Time for Aleksey Lovchev’s “On Par” interview with Dmitry Klokov.
Translation Status: Completed! Big thanks go to Vadim Pakhutkin & Sergiy Turchyn who tackled this one.
Just as he did in his other “On Par” Interviews, Dmitry did a great job as an interviewer. Here we really get to know Aleksey. During the interview he references Aleksey’s past Interview on ATG a couple of times, so you might want to read that before you read this one.
[00:00 – 00:44] Translation from Sergiy. A note from him: “This isn’t the exact translation, but the main ideas are present.”
KLOKOV: Hello, dear audience. Today we have Aleksey Lovchev as our guest. [To the audience] I would like to remind you that Alexey was born on June 13th, 1989. He is not married (this is for the girls who watch my channel). Bronze medalist at 2013 Worlds. 2014 European champion. 2014 Russian champion. +105 kg weight class.
Everyone agrees that you have improved a lot in the last two years. 430 total at 2013 Worlds (Lovchev: “It was not a successful performance”). 457 total at 2014 Europeans. 468 at Russian nationals. Amazing results. However, everyone knows that. But nobody knows what was before. Nobody knows who Alexey Lovchev was before 2 years ago.
So, how did you get into weightlifting and why did you choose this sport?
LOVCHEV: The answer is very simple. My dad was a weightlifter. He was Master of Sport of the USSR and gave many years to this sport. He was a coach, then became a businessman, earned some money and built a gym. The training conditions were much worse before. So, he built a gym for kids and me to train.
KLOKOV: What do you mean by “built a gym”? Do you mean he bought some land and built the gym, or he bought a room and made it a gym, or he just rented a room for the gym?
My Dad wanted me to be a weightlifterLOVCHEV: He actually bought some land and built a gym there. From scratch. The gym is about 9×14 meters. Besides the gym itself, there are locker rooms and a coach room.
KLOKOV: Your father competed in 110 kg class, just like mine. They competed at the same time. What were his best results?
LOVCHEV: 185+230 in 110 weight class. His best competition total was 425.
KLOKOV: Did you do anything before weightlifting?
LOVCHEV: No. My dad was a coach and he brought me to the gym to watch. I started to like it and I decided to try it. Then I started training for myself.
KLOKOV: Are you sure that you trained for yourself? Is it possible that it was your dad who wanted you to become a weightlifter, but didn’t want to put too much pressure on you?
LOVCHEV: Yes, he definitely wanted me to train. He loves weightlifting and he wanted me to be a weightlifter.
KLOKOV: There are not many families where both father and son are weightlifters. Rigert, my, your, Zakharevich, Pisarevsky families are like that. There are a few of them. What did your father-child and coach-athlete relationships look like? From my own experience I know how important it is to separate these two kinds of relationships.
LOVCHEV: Our family problems are left at home and our training problems are left in the gym. I just treat training like a job. When you come to work, you forget about your home problems. In my case, I think it’s better to have my dad as a coach.
KLOKOV: Really? That’s probably because you are a calm person. You don’t like conflicts. Why are you friends with everyone? Why don’t you have bad relationships with anyone? Why does everyone like you? Because you are a friendly person.
Is it possible that the reason why you have good relationships with everyone is that you rarely come to the training camps? It seems to me that you prefer training at home. Why?
LOVCHEV: I just like training at home more. I live close to the gym and I’m used to it.
KLOKOV: Where do you get the motivation? If you are at a training camp, there are Albegov, Lapikov, Mogushkov training nearby. I personally need some competition to motivate myself. If you don’t have a challenge, you should create it.
That’s why I was not in the best relationship with Akkaev before London. I needed that conflict. The same was with Lapikov before Beijing. How do you motivate yourself to train?
LOVCHEV: I just set a goal to show a certain result or to win a certain competition.
KLOKOV: You are the strongest in the gym. What if you wake up and don’t feel like training in the morning? If you are at a training camp, it’s hard not to train. At lunch everyone will know that you missed the training session. Everyone will think “I trained two sessions more than him during this preparation cycle.” Everyone counts such things.
LOVCHEV: I don’t have these problems. I don’t look at others. They have their coaches for that. Only recently I started to train like guys at training camps. On MWF I have two training sessions a day. On TuThSat I have one training session a day. Sunday is off.
KLOKOV: What do you do on Sundays?
LOVCHEV: I relax, do housework, try not to think about training.
KLOKOV: As I said, nobody knows about you before the 2013 Worlds. Did you compete in youth or junior [high-level] competitions?
LOVCHEV: No. I didn’t even think about being on the same level as Klokov, Lapikov, and Akkaev.
KLOKOV: How is it possible? You are 25 and you started at 10 years old. You are a rare case. Some people ask me how to become a World/European/Olympic champion. I tell them: “You cannot become a World champion if you didn’t go through that [youth and/or junior] phase.” You need to have experienced defeats, bombing out…You need to go through all of that. But you defy my vision of this by just appearing out of nowhere.
LOVCHEV: Well, I still experienced these things. Just not at national competitions, but at local and regional meets. I didn’t strive to be the strongest. I understood that you need to devote your entire life to training to become such a person. I wanted to be able to relax after competitions.
