by Marty SchnorfSteve Gough Interview - Part ISteve was asked about his background in sports andhow he got started in weightlifting, who some of thelifters he coached were and what they had done, howhe would describe his traininmg philosophy, and a littleabout some of the coaches who had an influence onhim as far as his training philosophy, and his thoughtsabout the OTC program.In future questions, we will ask Steve more about histraining philosophy and some lifters he has watchedwho impressed him, and his ideas on improving liftingin the US.Marty: Thank you for the opportunity, though I mustsay that it is you who is really helping our sport withyour out-in-the-front leadership. The old refrain "that itis the squeaky wheel that gets the grease" seems notto be the case with USAWeightlifting. Sometimes itseems that what we say is falling on deaf ears. Andthen again there is anecdotal evidence that what wehave to say is being heard (and acted upon) by morethan just a few of our more open-minded peers. Ibelieve that it will take the power of the voting booth,aka the BOG, to determine whether or not our peersare really listening... and believing. Then and only thenwill GoHeavy really be reaching its potential.I will try to answer your questions fully. I will confessthat often times I tend to leave out much that maybepertinent... a penchant of the wandering and agingmind I suspect.As a kid growing up in San Francisco much of mylife was filled with playing organized basketball andbaseball,along with stickball, strikeouts, pickup gamesof hunch, touch football (always running up the steephill I lived on). CYO had a lot to do with the organizedpart and in particular certain individuals (adult men)who freely gave up their time (and probably money).The example set by those men had a profound impacton me in later years when it game to be my turn to domy duty, to do my part. I still feel that way.As for weightlifting, in the late 50's one of myneighbors built a small gym in his garage. And oftentimes we tried to emulate the Konos, Emrichs,Schmanskis, etc in the old Strength and Health. Yet, Iwas unaware of any competitive goings-on in my areaat the time. In late '65 I enlisted in the Marine Corps,subsequently going to Vietnam later in '66 andspending almost the entire year of '67 in-country. Morethan any single entity the Marine Corps gave me therealization of just what a man could do, how much hecould withstand, both physically and emotionally. Whatpeople could do working together for a common goal,even under the most trying of circumstance.I became a San Francisco policeman in January of'69 and within a year or so I started to lift weightsagain. In San Francisco there was really only oneplace to lift weights seriously... and that was JimSchmitz's Sports Palace. Meeting Jim Schmitz broughton a 35 year friendship, which exists to this very day.Jim had a profound impact on me and when I begancoaching years later it was his basic format that Ibegan with. Training in an environment loaded withNational Champions, recold holders and Olympians(the likes of Ken Clark, Mario Martinez, Dan Cantore,Bruce Wilhem and on and on and on) tends to giveone a different perspective... a perspective whichholds few bounds.. The Sports Palce of those dayswas a competitive environment that did much to shapemy thinking and subsequently help produce very goodresults later on in my coaching career.Never having formal training or schooling as far asour sport goes I was always particularly keen ondigesting the experience, thoughts and methods ofothers. From Jim Schmitz's basic three days a weektraining I added a day... soon I added another. Whynot? I loved this coaching thing. The Angel Spassovvisit further ignited the learning process, expandingthe known limits of training capacity beyond anything Ihad seen so far in my w/l experience. Then Lyn Jonesand Drago came aboard and good things really startedto happen. I use to bend Drago's ear on a near-dailybasis... especially when some of my more talentedjuniors went to the OTC. But, it was actually a LynJones article in Bob Hise's magazine about theBulgarian training system that really opened up myeyes. I had always tended to drive my lifters towardsthe extreme. But that included besides the lifts everyassistant exercise you could think of. But so many ofthose assistance exercises I could never reallyunderstand the why's, the wherefore's, the when's toplace them in your scheme of things. Then herecomes along the best lifting country in the worldsaying to forget them entirely. Made sense to me, atleast enough to give it a try.My first real go at it was with my son Tom (82.5)and my super lifter Jasha Faye as they both preparedfor the '91 Junior Worlds a few weeks away. Schoolinterfered with doing Jones interpretation verbatum, soI broke it up somewhat and gave it a shot. As I lookback I concede it was a "killer," too tough at the timefor Jasha to handle, and yet, Tom really took off withit. Mind you, I steered this effort without a really goodgrip on the dynamics involved, not realizing all the littlenuiances, etc etc. I was coaching from a magazinearticle not really knowing the why's the Bulgarians didit this way, only knowing that they did.In approx a two week period Tom went from a 132.5snatch to 142.5 (straps) and from 165 C&J to 175C&J. Outstanding to say the least. It was a rush job,quite frankly, fueled by Toms own incredible drive andtoughness. I was jumping the gun on a system thatwould actually take me years to understand, and reallynever quite master.For several years all my best juniors went to theOTC (Tom, Jasha, Pete (Pietro) Sciano, Tom Loganand subsequently followed by Jason Kristol in thelatter part of the 90's. With the best off in Mecca, therewere lean years at the old' Marin Training Center, untilfortune