This interview was originally published on the 16th September, 2015.
Powerlifters worldwide are marvelling at the phenomenon that is Andrey Malanichev! Andrey has been lifting for many years now, with many feats of strength that, not so long ago, seemed just out of human reach. After watching, re-watching, and watching again, one just marvels at the speed with which 1,000+ lb Squats come back up, with and without supportive equipment! In case you have not seen this, here is a link to his most recent competition, the Boss of Bosses 2 –
I messaged Andrey several times through Facebook, and he always answered whatever question I had to ask thoroughly, quickly, and to the point. When I mentioned I would like to do an interview with him, he was only too willing to answer any questions I had in mind. “…I answer any question…” was his straight forward response.
So sit back, read, and be prepared to learn from one of the strongest humans on earth – EVER!
T.B. – Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Also, my children [daughter Annie and son Jack] want me to say hello to you from them.
A.M. – Hello my friend nice to meet you! And say hello to your children!
T.B. – For those of us who don’t know much about you, or have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, can we start off with some background info, like your age, how you got started in powerlifting, athletic background, current profession, etc.
A.M. – Well, my name is Andrey Andrey Malanichev, I’m 38. Before starting a career in powerlifting I was fond of free style wrestling (competitively) and then competitive amateur boxing. This is my athletic background. But at the age of 14 or 15 I accidentally started doing something like powerlifting, and frankly saying, it was just for fun! I was an ordinary tomboy and loved to spend my time at the rooftops in Moscow, where suddenly I found TV antenna which was held by something like a weightlifting plate. I began to do, you know, some kind of biceps curls and I really enjoyed this feeling in my muscles. I decided to take both of these “plates” home and tied them to a long crowbar with cords. That was my first training weight. I was doing this for approximately 2 years under my building’s roof (the service floor). Besides powerlifting I like to travel, visit music concerts, go to the galleries and exhibitions, watch movies.
T.B. – What was your strength level when you first started?
A.M. – By the time I got to a real lifting gym at 16 and started to train with my trainer Andrey Chuprin I could bench 80kg and squat 120kg.
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.M. – It was really love at first sight. But at the same time I wasn’t planning my future, I was just enjoying my present life and still do the same thing – I don’t like to make any plans. But through my sport career I’ve been falling in love with powerlifting just deeper and deeper. It has developed me personally, mentally, physically, it presented me a lot of friends, and I’ve met a lot of great people with the help of this sport!
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 yourself – trial and error?
A.M. – We’ve got a big sport family in the gym, and it was amazing! You know people who surround you are the essential part of your future success, we can’t just unappreciate the influence of society on us, on our life, that’s why I was really lucky enough to be surrounded by great people who was seriously mad about sport!
T.B. – Can you please explain how the Russian sports system operates, from the time of athlete selection to the time an athlete is at World Championship level?
A.M. – As for powerlifting – you just should be the strongest in your weight category. First of all – win Russian Championships, then send an application to participate on the Worlds level Championship. That’s simple! As for Olympic kinds of sport – it differs. We’ve got national teams, which train at special bases and the best sportsmen with the highest results are sent to participate in World Championships
T.B. – How long had you been training when you started hitting world records?
A.M. – You know I don’t just specially train for the records. I just do what I love. Sure it’s cool enough to make records but this is unpredictable – you can’t just begin your training routine to make another world record. I was training all my life to be the best version of myself.
T.B. – Can you please outline how you currently train, what your weekly schedule looks like, and how this changes over the course of a training cycle?
A.M. – I only do the three basic powerlifting exercises without any accessory besides abs. The program hasn’t changed over the years.
Monday – Squat
Wednesday – Bench
Friday – Deadlift
Saturday – bench
There are just changes in weight. And I have only 3 training days a week when I’m coming closer to the Meet. In general the program is really very simple.
T.B. – Have you always trained like this? If not, what did your training look like in years past, and what prompted you to change to how you train now?
A.M. – I tried to train 6 times a day – it had been for 3 years in the very beginning of my career. That time I also did a lot accessory exercises for every body part.
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.M. – Sure I’ve heard about all these programs. But you know – it’s individual. They are good by their meanings and will suit for whom they were made. It’s very individual.
T.B. – What methods, if any, would you consider to use from any of these systems, and add to your training to help you get over the 1,100 lb raw Squat mark and 2,500 lb raw total?
A.M. – Only my own training system will help me to get new maximum – it’s optimal for me!
T.B. – Do you think your current training regime would be perfect for the average lifter who can only train at most 3 – 4 days a week, under 1 hour each session, sometimes early in the morning, or sometimes late at night, and has a fulltime job / family to look after [i.e., not much time to offer]?
