Before Nationals I had a chance to sit and talk to National Strongman Competitor Chase Karnes…
Tell me a little about yourself:
I’m a 26 year old personal trainer/strength coach/strongman competitor located in Paducah, KY. I’ve been training myself consistently for over 13 years now and I’ve been training clients for over 7 years out of Argonauts Fitness. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, as well as the CSCS and NSCA-CPT credentials. A lot of my knowledge comes from my years under the bar personally and training clients “in the trenches” though. I began my own journey in the iron game right after 8th grade. I began training for football following a modified “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” program. After high school I began competing in bodybuilding for a few years and soon after I got involved in powerlifting. I eventually found the sport of strongman almost 3 years ago and have been hooked every since.
Some of my best lifts are: (All done at a BW of 200 pounds or under)
Deadlift – 600
Box Squat – 475
Back Squat – 450
Front Squat – 385
Log Clean & Press – 310
Axle Clean & Press – 283
Axle Push Press – 308
Military Press – 245
Incline Bench – 305
Bench Press – 390
I’m currently training for the 2011 North American Strongman Nationals that are coming up in November.
Looking forward to competing against you in Nationals! I noticed your
deadlift has been skyrocketing lately; I know you have a blog post
coming out about your 100 lb increase in dead lift with no change in
body weight, would you like to highlight some key points in your
I’m looking forward to it as well, man. Yeah, my deadlift has definitely came a long way this year. At Nationals last year I had a realization that my deadlift sucked. I decided then and there it was time to bring it up. I started out by filming myself work up to a training max. I sent the video to some people whom I really value their opinion and expertise, Clint Darden, Mike Robertson and Jim Wendler, to get their constructive criticisms on my weaknesses and any technique issues. I also had the opportunity to have Matt Kroczaleski coach me on the deadlift in person and he helped point out some small technical issues and also helped me break a mental barrier.
As for key points in programming – it really wasn’t anything fancy. I don’t want to give away too much of the article I’m working on, but I’ll tell you a few things.
I focused on filming the majority of my deadlift sessions and analyzing my technique and even more importantly my weaknesses. I then tweaked my program every training block to hit that specific weakness.
The lifts that I feel were most beneficial to the increase in my deadlift in order of importance are:
Glute Ham Raises
This isn’t an extensive lift of all of the lower body movements I trained during that time, but I feel these had the biggest impact on my deadlift increase.
My overall volume was low and most of my reps on the main lifts kept to 5 and under. Lower body accessory work ranged from 6-15 reps. I would normally deload every 7th week. For the last 6 week training block before I actually pulled 600 I was deadlifting 2x’s a week. Monday was my heavy day that consisted of some low rep work (5’s and under) and singles (on weeks 1,3,4,6). Wednesday was my speed deadlift day where I’d work in the range of 45-55% of my 1RM and from a 3 inch deficit on the final 3 weeks.
The video was impressive. Are you planning on staying under 200 for competition? What is your diet like to keep getting stronger without any change in bodyweight?
Thanks man. Yeah, I plan to compete under 200 at nationals. I’ve actually only competed in the 231 class once, and that was at a bodyweight of 200. I normally hang out around 198-202, but in the fall/winter I’ll add a little body fat and get up around 208 or so. I plan to compete at 200 for a while unless my body weight just creeps on up, then we’ll see. As far as diet, I’ve been following a combination of “The Modified Warrior Diet” from Michael Keck, “The Renegade Diet” from Jason Ferruggia and “Carb Backloading” from Kiefer. They are all pretty similar and I’ve just combined what I like about each into a plan that fits my lifestyle and schedule. A typical training day of eating for me looks like: 6:30am- wake up, coffee 11:00am- 50 gram protein shake 11:30am- 200-300mg Caffeine 12:00pm- Train 1:30pm- Post workout shake (~330 kcal, 25g protein, 44g carbs) 3:00pm – 5 oz turkey, 1 oz nuts, 1 serving greens product 7:00pm- 8 oz. Sirloin, baked potato, sour cream, butter, salad 8:00pm – 2 pop tarts, 50g protein shake A typical non training day looks like this: 5:30am- wake up, coffee 10:00am- 50gram protein shake, 1oz. Nuts 1:00pm- 4 eggs, 4 slices bacon, 1 serving greens product 4:00pm – 4oz. Beef jerky, 1 oz. Nuts 7:00pm – 1 whole California Kitchen BBQ chicken pizza 8:30pm – 2 bowls frosted mini wheats 9:00pm- 50gram protein shake I don’t count calories, but occasionally I’ll take a couple of days and I’ll plug everything into FitDay.com or the Livestrong app on my phone to see where my calories and macros are falling. If they are off base with my goals I’ll make the necessary changes and keep a closer eye on my nutrition. A few things I almost always do: -Fast daily (last meal of day until late morning/early afternoon) -Eat carbs after training and/or after 6 or 7pm. -Count my protein intake until I hit at least 1g per/lb of bw.
Nice, I’ve been preaching backloading forever! I love the way I feel
when I workout carbless.
Any advice to beginners or people who are new specifically to the sport
First of all, I’d definitely recommend finding a strongman group to train with that has at least the basic equipment. And unfortunately you may have to travel to find these things. But if you want it bad enough you’ll make it happen. I’ve got a friend who’s an up and coming powerlifter and he travels over 2 ½ hours every weekend one way (Over 5 hours total) to train with a group of powerlifters. If you need help finding a group I’d recommend getting on the NAS Message boards (NAStrongman.com) or contacting your NAS State chair and ask them where any training groups in your state may be located.
Once you find a group to train with watch and analyze everyone’s techniques. Everyone has a bit different technique, so try it all and see what feels best for you. Ask for construcitive critiscism from the group – especially from the stronger lifters. Strive to hit PRs consistently. Make sure your programming your gym lifts properly, as you’ll have to cut down on what you may have been doing before.
As for training through the week, the following list covers most lifts that I feel have the most carryover for strongman – Power clean, deadlift, back/front squat, good mornings, RDLs, GHRs, military press, push press/jerk and incline bench press. This should obvioulsy be combined with accessory/supplemental movements to balance out the body and also work on weak points. By getting really strong on these lifts while training strongman events anyone would be off to a great start.
Thanks man, looking forward to seeing and competing against you at
Nationals! Should be great!
Should be pretty awesome!
Check out chase at www.chasekarnes.com