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Nick Tylutki

This interview was originally published on the 27th December, 2014.


Nick Tylutki is a local Minnesota lifter that was discovered lifting massive poundages while following a program that was more geared to bodybuilding than powerlifting in a small garage gym run by former Professional Wrestler Paul Ellering. Nick played Division II Football for two years in the tough NCC conference which has spawned many great NFL players. Nick rose to international prominence quickly – 1 year after getting serious about powerlifting he went on to place 3rd in the IPF Junior Worlds in Taiwan. 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.

N.T. – Thanks for the opportunity Mark!


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.

N.T. – I’m 36 years old. I started powerlifting in a shed by a swamp operated by Precious Paul Ellering, former manager of the Road Warriors. Ellering hosted powerlifting meets at his gym where I first competed. Athletic background: I played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track in high school. I played 2 years of football at St. Cloud State University (Division II). Since then, I’ve played volleyball and softball in many bar and city leagues. I’m currently a police officer.


T.B. – At your first competition, what were your lifts, what weight division was it, and was it raw or equipped??

N.T. – In the 2000 Minnesota State Championship (USAPL) I squatted 610 lbs, benched about 285, and deadlifted about 620 equipped.


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?

N.T. – I really liked the competition initially, but the “love” of powerlifting developed over time. If it weren’t for Brad Gillingham and Gary Grahn taking me under their wings, I’m not sure how long I would’ve stuck with powerlifting.


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?

N.T. – There weren’t many powerlifters around where I lived so there was a lot of trial and error. Brad began sending me programs to follow via email though which helped greatly.


T.B. –What are your all-time best lifts?

N.T. – equipped: squat 821 (372.5kg), bench 518 (235), deadlift 782 (355). Raw: sq 683 (310), bench 413 (187.5), deadlift 716 (325).


T.B. –Can you please outline how you trained to hit these numbers?

N.T. – In a nutshell, by following Brad’s programming and training with him at Jackal’s Gym.


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.

N.T. – There are many great systems out there that have produced results for a lot of people. I’ve gotten to where I’m at largely by following Brad’s programming with some tweaks here and there. The key is finding which system or parts of each system that works for you.


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]?

N.T. – Sounds like my situation! As you know, you need to make time to train. At a minimum, I would suggest hitting the core lifts with at least one variation for each lift in a training session. Regardless of how much time you have in the gym, it’s important to identify your weakness and attack it with the variations you choose


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?

N.T. – He’s found what works for him!


T.B. – What methods, if any, would you use from any of these systems, and add to yours?

N.T. – I’ve already employed areas of many systems in my training. Chains (but not to the same extent) like Westside, bodybuilding day like used in the Cube, “listen you your body” like Mike Tuchscherer, etc.


T.B. – Is there one particular performance of yours that you are most proud of?

N.T. – Two pop into mind. 2006 IPF Worlds in Stavanger, Norway. I had been battling mono and building the gym where I still train while training for worlds. Each training session was a struggle, but it came together nicely in the end. Everything felt light and I locked out the gold medal deadlift, but was turned down for a hitch. Overall, a huge moral victory. The 2nd one is 2014 USAPL Raw Nationals. Although my squats felt awkward that day, I managed to go 8/9 and hit a total PR. Had some great training sessions going into that one.


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?


N.T. – I’ve always dreamt about being in the Olympics ever since I was a little kid. Until about 5-6 years ago, I wanted powerlifting in the Olympics. After the IPF application to the IOC was denied, I actually was ok with it. I don’t foresee powerlifting being included as an Olympic sport anytime soon. For that to happen, there essentially has to be one large powerlifting federation, which I also don’t foresee or necessarily think is a good thing. I like to be able to choose where I lift, which happens to be exclusively USAPL/IPF. Let the next guy or gal choose. I’ve been fortunate enough to lift in two World Games (2005, 2009) which is under the patronage of the IOC. Both were great experiences that I will never forget. If that’s as close to the Olympics as we get, I’m ok with that.


T.B. – Have you ever had any serious injuries, and 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”?

N.T. – The most serious injury that I’ve had that I thought might be career ending was a prolapsed disc in 2010-2011. It happened in August of 2010 while trying for IPF worlds. The pain was intense. Walking up stairs caused me to sweat. I had serious thoughts of hanging it up. When I stopped feeling sorry for myself I began visiting my chiropractor regularly. Some weaknesses were identified in my glutes. After working with my chiro and the strength coach at St. Cloud State, we developed a plan for rehab and got to work. With a little luck, the disc moved back into place and the rest is history. If it weren’t for Rocky I, II, III, IV, and VI (not V) I might have taken up professional video gaming!


T.B. – Looking back, would you do anything differently in your training, given what you know now?

N.T. – Yes. I’d train more consistently when starting out. At the beginning, I did the bare minimum so training wouldn’t affect my softball swing or fatigue my legs before volleyball. Training was more for fun than it was a priority. Definitely different now.


T.B. – What are you future plans as far as Powerlifting competitions go?

N.T. – I’ll continue to lift at the Arnold Sports Festival and USAPL Nationals. I’ve given up my spot on the Raw World team the last 3 years, but I definitely want to return to the world platform. I’m trying to lock down a sponsor who will help with the cost of travel!


T.B. –Do you feel a responsibility to the people who may 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?

N.T. – Yes, to an extent. I try my best to answer questions and give advice when asked. Brad and Gary (and countless others) did the same for me when I got started. I owe it to those guys to pass on what they’ve given to 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?

N.T. – Powerlifting is such a great sport to compete against yourself. I’m extremely goal oriented coupled with an intense desire to get stronger. Knowing that your competitors are the same way and are pushing it to the limit is very motivating. How can’t you cheer for a person who has dedicated so much to improving!? I think this is evident in many sports, but is most genuine in strength sport.


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?

N.T. – Although I don’t count every calorie like I used to, I try to eat fairly clean year round. Nutrition is extremely important for training and especially for recovery. I’ve found that people typically are lacking in their protein intake in general.


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?

N.T. – I think you can get everything you need in your diet, but it is extremely difficult. There is definitely a place for supplementation, especially with intense training. With the explosion of supplement companies and supplements over the last 15 years people have started using them for convenience and as a meal replacement rather than to “supplement” their diet.


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?

N.T. – Create a plan, follow it, and mentally prepare yourself for each training session. Not necessarily a direct quote, but Brad has done this for years. I typically follow a 16 week training cycle. There are no surprises for 16 weeks, so there is no reason not to be ready for each training day.


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?

N.T. – Both. Better knowledge about training and nutrition have allowed us, for the most part, to have the potential to be stronger than lifters from those decades. The extreme gear coupled with that have contributed to huge equipped numbers.

T.B. – Who was the most influential person on your Powerlifting career and why was that?

N.T. – Brad Gillingham and Gary Grahn. They took me in, trained and coached me, called me names, and kept me humble. Every trip we’re on we remind each other that “we’re just a bunch of hicks from Minnesota”. They both make me want to continue to improve.


T.B. – Are there any changes you are planning on trying out in your training in the near future?

N.T. – Nothing planned, but I’m always reading about it.


T.B. – Would you like to plug your website or business?

N.T. – no website, but follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! (@ntylutki)


T.B. – Anyone you would like to thank?

N.T. – My wife and kids, family, for their continued support. All the boys at Jackals, Dalton, Fritz, and Metallica.


T.B. – Mr Tylutki, thank you very much for your time.

N.T. – Thank you sir.

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