KLOKOV: Was it you or your dad? At first I saw you at Russian nationals in Kazan. After my own competition I saw you and overheard a conversation between two people:
– This guy [Lovchev] has good technique. He looks like a good athlete. Why didn’t anybody hear about him before?
– His dad is great. He did not force his training too early. He prepared him for senior competitions.
LOVCHEV: I think it was both my dad and me.
KLOKOV: Did you really know that? Did your father tell you that you would not be a junior world champion, but prepare for senior nationals instead?
LOVCHEV: Such a conversation happened when I was 19. I asked him: “We are training, but what for? It’s time to start looking for a job.” He replied: “Let’s wait and train for several more years. Then you will see if you will retire or continue to compete.” I competed in 2011 Universiade in 105 class. I was a very thin boy. I lifted 170+205. My best results as 105 were 176+215. I was 21 years old back then.
[Left: Alexey in 2008 at 92kg; Right: 2014 at 140kg]
[00:17] KLOKOV: Why did you decide to move into the +105 class? I thought about it too, but I didn’t do it because it is hard. So, I made weight for 10 years. LOVCHEV: Did you see me at 105? I was a very skinny guy. I didn’t even look like a weightlifter. [00:18] Here Dmitry’s wife randomly enters and Dmitry makes a joke how she is in every video and how people discuss her boobs in comments. KLOKOV: About your dad’s gym. In your interview mentioned that it’s free for athletes. Who trains there besides you? LOVCHEV: They train for free. They are my friends. We used to allow random people to train, but now I am a professional and they distract me. KLOKOV: Are there people who want to train in that gym? LOVCHEV: Yes, but we only have barbells. People want machines… KLOKOV: I disagree. Many ask how I look like that. They think I am doing bodybuilding stuff. Of course, it is partly genetics. But I always use barbells. You don’t have to use machines to look like me. LOVCHEV: Yeah, but not many people want to Snatch, Clean and Jerk… KLOKOV: Really? In your city, where people know who you are? Weightlifting has become very popular in the whole world. Weightlifting is popular at least on the same level as it used to be in the Soviet Union [note: Dmitry is not talking about Russia here]. Everyone knows why. I don’t even want to say this word. People will start hating again. We recently filmed a video with Mikhail Prygunov. That video on his channel is very popular. It has about 350 comments and 2500 likes. People write: “I never heard about weightlifting, but I love it now.” When these Crossfit people try weightlifting, they love it. I mentioned your gym. Suppose you build a new gym for weightlifters. Do you think athletes should pay for the gym? LOVCHEV: I think they do. Opening a gym costs money. KLOKOV: I agree. Many live in old times and still expect weightlifting gyms to be free. The world has changed. Now you pay for everything. Weightlifting should be in private hands. Like in the USA. Even the Olympic training center there does not belong to the government. What about us? Who does the training center in Ruza belong to? Government. [00:25] Regarding barbells. You can see only two barbells with someone’s name on them: mine and yours. I already explained the situation with my barbell in another interview. What about you? LOVCHEV: I got the plates as a birthday gift from my friends who make barbell plates at work. I am training with these plates for a year and I have no problems with them. It was a present after Worlds.
KLOKOV: Can you develop this business? This sounds logical to me. Since you have started, you can develop the idea [producing equipment] further.
LOVCHEV: Maybe, we will do that in the future.
[Skipped unimportant sections about plates at Russian nationals and a new local gym]
KLOKOV: Let’s talk about your second coach. Who is that person, Sergey Victorovich Ivanov?
LOVCHEV: He is the head powerlifting coach in Russia. He is my second coach. His son is also a weightlifter. He is a very good coach. He trains me here and there. For example, my dad cannot come with me to the training camps, but Sergey Victorovich can. He is working on financial questions since training is expensive.
KLOKOV: Why did you compete for Komi [a Russian republic]?
LOVCHEV: Sergey Victorovich had connections and they offered me some good conditions. It didn’t work out with my native Vladimir city that doesn’t support me.
KLOKOV: Another person I don’t know is your doctor Alexandr Vladimirovich Orlov. Who is this he?
LOVCHEV: He is more of a doctor and chiropractor for me. He used to work with weightlifters and rowers. He is from my city, so we know each other through my dad. When a competition is coming up, he comes to me when I need him.
KLOKOV: What was the most serious injury?
LOVCHEV: Last year at Russian nationals in Kazan I injured my knee during the 245 Clean. I didn’t even feel my leg during the missed Jerk. I often had knee and wrist pain, but not as severe as this injury. Later I injured an elbow. My preparation for Worlds was forced and rushed. I was lucky to meet a good doctor who healed me in a month using injections [the same doctor that helped Klokov heal the shoulder before 2008 Oympics].
KLOKOV: What is necessary for successful training? I have 6 options [lists them] and I want you to rank them from the most important to the least important.
- Good food
- Sauna and massage
- Good technique
KLOKOV: For me, sleep is clearly not the last. I actually like this question because everyone will have different responses. I will ask it in each interview from now on.
You ranked luck as the most important aspect. What do you mean by luck?
