Powerlifter Shawn Bellon, age 41, has his BS in Education and has been a Strength Coach and Trainer for 20 years. Let's learn more about this 6'1", 250 lbs. powerhouse!
Q: How did you get introduced to the iron – by family, sports, friends, your own interest?
A: My mother was a recreational bodybuilder... worked to keep in shape. I remember having to chew big horse pill vitamins because they were tough to swallow. I started lifting at age 11. I would scavenge the town I grew up in at yard sales to collect more weights and equipment.
Q: Eleven? Wow! You used your mother's weights to start?
A: Yes, I did. She had the old chest springs to pull apart, a spring bar to bend and some light dumbbells. I quickly started progressing, so my quest for more equipment started.
Q: And can you describe your home gym today? What kind of equipment would we find there?
A: I call it the Cave. It is my office as well as our t-shirt print equipment. We have a few thousand pounds of free weights, deadlift platform, squat jacks, competition bench press, multiple bars, bands, chains, pull up apparatuses. Basic and effective.
Q: How did you discover powerlifting meets?
A: Junior high there was a new varsity coach in our little town. So looking up to the strong high schoolers and trying to hang with them gave me some exposure to state meets through the coach.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Edgerton, Ohio in the US. Little farm town in Nowrthwest Ohio.
Q: What sports did you play growing up?
A: I was a typical small town kid playing everything all year and doing farm work during the summer. Football, wrestling and track was a pattern for many years but the real appeal for me was training with weights.
Q: In a sport rife with injuries, what are you doing to prolong your powerlifting career?
A: Sadly, I was not smart in the past, thinking I would be fine so precautions were sensible in my mind at the time but no real big picture thinking. Typical of a young guy, right? So now my training uses a lot of self-assessment or the cool term is auto regulation along with periodizing some things.
I use my belt, knee sleeves and wrist wraps as often as I can. I do a variety of mobility work with PVC pipe, foam rollers, traction, Voodoo floss, lacrosse ball work and massage. I also do a lot of meditation for stress management.
Q: What journals do you read or what do you use as your source for information as a coach and trainer?
A: NCSA, Science Daily, NASM and a few websites at random are a lot of what I read. I prefer actual print, so while e-books are popular for many I like something to sit and take notes on.
Q: Do you coach others?
A: Yes, I do. No longer teaching in a classroom hasn't stopped my teaching in a different format. I work with clients globally through my website [More info @ http://www.rawpowerlifter.com/ ] from emails to Ustream.
Q: Any advice for those wanting to get into the sport?
A: Find a good coach, use strict technique, train raw while developing a strong base. Read more, ask questions and expect to fail regularly. Champions are not built over night.
Q: What is your overall training philosophy?
A: Curt, like any good teacher or educator I use self-assessment. Important factors of how I feel that day, during warm ups all are factored into the system I appreciate.
I put together my thoughts to put out Trinity Method which focuses on powerlifting's holy trinity: squat, bench press and deadlift. It is basic and brutal.
I also think that recovery needs to be at the forefront of any lifter's mind. Nothing we do matters if we can't recover!
Q: How long have you been training seriously?
A: I started lifting at age 11. I would say I was very serious then for being a total goof ball kid. I have had my ebbs and flows particularly through injuries, but as Henry Rollins can attest "The Iron" never left my veins.
As a coach and walking advertisement it is important that I keep in shape and walk the walk as much as possible.
Q: You just mentioned Henry Rollins. Does music play a part in your gym motivation? If so, what groups or other performers get your workouts charged?
A: I think music used to play a large part of helping me channel and focus my rage when lifting. Over time I have been much better at learning to flip the switch where music for me is enjoyable but not needed.
Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration or mentor in the strength game?
A: Ed Coan. He is the best powerlifter ever. He could have done raw, single ply or multiple and he would dominate. His approach to training is methodical, detailed and about perfection. I met him a few times and one thing he said to me I will never forget, "Shawn you are the only legit squatter on that platform. Nice squatting!" I probably peed a little.
I have appreciated watching Ed lift like so many. He wasn't animated with some pro wrestler gimmick. He was focused, quiet and intense. His lifting said more than any colored-Mohawk, multi-pierced lifter could ever say!
Q: Very cool on the kudos from Coan! Regarding the Mohawks and piercings set; do you tire of the almost instant celebrity courtesy of social media? How important is it to verify the qualifications of some of the so-called gurus or online trainers?
