Talking Powerlifting with Bryan Dermody
Q: Hi Bryan, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat with us today! What’s currently going on in your life?
A lot! My wife Carrie and I close on our first house in July, my daughter Abigail turned one year old in April, and my job as one of the pastors of Veritas Church has continued to grow in many, many good ways!
Q: That’s great to hear so many positive things are happening in your personal life! In regards to your professional life, we know you’ve had a rough start to your powerlifting season with a back injury. How’s recovery been for you and when can we expect to see you back up on the platform?
Yes, about six weeks before the Arnold Classic I tore two ligaments in my lumbar spine. This derailed me quite a bit at the Arnold: BetaTOR/PEAK ATP Pro Deadlift, but this injury is healed. I have a lot of scar tissue build-up in my lower back from a previous injury, which recently caused an entrapped nerve and a lot of pain. My recovery has been slow but relatively steady. I actually had to take my training back to ground zero after the Arnold (because I was in too much pain to do anything else) which meant squatting and deadlifting with the bar only. The pain has largely subsided since backing off training for a while, and I’ve continued my very aggressive soft tissue work in addition to a ton of core stabilization and mobility work. My goal is to compete in USAPL Deadlift National Championships on September 5 of this year.
Q: What kind of training prep will you implement to prepare for the USAPL Deadlift National Championships?
I’ve learned a lot from my injuries and altered my training quite a bit. I used to think that my body was indestructible but have had to face the truth that it isn’t and modify my training if I want continue competing.
The biggest change that I have made is to reduce the volume of squatting and deadlifting. I used to do each 2-3x/week. My current plan however, has me squatting and deadlifting twice every 3 weeks. The basic idea is to do as little volume as possible in order to still get stronger. The other major change that I have made is to extend my warm-up on lower body days. I start with my typical warm-up of mobility, activation and core work. Then I do a circuit of 3x15 reverse hypers; 3x15 back extension; and 3x15 banded good mornings. My basic training template looks like this right now:
Day 1: Overhead Press / Weighted Pull-Ups / JM Press with Chains / Weighted Dips / DB Hammer Curls / Thick Bar Reverse Curls Day 2: Box Jumps / Squat / Reverse Hypers / Weighted 45 Degree Back Extension Day 3: Heavy Bench Press / Barbell Row / Incline DB Press / Lat Pulldown / DB Front Raise / Face Pull Day 4: Deadlift / Glute-Ham Raises / Tire Flips / Belt Squat
I’ll stick to singles on the deadlift throughout my training plan for the USAPL Deadlift Nationals with suited work mixed in during the last six weeks prior to the competition. I’m doing a raw 5x5 squat program right now that lasts for at least six more weeks. After that, I’llput the belt on and continue to increase the weights and decrease the reps on squats.
Q: I know you keep a very clean diet year-round, but do you have a specific nutrition plan you follow leading up to a competition?
My nutrition plan stays pretty consistent all year round. I believe that you have to eat well for great performance all year round. If you are not eating in a way that promotes performance gains in training, then the best nutrition plan in the world won’t help much right before a competition. I have a couple rules that I follow:
1. Consume at least 3 meals of real food per day, with a protein shake/snack between each meal 2. Consume 4 things with every meal: lean protein, fruit and/or vegetable, healthy fat, water 3. Consume bodyweight in protein each day. For example, I weight 265 pounds, so I consume 265 grams of protein per day. 4. Consume half of my bodyweight in water per day. For example, half of my bodyweight is about 132 pounds, so I consume about 132 ounces of water per day. 5. I allow myself one meal per week where I can eat whatever I want to.
Q: What role have supplements played into your nutrition and training program?
Consistent intake of high amounts of lean protein have helped me make consistent gains in strength and lean body mass. It is very difficult to consume your bodyweight in protein via real food, so quality protein powder helps to bridge that gap. I prefer Gold Standard Whey by Optimum Nutrition. HMB has also helped tremendously. It drastically increases protein synthesis and decreases protein degradation, which helps me recover so much faster. Quicker recovery allows me to train in a much fresher state much more often. This results in more strength and lean body mass gains over time. BetaTOR (liquid HMB) has magnified this whole process. PEAK ATP allows me to train at an extremely high capacity for a prolonged period of time. This also results in greater strength and lean body mass gains in a relatively short period of time. Both BetaTOR and PEAK ATP lead to great training, and great training is what produces great competition results!
Q: What are your upcoming goals or PRs that you would like to hit this year?
Anybody who has followed my training and competition knows that I am still chasing an 800-lb. deadlift. Ideally, I would love to pull this in September at deadlift nationals, however, I want to be realistic. With all of the injury related set-backs, it would be great to get a 200 Wilks deadlift in September, putting me at about a 760-770-lb. pull. Besides that, it would be great just to continue to get healthier, pull three lifts successfully in September, and then think about my approach for training for an 800-lb. deadlift.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to start competing in a strength sport? Where should they start?
I have done both strongman and powerlifting. Both are great sports and I would recommend either to someone wanting to get involved. After 15 years of competing in strength sports and many lessons learned, the best pieces of advice would be as follows:
1. Do 3 things from day 1: warm-up thoroughly every single training session, master technique in all that you do, do as little volume as possible to get stronger.
2. Find a great training partner or partners. This is an invaluable asset that can push you, hold you accountable and coach you in training and competition.
3. Don’t even think about using performance-enhancing drugs. Once you cross that line, you cannot go back. It’s not worth it!
Q: What’s your favorite part about competing in powerlifting?
I love pushing the human body to new limits, but my favorite part of the sport is the people. I’ve met many great people in this sport and in general, everybody is for everybody else; we all want to see other succeed.. I’ve seen great sportsmanship and camaraderie in this sport. Life is about relationships – powerlifting is a great way to develop them and grow them.
Q: Outside of training and competing in powerlifting, what hobbies or weekend activity would we find you doing?
I love spending time with my beautiful wife Carrie. She has been the best source of support and encouragement that I could ever dream of. I also love playing with my daughter Abigail. She is an incredible gift from God that Carrie and I are humbled by every day. I love to read, usually Christian faith-based books or leadership books.
Q: Any other shout outs or info you would like to share with everyone?
I am continually amazed at how well the people at TSI and TEAM PEAK support me and my endeavors. I don’t deserve the support they provide me, but I humbly receive it.
I could not end this interview without giving a shout of praise to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. It may sound cliché when people thank God in interviews, but for me (and many others), he is our whole life. I would be lost and hopeless without him. Thank you Jesus for your love and sacrifice for all those who put their faith in you!
Thanks again Bryan for chatting with us and we wish you a speedy recovery and best of luck at the USAPL Deadlift Nationals in September.
Learn more about Bryan in his athlete profile here.