AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID JENKINSON
Interviewed by Alexander Clarke
I’d like to start with a brief introduction as to who David Jenkinson is for the benefit of those of you who don’t know. David is a powerlifter and a very good one at that. He’s been competing in powerlifting for only two years but his competitive accolades are already amongst the most impressive of any strength athlete in the UK.
David recently broke the all-federation British total record with a huge total of 940kg whilst competing at the GPC World Championships in Las Vegas. As if that weren’t enough, the same total earned Dave ninth place on the all-time highest total list in the 110kg class; he is Britain’s most dominant powerlifter at just 27 years old.
When I visited Bulk’s Gym, I was astounded by just how mature and wise David seems for 27. He displays a combination of confidence, wisdom and humility which probably accounts for a lot of the success he’s earned whilst also making him a very likable guy.
Naturally, I was very keen to find out more about David’s journey through the sport and just what makes him tick. So, Dave and I caught up online for an interview; here it is....
AC: Hi Dave, itʼs awesome to have the chance to interview you. Iʼm sure the readers are dying to know how you got so strong and what makes you tick. So first thingʼs first, who's your favorite boy band?
DJ: Hi Alex, great question to start with *laughs*, without a doubt, it’s Backstreet Boys.
AC: Okay, onto more serious stuff..... You started off doing Judo and American Football didnʼt you? Tell me about how you got into those.
DJ: I started gymnastics when I was five and started judo shortly after. I can't remember how I got into Judo but my sport as a child was always gymnastics. I finished competing in gymnastics at 15, at which point I started lifting. The year after this, England won the Rugby World Cup which sparked my interest so i joined a local rugby club, Sittingbourne. I did this for a few years whilst continuing to lift weights. A friend of mine mentioned that an American football team had formed in Canterbury, The East Kent Mavericks, and asked if I wanted to try out for them. I played American football for only a few seasons before I then became interested in MMA. I had three MMA bouts, one at heavy weight then two at light heavy weight. i dropped a lot of weight for this, and when my best friend, James Gilbert dragged me back to the weights room, I was disgusted at how weak I had become. He teased me in fact. After that, I was on a mission.
AC: You've got a pretty broad background, how far did you get in each sport?
DJ: So, Gymnastics, i competed at Lilleshall twice for men’s six piece. Rugby, i briefly played at country level. American football, I played one international game against France. Judo, i competed at the national teams event in Kendall (I did appallingly) MMA, i went 3-0 and now i powerlift.
AC: Wow. Remind me never to make you angry. I remember hearing Dan Green mention that he did gymnastics all the way through his childhood, which leads me onto my next question: do you feel the sports you played when you were younger have benefited you mentally and physically now, in your powerlifting career?
DJ: Without a doubt! Gymnastics taught me how to use my body from a very young age, also competing regularly taught me how to switch on/off come comp/game day.
AC: Did you have much support when you were competing in sports as a kid, and do you think it's important to have a supportive family?
DJ: I was very fortunate to have supportive parents when i was growing up, and still to this day my Dad is super supportive in my sporting endeavors. Without my family, i wouldn't have been able to achieve half the things that i have.
AC: Cool, before we move onto Powerlifting, did you pick up any injuries whilst playing the sports you did as a kid?
DJ: Thankfully not, other than I got my elbow popped at the National teams in Judo. Being hungover on the matt was not a wise choice!
AC: Oh, one more! You seem pretty intelligent, what's your educational background like?
DJ: I get through life using spell check, a calculator and google. *laughs* A levels are my highest qualifications.
AC: Well, you seem to be doing alright, maybe you don't need to spend thousands of pounds at uni to succeed in life. So, your first powerlifting meet, what made you decide to do it and how did you do?
DJ: Ego, all ego. I really enjoy the bench press and someone down at the gym wanted to have a bet to see who could bench 200kg first. Which i did, then he said is doesn’t count as it’s not in a competition. I replied that i have taken off my leotard and i shan’t be putting one back on. So I watched a local push/pull that was held in the summer of 2013. Instantly, I regretted not doing it. So I waited for the Christmas push/pull to be held and I entered that one, I managed a 205kg bench and a 300kg deadlift at 114kg BW. I thoroughly enjoyed it and looked for a full power meet as soon as I left the hall.
