining to heaven itself.

I don’t like the volume, but if I want to maintain and get stronger, it seems my near 41 year old butt has to do it.

15. 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 currently lift raw in the 242/231 class. I usually lift in the open against the kids, and then in the masters division against my own ilk. I would like to give gear a try again, and have been flirting with cleaning up my diet and going to 220 to get a taste of Mark Freeman. Not literally, ‘cause I am sure he tastes like old cheese and a dirty sponge, but you know what I mean.

16. What is your favorite lift, squat or bench press or deadlift or all three and why?

Always had been the squat, but as I am about to turn 41, it is tough on my hips. Bench is tough on my shoulders. Deadlift is tough on my ego. Why am doing this again? Oh, yeah, I am a glutton for punishment. We will just say deqadlift because I lift the most in it.

17. Who is the most impressive lifter you have competed against?

I really had a great time competing against AC (Arin Canecchio) at the last meet. That kid brings even more intensity than I do. That’s a lot of intensity. Also, Chris Clarke up at Battle on the Border. I also competed against Robert Trettin at Raw Nationals 2 years ago. He had a great day. I did not. He is an impressive lifter. These kids today. So strong.

18. Who is your greatest rival?

Myself. If I hit my best numbers and lose, then I can walk away happy. Unfortunately, I wind up laying an egg most of the time and getting very angry with myself because of it.

19. Who do you think is the greatest lifter of all time?

Inaba and Gant were monsters for little guys, and they had longevity on a high level. You have to admire Dave Ricks for the same mix of power and longevity. Coan always gets put on the list, but I have a soft spot for the drug-tested guys. My all-time favorite was Bull Stewart. Squatting and pulling in the 800 range back in the ADFPA Z-suit days.

20. When was your last competition & how did it go?

Georgia State meet. Went 8 for 9, but due to injuries and messed up training regimen, I was not at my best. Wound up second in the open (again) and first in the masters heavyweights. I was not satisfied, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. I had three lifters lifting as well. They went 26 for 27 and set 5 state and an American Record in the process.

21. Do you have any upcoming competitions? If so, when and where?

If my body holds up (and pushing 41 it is harder and harder) and money hold up (struggling college student with mortgage AND rent) I want to do Battle on the Border in North Carolina, Raw Nationals in Colorado and the Georgia State Meet next year.

22. How do you prepare for an upcoming competition? Describe each aspect that you focus on as you prepare for a competition.

First: I have to convince myself that I can still do this. I have to usually get out of the funk of having an off meet. It seems to happen a lot.

Second: I put together my programming based on the numbers I hit from the last meet and what I want to get in the next. I try to note my weaknesses and hammer them throughout the routine.

Third: I promise myself I am not going to eat pizza and toaster strudel, but we all know it’s a damned lie!

Fourth: Make the time to train. Doesn’t matter if time is limited. Make the time.

Five: Treat everything the same. 135 is the same as 585. Setup and focus need to be the same.

Six: Eat pizza and toaster strudel.

Seven: Plenty of rest. I make time to sleep. No. Doubt.

23. Is there anything you will do differently to prepare for your next competition that is different from your last one?

Hammering the hamstrings, triceps and back. After the American Open, I think I got complacent, and I got busy training others and the assistance volume fell by the wayside. It showed in this last year of lifting.

24. How many competitions do you compete in each year?

I like to do about three a year.

25. 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?

Find someone who knows the sport and bleed them for every ounce of information they are willing to give. Above all else, listen. A lot of people today ask questions but they do not listen to the answers.

I have found that you are never to old to learn, and another person is never too young to know. I have gotten great advice from legends like Steve Goggins who has been doing this for a long time, and I have gotten equally good advice from James Vang who has only been doing this for a few years. Swallow your pride and be judicious in how you take advice and you can learn something.

Mark Freeman has given me some tips, too. I don’t listen to tips from Mark Freeman. J

26. Has powerlifting had a big impact on your life? If so, how?

I will not understate it. It has ruined my life.

No, it is part of the very core of who I am. I have been doing this longer than anything in my life besides sleeping and eating, and it is just as important to me. I love to train, love to compete, love the relationships that have come out of the doing. I have spent more doing it than I will ever get out of it, but intangibly it is truly one of my great passions. That is why I try to volunteer as much as I can (when I am not a struggling college student with a mortgage and rent), train whoever wants it (for free) and put myself through the hip pain, and back tweaks and crippling depression of bad meet performances.

27. Do you stay in touch with lifters you compete against?

I swear to goodness, I get 8 or 9 Facebook friend requests after every meet. I have kept in touch with several guys who have competed in my weight class. It has been one of the best parts about going to meets, seeing these ugly SOBs again and again. Dre, Ricky, Stroupy, Slash… that means you guys.