LOVCHEV: It’s hard to define it…
KLOKOV: I personally think that luck is being supported by sports authorities. This is what luck means for us. When they treat you well.
About training camps. You haven’t been to Ruza. What training camp is your favorite?
LOVCHEV: I liked the Sochi one. The living conditions were great. Sauna and massage were great. The gym was the only problem.
KLOKOV: I just visited Ruza and this is the best gym I have ever seen.
Vadim’s Translation starts here.
Lovchev is asked what he likes doing in his free time during training camps. Klokov says that many athletes now enjoy playing video games. Lovchev says he prefers to go see his friends on Sunday, when the training camp is at Chekhov. He departs on Saturday for Moscow and spends the night there. Returns to the training camp Sunday night. On workdays he just goes out to town with team mates, eating out. Does not enjoy video games at all.
Klokov says that he himself is very focused on self-education to prepare for retirement. Even during training camps he would have his room filled with English training materials, books on various topics, magazines.
Lovchev reads plenty. He graduated Vladimir State University, had “pretty good” grades.
KLOKOV: Oh, so you’re in the military?
KLOKOV: Just don’t tell me you’re in the tank forces!
LOVCHEV: No, thank god.
KLOKOV: I think people won’t believe me when I say that Ruslan Albegov, back in 2007 or 2008, served in the tank forces, and it’s hard to imagine him squeezing into that hatch. Today’s Ruslan won’t even fit his arms into that hatch [see how big Ruslan is now]. What’s your branch of the military?
LOVCHEV: I’m currently in the sports company — those companies are being revived now [in USSR there were special companies/troops for athletes], so now we have the old-school fully-functioning CSKA [Central Sports Club of the Army] again. It’s a great opportunity for competing athletes because now they don’t have to interrupt their training in order to serve [Russia has mandatory military service]. From time to time we are summoned to the military training camps where we learn shooting, marching and the like.
On Apartments and Prizes
LOVCHEV: They said that if I compete successfully in Almaty [at the Worlds] —hopefully, I’ll get there — they will make it possible for me to get my own apartment.
KLOKOV: People ask me a lot, and I have to say that I’m probably one of the very few elite Russian weightlifters who have never received apartments from the government.
LOVCHEV: What? How come?
KLOKOV: As I said, they didn’t give me an apartment. Nobody believes this.
LOVCHEV: I think it’s only recently that they made this possible–
KLOKOV: I’m telling you, everyone in our sport has received an apartment one way or another. Either through some preferential payment terms or otherwise…
LOVCHEV: In Moscow it’s much harder to get an apartment than in any other region.
KLOKOV: Well, I competed for Bashkiriya.
LOVCHEV: And they didn’t give it to you there either?
KLOKOV: They did not. They basically just gave me keys to a permanent hotel suite there, but what use would I have for it? I don’t even visit Ufa [capital city of Bashkiriya region]
LOVCHEV: Well, let’s hope that you’ll—
KLOKOV: What? That I’ll make it outside of the sport, huh?
LOVCHEV: Or do you plan to return?
KLOKOV: I already said this in my interview: I set a deadline — the end of next April. Since I’m always at around 85% of my best form, it’s a good enough shape for me to just join the training camp and prepare for Russian nationals, if need be, and then proceed as needed. This will be April, three months prior to the Nationals. So yeah, I’m training every day, everyone sees that. What will happen come April I don’t know, because I’m emotion-driven: one day I can say one thing, but then the next day something hits me and I’m suddenly raring to compete.
LOVCHEV: Well, let’s hope something hits you…
KLOKOV: Believe me, my family doesn’t want this to happen. You know, those sudden whims.
LOVCHEV: I believe that each person needs an interesting occupation.
KLOKOV: Yeah, something that excites you.
LOVCHEV: Because if you go to work every day simply out of necessity it’s not the right way to do it.
KLOKOV: As I can already see, your family is definitely not poor, and your own pay is pretty good. So, apart from sport, do you have an occupation that you treat seriously? Like, maybe some business with your friends. You know, how kids say today, “hustle”. Are you “hustling with your boys”? [laughs]
LOVCHEV: No, right now I’m concentrating on sport, I have much yet to achieve in sport, certain heights to reach. But eventually I can envision doing something else.
KLOKOV: In your most popular interview to date [laughs], you said that your main business goal is to start a car repair shop.
LOVCHEV: Yeah, yeah. I really love cars and everything related to them.
KLOKOV: Is this going to be a service center, or, knowing your affection for cars, also a car-tuning place?
LOVCHEV: Well, I’d say car service / repair first, and then we’ll see how it goes.
KLOKOV: But do you want to manage the place, or you want to actually work on the cars?
LOVCHEV: No, just manage it. I want to start the whole thing, and make it operational.
KLOKOV: I mean, one can become a really good technician or mechanic, and achieve great heights in this career.
LOVCHEV: I agree, but this is not for me. Of course, I do a lot of things with my own car, but I’m not interested in working in this capacity on a regular basis.
