Powerdome Excerpts with the Big Hoot

As one of the most recognized businessmen in strength sports, Sean Katterle’s Hardcore Powerlifting has been leading the charge to bring classic lifting back to the forefront of the gym culture universe.

Katterle has worked as a color commentator and technical analyst for benchpress competitons aired on Fox Sports Net and Comcast Sports Net nationwide. His company has produced and promoted professional, raw, powerlifting meets at the Olympia Expo, Europa Super Show and, most recently, at The Ronnie Coleman Classic. Sean’s also served as an announcer and master of ceremonies for the powerlifting stages built at The Arnold Classic and Los Angeles FitExpo.

Sean Zilla Katterle – I’ve got some follow up questions on the topic of the Benchpress Sink Technique and the video clip you created. Since you allow the bar to sink into your torso, creating a greater stretch on the front delts and pectoral muscles, do you perform any active or static stretching before or during your benchpress warm-up sets? And, since a pause/stop is required in a bench competition, at what percentage of your one rep max do you start incorporating the pause as part of the movement? And, finally, define the phrase “Your power line.”

Chip “Big Hoot” Edalgo – Good questions Zilla. I start employing static stretching movements in between my warm-ups and all the way through my top end set. My benchpress stretching includes pausing almost of of my repetitions. That way, it’s automatically my instinct to pause the bar on my chest before exploding out of the hole. As for the term “Powerline”, that describes the groove or path of movement that creates maximum power output from start to finish. If my set-up is incorrect of if I’m moving the barbell without optimal leverage, then my power is diminished. Each lift has its own powerline. With the bench, that power actually starts with foot placement and with really planting your feet firmly on the floor. The legs, glutes/hips and deltoids start the power surge off the chest and then the drive is carried out by the chest and triceps as the bar’s launched back up towards lockout.


^^^ From left to right: Ray White, Cardell Oliver, Perry Ellis and Chip Edalgo ^^^

Sean Katterle – For many benchers, the pause portion of the contest bench is the factor that most reduces how much weight they can push in comparison to their gym numbers. What are your top assistance exercises for building your starting strength off the pause?

Chip Edalgo – First off , it’s practicing with pause reps. As my coach used to say “Practice like you play.” Also, the addition of lat pulldown work helps to create pop at the bottom. And, while most of the experts talk of strong anterior delts, I believe a bencher’s strong posterior delts also increase that pop after the static hold on the chest.

Sean Katterle – It’s a commonly voiced perception on the bodybuilding and fitness message boards that sinking or heaving is something often practiced by powerlifters with protruding guts and high levels of midsection bodyfat. Yet you use the sinking technique and you have more of an off season bodybuilding type of physique.What’s the mechanics of allowing the barbell to sink into your abdominal wall without going flat on the bench? How do you “stay tight” on the bench while allowing the bar to sink into your torso? Or do you?

Chip Edalgo – I drive the bar from my sternum. I often hear the term “Heaving” or “double clutching”, but the sink is different. Imagine taking a beach ball, forcing it under water, holding it still, then suddenly letting it go. The ball explodes through the surface of the water with speed. The sink acts in a similar matter in that you bring the weight down to its lowest point (closest to the bench pad) hold it for a split second and then explode back up, following your powerline.

Sean Katterle – What, if any, special powerlifting accessories do you utilize in your training?

Chip Edalgo – I train with bench boards for my top end work and to help overload my muscles and connective tissue.


^^^ Big Hoot deadlifting at MHP’s Clash of the Titans ^^^

Sean Katterle – You never reply to the “age” question on your contest entry forms, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you’re in your early or mid 40s? Since you’ve been bodybuilding and powerlifting for over two decades, what’s been your shoulder injury prevention and treament protocol? You don’t seem to have any reduction in your range of motion and you’re still handling mega weights without the assistance of a bench shirt.

Chip Edalgo – Training wise, I believe that high reps are vital to strengthening ligaments and tendons. I also work lifts that specifically strengthen my stabilizing muscle groupls. As a raw lifter, I have to make sure that my stabilizing muscles are strong enough to control and balance the weight. Lifting raw means that I don’t have the external support the lifters get when they wear bench shirts and powerlifting suits. I have to physically put in my own work. This need calls for more of a combination of classic bodybuilding and power building styles of training. As for what type of connective tissue supporting supplements I use, I take in fish oils, glucosamine and supercissus.

