Klown AKA Phineas posted this on another forums and I figured I'd post it up over here.... Matt is a crazy fucker I bolded the good stuff if you don't want to read the whole thing Link if you prefer to read it there http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/default.asp?qid=46834&tid=55 Matt Kroczaleski, Thanks for answering my questions, and sharing your experience with me. I appreciate this tremendously. Can you clarify the following? Q#1. By extra work I was referring to any workouts outside of the typical 4 day/week gym routine, like extra sled work, tri pushdowns, upper back work, etc. that you may do on your off days. If not, were extra workouts ever a part of your training from 1995 till date? Q#2. Since I am not aware what type of gear (single or double ply) you lifted in the APF, do you think your first elite status in 1999 was due to gear, training, body weight gain, and/or some other factor. Your numbers really jumped from 1998 to 1999, congrats by the way. Q#3. I understand where you are coming from concerning mental toughness, and realize this may be the hardest area to try to improve. However, given we all have some level of self doubt, some more or less than others, is there any insight, advice, or instruction to better develop this area and how you approach the really heavy weights. I have a new question, do you feel that each person has a “natural” PL classification despite weight class or training style? And when is appropriate time for a serious PL with goals to be elite, to educate oneself and explore the option to get assistance via. anabolic supplementation? That’s all for now, and again I am really grateful for your time, and look forward to your response. Joe -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joe, 1. The only extra work I ever do outside the gym is for conditioning and usually consists of cardio. If I am cutting weight or trying to lean up walking at ~4.5mph for 30 minutes on a treadmill 3-5 times per week on an empty stomach immediately after waking up is my preferred method. If I am just trying to increase my work capacity because I am out of shape I will include things like our bleacher log carries and in the past I have done stuff like farmer's walk, tire flip and other strongman events. 2. The increase in my total was due to all of those; better gear, my training evolving, body weight gain and improvements in my technique. From the fall of '98 to the spring of '99 I put on 20lbs and my total went from 1810 to 1923 in the same gear. Then I dropped down to 210lbs for a strongman comp that summer. By the next year I had pushed my weight up into the 250s and my strength increased dramatically and I hit 2055 again in the same gear. Bodyweight/muscle gain can really add pounds to your total. I feel a lot of lifters hold their training back for years trying to stay in a certain weight class. My belief is that unless your competing for a national or world championship you should just lift where you will be the strongest and concentrate on your numbers and not on your competition. 3. I was always very motivated and disciplined but for a long time I severely lacked confidence in myself. That came slowly after time by achieving goal after goal. Each time I achieved something I believed that much stronger in myself when it came time to overcome my next obstacle. Goal setting is a key to this. Your goals should be aggressive but realistic. Write your goals down on paper before meets and compare them to your actual results. If you easily achieve them every time you're not challenging yourself enough. If you consistently fall short then you're not being realistic and you need to take a step back and evaluate where you really are. Work on visualization and see yourself achieving your goals and try to picture them over and over again in as much detail as possible. You must believe you can achieve something in order for it to become reality. I have also done many unconventional and what some would say are crazy things in order to increase my mental toughness. I have conditioned myself to endure more pain than most people. I have realized most of pain tolerance is simply mental. This is going to sound crazy but what I did years ago was push large saftely pins into my arm and each time I would force myself to use something larger. I progressed on to staple guns and I eventually stuck a 3" nail all the way into my bicep. Now I don't recommend that at all and I did sterilize everything first but it was just a method for me to challenge myself mentally to endure more than I thought I could. Overtime I realized that I could control my mind to endure more than most. I still have my breaking point but it has increased significantly. Another key point for me was never allowing an out. When I set my mind to something there was no other option other than to do what I set out to do. In training this means not missing any training regardless of the reason(unless it involves worsening an injury that will hold training back even more). I have gone to the gym ill and vomited numerous times from the illness but still performed my workout. After my surgeries I was always back in the gym the same day or the next day after coming home from the hospital. That is not always the best thing to do for everyone but in my case it was about discipline and never having an excuse that made it okay to not train. Once you find one excuse it quickly becomes easier to find another and another. That is another reason why I often train on very little sleep or while working a ton of hours. I simply don't feel there is a valid excuse not to. As far as conditioning yourself for the heavy weights goes I don't believe there is such a thing as a heavy weight, only those weights which I haven't done yet. Look at all of the lifters out there that have lifted more than you. What separates them from you? You're both human right? Two arms, two legs made of muscle and tendons right? My point is there is nothing special about people that are stronger than you other than they believe they can lift the weights they are doing and they have put the work in to get there. So put the work in and believe in yourself and you can do it too. Also see everything in small steps. If you can currently bench 500 than I'm sure you believe you will be able to do 525 soon. When you do 525 you will be confident you can do 550 etc. Try to surround yourself with people stronger than you. That will greatly help you to lose respect for the amount of weight on the bar. Go to competitions where they are lifting big weights and see it done for yourself. Realize that the record weights of today are the mediocre weights of tomorrow. Strive to set the pace instead of following the pack. 4. Your last question is a controversial one. I trained completely drug free until I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 31 and was subsequently put on testosterone replacement therapy. At this point I had already totaled 2088 at 242 and qualified for the Arnold. I don't believe being drug free should be an excuse for being weak. That was one of the main reasons I continued to lift in the APF even though I wasn't on gear because I loved the mentality that nothing was heavy and most of the guys seemed to think they were unstoppable. Obviously "gear" does help but it is not the magic pill that non-users make it out to be. It is not an excuse to train less hard, less intelligently and like Louie says a bottle of test and a bench shirt won't lift a single pound by themselves. As far as if or when to get "on" that is completely a personal decision and I would never encourage anyone to do so. The individual must weigh the risks versus the benefits and be 100% confident they are making the correct decision before taking any action. Most importantly anyone considering this must educate themselves as much as possible in order to make an informed decision. Remember it is also illegal and more than one lifter has found themselves charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. I also believe that there is never a reason for a teenager to get on and if they do their growth plates will calcify and they will have permanently shortened their adult height. Also realize most of the top lifters in the world competed drug free for a very long time before resorting to being on. The farther you can take your body without gear the better off you will be in the end. Good luck and be smart.