KLOKOV: On Instagram I showed you my own attempt at car tuning, and I take it you didn’t quite like it. So you responded with a different example that you prefer, and I realized that we have different preferences. I enjoy the “aggressive” tuning — arrogant, daring. You, on the other hand, prefer something badass, but yet quite discreet and restrained. It’s discreet, but if you look closely, you realize how solid it is. Is this part of your character? LOVCHEV: Yeah, I guess. KLOKOV: So you would want to run a tuning shop? LOVCHEV: Yeah, in future, sure. KLOKOV: Do you draw your own designs? Because back when I was in school we were very much into it. LOVCHEV: Nah. KLOKOV: Just curious to know about your passion for cars. Sure, you have three cars — by the way, tell us later what they are — but how exactly does your passion manifest itself? LOVCHEV: I think it’s more about the dynamics of it, the driving itself. Lately I’ve been very much into aggressive fast driving. Acceleration dynamics and all that. KLOKOV: Well, duh, your 140 kg body needs some acceleration sometimes. Can’t walk too fast, so gotta use the car to know what it’s like. So, what cars do you have? [00:53] LOVCHEV: Right now I own a Mercedes E-Class (E200), Infiniti FX50S…
KLOKOV: [faces the camera and repeats after him, loudly] Infiniti FX50S, just to make sure you heard that right, girls. *wink*wink*
LOVCHEV: And the UAZ Hunter.
KLOKOV: [turns to the camera again] UAZ Hunter. This is for shashlyks [shishkebabs, Russian version of barbecues] in the countryside. LOVCHEV: Yeah, also for fishing and hunting. KLOKOV: This reminds me, you probably know the MTV show “Cribs”, right? LOVCHEV: Yeah. KLOKOV: Where they showcase their cars. You should take a photo like that — all your cars in a row. [54:00] KLOKOV: What’s your favorite car? LOVCHEV: FX50. But I also enjoy the UAZ a lot. Totally different cars, different controls. Sometimes I want to step on it on a highway, and sometimes I want to drive through some forest with my friends and chill— KLOKOV: …On a Mercedes LOVCHEV: Yeah [laughs] KLOKOV: If you could pick any car in existence—totally for free, as a gift, for the Nationals, for example—and you’d be obligated to maintain it properly, and not resell it — which car would you pick? LOVCHEV: It’s a tough one. With the maintenance too, huh… KLOKOV: No kidding. I wondered about this too, and I couldn’t make a decision. LOVCHEV: Yeah, especially since I’d have to maintain it myself… KLOKOV: Okay then let’s throw maintenance out — it’s free and done for you. What’s your choice? LOVCHEV: Then I would probably pick Nissan GTR. KLOKOV: Yeah it’s a sports car, how much horsepower? LOVCHEV: Yeah it’s a Japanese “korch” for hardcore performance modding [in Russian, a heavily performance-modded car is called “korch”, which literally means “wooden snag” or “uprooted stump”]. It’s a 540 horsepower car. KLOKOV: So it only has 140 hp on your Infiniti? LOVCHEV: Well, it’s a totally different car, though. 0-100 kmph [0-60 mph] in 2.8 seconds, 320 kmph [200 mph] maximum speed. KLOKOV: So basically, if you had this car you would have gotten here from Karabanovo in something like 15 minutes? LOVCHEV: Although I’d have to stop like five times to refuel.
On Women, relationships, Family
KLOKOV: Lyokha [short for Alexei], so suppose you have this photo where you stand in front of your three cars — Infiniti, Mercedes, UAZ. Muscle cars behind the muscle man. Except, one thing is missing… the beautiful woman. At the same time, in some of your Instagram photos I noticed a certain beautiful girl riding with you in your cars. Who is she? LOVCHEV: Well, I don’t have a girlfriend right now. No serious relationships. I’m still searching. KLOKOV: So that girl was “random”? LOVCHEV: We met at the Worlds, in Poland. KLOKOV: Seriously? Is she an athlete? LOVCHEV: No, she’s not an athlete… KLOKOV: Is she Polish? LOVCHEV: Yes. KLOKOV: So you came to the World Championship in Poland and met a Polish girl? LOVCHEV: Yeah. Then I came back home, and we kept in touch with her on Facebook. Then I wanted to go somewhere on vacation, and decided to go to Poland again. KLOKOV: Did she visit Karabanovo? LOVCHEV: Yes. KLOKOV: And what about that famous video where you’re riding on a, whatchamacallit? LOVCHEV: A rail push trolley. KLOKOV: Right. [faces the camera] So in that video, Lovchev drives the trolley with the girl beside him. Where was it filmed?
LOVCHEV: Oh it’s in Tresslavo-Zaletsky [?], there is a railway museum there…
KLOKOV: Oh, so it’s safe?
KLOKOV: And here I thought you actually were on a working railroad track, in that trolley, potentially causing a big problem—
LOVCHEV: …Being chased by a train
KLOKOV: [laughs] Yeah. So it was a dedicated museum track, okay.
So you haven’t been in any serious relationships yet?
LOVCHEV: I have, but not now. I went out with a girl for over 4 years.
KLOKOV: Oh wow. At what age?
LOVCHEV: 19 to 23.
KLOKOV: Well, some already get married at this age.
LOVCHEV: It didn’t quite work out.
