Today I am excited to share this interview with Aleksey Lovchev with you.
As you know Aleksey (24) is the 2013 World Championships bronze medalist and 2014 European Champion in the +105 weight class.
The interview was done by Alexey Goldbergs, who kindly shared it with ATG. You can find the original Russian version on Wodloft.ru.
Also big thanks to Vadim Pakhutkin for providing the translation.
Update 20.09.2014: Dmitry Klokov also made an interview with Alexey.
Alexey, first of all I want to congratulate you on a confident win at the 2014 European Weightlifting Championships in Tel Aviv. And, in my opinion, your battle with Ruben Aleksanyan in the Clean & Jerk was the most exciting one in the whole competition. On the 3rd attempt, you [together with your coaches] initially posted 256 kg, but after Ruben failed with 251 kg you changed to 252 kg. Were you really ready to lift the 256 kg or it was just a tactical battle?
Thank you for your congratulations! The original plan for this championship was to snatch 210 and to jerk 256 because I have already lifted these weights in training.
In the Snatch I had initially planned to go for 200, 205 and 210 kg. But then it turned out that in order to win I only had to snatch 192, and then just keep my sights on the medal. I snatched 205 confidently [watch the video here], with potential for more. The Clean & Jerk proved to be quite the battle, but, as I said, I was ready to go for 256.
Here is his 255kg Clean & Jerk in Training
So basically, if you managed to deliver the planned results, you would have had a 466 total, which is 2 kg greater than Ruslan Albegov’s total at the last year’s Worlds?
Yes, he lifted 209 and 255 respectively.
Alright, we will talk more about Ruslan later. In the meantime, can you tell us how you started Olympic weightlifting? When did you start?
I started Olympic weightlifting when I was 10. Prior to that I had also been doing some stuff when I went to my father’s weightlifting gym that he built in our hometown of Karabanovo, near our house.
Father used to compete as a 110 kg lifter. Today various people go to our gym, including children.
Everything is totally free of charge. We have coaches there. I train there myself, too, when I’m not at any training camps.
I read that your first coach—and your current coach—is your father. Do your family relations affect training in any way?
Only positively. My father has brought me up, and he understands me as an athlete, and through this he can adjust my training plan. We make sure that our family matters never interfere with training.
So you don’t discuss family issues at the gym?
At the gym we only discuss weightliftingNo, never. At the gym we only discuss weightlifting.
Does your father accompany you at training camps?
No. He has a business to attend to. At training camps I’m with my second coach, Sergei Viktorovich Ivanov.
He is actually a powerlifting coach, and his son Egor is currently in the Russian junior [Olympic weightlifting] team.
Also I have a masseur—who’s also a physician—Alexandr Vladimirovich Orlov. We have brought together a very good team, and this has made it possible for me to win at the European Championship.
Could you list your personal records in the basic strength exercises: Bench Press, Military Press, Deadlift, Front Squat and Back Squat? Do you bench press at all? Because some consider this exercise useless for weightlifters.
Yes, I sometimes include this exercise in my training.
Do you press close or wide, powerlifter-style?
I press pretty wide, just like in the Jerk. As for Personal Bests:
- Bench Press: 205 kg;
- Strict (Military) Press: 150 kg.
I don’t do Front SquatsI don’t do Deadlifts — I only do Snatch and Clean Pulls.
I don’t do Front Squats.
Why? For example, my coach thinks that weightlifters don’t really need the Back Squat, because we only Squat with the barbell in the front.
I disagree. My Front Squat best was 260, I never attempted to beat this PR. Front squatting stresses my knees too much, and I’ve already had problems with them.
I would also like to congratulate you on the third place in the Athlete of April 2014 ranking on Sportbox.ru, in which you lost only to hockey and tennis players, and as we both know, hockey and tennis have enjoyed more popularity in Russia than weightlifting. How did you react to the results?
It was a surprise for me.
I remember that it was Sunday. I was watching TV and saw the announcement of this voting on channel Russia-2. Of course I was very pleased to be in the voting list. Not to mention that weightlifting does not often receive TV coverage.
Besides you, the only weightlifter ever to be in the voting for the Athlete of the Month award was Ruslan Albegov last year in October [after Worlds], in which he also finished third. David Bibl sent us the following question: “How do you view Ruslan Albegov as a competitor for the following two years?”
It is difficult for me to predict anything so far ahead. Of course it is very interesting for me to go head to head with strong opponents, and Ruslan still currently remains the strongest man in the world.
