This interview was originally published on the 19th December, 2014.
Anthony Harris has had a lengthy career in the Powerlifting World. I messaged Tony many 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 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.
T.H. – you welcome and thank you for wanting to interview me.
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.
T.H. – Well, I just turned the big 5 0 last month and all is good. I got started into powerlifting with a group of guys that powerlift while I was in the army stationed at Schofield Barracks Hawaii. I was always training and one day they invited me to come train with them. So I did, and later was asked to join the team. And I have been competing every since then.
I played football in high school and that’s where my love for the for the iron started. I was a freshman training with the junior and seniors football players who were strong and serious about their workouts. I’m the banquet head porter and night supervisor for Sheraton Waikiki Hotel where I have worked for the last 20+ years and I’m also in the Army Reserve.
T.B. – How old were you when you first started Powerlifting, what were your Lifts at your first meet, and what are your best lifts to date?
T.H. – I was 25 when I first started powerlifting but I had been training from the time I was a freshman in high school. I started out as a 198 pounder (90kg) and move through a few weight classes and now I’ve settled in at the 264 (120kg). At my first contest I squatted 242.5kg benched 175kg deadline 295kg. My best lifts today at 90kg s 345 b 205 d 335 at 100kg s 360 b 217.5 d 355 at 110kg s 390 b 237.5 d 360 at 120kg (was125kg) s 412.5 b 235 d 355. Raw at 120kg a 322.5 b 187.5 d 325. All the lifts done at 110/120kg were done as a master lifter.
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?
T.H. – My love for the sport was love at first sight after my first contest. Everyone was so helpful and giving advice and tips about what they thought I needed to do to get better. I took it all in stride and tried alot of different things to see what worked for me. So it was trail and error over time .
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?
T.H. – I was surrounded by lifters but they really didn’t know how train me. So I went out and purchased the complete guide of powerlifting. From that point on I started training myself and reading powerlifting USA seeing how other lift trained. But it was a lot of trail and error until I found the type training that I thought worked well for me. And right now that is a combination of Sheiko, Westside Barbell and Reactive Training System.
T.B. – How long had you been training when you started hitting world records?
T.H. –It was 2 years before I broke any of the Hawaii state record and 9 years before I broke any of the American records. And I had been training and competing 14 years before I broke my first world record. It was the M1 deadlift record in 110kg class. It’s a rewarding feeling that made me train harder to improve. And I got better and stronger over time.
T.B. –For those who don’t, can you please outline what your training looks like, especially when you are hitting world records?
T.H. –I train three days a week, training all three competitive lifts each day. Off season training is 65-80% of 1RM max usually for 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetition. Do one assistance for each of the lifts. And contest time I do a 6 week cycle starting my training at 80% of 1RM and do 3×3. Next week 2 would be 90% 3×2. Week 3 85% x 3,2,1. Week 4 92.5-95% 3×2. Week 5 85% 3,2,1. Week 6 80%x3,2,1. Week 7 would be meet week and.i would one or two light workout during the week and then I’m ready to go.
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.
T.H. – Well, for me a combination of both Sheiko and Westside training systems work. But, if you take the time to put in work and do the training im sure you will get out of it, what you put into it. But if you know what works for you after doing one, then you can take from program and build on the other and vice versa. I have been doing a combination of both Westside and Sheiko for 14 years. I have done some Reactive Training Systems training designed by Mike Tuchscherer. They haved worked for me, so I continue to use them. Remember, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I really Can’t speak on the other training methods since I haven’t personally train them. But I’m going to assume that they are just as effective for gaining strength/getting stronger as the Sheiko and Westside methods if you put in work and do the prescribed training.
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?
T.H. –That’s a tough one, considering that all the individual lifts will take that long if you going heavy. But if you flexible with your time, I would have you do speed work. Day 1 double up box squats/ bench with rubber bands Day 2. Rack deadlifts and speed deadlifts off floor. Day 3 Assistance work for squat (good mornings/reverse hypers) bench (dips/lateral pull downs) Day 4 close grip bench or DB incline/ military shoulder press. It basically covers everything but you have to get in and get to work. No time for socializing.
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?
T.H. – I use to run early on in my lifting career but it didn’t work to well for me. When I was active duty army, we ran 3-5 miles minimum, three days a week. But sprinting helped a lot though. I don’t recommend running but if you have to I would suggest sprinting. And just because it that works for Andrey, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you but if it does, hats off to you, thats great.
T.B. – What methods, if any, would you use from any of these systems, and add to yours if you were competing at your peak today?
T.H. – Like I mentioned earlier, Sheiko, Westside and Reactive Training Systems. These are the three that I would use (combination of) as I start my training cycle to peak. I know what works, Sonim sticking with it.
T.B. – Is there one particular performance of yours that you are most proud of?
T.H. – I would have to say my master world record squat (412.5) that I did in Melbourne in 2011. Prior to that, I had as bad meet at USAPL Master Nationals going 4/9. Afterwards, I told myself it’s time to get serious and get that squat record. So I had a good six week training cycle prior to contest hitting 390kg x 2. I knew I was ready and with the help Andrew Logan and Lee Dewarte I did it. They helped me throughout the meet and Lee even came to visit me in Hawaii to train. So thank her for helping me to get Australia. Thank you Lee!
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?