28. What is your #1 or most prestigious meet you ever competed at in your career?

Raw Nationals 2 years ago. It went poorly. I did follow it up with my best ever performance at The American Open last December going 9 for 9 and hitting PRs in all lifts, setting two AR in the process.

29. Do you compete in any other strength sports such as Olympic lifting, strongman, highland games, etc?

Man, alive! When would there be time? I am an almost 41 year-old college student with a mortgage and rent. Hush your mouth!

30. What is your favorite memory from any powerlifting competition or event?

Watching my oldest son, Logan, pull for a 556 deadlift at 198 and 15 years old to give him the AR total. Three grown men missed the weight before he did. It was a 16lb PR. I cried.

Watching my baby-boy, Gage break the American bench record, with 314 at 181. He had been wanting it for a year and had to lose 20lbs to get to 181.

Before my 644 pull at the American Open, I asked my wife if I should go for 633 to get a PR or 644 to total over 1600. She paused and said, “644.” I never doubted I could pull it. The camaraderie backstage before the attempt was palpable. Too bad Mark Freeman was there.

31. Do you see yourself still competing in ten years? If so, what are your goals for ten years from now?

Heck, yeah. That will be ten years closer to that world title. Of course, I will then be soon-to-be 51, so, there is that. I simply want to keep competing at a decent level, if I can do that, I will be happy.

32. Do you have any funny or interesting powerlifting stories that you can share with us?

I had my nightmare come true at the last meet. My son was on one platform and another of my lifters was the other. As my son is getting ready to break the AR, the other lifter gets called to the platform. No problem, it should be over quick. We get on the platform and one of the judges is missing. Then they call my son as next up on his platform. “I’m a judge,” I say. And they tell me to get in the chair. My son is now being called for bar is loaded. I am panicked. Josh Rohr, offers to take my place in the chair. I jump out and my guy hits his lift, I run over to the other platform and hand off to my son who gets the American Record.

That. Was. Horrible. But it all worked out in the end as everyone got there lifts!

My funny store from a meet is Chao Yang. ‘Nuff said. I love that guy.

33. If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what would be the reason?

1. I will finally be 41. Soon to be 42.

2. I will have graduated from college after 23 years of trying.

3. My wife and kids will all be healthy and happy.

4. I will have gotten a vintage Millennium Falcon for a present: complete with training ball and bridge struts.

5. My dog will still love me.

6. I will have done the work and put together three solid competitions. Doesn’t matter if I win or lose. Doesn’t matter if I break or lose my records. It is enough to do my best.

7. I will have not seen Mark Freeman since we last spoke.

34. Anyone you would like thank for helping you along the way in your Powerlifting career?

1. Denis Ference: got me in the sport

2. Christan Bush: always been there for me

3. All my parents: Dave, Kim, Terry and Karen: more support

4. My kids: even more support.

5. Dan and Lara Sturm: more support and always a place to stay.

6. James, Chao, Sue and the Asian Iron Mafia: love those guys

7. Josh Rohr: for helping me get my referee’s card and being awesome when he is not being all surly at meets.

8. Steve Goggins: For being so approachable.

9. Marvin Wheeler: For reminding me of the magic wonder of the sport

10. Tee Myers: for recognizing a moment in time.

11. Erin Cooke: now words.

12. Berry Henderson, Mike Johnson and Jason Holloway: Team PSI

13. Mark Freeman for staying away from me.

14. Anyone I might have missed.

35. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I like this particular passage:

“The numbers, you see are indelible. The numbers they can never take away from you. The numbers that no one else would consider as important, to you, to me, they are everything. The dangling carrot in so many permutations. For the numbers can change, the numbers are affected by age and bodyweight, by gear, by injury, by time and space and the continuum of life, but the numbers are forever. No matter how I old I have been, am, will be, I am, at my core, the will of man, striving for something I did not have, that I never had before, something to give myself meaning. Out of the darkness a number arises, a new number, one I did not think I would see again until tonight, some few hours back, sweat sloughing off like a living skin, the shoulders and knees throbbing, the spot on my back, the bar mark, fidgeting after every attempt. It glows for a moment and I roll to my left, The Mark, skidding across the sheets like a burn. The Mark not so much a abrasion as a work of art, existing in color, contrast, texture and, above all, the metaphysics of being unable to help it.

All I can speak of is the present. The future is uncertain and the past, the past is often mercurial, the specifics slipping away when we least want them to.

All I can speak of is the present. In the present I have no crew or environment suited to the sport I have chosen. In the present I have what qualities I have. The present is built on the past, those building blocks stacked and mortared, plastered over and painted so the finer points are lost to memory. The past is murky, but the numbers are indelible.

They may or may not mean anything to you, but to me, they are everything.”

Thank you for your time and best of luck in your upcoming powerlifting endeavors!

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