In general, what’s your relationship with Ruslan like?
It’s good. There is no tension, let alone animosity.
So it’s not going to be like with Klokov and Akkaev before the 2012 Olympics?
I wasn’t on the national roster back then so I wasn’t aware of their situation.
According to David Rigert, they weren’t enemies, but neither were they friends. They respected each other, but did not communicate at the gym.
No, Ruslan and I talk at the gym all the time. That is, we have perfectly normal human relations.
At last year’s Worlds your total was 430 kg, and at this year’s Europeans it was already 457. How do you explain such a leap?
You see, I competed there after suffering an injury, but few people are aware of this.
At Russian Nationals in June in Kazan I injured my knee during the Jerk, and I had been recovering for a while. I resumed my training only in August, and even my participation at the Worlds itself was up in the air.
Three weeks prior to the Worlds we had a maximum effort practice.
As a result, I had no time to treat the elbow injury, so I had to compete with the injury. In the Snatch I did relatively well [200 kg], but in the Jerk the elbow was a problem. But still, bronze is not so bad for a Worlds debut.
Here are Alexey’s lifts from the 2013 Worlds:
You and your father are both tall, but how tall is your mother?
Update: I just asked Alexey about his height. He is 187 cm tall.
Actually, I have here a whole series of questions about your height, from Andrey Bayborodin. Are there any special considerations in training of tall weightlifters, related to long levers? Maybe you make an emphasis on back strength exercises? Any considerations as far as technique is concerned?
Of course there are considerations. But they are not very critical.
The hip explosion is somewhat different. I, for one, enjoy snatching from blocks, and I snatch 210 that way on a regular basis. In the end of the day though, it varies from person to person, and sometimes lightweights lift using the same technique as the tall superheavies. As for focusing on the back, everyone needs to strengthen the back anyway.
Here is one of the 210kg Snatches of Blocks:
Do you follow any specific diets or any dietary principles in general?
No diets. I eat everything.
For example, in his interview Vasily Polovnikov said that he must always have meat and vegetables, and that he rarely eats grains, and bread even more so.
Of course I eat meat, fruit and vegetables. Now, fish I don’t like.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that he drank 5 liters of milk every day to gain muscle mass.
I want to cut some weightI also drink milk, but not 5 liters a day, of course.
Next week [the interview was done on Saturday, May 24] we’re departing for the training camp in Sochi. I want to cut some weight. Will be excluding bread and other carbohydrates from my diet.
What for? You don’t have to make weight for a weight class, and you definitely have some wiggle room [Alexey weighs around 134 kg] compared to Albegov [154 kg], for instance.
Yeah, I have about 20 kilograms in reserve.
Actually, I only do this to reduce my belly fat, to have visible abs … Lately the belly has grown quite a bit.
Generally I am against quick weight gainsI heard that you had weight gain issues in the past. Is that true?
I have always had gradual, but stable gains. Can’t say that I had any real problems with it. I am generally against quick weight gains. I am content with my current weight.
On your Instagram [@lovchev_aleksey] I saw a photo of BSN True Mass. So you do use supplements in your diet. What other supplements do you take?
Supplements are a must for every professional athlete — and even for fitness enthusiasts. I take creatine, vitamins; I like Animal Pak, BCAA Animal Nitro, protein isolates and sometimes gainers.
What’s your dosage of creatine and BCAA?
As prescribed by the manufacturer. Or sometimes a little more than that.
As far as I know, recommended doses are calculated with an average 80 kg person in mind. For a 130 kg big man like you, doses must surely be much larger.
Yes, I scoop up a bit more.
So if they prescribe “1 scoop” you get one big heaping scoop?
Yes. Or 1.5.
How do you take creatine? Some recommend taking it all the time, but some favor cycling. That is, you take it for a month, then take a month off, then repeat. What is your opinion?
I take breaks in my creatine intake. In general, I take my supplements based on the way I feel. Sometimes I take breaks during which I don’t take any supplements at all.
Yes. Nothing at all.
How many days per week do you train?
Depends. Last week I started training, had 3 practices. Following the Europeans I took a month break and didn’t have any practices at all.
You didn’t even touch a barbell?
No barbells, no dumbbells, no kettlebells. Nothing.
Once every year I have this one month of total rest. I need this mostly for psychological recovery.
Right now you’re preparing for Russian Nationals [in August], or you’re going to be preparing straight for the Worlds?
I’m preparing for Russia. They [National Team administration] said that everyone must participate in the Nationals.