brought back Jasha from the OTC and thecoming together of Jasha, John (Barney) Tremblay,the great Jeff Michaels, Dan Lang, Dave Conragan,Louie Nave and to a lesser extent Kevin Winters (whoI had worked with over the years) and John Coniffamong others. All vying for a shot at the '96 OlympicTrials. Five made it from the Marin Training Center'steam, with three more on the bubble. It was a mostexciting and satisfying time for me in our sport. Thefunny thing about the system that I have come toemploy is that it doesn't necessarily rely on anycreative genius on my part. I was fortunate enough tohave intelligent, driven athletes. I put it out there thelevel they needed to reach and they went after it and,for the most part, succeeded. You know the ol' "youcan lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'emdrink."For some, school got in the way, jobs got in theway, distance and travel got in the way, familycommitments/responsibilities got in the way. Thesituation was never perfect ala say the OTC. But spiritand fire and determination were never lacking. It iseasier to explain by citing our three supers (jasha,barney and jeff). All trained together, by and largefollowing the same outline, ie, snatch, C&J and squat.To quote a recent Jeff Michael's recollection "it waslike competing in a meet against each other threedays a week, every week for nine months." Thesessions ususally concentrated on one lift and squat.Every session was intense, self-driven, yet alwaysmutually driven by three individuals who couldn't standlosing to their training partners, no matter what theendeavor, no matter how fatigued, how wornout,whether attempting something never tried before orsomething that defeated them that day, over and over.And all done with a smile, an occasional flash of anger(though rare), a ton of barbs and more humor thanSNL. Some of the hightlights training-wise was thethree of them pushing/driving/compelling each other toa 160 snatch and/or a 200 kg C&J in a trainingsession. Not particulary great weights except whenyou realize that Jeff was approx 35 years of age andcoming off a long lay off. Or Barney pushing 30 with apassel of kids to feed all the while working late nightsand less than three years in the sport and never reallyable to devote near enough time to train. And Jasha,having left the OTC in early summer of '95, a couple ofbulging disks in his lower back, torn pec and shoulder,disheartened after only a 137.5 snatch at theNationals and ready to hang up his lifting shoes (onlyto come back and nail 165 at the OLY Trials thefollowing year).The dynamic really hasn't changed, except thatmore training sessions are added that we weren't ableto do before. There is more attention to rest periodsgiven throughout the course of a workout. And bothlifts are attempted each training session. Thephilosophy is quite simple.... three days per week(preferrably pm), snatch, rest, c&J, rest, squat, restsnatch and so one with occasional fine-tuning andsome alterations of sequence, depending on.... well Ihope you get the picture. Morning sessions of thosethree days are shorter and at a lesser intensity.Alternate days less intense yet, sometimes utilizingpower movements depending on the individualsneeds. The process was and is to find what each lifterhad/has in his tank and bring it out of him. Targetweights are attacked. And if the competitiveenvironment can draw even more, then so be it. If onecan't seem to quite reach it, then consider the optionsof which there may be many. Options I sometimes useinclude: reset your target weights or stoppingaltogether (if warranted) or dropping down and comingbackup (whether using the same sequence or aslightly different one where you think applicable) orcoming back for another session (and another if fitenough and warranted). Often times we will hold animpromtu meet with targeted attempts followed by acomplete training session or conversely, a completetraining session followed by an impromptu meet...always trying to mimic that competitve situation andseriousness of purpose.When to push on, when to call it? What are youlooking to get out of this training session? Is itreasonable? In the larger scheme of things will it helpyou reach your goal? How's the energy level (bothphysical and emotional)? Will one more help youtoday, yet hurt you tomorrow? When is enough,enough? or not enough? These are questions Iimagine that our more successful foreign counterpartsmust ask themselves. These are questions that I askmyself. Time is of the essence, waste it and you willnot get it back. Which brings up the question of theOTC. You can't but help get the feeling that there is nosense of urgency coming from the very place whoseevery effort should be one of urgent necessity. If ourlives depended on their modus operandi we would beexactly where USAWeightlifting is in internationalrankings... all bet dead and buried. It takes courage tolead, especially if you are wracked by indecision,afraid to take steps not affirmed by the status quo. Butthe status quo is the very reason we are where we findourselves. Fifteen years ago our leadership took thechance and brought in qualified (or so we thought)people to get the ball rolling. We had sucess and iintime it ran its course. Time does not stand still. Wehave to do it again, and again, and again if need beuntil we get it right. Search and find those willing andable. We have to support those people all the whileholding their feet to the fire. We have to create andmaintain a sense of urgency until there is no longer aneed. There is no other way.As a final note, some of the athletes I have coachedfrom inception are: Tom Gough (Olympian, world jrs,srs, pan ams, many time record holder, winner SilverDragon) Jasha Faye ( Super Natl jr champ and nat jrrecold holder, jr worlds), Pete