With a last name like Pounds, its no wonder Evan became a weightlifter. The 22 year old, 94 kilogram lifter is slated to compete at this year’s Nationals in just a few weeks. We caught up with him to learn more about his background and his training as well as how he turned himself into a national level lifter.
Originally, this interview was meant to be a part of an article on a few men who qualified for Nationals, but Evan was so thorough and captivating in his answers that we decided to share the original interview with you. It’s not often we get true insight into how national level athletes think and how their thought process drives their success. Hopefully you find Evan’s interview as inspiring and as motivating as we have and that it positively impacts your own goals and training.
Name: Evan Pounds
Weight Class: 94 kg
Team affiliation: East Coast Gold
Coach: Leo Totten/ Pat Maizels
When you qualified and name of that meet: 2015 American Open
Total at that meet: 295 kg (130 snatch/165 clean and jerk)
Previous Nationals you’ve attended: 2014
Previous American Open meets you’ve competed in: 2015
How long you’ve been lifting and what got you interested in starting in the first place?
I met Greg Lobotsky, head coach and owner of Poughkeepsie Crossfit, while I was a freshmen at Marist College in 2012. Greg introduced me to CrossFit as well as the lifts, and I instantly fell in love (not with Greg). At that time I couldn’t go to CrossFit everyday because I didn’t have a car on campus. I ended up programming CrossFit workouts for myself at the university gym, which subconsciously turned into full out lifting sessions with some conditioning at the end. I competed in local CrossFit competitions for about a year, and one day Greg asked me if I wanted to participate at a USA-W sanctioned meet a week after my last CrossFit competition. I couldn’t have said yes fast enough. We drove four hours, I got my ass kicked in Lancaster Pennsylvania, and the rest is history.
What other athletic background do you have? Has that helped your lifting? How so?
I played team sports my whole life (lacrosse, football, some basketball, and a ton of youth sports). Diversifying team sports are incredibly important in my opinion for a budding youth athlete. I show my nine year old brother Eli the lifts from time to time as fun, but that’s all. [At that age] it’s about having fun, learning how to work hard with other people, and working towards a common goal.
When you first started Olympic lifting, what aspect did you most struggle with?
Tough question. I’d say the toughest thing I had to deal with when starting was a general lack of guidance. I wanted to know how to be excellent so bad, but qualified weightlifting coaches are rarely close in proximity. I was smart enough to travel and learn from people such as Leo Totten, Patrick Maizels, and Donny Shankle to name a few… but yeah, I’d say guidance in how to train and formalized leadership is what I was lacking when I first started lifting.
Do you remember what your first meet was like? Your total?
Hahaha. I went 86/116 and I passed out on my last clean & jerk at 120 kg… It was an awesome experience. I lifted against Adam Beytin and I was blown away at how someone could easily snatch what I was failing to clean and jerk. Since then I have snatched 145 kg in training, clean and jerked 175 kg, and cleaned 182 kg.
How has your platform presence/confidence changed over time?
This has probably been my single biggest change as an athlete. All my life I was never alone in playing sports. There really is nothing like being there on that platform alone, with a tight singlet on, being asked to push as hard as you can in these incredible complex and heavy movements with the light shining on you in front of all of these people. When I first started, it was challenging to channel the intensity of the moment, and you have to walk the line between nerves and courage. I have learned to love this aspect of lifting. When I walk out on the national stage, I feel world class. I feel like I was put on this planet to lift these weights and its what all the countless hours of training are for. When you step on a platform, it is an absolute necessity to mentally bring your A game.
What does a typical training day look like for you now?
My training is relatively simple. It typically consists of squatting to a heavy single or double, then doing a classical lift (snatch or clean & jerk) or some variation of it, then an overhead or pulling variation followed by any accessory lifts I may need to address. Every lift I do in training is always to maximum effort whether it is a 5 rep squat or a Snatch complex. I based most of my training on how I feel that day while following the principles I was taught by my coaches.
Outside of Olympic lifting, what do you do and what impact does that have on your lifting?
Like most other lifters in the United States, lifting is not my only responsibility. I am getting my masters degree and coach early in the mornings to late at night. I still find a way to train everyday, often twice a day. It can get tiresome and difficult to recover properly with all I do outside of training but following the words from my father, “either you will make it happen, or you won’t” puts my willingness to train into perspective.
What goal do you have for Nationals?
My goal approaching any competition is to win. I recognize that there are many excellent competitors in the United States especially in my weight class, but viewing them as my direct competition now will only push me to become a better athlete leading into that competition. That being said, my more specific goals are to post a pr total, and that’s about as extensive as it gets. I don’t really care if I go 6 for 6.
What do you want to do in the future regarding lifting?
I chose to get my degree in strength & conditioning so that I could surround my life with lifting somehow in the future. As an athlete, I want to be a national champion, but I would like weightlifting to innervate my career in some fashion as well. I have not fully figured out how to approach this, but weightlifting has become my life, and I want to keep it that way.
What advice would you give to someone who dreams of making the American Open or Nationals?
You need to love weightlifting. If your goals are to win, which any worthwhile athlete aspire to do, then qualifying for these meets shouldn’t matter. The totals are posted for a reason. Do not approach these national qualifiers as a means to participate at high level competition. You should have a harsh desire to win, and the rest will take care of itself. [Whenever I qualified for a national level meet], I did not intend to do so. My main goal was to out lift my competitors at that meet. For instance, at the 2015 American Open, I only put on the bar what would allow me to win my session. I did not think for a second [about] what would qualify me for the following National championships. It was only until the meet was over that I realized I had qualified.
How has lifting changed your life?
Weightlifting has been an avenue for me to become to best version of myself. My parents made me the person I am, and weightlifting has been a way to me to develop that person further, and truly express what my parents have created. The best people that I’ve met, the best fun that I’ve had, the largest obstacles I’ve overcome in life mentally and physically all come from weightlifting. At the end of the day, weightlifting is a sport. Although it will beat you down in every way, it is most of all, a lesson. I need to take those punches, stand up and still be a good friend, brother, student etc. In short, weightlifting is the best thing that ever happened to me.
If you could credit your success in weightlifting to one thing, what would it be?
This is a very tough question. I think coach says it best. You need to be an absolutely ferocious competitor. There is nothing you do in weightlifting that is given. You have to be stubborn, intelligent, athletic, but most of all, you have to have a will to show up and be better in the gym every single day, no matter how beat up you get.
Can you tell me anything about your nutrition/recovery/ sleep/mental game?
I don’t follow any strict diet. I eat a lot of meat, drink a lot of milk, and sleep as much as I am able with my schedule. I think my mental game is my best attribute as a weightlifter, and I find I am adept at being able to focus/ calm myself/ have a good time when it is appropriate.
What makes you unique from other lifters?
I’m not sure how unique you would consider this per se. but I manage to make training the best part of my day, every day. I have seen lifters dread training and hate going into the gym. While my body will ache and getting under the bar will be tough, the gym is still the place where I feel most confident. I’m in my element there no matter how terrible training is going.
The Barbell Press would like to thank Evan for giving us permission to share this interview with all of you. We wish you the best of luck at Nationals! Once the start list is out, we will publish the days and time that Evan is lifting for anyone who would like to watch him lift some heavy weight!