This interview was originally published on the 7th of December, 2014.
Al Caslow has lifted some enormous weights in various types of lifting equipment, at light bodyweights, for many
years. When I mentioned I would like to send him an interview to fill out, he was only too willing to answer any
questions I had in mind. I hope you enjoy this interview.
T.B. – Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
A.C. – absolutely, looking forward to it.
T.B. – For those of us who don’t know much about you, can we start off with some background info, like your age,
how you got started in powerlifting, athletic background, current profession, etc.
A.C. – I currently live in a suburb of Kansas City. Married with two beautiful girls. I am currently 34 years old and
getting younger. I started powerlifting in 2006. Brad Johnson who is still part of our SOS team introduced me to the
sport. It helped feed that competitive appetite. I participated in a lot of sports growing up and even into my young
adult years so it was tough not having that outlet, powerlifting fit the bill.
T.B. – At your first competition, what weight division were you in, what age were you, what were your lifts, and were
they raw or equipped?
A.C. – first meet was April of 06. I competed at 165. I did not know of weight classes then but happened to be under
that so that became my class. I think I finished the meet with a 585 squat, 405 bench and a 545 deadlift. I used some
gear we bought from frantz and an Inzer shirt. Was an awesome meet for me. The nerves and the platform brought that thrill back.
T.B. – What are your career best lifts, what equipment, and at what bodyweight?
A.C. – 910 squat, 555 bench and 705 deadlift. These are all in multiply gear while competing at 181lbs.
T.B. – Was it “love at first sight” when you got involved in Powerlifting and you had no doubt you wanted to take it
as far as you could, or did this love for the sport develop over time?
A.C. – developed over time. I enjoyed it and it filled a void but I was also very career driven. So I wasn’t the most
consistent of teammates. I finally turned the corner after seeing nick hatch, Shawn Frankl and Laura phelps at senior
nationals. Pretty easy group to get motivated by. Couldn’t resist looking past the immediate future. Beating them
T.B. – When you got started, were you lucky enough to have a lot of people into Powerlifting who lived close to you,
or did you have to learn the ropes by trial and error?
A.C. – a little of both. We had some good experienced lifters helping us and we were also students of the game. We
initially were a very small group that eventually grew to become a respectable team. It was fun, good guys and girls
filled the team. We had a lot of camaraderie amongst all of us, we also had some characters.
T.B. – How long had you been training when you started hitting world records?
A.C. – I hit my first in 08 so two years. I worked hard and did a lot of things right despite the little experience behind
me. Yes I get that genetics played a large role but I can’t stress enough how critical programming is.
T.B. –Can you please outline how you were training when you were at your absolute strongest?
A.C. – I have always used a block periodization model. I used to take sheiko splits and make them linear within the
intensity. It started off as that I slowly made the transition to a full blown block model thereafter.
T.B. – What do you think of the very popular training systems of the Russian super coach Boris Sheiko and the
American super coach Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell? I suppose you could add to that list Jim Wendler’s 5-3-
1, Brandon Lilly’s Cube method, and any others you feel deserve mention.
A.C. – sheiko and Simmons have systems. They can fit anyone and can be made to order if you will without loosing
the spirit of what drives its intentions. There’s a lot someone can learn about themselves from them. The other
programs you mention are templates. Cut and paste programs that have fragments of influences driven by logic.
Which in turn have given a lot of people formal direction to training. And they turned out to be pretty good and
generated results. Kind of hamburger helper. You can make your own with creativity or you can buy a box.
T.B. – How would you tweak your ideal training program for someone who can only train at most 3 – 4 days a week,
45 – 60 minutes each session, sometimes early in the morning, or sometimes late at night, and has a fulltime job /
family to look after [i.e., nt much time to offer]?
A.C. – ha… This almost too easy as I can personally relate. If you truly have 4 days then you are better off than most
even with the hour limit. Personally gear wouldn’t be an option with that schedule. Raw shouldn’t take that long so an
hour would allow for a fast paced session. I would still use a block like model.
T.B. – The great Russian Andrey Malanichev said in an interview recently, he only does Squat, Bench, Deadlift in his
training and runs 6 – 10 Kilometres a couple of times a week in his off season. What do you think about that?
A.C. – nuts… Works for him and works well but trusting that to work for everyone would have me paranoid,
T.B. – Do think it is possible to borrow some things from each of these different approaches?
