Jim Voronin is known for his big lifts and his enormous neck. One of those things hasn’t changed through the years: his neck, which once measured more than 25 inches, is still 21 inches around.

But Voronin’s life looks much different today than it did when he started powerlifting back in 1983. Currently a high school assistant principal, Voronin mainly lifts lighter weights and does cardio simply to maintain his health. He doesn’t do much coaching or heavy lifting anymore. Back in the '80s and '90s when he was competing, however, Voronin participated in some of the biggest competitions around the world, from the United States to England to South Africa and beyond.

The world of powerlifting also looks different today than it did back then. In a recent conversation Voronin recalled, “Back then, it was much different. You had to make phone calls to gyms, read about meets in Powerlifting USA, meet people at meets, and network to find training partners.”

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Though times were different, the culture helped Voronin become a successful powerlifter and strongman competitor. The highlights of his powerlifting career include totaling 2292 pounds at the 1999 APF Senior Nationals in Daytona, Florida. He also enjoyed competing internationally in South Africa. In addition to reaching those milestone lifts, he also was proud of the fact that they were performed on a world stage, against world-class competition, to world standards, after traveling.

Voronin’s powerlifting journey started after, as a spectator, he attended the 1979 World's Strongest Man competition and watched Bill Kazmaier and Don Reinholdt. From there, he began looking up to other lifters like Mike Webster and started getting involved with powerlifting as a sport in 1983. His first official meet was the ADFPA qualifying meet in Texas in 1985.

Aside from the lifters, Voronin looked up to early in his powerlifting days, there were plenty of other individuals who impacted his journey. Voronin recalled, “After doing my own thing training-wise for about four years and not going anywhere, I met a fellow lifter named Scott Warman in 1989. He invited me to come train with him, and it was Scott’s knowledge and input that made the difference. It also was Scott that suggested I adopt the reverse grip bench after I tore my pec while training for the 1997 WPC World Championships in South Africa. After about two years using a reverse grip, my bench not only came back but actually went up. Scott and I trained together for ten years.”

chuck v XPCs

Voronin also trained with lifters who demonstrated great intensity and noted that Chuck Vogelpohl was one of the craziest, most intense lifters he ever saw compete. He said, “Chuck was one of the nicest most down to earth guys to talk to, but when it came to lifting it was all business. He could flip a switch like nobody else.”

All of those individuals and more contributed to Voronin’s own intensity and success in the lifting world, but of course, the actual training was the most essential part of the equation. Voronin’s training started off in the late '80s. Back then, he was doing mostly linear progression style training and did basically whatever he felt like doing. Then he switched to progressive overload style training. He also picked up some tactics from the Westside VHS tapes and implemented those into his training in the mid-'90s.

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Though he doesn’t train with the same intensity anymore, Voronin still has a finger on the pulse of the powerlifting world. He doesn’t necessarily like what he sees, though, describing today’s lifters as unappreciative of how easy it is to get information and knowledge nowadays, social media being one of the contributing factors to that culture. Voronin acknowledges that, while online platforms do offer access to a lot of information and networking opportunities, they also introduce a lot of negative factors into the process and often hurt things.

Overall, he said that he misses the old school days of lifting. And maybe today’s lifters who look back on Voronin and his contemporaries will pick up a thing or two, just as Voronin did back in the early days of his own lifting career. 

Best Competition Lifts

Squat: 924 pounds
Bench press: 700 pounds and 600 pounds (reverse grip)
Deadlift: 755 pounds
Total: 2292 pounds