A: Ed just congratulated us on the birth of my in-laws' new child. I was giddy! I think social media is an awesome tool but can create some "awesome tools!" LOL
Sure, there tends to be people drawn to many of the things that just do not resonate with me personally. I am a little more reserved and probably old school with training, etc. I sorta have the idea like you hear in the NFL: Protect the shield. I think we need to protect the integrity of the sport as much as possible with quality representatives, top notch lifting, and some benevolent activities as well.
Verifying the qualifications and such is just hard to do. And really at the social media level probably isn't worthwhile as people tend to lack the social skills to be typing to begin with. I will keep my head down and keep pushing along to be a positive force in my sphere of influence.
Q: What are some of the lifts you are most proud of?
A: My 755 squat and deadlift done raw without knee wraps or crazy knee sleeves people use now.
Q: What are the contests you are most proud of?
A: I have to say anything the USPA does is pretty awesome. And the Olympia Invitational I competed in was really awesome. We were up on a stage with spectators all around the lifters. I was so nervous. I lost my class by 55 lbs. or so, but I was excited because I had no assistance – just me and my belt. The meet was single ply! Best 2nd place ever!
Q: Can you describe the Olympia Invitational? What year did that take place or where was it held?
A: It was awesome! The venue was huge, of course. Steve Denison put together a top notch meet with so many great lifters. I was sponsored by MHP so it was 2011, I believe. Just so cool to be around all these great lifters. As always everyone was super nice and helpful. I really enjoyed meeting so many people. I had no idea how I would do. I just wanted to give it my best and see what happened.
Probably the worst part for me is just getting my squat opener in. Once I am on the board with a good attempt, I relax. Walking up to the platform I was listening to my music just trying to ignore everything. There were rows of chairs to sit on the stage as you waited when your attempts were close. It is sorta like baseball when someone is up, on deck and in the hole. I noticed that the stage was like a peninsula with spectators all around. WOW!
My last attempt was just over 755 pounds. The head judge interrupted the announcer declaring, "... AND SHAWN IS LIFTING RAW!" He was waving his hands up in the air wanting the crowd to cheer. The announcer quickly described what lifting raw meant although now it has taken several turns. Raw at the Olympia was a belt and simple knee sleeves.
Unfortunately, now raw means with knee wraps or with knee sleeves that might be almost as strong as knee wraps. So now I don't even wear my knee sleeves.
Q: What does your weekly nutrition, eating, meal plan look like?
A: Training days I eat between 3-9 p.m. Off days I eat between 4-9 p.m. I will have several servings of Xtend during the non-eating time with glutamine added. Training days are higher carbs while off days are virtually no carbs. I range 2000-3000 calories a day.
Q: Do you recommend any supplements?
A: I love Xtend by Scivation, Tier 1 by Citadel Nutrition, Dymatize protein. I like to keep it simple.
Q: How much sleep do you get each day?
A: 8-10 hours and sometimes a nap during the day.
Q: What is your favorite movement at this time?
A: I just purchased a KettleShell [More @ http://www.thekettleshell.com/ ] so pretty much anything I can create with that but it is really cool to have kettle bell movements in my training now.
Q: What are the three most important movements for people trying to build strength?
A: Squat, Overhead Press and Deadlifts.
Q: Strength training, hypertrophy, or both when starting out?
A: When starting out so much is about learning coordination that you sorta have the misnomer of increased strength when really it is just no longer crawling but starting to walk and so on. I think the rep scheme should be between 1-100 reps. Experiment but in doing so do not compromise form and sound technique. So to answer the question, BOTH.
Q: What is the worst competitive experience you've had (injury, etc.)?
A: I competed at the USPA/IPL World's a few years back. I missed an 804 squat that I should have buried. The bar slipped. It tweaked my back which was already problematic. I made it through the meet and won, but put up a crappy total for my own standards while ending the meet with a lot of pain and spasms.
Q: Any advice for regular people trying to take their training to the competitive level?
A: First, ask yourself why. Second, what are your goals? Next, what equipment do you have to achieve the goals set? Find a mentor to lean on for advice and honest dialogue about your training. Gym friends can be positive to a fault. You need truth, especially when considering stepping on to a platform.
Q: Any shout-outs?
A: Certainly to you Curt for asking me to share. Thank you! USPA/IPL and http://www.powerliftertoday.com a new magazine for us meatheads. My clients, who I have established such unique friendships while helping them reach their goals.
Q: How can people contact you (email, social media, etc.)?
Thank you for sharing your time and part of your story, Shawn. I wish you continued success in coaching and in the sport!
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