KLOKOV: Do you have siblings?
LOVCHEV: Yes, a sister.
KLOKOV: What does she do?
LOVCHEV: She is a legal expert.
KLOKOV: So she helps you out, in case of a problem? Legal expert, huh?
LOVCHEV: Yeah [grins]
KLOKOV: Do you want to have children?
LOVCHEV: Yeah, lately I’ve been thinking about it, it’s time—
KLOKOV: You know why? Because it’s a super heavyweight problem. When your weight goes over 130, you get this urge to just settle down, slow down, get kids. For example, Zhenya [Evgeniy] Chigishev, Andrei Kozlov… everyone, really, same for the Soviet era supers. They would always come to the training camp with their kids.
KLOKOV: So now that you have achieved a lot, what’s missing for you? What do you lack for happiness, what do you yearn for the most in life? Doesn’t even have to be about the sport. What does Alexei Lovchev want right now?
LOVCHEV: Create a family. I want kids. And in sport I want to go to Rio.
KLOKOV: Hopefully, god willing. And the fact that there is too much competition in Russia… Sometimes we say “Oh, we have a lot of competition”. Well, if there were no competition in Russia, we wouldn’t have showed any results internationally. So if you manage to make it nationally, you’re pretty much set for an international success.
Hunting and Other Passions
KLOKOV: I assume, women and cars are not the only passions of yours? [laughs] You also love your guns. I often see pictures of you holding firearms of all sorts. Where does this come from?
LOVCHEV: It actually started very recently. I returned from the Worlds, I was drafted into the military, and there I went to the shooting range. I shot guns and I liked it. Decided to buy a rifle and take up hunting. It’s quite exciting. Taking it slow right now, just hunting small game — duck, black grouse. KLOKOV: Do you have the license? LOVCHEV: Yes. Got it all official. KLOKOV: And your father is a hunter, right? LOVCHEV: He’s not a hunter proper, but he has the license, and goes hunting like once in five years or something. KLOKOV: Aren’t you afraid of using firearms? You know, you’re pretty reckless sometimes, you never know, right? LOVCHEV: I think that as long as you have your head on your shoulders, nothing’s going to happen. But of course, in an extreme case of, say, someone breaking into my house, I will react immediately and something bad may happen. KLOKOV: So you live in a private house or in an apartment? LOVCHEV: I live on my own in a house. The family used to live there, but now I live there on my own. KLOKOV: They moved? LOVCHEV: Yes. It’s been two years now. KLOKOV: And all those wonderful photos of rifles and Infinities, where can people find you? Facebook, Instagram? LOVCHEV: Vkontakte [Russian social network], Instagram and Facebook, that’s all. KLOKOV: Youtube? LOVCHEV: No, no Youtube. KLOKOV: Takes too much time to film all this? LOVCHEV: I don’t have much to upload, really… KLOKOV: Come on now! all those girls and cars and rifles… Have they made any fake accounts pretending to be you, on Vkontakte? LOVCHEV: Not yet KLOKOV: I notice that you have pictures from various celebrations, luncheons and other events, with tables full of various alcoholic beverages. Why do you do this? I mean, I’m not saying it’s wrong or anything, but we all know that athletes have this image to adhere to, and that others would admire. LOVCHEV: Well, I don’t try to pretend to be something I’m not. On certain events I can drink. I don’t get drunk, though, this doesn’t happen. KLOKOV: Yeah, I drink sometimes too.. LOVCHEV: It all comes down to people pretending, and the whole holier than thou attitude… I don’t buy that. [01:04] Klokov asks why Lovchev is one of the most active National Team members when it comes to social networks, along with Klokov himself and Chingiz Mogushkov. Lovchev says that he’s just keeping up with the fashion. Klokov then talks about his own experience in the media, how he’s been focused on being a media personality all along — together with his father they decided that this is the direction that needs to be explored. Lovchev wants to be popular and to be interesting to viewers. [01:06] KLOKOV: But what for? Let me tell you something, as a person who’s maybe more experienced than you in this regard. [Takes a candy from the table] So let’s suppose the candy manufacturer wants to use you in product promotion. Where are you going to promote these sweets? On a big stage you are seen *once* per year, at the very best 6 times during that particular session, at the Worlds. This way you are worthless to promoters. But when you have an outlet where you can promote the product on a regular basis, and if you have a lot of subscribers, then you are resourceful in promotion. So I urge you and other team members to develop your media presence. Because you have to understand that fans want to see EVERYTHING. Even the most random and stupid things that you do, they’re all over it. How you eat, how you hang out… And if you also include some useful information from time to time, people will love it even more.
[01:09] Klokov cites the previous interview, where Lovchev said that he switched from Adidas shoes to Nike because he wasn’t comfortable in Adidas, that it always felt like the shoes squeezed his foot from the sides too much, while the Nikes didn’t have this issue. KLOKOV: However, almost everyone in the national team says that when they wear Nike, in the start phase or in the receiving phase they are getting pulled forward. Hence my question: why does the federation obligate you to compete in Nike? How was this done? Why is everyone now competing in Nike? I mean, there are no contracts with Nike, right? LOVCHEV: Athletes don’t have contracts with Nike, no. KLOKOV: I’m just baffled because I remember the time when we competed in Adidas and it was comfortable, and then all of a sudden we get switched to Nike, just like that.
