An Interview With Powerlifter Fred Hatfield aka Dr. Squat

Athlete Interviews, Strength,

An Interview With Powerlifter Fred Hatfield aka Dr. Squat

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At age 45 you performed a competitive squat with 1014 pound at a body weight of 255 pounds, a world record, how did you go about training for your world record 1014lb squat?

Actually, I have never trained solely for the squat. As a powerlifter, I was obliged to train for three lifts, not one. Having said that, it’s clear that distributing my time, energy and physical/mental resources into all three lifts inevitably detracted somewhat from how much I was able to squat. In fact, I actually did 1043 (or thereabouts) on that day, but the judges gave me two red lights. To see the actual breakdown of how I trained, go to and have a look at the 12 week peaking cycle there.

What is your experience of training athletes?

Over the years, I had much to do with training elite athletes, college athletes, and kids just beginning to get into sports. All were treated with the same respect and attention. Here’s a partial list…

Personal coach and/or advisor to several world class and professional athletes in a variety of sports. Coaching concentration on total conditioning programs. The (*) denotes training and nutritional advisory capacity. A partial listing follows:

– Michael Chang* Pro Tennis

– Mark Gastineau* N.Y. Jets/Boxer

– Akeem Olajouwon* Houston Rockets

– Pete Koch L.A. Raiders/Actor

– Jim Byrne L.A. Rams

– Ralph Caldwell N.Y. Jets

– Blane Fox Boston Red Sox

– Tiffany Chin Olympic Figure Skating

– Billy Bates* Dallas Cowboys

– Rudy Rasman Skier/Surfer

– Mitch Mignano Olympic Weightlifter

– Tom DiFillipi* Olympic Weightlifter

– Randy Wilson Champion Powerlifter

– Joe Bradley Champion Powerlifter

– Sid Fernandez N.Y. Mets (pitcher)

– John Brenner Olympic Shot putter

– Ty Granareli Ballet Dancer

– Kevin Brooks* Dallas Cowboys

– Mark Brown Miami Dolphins

– David Richards San Diego Chargers

– Mike Quinn* Pro Bodybuilder

– Rich Gaspari* Pro Bodybuilder

– Lee Haney Pro Bodybuilder

– Tom Platz Pro Bodybuilder

– Lyle Alzado L.A. Raiders/Actor

– Christian Sylvester* Olympic 400 Meters

– Vinnie Curto Pro Boxing #1 Contender

– Dave Keaggy Champion Powerlifter

– Mike Tulley Olympic Pole Vaulter

– Mike Hayes* L.A. Raiders

– Andreas Cahling Pro Bodybuilder

– August Wolf* Olympic Shot Putter

– Tom Magee Champion Powerlifter

– Ed Coan* Champion Powerlifter

– Dennis McKnight* San Diego Chargers

– Evander Holyfield Pro Boxing World Heavyweight Champion

– Rene Gonzalez* Baltimore Orioles

– Mark Schmidt Denver Broncos

– Lee Labrada* Pro Bodybuilder

– Jeff Magruder* Champion Powerlifter

– Bill Kazmaier World’s Strongest Man & Champion Powerlifter

– O.D. Wilson Champion Powerlifter

– James Russell Champion Powerlifter

– Walter Maseroni Pro Boxing #10 Contender

– Robert Fletcher* World Karate Champion

– Joseph Russell* World Wheelchair Champion in Powerlifting

– Brian Ford* New Orleans Saints

– Jorge Gonzalez Olympic (Argentina) & Pro Basketball (Atlanta)

– Chris Pollard In-Line Skating Champion

– Chris Nelloms Olympic 400 Meters

– Chris Volgenau Olympic Shot Putter

– Eddie Robinson * World Champion Bodybuilder & Powerlifter

– Sam Maxwell* Olympic Weightlifter

– Rickson Gracie* Martial Arts (JiuJitsu) Champion

– Diego Maradona Professional Soccer Player

– Konstantine Starikovitch* National and World Champion Weightlifter

– Winky Wright Pro Boxing #1 Contender

– Maurice Howard Pro Boxing #15 Contender

– Audley Harrison* Pro Boxing #1 Contender

Served as training and nutrition advisor to professional athletes from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) from July, 1991 until March, 1994.

Guest Coach, New England Patriots Professional Football Team, March, 1991 & April Mini- Camp (development and implementation of strength training program, and in hiring of permanent strength coach).

Coach of United American Powerlifting Team to Moscow and Siberia (Abakaan) July, 1989.

U.S. Team Co-Coach, 1987 World Championships in the sport of powerlifting, Frederickstad, Norway.

U.S. Team Co-Coach, 1985 World Championships in the sport of Powerlifting, Espoo, Finland.

Head Coach, Men’s Varsity Gymnastics Team, Newark State College, 1972-1973.

Assisted Charles Pond in coaching Men’s Varsity Gymnastics Team. University of Illinois/Urbana, 1969-1970.

How would you say the training of older athletes differs from training younger athletes?

Virtually no difference with one exception. Older athletes take a bit longer to recuperate from heavy training.

Many athletes slow down later in their careers, do you believe older athletes could train to maintain their speed and reflexes for longer than many do?

Yes, age has a way of reducing speed, reflexes and recuperative capacity. All of these can be augmented through training, but there is no fountain of youth. Age wins, every time.

What is your view on linear periodization vs. conjugate periodization?

The most commonly known form of periodization in the United States is the linear style, in which training is broken into microcycles, mesocycles and macrocycles in order to accomplish a group of hierarchically defined objectives, such as hypertrophy, strength, power, and speed. This is the style originally developed by the Soviet researcher Matveyev.

But I used the conjugate method primarily. Originally introduced by Dr. Verkhoshansky, conjugate method of periodization is a decided improvement over the linear style. Verkhoshansky calls for the “linking” of two (or more) qualities that need to be developed, and training them in the context of a greater program. Combining the qualities of speed-strength and limit strength in microcycle or mesocycle, for example, effectively creates a situation in which greater gains are experienced by using the increases in one to augment the other.

What is your view on maximal effort training?

Dangerous and unnecessary if you’re equating “maximal effort” with “maximal weight”. I do not recommend max weight training under any circumstances, and opted instead for max effort with a much lighter load, effectively turning that lighter load into a max load. This form of training was the hallmark of my coaching experience, and it’s called CAT (compensatory acceleration training).

How would you suggest a lifter in a lighter weight category in Powerlifting/Olympic weightlifting conduct their training as opposed to a heavier lifter?

Lighter guys can typically recover faster than the heavy guys. Their strength-to-weight ratio is higher, so they use relatively heavier poundage’s (percentage-wise) than heavy guys. There are some finer points too, with respect to the use of gear, lifting technique and psychological preparedness that come into play. The bottom line is that everyone’s different, and must be coached in different ways depending upon strengths and weaknesses.

Do you view box squats as superior to free squats?

Absolutely NOT!

What advice would you give to strength and conditioning coach’s who are starting out in their profession?

Talk to guys like me who have been in the trenches for many years, and who have also looked extensively into the research literature for clues as to how to eek out another pound of effort. Why would young coaches try to reinvent coaching? Learn from our mistakes and successes. Then grow beyond the bounds of mere convention.


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