Speaking of kettlebells. On Instagram I saw you pressing 32 kg kettlebells. Do you use them for warmups or as an assistance exercise, and how often?
I sometimes include kettlebell exercises just for variety’s sake. And pressing the kettlebell bottom-up also greatly strengthens your wrist and forearms.
When do you prefer to train: in the morning or in the evening?
I prefer to do it in the evening because I like sleeping in.
Okay, then what is the typical day of the champion like?
If I don’t have any morning practices planned or any appointments, then I wake up no earlier than 10 AM.
I have my breakfast, then help my father with work. In the afternoon I often take a nap. After that I take vitamins and go train. After the practice I have my supper. And later in the evening I prefer to have fun with my family and friends.
What do you do when you’re not feeling it during practice? Like if you seem to have your strength and technique in order, but either you’re not psyched for it, or something else is in the way.
I lift everything the coach prescribes for me in the training planI don’t remember this ever happening to me. I lift everything that the coach prescribes for me in the training plan.
Some athletes train “by feeling”, meaning that they don’t have a specific plan for the week. They just come to the gym and decide there and then if they’re going to be Snatching or Clean & Jerking. This is not for me.
Every Sunday my coach gives me the plan for the week and I just come to the gym and follow it verbatim. Of course sometimes I don’t feel like it, but it’s my job.
So you have your percentages and sets/reps written for you ahead of time?
Yes, everything is calculated.
Our web-magazine is not only about Olympic weightlifting, but also about CrossFit. Are you aware of this relatively new phenomenon in sport and fitness, and what do you think about it?
Of course I’m aware of it.
Particularly from watching Dima Klokov’s videos. I also know that Oxana Slivenko is currently successfully competing at Crossfit.
In this area besides strength you also need endurance and very good cardiovascular and breathing conditioning. In other words, it does not exactly suit super heavyweights.
Well, I wasn’t implying that you could suddenly switch to CrossFit yourself.
Yeah, this is definitely not for me.
It’s just that some weightlifters—especially when CrossFit was just emerging—would turn up their noses and ask “What is this crap?!”
No, I definitely don’t share this sentiment.
At the Worlds you were using the Adidas AdiPower weightlifting shoes; at Europeans you were sporting your Nike Romaleos II, as did most of the National Team members. I know that this is because the team has signed a contract with Nike, but what do you personally prefer: Nike or Adidas?
In Adidas shoes I had some discomfort, I always felt like the shoes squeeze my foot from the sides too much. In Nike shoes I don’t feel anything like that. They also require some getting used to, but I’ve grown accustomed to them already and I have no complaints.
In the same interview, Vasya Polovnikov said that in Nike shoes he’d always shift to the toes, and as a result, especially in the snatch, he’d often have to chase the bar forward.
Yeah, it’s something to consider. The heel is rather high, and this affects the bar path somewhat.
But I only needed about three practice sessions to adjust for that.
I have noticed that you enjoy fast cars. Well, at the very least, your Infiniti FX50 S, with its 400 hp, is definitely not a car for someone who just wants to go from point A to point B.
Ever since I was kid I had a liking for machines of any kind.
First I was into scooters, then motorcycles. When I turned 18 I bought a car. In the beginning of this year I bought this Infiniti from my friend, and I’m enjoying it a lot.
Here is Alexey getting from point A to B rather quickly:
I also know that you own a Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Yeah, I have a Mercedes E200. Drove it for a year, but it’s kind of boring.
Well yeah, it doesn’t produce much horsepower .
Right now I’m thinking about tuning my Infiniti a bit. It currently has the regular engine that uses atmospheric air, but I want to install a turbocharger, to make it more fun.
I also recently purchased an UAZ Hunter. Stock configuration. I’m going to prepare it for some rough terrain.
For mud and swamps?
Yes. I used to own a quadbike and together with my friends we used to go offroading. Besides, I’ve recently become interested in hunting. So far I’m still only shooting plates, but in future I’m planning on using this car for hunting.
What are your hobbies?
Vehicles/machinery and now also hunting.
I think it was Klokov who said that “an athlete’s career can end in one day”. Be it an injury, or time. Are you already considering what occupations you could follow when your athletic career ends?
I have a dream of owning my own car maintenance shop and working with cars. I like it.
In your town?
Yes, here in Karabanovo.
Well, Alexey, thanks for the interview. We are looking forward to seeing you once again on the podium.
Thank you! Keep in touch!