AC: Well, it's probably a good thing that the guy egged you on, everything happens for a reason. Youʼve got a great gym to train from in Bulkʼs. How long have you been training there and who helped/coached you when you first got into powerlifting?
DJ: I love Bulks and it’s a great facility to train at. I started training there full time from time January this year. My first 'coach' was an old guy called Derek Roast who is now known only as the Colonel! He earned that name. He doesn’t care where it is, what exercise is being performed or how heavy it is, it’s all form form form, after the GPC worlds in Vegas, he still told me off for form! I owe a lot to him as his outlook towards powerlifting has shaped my approach/philosophy to it.
AC: In terms of training, what has your approach been like over the past couple of years? How many days per week do you train, how frequently do you train each lift, and do you do much assistance work?
DJ: My approach has changed greatly, When i first started I did 4x5 on all three one week, then 3x4 the next week and so on and so on. I have moved from linear approach to a slightly more conjugated style. But the biggest change to my training has been treating the three lifts as separate exercises regarding sets/ reps, volume and deloading.
Until recently, i trained four times a week, 2 bench, 2 squat and deadlifts after a squat session. Now, I tend to hit my primary and secondary barbell movement one day, then assistance the next. I do a lot of assistance work, pretty much standard bodybuilding stuff.
AC: Okay, so which lift gets the most volume, which the least and which requires the most and least deloading?
DJ: In terms of frequency and total reps, the bench receives the most volume and deadlift the least. And similar for deloading, i find for me, the deadlift requires a longer deload and the bench a shorter one.
AC: Awesome, how about nutrition? Do you follow a set plan or do you stay big and lean by eating pretty much whatever you want?
DJ: Pretty much, I eat whatever I want. I believe you call it the #thebrownmethod
AC: *laughs* Hopefully the founder of The Brown Method will be sending in an article soon. So, tell me about your experience of the GPC World Championships in Vegas. How was the trip and cutting weight in a desert climate?
DJ: Hopefully it’s nutrition based, that would be a good read. Man, I loved the GPC Worlds and Vegas. Many people have their opinions regarding the Worlds, but from what I saw, there was a lot of PRs and a whole load more smiles. So in my eyes, it was a great meet, was it world stage worth? That’s up to the individual to decide. Cutting weight was fairly easy, she's gunna kill me for mentioning this, but Anna and I had a romantic date over a bottle of magnesium citrate. That stuff is magic, sat on the toilet at 246 and got off at 242 and weighed in at 241. She is now screaming at me because I missed all the good deeds she did for me to help put the weight back on *laughs*.
AC: Perhaps we'll interview her one day and she can list them all. She's technically British now, right?
DJ: She likes to think she is with her accent, but her table manners soon reveal her nationality *laughs*.
AC: *laughs* So obviously you were pretty happy with your performance at the World Championships. Did you know beforehand that a 940kg total would put you ninth on the all time total list at 110kg, or did you go in just hoping to win and get some PBs?
DJ: Actually bud, I’m not as happy as some people would think. I went out there with the expectation of finishing on a 940 total but my goal was 952.5kg (2100lb). If I’m honest, I treated that competition as i do any other, just focusing on getting better. I'd much rather come last with an improved total than win with a lesser performance. Your only competition is yourself.
AC: I don't think any of us would have guessed that you weren't 100% satisfied, but I guess that's the mark of a great athlete. However, ninth all time is pretty amazing and I'm sure people keep telling you that. Do you ever struggle to deal with this amount of success? Some get a kind of "imposter syndrome" or fear of success, is that you or are you the type of guy who's prepared to take all the good stuff in the sport that's coming his way?
DJ: Despite how my Facebook looks, I’m an introvert and I find it strange when people want a picture and treat me anything differently to how I’m used to. I don’t have a fear of success, because my total is not a measure of how successful I see myself. There is so much more to life than the platform but yes, I am prepared to take all the good stuff, it has given me so much already, job, friends and my partner.