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LOVCHEV: Don’t know, they just bought the batch and told us that we have to compete in these now. I really liked the look of the new Adidas (red ones), but I had a problem with my wide foot, wasn’t comfortable. Lately, though, I’ve been training in both Nike and Adidas. KLOKOV: You have to remember that you [athletes, collectively] can sign a contract with any company. LOVCHEV: I know that. KLOKOV: As a promising powerful athlete, you can sign up with any brand. If you like Nike, sign up with them. This thing needs to be looked into. It’s not right that these opportunities pass the athletes by.
On The Russian Weightlifting Federation
Klokov says that the Federation is not doing much to popularize the sport, naming only President’s Cup as the only active popularization effort this year. Lovchev wants the Federation to promote weightlifting more actively, especially through television. Klokov then asks, what is better: a single expensive President’s Cup once a year, or 12 smaller competitions but in different cities, like the ones Dmitry Berestov hosted. Lovchev believes that the latter is more conducive to popularization of the sport. Klokov argues that the effect of the two approaches is roughly the same. However, then they both agree that neither the Berestov’s initiative, or the President’s Cup managed to create the much needed weightlifting “boom”, despite televised coverage and large expenses. As they continue discussing popularity, Klokov mentions how Lovchev became third most popular athlete of April on a very large Russian sports site Sportbox.ru. However, they both admit that not a single weightlifter has ever won the contest. Klokov asks if it’s because the sport is less popular than, say, tennis. Lovchev says that everyone hears about the really well promoted athletes like Anna Kournikova (tennis). Klokov agrees wholeheartedly, saying that people don’t come to see the sport, but more often come to see their favorite athletes. He uses the 1999 World Championship in Greece as an example, during which an entire stadium was filled beyond its capacity just because people were so enamored with Dimas Pyrros and Kakhi Kakhiashvili, even despite the fact that Pyrros was originally from Albania, and Kakhiashvili — from Georgia (USSR). He also notes that the stadium was filled only in Kakhi’s and Dimas’ weight classes; for other weight classes it was almost empty. Klokov believes that the expensive President’s Cup was a waste of money, and for a much better effect the Federation should have spent it on promoting the athletes instead.
On Super Heavyweights
When asked about who he considers the most prolific super of the past, Lovchev immediately names Vasily Alexeyev. KLOKOV: Some fans asked if you ever wanted to set the “eternal” unbeaten world records, as was done by Vasily Alexeyev? LOVCHEV: I would love to do this, of course… but it’s different times now, you know? KLOKOV: [Faces the camera] This is the key point here! Those in the know will understand exactly what we mean! LOVCHEV: Well, I do want to set a couple of records… KLOKOV: Well you’ve already set some… or you mean the world records? LOVCHEV: Yeah. KLOKOV: Perhaps they will, indeed, remain unbeaten, if the times get even tougher than now!
On Strength Training, Programming and Deficit Work
KLOKOV: Your competition PRs are 212 in the Snatch and 256 in the Clean & Jer [Videos Here]k. Yet, by looking at your strength training PRs, one could never imagine you could Snatch and jerk so much! LOVCHEV: Yeah… KLOKOV: This is unbelievable to me! Why are you not trying to develop crazy absolute strength? In general it seems to me that supers prefer to focus on competition lifts. [01:20] KLOKOV: Supers think that they need to walk up to the bar [He pantomimes a big super]… having a huge reserved power potential of like 500 kilograms… and then BAM! [Makes a lifting motion] Then put it down, and go drink some tea. You Snatch all the time, with differnt variations, too… and yet, so little strength training. Where is the logic in this? How did you choose this approach? Or was it some gut feeling? LOVCHEV: It’s just that my coach and I agreed that this is the method that’s most compatible with me. KLOKOV: You moved up from -105 in about 2-3 years? LOVCHEV: 3 years, yes. KLOKOV: So, today’s Lovchev and the Lovchev from three years ago, do they follow the same program, or those are completely different? LOVCHEV: Yes, we changed some parts. KLOKOV: What exactly though? Number of sets? LOVCHEV: No, decreased the number of reps per set. My training PR Snatch was 190 kg for two in three sets, no straps. Before Europeans. For me it was already very tough. KLOKOV: But even for a -105 it’s not that much.
I don’t like multi-rep work. I prefer to just do singles.LOVCHEV: Yeah, and for me it was like total overload. I don’t like multi-rep work. I prefer to just do singles. KLOKOV: I know that your favorite exercise is the Snatch from blocks. Why is it? LOVCHEV: I don’t know, I just enjoy it. I’m always confident in this movement. [Video of his 210kg Snatch from Blocks]
KLOKOV: Do you do deficit Snatches? [standing on the box]
LOVCHEV: I started doing it quite recently, actually. We didn’t do it at the training camps, only watched it on your videos. My father/coach found that video and then said “Hey, look at how Klokov’s Snatching from deficit”, and we decided to try it. Mostly because my technique back then was quite different from now.