Sean Katterle – When we first met in Orlando back in 2003? the super reinforced bench shirts and powerlifting suits were still the rage on most of the pro stages and the supporters of those products were still trying to label raw/classic lifting as being more suitable for amateurs and beginners. I knew differently and started campaigning to revitalize traditional powerlifting a couple of years later. You joined our line-up of pros in 2007 and have been lifting “raw” ever since. I know my reasons for promoting what I call “real powerlifting” over “techno lifting”. But what’s your thinking on the subject and what inspired you to go from multi ply gear to simply wraps and a belt? What did you witness or experience first hand that convinced that you raw was right for you? And you’ve still got a squat suit, but it’s nailed up on the wall of your sports den?

Chip Edalgo- I have $3,000 dollars worth of gear on my wall. My main reason for going raw came to me one day after I’d successfully hit 700 pounds on the bench. I was asked how much I’d benched and I proceeded to tell him 700. Then I explained how I wore a single ply shirt and so on. At that moment I realized he didn’t understand the shirts and I had to admit that I hadn’t accomplished moving this 700 pounds on my own. From that point forward I decided that any numbers I produced and claimed were going to be all mine and that the numbers gains I made where going to come from my gains in strength and not from my upgrading to a better shirt or from my learning how to “get more” out of a particular shirt.

I also realized that mainstream America could really only connect with a raw approach to weight lifting. Case in point; How many squat suits and benchpress shirts do you see at 24 Hour Fitness? At Gold’s? At a Crossfit facility? At a football combine? I could go on, but the answer to almost all of these questions is practically none. The shirts and suits have been around for thirty years and hardly anyone’s buying into them. Simply put, a true measure of one’s strength is their raw strength. I respect the time and effort put in by the equipped lifters, but it’s an entirely different animal. If you want mainstream exposure, you have to spark a connection with mainstream interest. People as a whole lift weights raw and appreciate and want to see the best raw lifters.


^^^ Chip, on the right, flexin’ his way into the 1990s ^^^

Sean Katterle – If you follow a regular training template (days, excersises, sets and reps) can you write it out in the style of a workout log for our readers?

Chip Edalgo – My bench progression looks like: 135lbs for 10 reps, 225lbs x ten, 315lbs x five, 365lbs x three, 405lbs for three and then 445lbs for three sets of triples. This top weight is 80% of my one rep max. Then I increase the top end load by 2% each week and I do that for the 8 weeks leading up to the meet and my only change is hitting three doubles with the heaviest weights during the second half of the 8 week cycle.

Sean Katterle – Every time I’ve seen you on the platform, you’ve been carrying what I’d consider a lower-than-average bodyfat percentage. This trend is becoming more and more common amongst the lightweights and middleweights who compete without the assistance apparel. But, for those who are just now learning that excess flab is usually more detrimental than beneficial, what diet types do you have to offer up? Any food, supplement or drink rules that you follow?

Chip Edalgo – I believe in trying to build functional muscle without adding excessive builk. The extra pounds of fat and water just adds bodyweight without additional body power. And when you compete based on formula, you need the best forumla points score possible. My advice is to keep your protein intake up, especially following your workouts. I take in protein supplements, an NO product and the Strength Vitapak by GNC.


^^^ Raw benching at MHP’s Kings of the Bench II in Las Vegas, Nevada ^^^

Sean Katterle – At which gym do you currently train, where are they located, what do they offer the competing iron athlete that general fitness clubs do not and how can interested, potential customers contact them?

Chip Edalgo – My second home is Tuck’s Powerdome in Griffin, Georgia. He has been in business for over thirty years and Tuck understands what it takes to excel. He has been a major contributing factor in my pursuit of physical power. Tuck’s provides platforms , super heavy dumbbells, Texas power bars, 100lb weight plates, chalk and a room full of pure attitude that you can feed off of and add to your training. It is truly one of your last, great, hardcore gyms. Tuck can be reached for consultation at 1(770)229-2162.


Sean Katterle – Do you have any current sponsors or supporters that you’d like to mention and thank?

Chip Edalgo – First, I’d like to thank my local GNC sponsor. The franchise owners, Nelson Fleming and Nick Keller have helped me to realize my dream and for that I’m thankful. I’d also like to thank the guys at NDS, Hagan at Cellucor, Fred Krause at PPN and, most of all, my Mom because she always has been and always will be my # 1 supporter.