AC: I think it's great for a lifter like yourself to be so genuinely humble. After the competition, did you and Anna celebrate and do you think it's important to have down time? This ties in quite nicely with a question we've had from Facebook: do you drink?
DJ: We did! We were in Vegas and it would be rude not too, we met up with some other lifters and had a great time, however celebrations had to wait until Anna had finished her second day of competing. After this, we did celebrate, we did drink, I was sick, i passed out to Jimmie [Pacifico] with a hangover and yes, we went back out for round two that evening. I don't drink often (maybe 5-6 times this year) and not normally to excess. I do feel it’s imperative to have down time, powerlifting is as much mental as it is physical. You rest your body, so why not rest the mind?
AC: A very wise lesson there, if an advanced lifter can benefit from down time, then a beginner/intermediate can too! How's your prep going for your next meet?
DJ: Prep has been a bit of a roller coaster for this one, it’s my first Equipped competition. I got fat and outgrew my shirt, I fell over squatting and my weight is up and down more than a whore’s knickers! I’m in prep for the BPU qualifier held at 1RM gym on the 13th, the goal is just to qualify for the WPC Eurpoeans next year.
AC: So, the transition to equipped... Have you enjoyed it, has it been difficult, what do you think about the rift between raw and equipped in powerlifting, and can a lifter benefit from doing both?
DJ: Have i enjoyed it?.......... It’s been emotional to say that least. As I squat wide and pull sumo, these have been the easiest for my transition. I absolutely love equipped squatting, it’s a rush having so much weight on my back. Deadlifts are cool too. However, the shirted bench feels so far removed to what I’m used to. Managing my body weight will be the biggest factor going forwards.
I really don’t understand the why there is a rift! I do feel both can help each other. if you are technically proficient raw, then it will help you transition to equipped. Manage your equipped training appropriately, and it’s like an over load for your raw training. But my problem with the rift is that the individuals that claim to love this sport squabble and flame each other on such a regular basis, it’s embarrassing and portrays the sport negatively to onlookers, ultimately doing this sport no favors.
AC: Yes! I SO agree with your points about the rift! Okay mate, last big one now and a couple of small ones.....
You’re a multi-talented athlete who's been successful at more than one sport. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years? Will you still be powerlifting or do you think you'll be conquering something else?
DJ: I will be powerlifting for as long as my body lets me. The reason being is that unlike the other sports, progression or regression is quantifiable, there are many ways to skin a cat in powerlifting and ultimately, once you have really started this journey you realise there is no destination and the enjoyment is in the journey itself.
AC: That's good to hear! What are your goals moving forward?
DJ: My goals number wise? I normally keep them very close to my chest. But its to have as much fun as I can doing what i love.
AC: That's cool, I think we'll keep the readers in suspense a bit. Supplements, which do you use and recommend (if any)?
DJ: I use the Bulks range. Their mass gainer, creatine and pre workout (Bulk3d). I haven’t found any other supplements to really be that effective.
AC: Which methods of rehab/prehab do you use (again, if any)?
DJ: Prehab is the best form of rehab in my eyes. I take everything through the full range of motion, listen to my body, fuel it well and should something go wrong, I see Elliot Reid from Revitalise Clinic in Gravesend.
AC: Favorite powerlifters?
DJ: Green, Duffin, Posdeev, KK, Koklyaev. And of course, Clarke *laughs*.
AC: I knew I’d be on the list *laughs*.
Last one... You and Chris Jenkins in a judo match, who wins?
DJ: Mmm...good question, I guess Chris would as I now struggle to tie my shoe laces *laughs*.
AC: I'm sure the readers are going to love this. It’s taken two and a half hours, thanks so much for staying this long, you're a true gent.
DJ: No problem, can I give a quick thanks to a few people?
AC: Of course!
DJ: Thank you to everyone at Bulks Gym for their help and to Emmy Louise for making it all possible. To Brad Scott and James Gilbert, no man can ask for better friends than these two. Anna for putting up with all the crap I give her, and she is to blame for my transition into equipped lifting and finally, My Dad. Literally without his support these recent months, I would not have had the privilege to have these memories of such great experiences that I have recently had.