Evolutionary Radio Episode #225 with Dave Tate

TAGS: nutritional gurus, Steve Smith, Trevor Kouritzen, Evolutionary Radio, elitefts history, genetics, drugs, bodybuilding, powerlifting, dave tate

elitefts founder and CEO Dave Tate joined Evolutionary Radio co-hosts Trevor Kouritzen and Steve Smith for an interview.

Dave starts the podcast off with some background of how he got into bodybuilding, which could also be the story of how he got into powerlifting... which eventually led him to test out the bodybuilding waters. (Phew!) It helped that his college roommate was training for Mr. Ohio.

Dave competed in three shows. He learned he loved the training and nutrition aspects of bodybuilding even more training for a powerlifting competition. But he felt it didn’t have a pay-off for him, even when he did win.

“I’d rather stand up with a winning squat in front of five people than win bodybuilding in front of thousands.”

While bodybuilding, Dave learned a lot from both trial and error. Bodybuilding encouraged him to put on muscle mass and get bigger, only for him to be weaker in powerlifting.


LISTEN: Men of Strength Sports Performance Podcast #2 — Bret Huth and Scott Salwasser


Before the internet, everyone’s knowledge was limited to the best guy in the gym. At meets or training sessions, Dave would encounter plenty of experts. One who consistently helped him was Louie Simmons, of the Westside Barbell Gym.

dave tate westside

Simmons would break down what was going on with Dave’s bodybuilding training and why bulking made him weaker in terms Dave would understand, and that, no, having more muscle mass does not necessarily make you a stronger lifter.

It was advice like this from experts like Simmons that made Dave start up elitefts. He felt he owed it to these people who gave him free advice to improve upon himself, and then share that information with other lifters down the road. elitefts isn’t exactly for beginners, but for more intermediate competitors, especially for those who get “stuck” at a certain point.

From Dave’s experience, that sticking point is usually due to a powerlifter’s technical issue. Generally if a lifter can fix that, their lifts will go up. If that’s not the case, then it’s probably a physical problem, like a muscle’s weakness or something diet-related, which is still going to create a technical flaw. Technique and physique go hand in hand at all levels in powerlifting.

Dave observes that powerlifting might be thinning out at the highest competitive levels, but as a whole sport, it’s growing. It’s falling behind bodybuilding, and has for a few decades. Dave says that 20 years ago, he saw more people in the gym who trained for bodybuilding but weren’t competing — closet bodybuilders, he’d call them. Then, he’d never seen any powerlifters doing that. But now it’s a different story.

“It’s easier to get into the sport, so there are more recreational powerlifters, people who train like them and don’t compete, and never will. Ten to 15 years ago, that might’ve been five percent of the sport. Now it’s 95 percent.”

Nowadays, the numbers are about the same for powerlifting competitors, but there are more and more non-competitive lifters. Dave guesses there’s 400 to 600 percent increase of the latter.

When he’s asked about drug use in powerlifting, Dave makes it clear he does not take a hard stance in favor of or against steroids. He doesn’t know what powerlifters are using and says you won’t know unless you ask. He does think that if lifters do use steroids, they should not be new to the sport. It’s not a decision to make lightly. The amounts people take can vary wildly because everyone’s body responds differently to drugs.

Some of that might be in part due to genetics, which also plays a huge role in lifting itself. For example, you might see a 20-something kid lift 800 pounds on YouTube, but chances are, as Dave points out, you don’t know the entire story. You don’t see how much work this ripped kid put into that deadlift. The kid controls the narrative, so we don’t know the entire story.

“You don’t make money powerlifting. You don’t make money bodybuilding. They get to a certain point and it’s like, you know what? If I start focusing on my social media, then maybe I can create a business out of this. So you almost can’t blame them if they make a pivot and only focus on social media, where the meathead in me would love to see these guys throw their fucking phones away, get off social media, and tear the sport up.”

Dave admits he’s a realist, but he also thinks this is what’s hurting the “top end” of powerlifting. There’s no money to be gained from these sports, only a title, and that isn’t enough for some people. But social media lets these kids create a future for themselves, which is more than what the sport can offer, and Dave respects that.

He also talks about aging, wear and tear, recovery, and nutrition.

All in all, Dave has seen and done a lot throughout the years, and his knowledge and experience are present in all of his answers in this interview.

  • (0:37) Introduction
  • (1:10) How Dave got into bodybuilding
  • (14:47) Advice for young bodybuilders: Does bigger mean stronger?
  • (18:30) Should new lifters go on diets?
  • (22:22) elitefts history
  • (28:37) Why do lifters get stuck at certain points?
  • (30:13) How is powerlifting doing as a sport compared to bodybuilding, which is kind of dying? Is it growing?
  • (33:02) What drugs are powerlifters using these days?
  • (37:03) How much do you think genetics play a role?
  • (40:20) At what age does a person’s strength usually peak and start dropping?
  • (47:44) How to improve recovery
  • (53:30) Do you think glycerol helps at weigh-ins?
  • (56:10) Nutritional gurus drive Dave crazy
  • (58:24) What’s your take on supplements?
  • (1:03:50) Contact information

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