A.M. – Sure it is possible. My program is simple – the differ for a man you’ve described will be just in weights
T.B. – I read in an interview recently, you run 6 – 10 Kilometers a couple of times a week in your off season. Is this true, and do you recommend this for every lifter, regardless of age / level?
A.M. – Yep, it’s true. I can’t recommend it because you have to know the special techniques of running to avoid injuries! The main thing is in the art of run – I‘ve discovered some type of jogging looking like skiing.
T.B. – What is the competition result that you are most proud of, and why is that?
A.M. – It’s just yet to come
T.B. – This next question is one I’ve wanted to know the answer to for a long time – why are your Squats so dam fast, even at the heaviest weight?
A.M. – I don’t think so – I think I squat slowly. I don’t do anything special to squat fast. It just comes out that way
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.M. – As for me powerlifting is a professional sport. Because of the diversity of federations it’s impossible to make it as a Olympic kind of sport. It’s a sport for professionals
T.B. – What do you think of all the different federations, and all the different types of supportive equipment / Monolifts?
A.M. – I like any federation where I can squat in “classic raw” – only knee wraps. It’s the real strength, the pure strength. Other things show the strength of progress and technology, not the strength of a lifter. Monolift is great – it helps a lot on heavy squats.
T.B. – What is the worst accident / injury you have had due to Powerlifting training / competition, and was there ever a time afterwards when you thought you couldn’t be bothered competing again, just rehab to be able to live “normally”, or was it immediately “I have to compete again. I can’t go out like this”?
A.M. – I suppose that injuries are OK when you are training and competing at such weights. I try to recover after them and then continue to compete.
T.B. – Knowing what you know now, would you have trained any differently when starting out in the sport? If so, what would be different?
A.M. – Despite all the knowledge and experience I wouldn’t have changed my previous training. And I think I haven’t’ made great mistakes – otherwise i wouldn’t be competing at this level and for such a long time.
T.B. – From the many interviews I’ve read about you, people always say how generous you are with your time and helpful information. Do you feel a responsibility to the people who do look up to you to help them out however you can, as Dave Tate from Elitefts puts it “Live, Learn, & Pass on”, and if so, why is that?
A.M. – I just try to encourage people and to help them to discover that amazing feeling which powerlifting can bring to life. Sure I feel responsibility and always thank them for their trust in 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 for the same records / medals! In your opinion, 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, or have you seen it in other sports as well?
A.M. – In Russia it’s called “sport tolerance”. It doesn’t matter who are – you are still a friend to a person who’s near you and you show respect to his achievements and just can’t behave in the other manner. You know you can see the same situation in any kind of sport.
T.B. – Nutrition – How important is nutrition for a Powerlifter and what does your nutrition look like? Does this change the closer you get to a competition?
A.M. – Meat is everything! I eat a lot meat (prefer beef but also pork and chicken). Drink a lot of high mineral content water. As for carbs I prefer bread, potatoes, rice and pasta Rule – I don’t eat before hard training! And while I’m off-season, I also take a rest from food – you know it’s really very hard to eat non-stop a lot of food!
T.B. – You do not have to worry about weight classes [very lucky], but what do you eat / drink the day before a competition, the day of the competition, and during the competition to have maximum energy throughout the competition?
A.M. – i don’t care about it
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.M. – I think there’s no sense in spending such sums of money. The most important things for me, taking in an account the products of my sponsors – Animal – the most necessary for everyone are vitamins AnimalPak, protein AnimalWhey, aminos and AnimalFlex But in general I try to cover my “needs” with simple food.
T.B. – What is the best advice you have ever received in regards to Powerlifting, why was it so valuable, and who gave it to you?
A.M. – It wasn’t an advice, it was a moxie. My 1st trainer saw potential in me and believed in me. It was really important. Much more important than just words. Frankly saying I’m always trying to “make myself advice for myself” and to follow it!
T.B. – Do you think Powerlifters have gotten a lot stronger these days than the 60’s 70’ or 80’s, or is it just inflated numbers due to extreme equipment used and / or less strict judging?
A.M. – I think real strength was in the past, when there was no equipment. Look at Ed Coan and his great achievements. The most important and the most necessary things you need while lifting are just knee wraps, belt and wrist wraps. The other things can’t show your strength, its equipment!
T.B. – Who was the most influential person on your Powerlifting career and why was that?
A.M. – Ed Coan. He outrun the time.
T.B. – Most people have seen the video of when you met Ed Coan – why were you so emotional at that time? Note – here is the link to the video –