A.C. – sort of. Depends on the what. I used to think it could but I’m not sure it’s best to or would I recommend it. Too
much goes into things like that to advocate someone take that on. The worst is time wasted experimenting…
T.B. – Is there one particular performance of yours that you are most proud of?
A.C. – no not really, I always had to contend with a volume of things before meets so getting there and being able to
perform was usually enough for me. To be honest half the time I competed I barely knew what my totals were or subtotal
during it. Usually took a day to settle down to consider it. I did have some awesome competition along the way
that made numbers more necessary. Brian Schwab and I had some awesome battles at 165. Those were good times.
T.B. – A change of pace now. The state of powerlifting has been quite fractured for some time now, especially in the
U.S.A., where there are dozens of federations. Would you like to see, and do you ever think Powerlifting will be in the
Olympics one day? If not, what do you think is holding it back?
A.C. – no way. It’s a tainted sport. Too much crap that holds zero water in standards. At the level that matters
stands in the way. Meets will always be fun but having a pure pyramid setup is gone. It’s so watered down that too
meets need lifters instead of lifters lobbying to get in. The local meets gather good crowds instead. The build up
doesn’t exist in the usa. The fed heads also do well with their little sanctions that giving that up to help strengthen
sport isn’t worth it to them. Without a governing body it’s the Wild West. Would be cool if all got in on it and you created a league. You could have IPA as the east coast branch, SPF as Midwest and APF as west coast. Then you
create a season out of that with state, regional and national meets. Wishful thinking…
T.B. – Go you prefer one type of lifting over another [raw, single ply, multi ply]? If so, why is that?
A.C. – naw, they are all fun. Some great athletes in all the different levels. They all take the same amount of effort.
T.B. – We all get niggles from time to time in this sport, but have you ever had any serious injuries? If so, was there
ever a time afterwards when you thought you couldn’t be bothered competing again, just rehab the knee to be able to
live “normally”, or was it immediately “I have to compete again. I can’t go out like this”?
A.C. – usually I worked through them,never formally took time off from a injury. Should have. But didn’t. After my
last meet my shoulder did not heal like I thought it would and my motivation took a dunk. I don’t think I bounced
back from that…
T.B. – Do you think if you trained any differently over the years, you could have hit the same numbers or more?
A.C. – no. I really believed in how I did things. Landon Evans was a key to my programming that I firmly believe
played a vital role in my development. I do think some are better than others in terms of how to train. But then again
we are all different.
T.B. – I recently read where you had retired from competitive Powerlifting. What brought about this decision?
A.C. – an injury really. That and the nature of the sport has changed for me. I also have other priorities. The thing that
bugged me most about it was not being able to be at one meet with everyone. It was so scattered that no meet ever felt necessary or a must do. Pretty tough to train when there’s no motivation.
T.B. – Do you feel a responsibility to the people who do look up to you to help them out however you can, as Dave
Tate puts it “Live, Learn, & Pass on”, and if so, why is that?
A.C. – Absolutely. It’s a pass it forward mentality. Rick Hussey played a large role through out my career. He made a
huge impact, I owe it to the next guy to be open and available to help just like he helped me.
T.B. – In the 20+ years, and 70+ competitions I have been in, I have seen repeatedly how Powerlifters will help and
encourage each other, even the very lifters they are competing against on that same day! What is it that drives
competitors to support the person that could quite possibly keep them out of the medals, and do you think it is a
“Powerlifting only” thing?
A.C. – No, it exists. Powerlifting is slightly more than most because everyone is helped, guided and supported through
the same channels. You can have the #1 guy in the same flight as the #99 guy. This softens the vulnerability to be
standoffish. Plus access helps in creating conversation and communicating to one another. The warmup room is a big
training garage where you can bum shoulders with anyone regardless of status.
T.B. – Nutrition – How important is nutrition for a Powerlifter and what did / does your nutrition look like? Were you
very particular with your own nutrition when competing?
A.C. – Huge. One of the most underrated sources within the game. I always preached that how you feel has a lot to do
with what you ate. Eat trash and you will fill like it. I used a simple approach to eating. Clean. Smart choices. Laura
phelps helped me through out to find tune it and in creating a substantial list of dos and don’ts.
T.B. – I see so many younger guys taking all sorts of supplements, hundreds of dollars a month in some cases. How
important do you really think supplements are, and are they really needed if a lifter is getting a lot of good food, plenty
of sleep,& training his / her butt off?
A.C. – yes and no. If you’re regimented with supplementation it can go far. But if you’re irresponsible it becomes a
waste of money. It’s important to be structured and organized with supplemen