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This week on Barbell Shrugged we sit down with one of our long-time training and business mentors, the founder and CEO of inc., Dave Tate.

Paying it back

I think Dave would be the first to admit that he’s been around for a long time. He actually got his start in the sport of powerlifting back in 1983 at the age of 13, which is extraordinary. A group of local Ohio lifters saw some promise and invited him to be a part of their crew.

As Dave recalls on the show, he never performed a single squat without great lifters around to coach him and correct form. These guys also taught him about training, how to compete and fight, and of course, how to give the knowledge back.

This history forms the foundation of elitefts. It’s why the core mission of the company will always pivot around free education. As Dave say’s, “These guys took the time to help me out, without expecting anything in return. All I’m trying to do is pay that back.”

At Westside

We couldn’t pass up the chance to talk with Dave about his time at Westside Barbell.

He was actually the very first lifter to move to Columbus Ohio to Train with Louie Simmons. He witnessed the introduction of the floor and board press to the Westside arsenal. He was also one of the first lifters to experiment with extreme chain and band loads.

In reality, it might be more accurate to say that Dave was one of the first subjects in Lou’s training experiments.

That intensity is actually what people think about first when they think of Westside, and for good reason. The training was extreme. Injuries in the gym were almost as common as the fights. But much of that has changed.

As Dave says on the show, he’s glad to be part of a legacy at Westside. Yes, he experienced his fair share of wear and tear, but his efforts and experiences are now helping to build a new generation of world-class, mostly injury free lifters.

You have to remain coachable, even as a coach. Next to Dave, Louie has been around for longer than anyone can actually remember. He’s in his mid 60’s now, and still shows up to train and coach just about every day of his life. He remains incredible passionate, and most importantly, highly open to learning and experimentation.

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Dave shared a quick story that highlights Louie’s approach to training.

He remembers one of his training partners getting a pec injury before a competition. On speed bench day, this lifter was forced to reduce his training loads from the usual 315-365 pounds, down to about 275 pounds. This was he could still get some work in without aggravating the injury. The surprise came on meet day, when this guy made a 40 pounds record on the bench press. Needless to say, Louie took note. He always notices. Pretty soon everyone in the gym was lifting lighter, getting stronger, and feeling much better.

Dave made this point very clear. He doesn’t regret any of his injuries or past mistakes. He knows that it has made him a better lifter, businessman and mentor. It helped create a foundation for a brand new generation of lifters at Westside, like our buddy AJ Roberts.

Each experiment, injury and moment of adversity was priceless and precious. In short, it made everything possible.

Your training philosophy

Dave has some amazing advice for young coaches.

First, you MUST build a wide knowledge base by getting educated. If you understand the basics of physiology and mechanics, then you’ll always be able to tell if someone is full of shit or not.

That’s super helpful when you’re looking around for jobs and mentors, right?

With that knowledge base you’ll be able to interpret and administer proven strength training programs that you know will get results for your athletes and clients. But all the while, year by year, you will rapidly accumulate lessons and experiences of your very own. You will find out exactly what works for you, and what doesn’t. Trust that. In time, your very own training philosophy will emerge and that’s a very precious and unique thing indeed.

Dave, we had a blast shooting this show. Next time around we’ll have to do some training.



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