Sunday, 21 June 2009

Ahmed Abukhater Interview

Today is a great and happy day for me as I have just finished interviewing another of my favourite Powerlifters. I am so happy and know you will be to when you read this great interview with Ahmed Abukhater the Palestinian Powerlifting Champion.

In such a short period of time Ahmed Abukhater has achieved so much and I feel he is such an inspiration to others for his achievements in both the powerlifting and academic world.

Please join me in the enjoyment of my latest interview.

What made you start out in Powerlifting and how old were you?

I was 14 when I started weightlifting with my younger brother, Mustafah, and we both gradually got into powerlifting. My idle in powerlifting (and a whole bunch of other things) is my father who introduced me to weightlifting at a very young age. The first Palestinian uprising was in full swing then and he knew I had tremendous academic potential that could easily be lost to the political violence enveloping them at the time.

Weightlifting gave me a physical release, but also helped focus my mind. However, I do not train continuously due to other obligations, so it’s pretty much touch and go. Since then, I have been proactively involved in training myself and others.

How did you become professional?

Well, my first real competition was in 2003, after which point I competed at the national level in 2004, where I placed first. Since then, I have competed in many championships and held many regional, national and world titles, and set national and world records. In 2006, I was the first power lifter to represent Palestine in the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) World Championship. I benched 452 lbs in the 2007 and 2008 World Championships, which won the division and set a new Palestinian national record.

Most recently, I set a new Palestinian record with a 502lb bench press. I was almost speechless when I saw the Palestinian flag displayed proudly and clearly among the flags of other nations in a fair athletic competition. It was indeed a dream come true. Now, I serve as the Chairman of the State of Texas WABDL (World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters) and established my own powerlifting team (Texas professional powerlifting team). We are very small yet selective group of lifters.

What is your favorite exercise in the gym?

Generally, it is bench press (surprise!). Yeah, I pretty much like all exercises that involve heavy lifting. My favorite exercise does not stay the same. It is rather a moving target depending on my level of training, and it is unusually the one that I hate the most that becomes my favorite. This is because the exercise that you hate (which means that you are not good at) is usually your weakest point and the one that you need to focus on more to improve your overall strength – a little wise advice from my father.

What are your personal bests and your weight:

Your Weight: 198lbs
Squat: 630lbs
Bench Press: 610lbs
Deadlift: 705lbs

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

If and when I have time, I usually train three days a week (1-2 hours each), alternating focus on different body parts. For example, one day I may train for chest and biceps, the other for shoulders, back and triceps, and the other is for legs. During times of preparation for an upcoming championship, my training changes slightly, in that it focuses more on heavy lifting. For example, before a bench press meet I follow the following bench press training program (or something similar to that):

1- Max effort day (without shirt): work up to 1 or 3 reps with supplemental triceps, lats, and delts exercise with high volume.
2- Dynamic Bench Training: this includes a variety of exercises
3- Max effort bench training (with shirt): this day is exclusively dedicated to heavy bench press including:

- two warm-up sets (135lbs)
- one set/ 15 reps (225lbs)
- one set/ 3-5 reps (315lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (500lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ one rep (max weight)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ one rep (max weight)

I rest during the last week prior to the meet to let my muscles recoup.

Where do you see your future as you have already achieved so much?

I will definitely continue to compete and up my records, while managing a career and a family life at the same time. As I already started my own team, I look forward to imparting my experience in powerlifting to others who really want to learn and become professional in this sport. Having my own gym is a long term goal of mine that I would really like to attain at some point in my life. Being able to give the opportunity that I had to train and compete on a world scale to other young athletes in Palestine and other disenfranchised regions is an ultimate goal of mine.

With my PhD and experience that focus on a topic about which I am most passionate – water allocation equity in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, another prominent goal is near and dear to my heart, which is to promote “a vision of peace through equitable allocation of disputed natural resources.”

My family is the most important thing to me. I have a loving wife and two beautiful sons who I adore and dearly enjoy spending time with. I would not trade my time with them for anything, except of course powerlifting … just kidding ;)

Do you have any words of motivation for our readers?

Stay on target. With persistence, you can do anything you put your mind to. The three key ingredients for a successful powerlifting training experience is (1) setting a training goal; (2) having a training program; and (3) being consistent with your training and diet (very pivotal to gaining strength). Make up time to train and do not let your busy life (no matter how busy it is) deter you from achieving your training goals. You can always find time to train.

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