Sciano (natl jr champand record holder, jr worlds), Tim Logan (natl jurchamp and record holder), Jason Kristol (super nat jrchamp, record holder, bronze medalist jr worlds).Chris Marie (french super nat champ record holder),Justin Braun (super nat coll champ), John Tremblay(super '96 oly trials), Dave Conragan ('97 Sr Natchamp).I have also coached/trained hands-on: Ric Eaton(87 Pan Ams, 88 oly trials), Kevin Winters (88 olytrials), Jeff Michaels (95 amer, 96 nat champs, olytrials), John Coniff (gold medalists '95 sr nats C&J, 96oly trials), and Dan Lang (nat level competitor silvermed nat chmps,etc) Matt Thompson (super, 2000NACCI)SteveSteve Gough Interview - Part IITell us more about how Tom (Gough) trained near hispeak. What were his best in front/back squats? Whatare your thoughts about the OTC and Tom's and yourexperience there?One thing I have heard about training at the OTC isthat almost all of the lifters train the same irrespectiveof their weaknesses. True? Agree or disagree? Why?Tom was a resident of the OTC twice (91-92 and 94-2000)) and was in Dragomir's hands until the last yearor two when Tom started to apply his own take onwhat I had been preaching. Tom and Dragomir had ahistory/habit of butting heads of which I got to witnessfirst hand several times. The relationship put a pallover the whole experience, yet Tom trained well rightup to the Games. Unfortunately, it didn't really pay offtill he reached Sydney where he was in excellentshape. But, alas, he didn't get to lift there and wenever got to find out what he really could have done.I would much rather you talk to Tom directly andget it straight from the horse's mouth as much of mycontribution was mainly by telephone. Although, in1999 I spent two and a half months at the OTCworking with him daily in prep for the Athens Worlds.Tom created an unusual approach after the 2000 Olytrials leading up to the Games.... basically, on Mon,Wed and Friday mornings he would snatch120x1,140x1,160x1 (Apparently getting to the point ofbeing rote). His confidence with the big jumpsreminded me somewhat of David Rigert after Munich(Rigert was one of Tom's heroes). Tom has alwaysbeen very strong mentally with the weights. Just askRandy Strossen of Milo who trained with us duringTom's early stages of his lifting career. The pmsessions would find him snatching up to 170 kgs. Idon't recall his C&Js and squatting poundages for thatperiod, but in an effort to improve his jerk (which costhim in Atlanta and Thailand dearly) he would jerk offthe blocks to the point he one day advised me hejerked 200 kgs for triples and one set for 5. Once therehe called me routinely from Australia where in one ofthe last weeks of training leading up to the Games hehad worked up to 170 kgs in the snatch and 210 in theC&J on both his heavy workouts that week. He wasvery excited and confident, planning on moving up to175/177.5 and 215 for the following week which wasto be his last hvy training sessions before tapering offsomewhat for competition. His bodyweight was alwayskept at 94 kgs due to his experience at Atlanta comingin way too heavy a week out (6 kgs over) and costinghim unnecessarily. In Australia Tom was moreconfident than I had ever known him to be before. Hewas now routinely handling a 380 total approx twice aweek and determined to up that to 390 or better on the"big day." Not quite the 400 kg level that the medaldais demanded, but respectable, very respectable. Itis too bad that he hadn't gone that route several yearsbefore. I've always felt that both he and Wes reallymissed out by not putting the pedal-to-the-metal rightater Atlanta. There you are... that sense of urgencythat I have mentioned to you previously. Honest toGod I don't know what we are waiting for.His best BS was 272.5 X2 or 3. His best FS was240 kgs (several days ago we talked about it and hereminded me that it was very easy). He actually c&jed215 in training at that time, weighing in the high 90's inprep for the '97 Worlds. At those WorldChampionships he twice cleaned 212.5 for the bronzeonly to miss the jerk. Dragomir would subsequentlyrelate to me that they got to Thailand way too late, notime to acclimate, possibly costing him that medal.Drago's sentiments at the time, not mine. Too bad!Tom had developed a real discomfort in his leftupper back (rhomboid area?) over the last couple ofyears in his career and wound up front squattingsoley. A position of which I have advocated for yearsnow.As far as the OTC and one size (routine) fits all...I do not especially find fault with one size fits all if (anda big if) you are training under a Bulgarian styleapproach. After all, what is the name of the game? butsnatch and clean and jerk. Of course subtle and not sosubtle differences in fitness levels and general talentfor either lift may dictate a somewhat differentapproach for certain individuals, yet they will allconcentrate on the lifts and at a very high intensity.But if not utilizing the Bulgarian approach what do yougenerally see, especially in American lifters? For mymoney I see a lack of real speed and explosiveness(at least not where it could and should be). Anapparent unfamiliarity lifting big/max weights as amatter of course in one's training on a regular basis.And as a result of that lack of a heavy lifting history intraining an almost certain TIMIDNESS when it comesto the international platform and challenging the "bigdogs." My real criticism of the OTC and the trainingmethods/philosophy employed would be that "it is notworking, it has not worked for years. And no oneseems to want to rectify it, much less admit it." Thereis an incredible rigid inflexibility in our thinking,bordering on and including self-denial. Yes, theemperor has no clothes, but apparently he refuses tolook in the mirror and see himself for what he is.