Sean Katterle – The administrators for the amateur wing of the sport have developed a real problem with their continuously selling titles, records and trophies for profit. By my guestimation, over 80% of the competitors at each event receive a trophy that reads “1st Place”. On top of that, you’ve got over twenty organizations running national or even world championships, despite almost all of these grandly titled events hosting line-ups that are more regional than national or international. Heck, there’s even a Southern (USA) Powerlifting Federation out there holding a National finals. How do you have a Southern American Nationals? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? So, with all the organizations, divisions, classes and championships, you’ve got hundreds of people claiming to be the best at what they do and to even be the best of all time (record lifters) despite their being physically weaker than many others who simply didn’t attend that particular event or who didn’t choose to be a part of that particular organization.

Over the last five years, you’ve taken a different approach. You’ve sought out some of the toughest stages in the country, amongst them the MHP sponsored Hardcore Powerlifting pro shows. The outcome to your facing the best of the best has sometimes meant going home without a 1st or 2nd place trophy and without a prize money check. But you’ve also walked away knowing how you stack up against some of the strongest men on the planet.

What’s the message you’d like to send out to up n’ coming top prospects and to current competitors who rank themselves as being amongst the best? Which federations should they be a part of? Which stages should they seek out? And should they cease and desist with their 1st place trophy hunt collection and serve as an example to the rest of the sport, showing that 4th place at an elite level show means more than a “national champion” certification from a contest where they didn’t have to out total a roster of other challenges to earn it?

Chip Edalgo – First off, I say “To each their own.” Some like the prospect of just collecting a trophy to say they competed and I give them all the credit for just stepping up. True, the level of competition does vary, but at least they stepped up to some degree. This is my point. I’ve heard so many guys say “I could beat this guy” or “I could beat that guy” but they never seem to have the guts to put it on the line. Until you make the move to go against them directly, save your chatter. With that being said, I DO want to see how I stack up against the best and winning money or earning trophies comes secondary to that. My true reward comes from producing my best numbers under strict conditions. This is the passion you have to have because, until powerlifting gains more mainstream acceptance, the monetary reward will be minimal and your lifting legacy will be what matters to you the most when the open division lifting’s done.

Sean Katterle – What’s the three coolest things you’ve seen at a powerlifting contest? What’s the three most impressive feats of strength you’ve witnessed? And, on a lighter note, what’s the three most ridiculous or goofy antics you’ve seen at these shows?

Chip Edalgo – Coolest? It’s a tie between this year’s heavyweight line-up at MHP’s Clash of the Titans and Beau Moore and Tony Conyers (two ageless wonders) ripping up the competition at the Raw Unity Meet. Most impressive? That’s easy; Benedict’s 1,015 pound raw deadlift at Clash of the Titans IV, Al Davis’ winning bench at MHP’s Kings of the Bench IV and Pitbull Searcy’s 1,000 pound, raw and walked out gym squat. My nominations for goofy are seeing a guy try and wear two bench shirts at once, a guy losing control in the squat and flipping over backwards, ripping both patella tendons in the process and being allowed to use knee wraps on our elbows during an “anything goes” benchpress contest.

^^^ Me, shaking hands with Chip after handing him his winning check at MHP’s Kings of the Bench ^^^

Sean Katterle – Finally, please provide me with your entire gym sports resume and background notes: What year did you join your first gym (and the name and location of that gym), list all bodybuilding shows you’ve entered (names, locations and dates), list all the powerlifting contests you’d like to list (names, locations and dates) and list your raw powerlifting PRs and the titles and records you’ve held or set in bodybuilding and powerlifting. Thanks !

Chip Edalgo – I joined Tuck’s in 1983. In the pursuit of bodybuiding, I won the NPC South Atlantic, took second as a middleweight at the NPC Georgia State, won Mr. Atlanta, Mr. Central Georgia and for three years in a row I won the middleweight division at the Gold’s Gym Classic in my state. For powerlifting I’ve competed in three MHP’s Kings of the Bench, three MHP’s Clash of the Titans, I’m an American Powerlifting Federation record holder, an overall Southern Powerlifting Federation winner and a World Powerlifting Association world champion. My best raw squat is 711 pounds, my best raw bech is 565 pounds and my best raw deadlift is 675 pounds. I’ve also trained for and competed in bench reps challenges and I’ve hit 65 reps with 225lbs, 26 reps with 315 pounds (in competition) and 15 reps with 405lbs under contest conditions.

Look for Big Hoot to next compete at MHP’s Hardcore Powerlifting Record Breakerz, which takes place at the 2012 Emerald Cup Expo in Seattle, Washington ( www.HardcorePowerlifting.com for more details. )

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