Team EliteFTS welcomes Olympic Weightlifting coach and the President of Werksan Barbells, Leo Totten. Leo will be answering various questions on Olympic Weightlifting.

MP: Leo, it’s great to have you on EliteFTS. Please tell us about yourself.

LT: Thanks for having me as part of the team. I hope to be able to spread the word about Olympic lifting and how it can best be incorporated into the training scheme. My background is in education where I taught and coached at the high school level for 33 years. During that time, I coached numerous sports and was strength coach for all of the school’s teams during that time. Of course, my true love is the sport of weightlifting where I have coached athletes from the very novice level to Olympic and World Team athletes. I am head coach of East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team. They won the team championship the past five Men’s Nationals and four of the last five Women’s Nationals. I was the coach or team leader of numerous World and Pan Am Championships, as well as Team Leader for the 1996 and 2004 Olympics for weightlifting and have attained the highest coaching level at Senior International Coach with USA Weightlifting.

MP: What motivated you to become a weightlifter and a weightlifting coach?

LT: Way back when I started lifting, I was really, really small and saw a Strength and Health magazine that got me motivated. When I went to York Barbell to buy my first set of weights, there were a bunch of really strong guys doing the snatch and clean and jerk. I was intrigued by their physiques, their power and strength...and that’s all it took. I was hooked! After my competitive career with personal bests of a 150kg snatch and a 192kg clean and jerk in the 90kg class, it was just a natural transition to become a weightlifting coach. My background in education, plus my other coaching background made it a smooth transition.

MP: Tell us about the East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team?

LT: I started the team back in 1992 and we have continued to grow and prosper since. What started out as a small gathering of lifters who had nowhere else to call their home, has now blossomed into the largest team in the country. We set up “satellite centers” all over the northeast where the goal is to develop more coaches and athletes who either compete in weightlifting, or utilize the Olympic lifts to help their sports.

MP: How do you train your lifters?

LT: Personally, I run one of our team’s satellite centers in my local high school. We train several times a week exclusively for competition. The athletes range from beginner to national level. Each one has their own particular training scheme based on the principles of periodization that I give them, depending on where they are in their competitive career and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. There are numerous athletes around the northeast that I do programming for and monitor their training from afar if they are not able to get to my satellite center or another one nearby. In that case, we do a lot of sharing of videos and phone calls. There are a lot of lifters out there who are by themselves and can use that tight connection. We still manage to get together whenever possible.

MP: What are your thoughts on the sport of Olympic Weightlifting in the USA? What can the sport do to gain more recognition?

LT: The sport is growing in the USA with more and more lifters and more and more clubs. Many athletes are finding out that competition is fun and motivating, plus the training is great for a variety of other sports. The primary obstacle to the growth of our sport is that people just aren’t aware of what we are all about, but that is one of my main goals of joining the EliteFTS team – to encourage folks to learn more about Olympic lifting and its benefits.

MP: Can a well designed Olympic Weightlifting program help a bodybuilder with his physique?

LT: If you look closely at the physique of a top level Olympic weightlifter, you will see a very strong, athletic body. Bodybuilders can utilize some aspects of Olympic lift training to help round out their physique and hit some of the muscle groups that might not be hit in their normal training program. Olympic lifting utilizes multi-joint exercises that can be beneficial to the bodybuilder.

MP: Can a well designed Olympic Weightlifting program help increase maximum strength in a powerlifter?

LT: Olympic lifting is all about power, speed and strength combined. A powerlifter wants to move the weight as fast as possible ,although with maximal weights, it may not appear to move very fast. I feel that powerlifters can benefit by doing some Olympic lift training to maximize their potential in doing the three power lifts, but I also feel that Olympic lifters should take some of the benefits of the powerlifters' training and put it into their training regimes. There is a time and place for both sports to share their benefits.

MP: What are some other benefits that Olympic Weightlifting brings to athletes?

LT: As I mentioned, Olympic Weightlifting is primarily about power. All of the other aspects of top athletic abilities are developed with Olympic lifting. These include: strength, power, balance, technique, flexibility, and surprisingly, even many cardiovascular improvements. Many other sports are using the Olympic lifts to improve their performances.

MP: Since you are the President of Werksan Barbells, can you tell us about how these barbells stand out against the rest?

LT: Man, I could go on and on! We offer the best prices around for our barbells and we go by the motto, Engineered to Last. We are one of only five barbells in the world that are certified by the IWF for competition. What really sets us apart is that our TRAINING bars and plates are ALSO certified by the IWF for training halls and warm-up rooms at IWF events. That way, we can offer the exact same quality in our training sets as our competition sets and do so at a much lower price. We also offer a line of bars and plates that are still top quality, but not as expensive. We primarily deal in kilograms, but also offer plates in pounds as well. We even offer custom plates for that individual touch. The best testimonial for our weights is that they have been used at all our national USA Weightlifting events for the past six years and the athletes love them! Check out our website at # for a complete listing of all of our products!

MP: Thanks for the interview Leo. We look forward to having you as a part of team EliteFTS and providing the readers with much needed info on Olympic Weightlifting.