KLOKOV: Yeah, and I think that with your technique—which involves you basically pulling entirely with your legs—the deficit Snatch is perfect for you!
LOVCHEV: And I started pulling this way after watching videos from you and other team mates.
KLOKOV: Yeah, because you really pull with your legs, which Is good.
LOVCHEV: I used to pull like that [shows with arms], pushing the ass out…
KLOKOV: Now, this is what I always say on my seminars: if you push your ass out, it doesn’t mean that you don’t understand technique—you realize that you push your ass out—but even when your coach keeps shouting at you to stop pushing the ass out and pull with your legs, you still can’t do it, because your legs are too weak.
The fact that you push your ass out this way means that your back is more dominant, and stronger than your legs, as simple as that.
And for legs, the best exercises are Squats—but only the right kinds of Squats, which I cover on my seminars—and Deficit Pulls, because when you’re using the deficit, you can’t push your ass out and compensate with your back, because it’s just not comfortable, and you’re forced to engage your legs.
LOVCHEV: Yeah, ever since I started doing exercises like deficit Pulls and Snatches, my technique has changed, and the results have improved.
KLOKOV: For example, when Dima [Dmitry] Lapikov was in -105, him and I were very much into deficit Snatches, it had been our staple exercise, but now that he’s in 105+ — and he’s not 140 kg, mind you— he stopped doing deficit movements because, as he himself put it, his stomach gets in the way in the start position. So you’re telling me that your stomach doesn’t get in the way, huh? [both laugh]
LOVCHEV: Well, let’s put it this way: a year ago I Snatched from deficit this high [shows with his hand], quite high, and now the deficit is definitely lower [shows].
KLOKOV: And today I’m doing it from the heels of my Nike shoes, that’s deficit enough for me. [laughs]
KLOKOV: In your interview you said that you recently stopped doing Front Squats because of your injured knees. But if we don’t count the bad knees, and just compare the overall value of Front Squats and Back Squats, then which would you prefer and recommend to people, and also what kind of a BS/FS ratio would you use? For instance, Front Squats every other day, or 3 FS to 1 BS ratio?
LOVCHEV: Well, each athlete is different, so you need a case-by-case approach. For instance, some get too carried away with Squats and overdo them, without any improvements, whereas when they decide to rest more, their results improve…
KLOKOV: This is obvious, and the explanation is simple: if you Squat too much, then you hurt your speed, your muscles become less explosive and your competition lifts suffer.
But let’s get back to the actual distinctive benefits of the two types of Squats. Because in the Front Squat, the body position is markedly different from its position in the Back Squat. So, let’s just boil it down to this: do you think that one should do more Back Squats than Front Squats, or the other way around?
For me, Front Squatting is hell. I hate it.LOVCHEV: More Back Squats.
KLOKOV: Hm, and I disagree. [laughs]
LOVCHEV: For me, Front Squatting is hell. I hate it.
KLOKOV: I also used to dislike Front Squats, and prior to Beijing in 2008, my Front Squat PR was 230 kg. Prior to London — 282 kg. Just because I started Front Squatting a lot more than before. And you know what? This has improved my jerk.
LOVCHEV: Because of your midsection…
KLOKOV: I became better at controlling it in the rack position. Because, what is the Front Squat? [Shows the Front Squat movement] In the Back Squat, you’re bending forward, whereas in the Front Squat, you have all the angles that you need in your drive phase, in your receiving phase… I really felt how my jerk has improved.
LOVCHEV: I just do some other exercises for the same purpose. For instance, Half-Jerks [Video].
KLOKOV: Yeah, those half-jerks of yours… I myself have never even tried them.
LOVCHEV: It’s such an ancient exercise that many people don’t do it anymore.
KLOKOV: Oh I am aware of it. I saw you do them, but I just could not comprehend their purpose. What gives?
LOVCHEV: Well, since I only very rarely do Front Squats—
KLOKOV: Again, because of your bad knees.
LOVCHEV: Yeah, well, Half-Jerks are also quite dangerous for the knees. So you have to balance it all out properly. So in certain periods of my training I do employ these exercises, and thanks to them, my jerk is doing pretty good. I used to have problems Jerking before—
KLOKOV: When I posted the video where you jerked 256 kg, the side view, and maybe you noticed there was a comment on my Instagram, saying “Now Alexei Lovchev is my hero”. A foreigner wrote this.
LOVCHEV: Yeah, I saw this.
KLOKOV: I have not the faintest idea how you managed to keep hold of 256 kg in this position [shows the position] and recover from the split. I mean, do you realize how much untapped reserve capacity you demonstrated?
LOVCHEV: God, that video scared me. I was very surprised how I managed to hold it.
KLOKOV: So you do realize that you have a bigger potential?
LOVCHEV: If I had the right technique during that attempt, I would have definitely made it easily.
KLOKOV: What kind of a Jerk you’re capable of physically? Strictly physically.
LOVCHEV: If technique is right, then I’d say 260 kg…
KLOKOV: So you only added 4 kg? Not 265?
LOVCHEV: 265 is a bit too early for me.
