This week’s EliteFTS Spotlight interview introduces the readership to powerlifting legend Vincent Dizenzo. If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, Vincent’s name – as well as his exploits under the bar - should be very familiar to you. Here’s his official Team EliteFTS bio:

Vincent Dizenzo has been competing in powerlifting for 15 years. After a promising start as an amateur full meet competitor, he suffered two ruptured lumbar discs. Not wanting to leave the sport, Vincent turned to benching, the worst of his three lifts. After seeking out and training with some of the best bench specialists in the world, Vincent made quick gains and became one of the best himself. He is one of only a few lifters who has benched 800 equipped and 600 raw. His most recent accomplishment was benching 605 raw as a masters lifter. Vincent is devoted to powerlifting. He spends countless hours helping lifters through coaching and correspondence. He is also an active volunteer for Special Olympics Powerlifting.

On a personal note, there have been some great additions to the Q&A staff recently, but I’m particularly excited about this opportunity to benefit from Vincent’s immense body of powerlifting knowledge. I have friends who train with him, I’ve dealt with him personally on a handful of occasions, and I co-hosted a seminar where he spoke that I’m still thinking about on a regular basis. Vincent, simply put, is one of the best in the business, and we’re lucky to have him.

Introduce yourself to the readership and tell us something about yourself and how you got started in the sport.

I started out as a displaced high school athlete who just got really out of shape. After high school, I went to college, but I didn’t go to play sports because I knew there was no room on any major college football team for a 5’8” nose tackle. What happened was that I always wanted to fly helicopters. My father served in the Marine Corps, and I wanted to do that too, but he told me to go to college for a year to show that I could be serious about school. After one semester, I didn’t want to fly helicopters anymore because I realized that college was fun. I basically took a loaf on his dough for four years.

So, fast forward to my early twenties. I was working in business, taking the train into Manhattan every day, and I was totally out of shape. I ran into a friend of mine, and he was like, “What happened to you?” So, I went back to the gym and started training. This was in a commercial gym, and someone eventually told me I should enter a powerlifting meet. I had always been really strong, but I had no idea what powerlifting was, or what to do in a meet. I trained with gear, believe it or not. I was the a--hole in the commercial gym training with gear on. I ended up winning my first meet, and this female judge came up to me and said I had the worst form of anyone she’d ever seen, which she said wasn’t a bad thing. She said, “You’re brutally strong, and you can’t teach strength, but technique can be taught.” She told me to go find people who could teach me how to actually succeed in the sport, so I did.

Where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

I live in Stratford, Connecticut, and I’m a middle school special education teacher.

Given your background, your training knowledge, and your accomplishments in powerlifting, has anyone ever asked you to coach?

They’ve asked me to coach everywhere I’ve ever gone, but I never have. Honestly, I think I’m too selfish to coach, because I’m completely devoted to powerlifting. It’s all I do. I don’t golf anymore, and I don’t ski. Between training and eating and recovery, there’s too much involved in getting to the highest level of powerlifting for me to spend time doing anything else.

What’s your training philosophy?

My philosophy is SFW. Smash F-ing Weights. It’s funny – there’s an Australian powerlifting club that actually asked my permission to call itself SFW. I’ve tried everything. I’ve done Metal Militia and Westside and everything else, and I’ve made progress on everything, but the key for me is to just lift heavy. The secret for me is simple: eat, train, sleep, recuperate. That’s it. I’m doing Westside right now, actually, and it’s been working great for me.

I just do everything heavy, and I don’t do things that hurt me. I tore a bicep, and I can only deadlift with the trap bar, so that’s what I do. I’m too inflexible, so I use the safety squat bar to squat with. I’d love to do a full meet again one day, but I know I can’t let my ego get in the way. I’ve had two ruptured discs in my back, and I have to get in a really weird position to squat, so there are things I know I can’t do. I know that I can train around exercises that hurt, though, so that’s what I do.

I have to give some credit here to a coach named Brian Holloway. Brian is the strength coach at Choate Rosemary Hall, where I train now, and he’s a guy who’s been around the game for a long time and knows what he sees. You know, I’m not one of these guys who needs for everyone to be stronger than me for me to listen to them. I don’t need to listen to gurus. When someone notices something about what I’m doing, I’ll listen. Another thing is that I worry about my assistance work in terms of, say, whether I need to do five more pounds on my tricep pushdowns and things like that. I was preparing for a meet, and I was worried about a couple of things and wanted to change some stuff up, and Brian told me to just do my max effort work and let everything else take care of itself. That’s what I do now. Just lift heavy, bust my ass on max effort work, and let everything else take care of itself.

Where do you train now that Southside is closed?

I drive by that building all the time, and it just breaks my heart that Southside isn’t there anymore. It breaks my heart. Now I train at Choate – Brian has a Forza bench and an EFS rack there – and in my basement.

What does EliteFTS mean to you?

They’re family. Making the switch in sponsorship was tough for me, but it’s not like Dave or Jim ever pushed for any of this. This was all my decision, and it was all me. I went to my first Underground Strength Session, and everyone just took me in so quickly it was incredible. What Dave and Jim have done for this sport – the camaraderie of the sport and all they’ve given – is something I can’t even describe. What I told Dave was that I just want as much out of this as I put in, and they’re just as dedicated to the sport as I am, so that’s going to be a lot.

Prologue From The Angry Coach:

I’m going to be honest with everyone here. At this point in the interview, my piece of s--t recording device decided to take a crap, so I didn’t record the rest of the conversation. Vincent and I spent the next half hour or so bullshitting about people we know in common, about EliteFTS and about life in general. I’ll reiterate here that he’s one of the nicest, most knowledgeable and most accessible people in the sport, and everyone at Elite Fitness Systems is ecstatic to have him on board.