T.H. – I’m sure every powerlifter would love to see powerlifting in the Olympics. But it’s not going to happen any time soon. To many federations, the equipment, doping issues and the politics. The USA has more power lifting federations then the rest of the world combined. But it would be nice if there were only one fed and a national champion would truly be the national champion. Every fed has a national championship and most has some type of world championship. But none of the feds want to give up what they have and what they doing to unite as one organization. There’s the multi ply, raw with wraps and the monolift and not walking out the squat. Powerlifting will never be recognized as an Olympic sport with all the differences we have going on with all the federations.
T.B. – Have you ever thought to lift in Multi Ply meets?
T.H. – I never thought about it. It’s tough enough with single ply, let along having to add more gear. With raw lifting expanding the way it is, it appears a lot more lifters are moving away from gear to raw.
T.B. – Have you ever had serious injuries over the years? if so, what was your mindset when coming back from them?
T.H. – Yes, I’ve had some bad injuries over the years and each time I came back. The worst being herniated disc L4L5 S1. It was so bad that I couldn’t stand up straight and medical doctor told me my powerlifting days are over. I didn’t want to hear that So I told him get just get me healed up and we go from there. Couple months after seeing him, I met my chiropractic (Michael Masters) in a conference where I worked. We talked and I explained to him about my back. He said make and appointment and come see me. After months of therapy and traction, he got me back and her I am today. I still see him about once a month off season and once a week when I’m cycling for a contest. I’ve also torn both quads (2003 and 2006) and 7 weeks ago I had my right knee scoped to repair torn meniscus. I did my first squat last nite taking it easy doing 75kg for 5×5.
T.B. – When you think back on the years you have been Powerlifting, is there anything you would change in the way of training that you think could’ve yielded greater results?
T.H. – The early years I would change to the way I’m training now as opposed to then. Back then it was one competitive lift per training day with assistance and I was in the gym four to six days a week. Now I do all three competitive lifts in the same training day and I only train three days a week.
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 upto you to help them out however you can, as Dave Tate puts it “Live, Learn, & Pass on”, and if so, why is that?
T.H. – I don’t feel it’s a responsibility. It’s just that I feel in order to get the sport to grow and continue to generate interest in the sport you have to help those who want to be part of it. And in order to do that you help others, just like Dave Tate stated ” live,learn and pass on”. And as a result of that, we see more people are training and competing. The biggest growth is in the raw lifting.
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?
T.H. – First off we as lifters all want to see each other succeed on the platform. Even though we competing together, there is no reason I should wish you don’t do well. Even at the expense of me not getting a medal, long as I know I came and did what I had trained to do. Now, on the other hand, if I had a bad day then I just make not cheer for my opponent lol!
T.B. – Nutrition – How important is nutrition for a Powerlifter and what did / does your nutrition look like? Are you very particular with your own nutrition when competing?
T.H. – I’m not particular about my eating. I eat what I want when I want while I’m training. But when I start in to a training cycle for a contest, I clean up my eating. I tend to eat more grilled and baked chicken and fish along with the occasional steak. I eat a lot of potatoes, rice and vegetables.
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?
T.H. – I think supplements play a big part of nutrition, especially when you don’t a nine to five. You working and training all different hours of the day and night takes a toll on the body when you don’t have a set schedule. Supplements help you get through those times and aid with your recovery. I don’t think you need the supplements if you eating good food, getting plenty of sleep /rest and you training you butt off. But at the sametime, supplements do help the body/muscles recover and get stronger.
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?
T.H. – I have gotten valuable advice from so many people over the years. But early on in the beginning I remember guy name Theodore Walker telling me that no matter what learn the form, put in the work and the strength will come. Even until this day I still make sure I’m doing things right and reinforce that with my training partners and all the up and coming lifters that I help train.
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?
T.H. – I say we have gotten stronger over the years but at the same time the extreme equipment has inflated the numbers by leaps and bounds.
T.B. – Who was the most influential person on your Powerlifting career and why was that?
T.H. – The training partners are great but it really comes down to family(wife and kids). They make a lot the sacrifices so that I can train when I’m getting ready for contest. It’s the time away in the gym or at a contest you realize how blessed and thankful that you are for their support. And without their their support it would be a longer and tougher road, provided that it exist.
T.B. – What sort of physical training are you doing these days, and what are your future goals in the sport?
T.H. – The only physical training I’m doing these days are in the gym. And my goal is just to keep lifting in the sport long as I can. At some point I would like to break some more world records.
T.B. – Would you like to plug your website or business?
T.H. – I don’t have a website but I can be reached via email at Tharris220@aol.com and I’m also on FB. So if you make to Hawaii (Island of Oahu), I train at Mana Barbell 1318 Hart St. Honolulu (808)256-7273 so contact me so we can g wet together and train.
T.B. – Anyone you would like to thank?
T.H. – Thank you for the interview and I would like to also thank John Inzer and Peter Thorne of Inzer Advance Designs for the best gear and taking care of me and allowing me to represent you company. Dan Onishuk of Pro Meara Health for the best supplements, my Mana Barbell teammates for all their help and support in the gym. Greg Page and Michelle Fayant for looking out for me, all the littl thing you do that amout to some big.
T.B. – Mr Harris, thank you very much for your time.
T.H. – You welcome Mr Roskell and thank you for the opportunity.