KLOKOV: Aw, come on now! [Wags his finger] You’re being too modest here.
LOVCHEV: Now, in the Snatch I felt that I could have done more. I usually have better results in the Snatch…
KLOKOV: How much in the Snatch? Now that you’ve raised your psychological threshold after the Nationals.
LOVCHEV: At the Nationals I was fully prepared for 215 [he did 212kg].
KLOKOV: So, 215 / 260 is your “modest” estimation as of today. Well, if you can carry this to the competition… So how far away are we from the unbeatable eternal record?
LOVCHEV: Current records are 214 / 263.
KLOKOV: Okay, so we got some work to do.
LOVCHEV: And of course, psychologically it’s very difficult…
KLOKOV: Psychology is the most difficult aspect. To add just one kilo, at our age, to our results? You could work your tail off for two years straight and still fail to do it.
LOVCHEV: 205 was my best Snatch, at the Europeans [Video]. After the Europeans I rested, then had the training camp, and the summer was hot and difficult to train, so I wasn’t expecting such a good result. At home, prior to the Nationals, I tried to do a PR attempt in the Snatch… Snatched 200 only on my fifth attempt, and out of pure anger, at that.
KLOKOV: Maybe this is good, that you still have this fire burning inside, feeling this dissatisfaction.
LOVCHEV: I was shaking with exhaustion… My coach tried to stop me: I had three failed attempts in a row, after all. And I’m feeling that she’s flying just right — she’s light, you know — but I just can’t finish it.
KLOKOV: And you can’t stop on your own in this situation?
LOVCHEV: When I feel that I’m totally fatigued then I will stop, of course. But in this case it was just 200 kg, I psychologically prepare myself to Snatch 200 on a regular basis, even on a bad day. I prepare myself psychological in such a way that 200 kg is not some kind of a milestone, or an obstacle. And in Grozny, at Nationals, during the warmup I felt the bar “flying”, that 190 kg attempt was the easiest in my life. That moment it clicked that yeah, keep it comin’. Luck was on my side.
KLOKOV: Luck, and also the opposition. It’s the competition that forces you to go above and beyond. I mean, 256. Would you have gone for 256 otherwise?
LOVCHEV: I could have just decided not to attempt it at all. But I was just too motivated to set a national record.
Weight Gain / Diet
Lovchev says that he eats indiscriminately, without a strict diet, despite the fact that he has rather cozy conditions in the town of Karabanovo, where he lives and trains.
He lives alone at home, and because of that, he had to hire a personal cook. So, all in all, in his hometown he has access to:
- his masseur/physician
- personal cook
He tried cooking on his own, but realized that it was too overwhelming for him. He doesn’t have particularly favorite foods, but mentions shashlyks and plov (pilau). However, he dislikes fish, ever since childhood.
Lovchev takes supplements only when he needs it. If he doesn’t feel the need, he will not take creatine or any post-workout shakes.
However, if he feels exhausted, then he will take supplements, sometimes up to 2x of prescribed dose. He doesn’t like to be psychologically addicted to supplements, he believes this can distract from training.
KLOKOV: How do you assess the current state of pharmaceutical supplement support in the national team? Because back “in my days” [laughs] there was a lot of useless trash. So when you receive a box of supplements, half of its contents you can just throw away immediately. Nothing has changed?
LOVCHEV: It has, right now it’s not too bad.
KLOKOV: Do they give you what you ask for?
LOVCHEV: I’d say yes. Although, of course, not everything. Me personally, I don’t really use a lot of drugs, so I can’t say much about it.
LOVCHEV: Well, Ecdysten I tried before the Europeans and, honestly, I think I might have felt an effect.
KLOKOV: Because, those two drugs were most valued by the entire team, but they never supplied enough of them.
Rapid Fire Questions
KLOKOV: What’s better — Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, strongman, crossfit?
LOVCHEV: [Without thinking] Weightlifting.
KLOKOV: Larte Design or Renegade?
KLOKOV: Iphone or Vertu?
KLOKOV: Brunettes or blondes?
KLOKOV: Mogushkov or Albegov?
KLOKOV: Son or daughter?
KLOKOV: 10 times world champion or 1 time Olympic champion?
LOVCHEV: 1 time Olympic champion.
KLOKOV: UAZ Hunter or Land Rover Defender?
LOVCHEV: I prefer UAZ Hunter
KLOKOV: Clean & Jerk or Snatch?
KLOKOV: Demand impossible, maximum result or demand everything, get nothing [he said it in English]
LOVCHEV: Erm… please translate.
KLOKOV: Alright, I’ll explain it later… or maybe I read it all wrong anyway.
KLOKOV: Alright, this is it. I really liked the interview, learned a lot of new things — and hopefully you, the viewers, learned something new. This video will now become educational for many. Also, I’m pretty sure that it will be translated into English at AllThingsGym.com [Aww Yeaah :), Hey Dmitry! -Gregor]. They’re doing a very good job, promoting the sport, and monitoring us, so whatever you [addressing Lovchev] do or say will be conveyed to the international audience.
So, thank you for your time. [Shake hands] Let’s go have dinner?
KLOKOV: [Faces the camera] Thanks for being with us!