Be the Strongest Version of You with Richard Hawthorne
The only person standing between you and your fitness goals can be found staring back at you in the mirror. You got into fitness for one reason: To be the best you possible.
Dare to be better than you thought you could be. Rage against the chains that restrain our progress. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “I will be better than you.”
Today’s interview is with one of strongest pound for pound powerlifters, Richard Hawthorne.
Richard set an All-Time World Record on August 7, 2013 in Tasmania, Australia with a 562 lbs Squat, 308.6 lbs Bench Press, and 601 Deadlift for a 1471 total in the 132 pound weight class (11x bodyweight total).
Enjoy the interview…
There Are No Setbacks
Hi Richard, can you give us some background info on yourself?
I started powerlifting in 1999, in the 114 pound class. Tony Caprari (multiple world champion and world records holder in the 165 and later in the 198 lb class) convinced me to lift on the high school team as a freshman.
I won State in my first high school PL season (235 SQ, 185 BP, 325 DL, and 745 total if I can remember correctly). I was hooked and instantly made the statement that I was going to be the pound for pound strongest person in the world.
From there I won the next three state titles, but my senior year was disqualified for having briefs. Editor’s Note: Certain powerlifting divisions do not allow supportive lifting briefs.
During my high school years I also competed nationally / internationally in WABDL collecting many world records in that Federation. Still training with Tony Caprari at that time, he introduced me to the APF after graduating from high school.
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He wanted me to qualify for WPO which was an elite extension of the APF at the time. He knew that’s where I was going to get my competition and driven to be the best that I could be. I lifted with Tony for maybe a couple more months till he moved away so I had to find another place for training where I had some good people around me and I ended up going to the Powerpit Gym (owned by Joe Ladnier).
I lifted there for 1.5 – 2 years until the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. These first six years were the extent of my beginning and powerlifting as an equipped lifter.
What is it about powerlifting that draws you to the sport?
Ha! There’s levels to this S&#t lol…First, It allows me to show others that no matter what your so called disadvantages are, you can do whatever you put you mind to.
I also enjoy taking control of my own outcome, and the addictive feeling of the power over fear, which leads to the obsession of growth and progress.
In the beginning of my career, it was more so about showing others that I can do whatever they could do, which became my hard evidence. At that time, my motivation was to prove people wrong when they judged me on my appearance.
I enjoyed having control over my outcome instead of worrying if my teammate was training as hard as me. Of course we were a powerlifting team, and we all helped each other, but at the end of the day it was about my destiny in my own hands. I wanted to be the best.
As my career progressed, I became known for lifting large amounts of weight compared to my body weight, and people expected me to perform at my best. This put vast amount of pressure on me because I felt that if I failed, then I missed out on the chance for people in the industry to elevate my brand in the sport.
This kind of publicity has a very strong hold on my future, and not just in powerlifting, because you will never know who will talk about you, and to whom. This kind of thing can sometimes lead to a life-changing experience.
After years of proving to others that I can do whatever they can do, I slowly started fearing failing, or missing a chance to elevate myself in the sport of powerlifting. This has been in the back of my mind for the majority of my career and still to this day.
But at this point in my career, what really draws me to powerlifting is the constant progress, and most of all the growth and knowledge that I have obtained because of lifting.
I’ve learned how the body works, and how it should be used. I’ve learned how to feel out my body in ways that I never imagined. This kind of curiosity is what keeps me going. I find my self asking, “Where does the human body top off?”
Can you talk about how your off-season training differs from your meet preparation training? What is “off-season” to a powerlifter?
I can’t answer that because my off-season is dramatically different from other lifters. I guess I’ll use one of the new famous buzzwords of today, but my off-season is a big ongoing “de-load” training Marathon. I hardly go over 415 lbs in training for squat, 225 lbs in bench press, and 500 lbs in the deadlift. However, I’m constantly perfecting my form.
What does your current diet consist of? Do you try to keep a strict diet?
I don’t keep a strict diet. However, I do make sure that I eat somewhat clean and eat according to my performance. I’m no “guru” with diets but I know how my body works when it comes to fueling it! My fridge consists of a lot of 97/3 lean ground beef and green veggies but I am also known for being a heavy carb eater. PIZZA, It’s the key to my heart!
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What are your current powerlifting goals and what does your training routine look like?
My goals consist of:
- 600 raw squat at 132 lbs body weight
- 1500 raw total at 132 lbs body weight
- And I’m still on the quest to break Lamar Gant’s all time deadlift record of 683 at 132 (my biggest DL to date is 639.4 at 130 lbs bw)
My training just came to a halt due to a minor knee tweak from an old and stupid mistake horse playing around at the beginning of this year. I was training for the GPA worlds in Sydney Australia but I have recently decided to pull out mainly to business Affairs going on here at home.
Sorry to hear about the injury, I was looking forward to watching you at the Worlds. What other obstacles or setbacks have you had to overcome to achieve your powerlifting goals?
I can go and talk about all the bad things that I had to go through that stopped me from doing things, but everybody has a sad story to tell.
I really don’t look at things as setbacks anymore because I have realized that every time something happened to me, or stopped me from doing something that I thought I needed or wanted to do, it always boosted me beyond what I wanted.
Every day is a tremendous obstacle for me, but who’s day isn’t? That’s just life.
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What advice do you have for those of us struggling to reach our goals?
Throughout my powerlifting career, I was never worried about winning. I always focused on beating myself.
I see a lot of frustration and bad decisions made over just trying win. Sure, we all want to win, that’s natural, but to become a true champion you first have to learn to beat yourself. You can never be great by focusing on what everyone else is doing.
Richard Hawthorne is the co-owner of Southern Elite Powerlifting Gym in D’Iberville, MS.
Richard Hawthorne is an Elite Powerlifter, three-time WABDL World Champion, two-time NOTLD Champion, and he won CAPO Nationals in 2013 with a 1471 RAW total at 130 lbs bodyweight (11.31x bodyweight). You can find Richard on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Deadlift (Single Ply) MS State Records & WABDL World Records
- Men’s Open 123 lbs BW: 573.0 on 5/17/2003 (Richard set this record as a Teenager)
- Jr. Men’s 132 lbs BW: 600.7 on 9/7/2008
- Men’s Open 132 lbs BW: 611.7 on 2/21/2009
- 573 @ 125 BW (4.5x in 2003)
Best Competition Deadlifts
- 611 @ 126 BW (4.8x in 2011)
- 622 @ 128 BW (4.8x in 2012)
- 639.4 @ 130 BW (4.9x in 2013)
RAW (unequipped lifts)
- SQ 562 @ 130 BW (all time world record)
- BP 308 @ 130 BW
- DL 601 @ 130 BW
- Total: 1471 @ 130 BW (all time world record 11.31x BW)