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Brad Gillingham has been a well-known competitor in powerlifting for over a decade now. At 6’4” and 330lbs, he enjoys living a simple life. Brad and his brothers own Jackal’s Gym, a private training facility located in Marshall, MN. Besides training hard at the gym, he also likes to spend his time raising his two active daughters, working, and hunting (when he gets a chance). We welcome Brad Gillingham to Team HMB and are excited to get to know more about this accomplished athlete.
Q: Where did the athletic roots of Brad Gillingham begin?
BG: My father is Gale Gillingham. He is a five time All Pro Offensive Guard with the Green Bay Packers. He played for 11 seasons in the NFL. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1982. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were not many small towns that had gyms or training facilities. All of his training in the off-season was done at our home in the small community of Little Falls, MN. My older brother Karl is a World Class Professional Strongman Competitor. My younger brother Wade has competed as a professional strongman and he is a World Class Grip Strength performer. My father introduced my brothers and I to weight training at a very early age. We initially trained with weights to prepare for basketball and other athletic endeavors. I had a really thin build when I was younger and I once high jumped 6'10". Karl and I were both Minnesota All-State Basketball players, and Wade was also very successful. For various reasons our college careers were cut short, and we began getting more serious about weight training.
Q: How did you first get involved in powerlifting and get to the point that you are now?
BG: My brother Karl participated in the ADFPA Central Minnesota Powerlifting Open in 1988. This got all three of us hooked on heavy training, and we started focusing our efforts towards powerlifting. Eventually Karl and Wade drifted towards Strongman. I entered my first meet in 1989 at the ADFPA Northwest Open. I weighed 232 lbs at the time. Over time, I continued to increase my strength and started competing in both national and international events. We have travelled a lot together, and my father comes along and coaches us on a frequent basis. Powerlifting/strength athletics is very important to our family. We help each other to get stronger and accomplish our goals.
Q: Your total is 2342 lbs, where would you like this number to be and which lifts do you think you can improve to get there?
BG: I still think I have a chance of breaking the 2400-lb barrier. My bench press has declined the past couple years due to injuries. I will have to start making progress in that lift if I want to accomplish this goal. Progress in this sport depends on avoiding major injuries and being able to consistently train hard. My short-term goal at this point is to try and break the 900-lb barrier in the deadlift. This will not be an easy task, but it is one I think I can accomplish with a lot of hard training and a little luck.
Q: What is your favorite lift out of the three? Or do you enjoy each lift?
BG: My favorite lift is the deadlift. The deadlift is a basic movement that has no short cuts to getting stronger. It depends on overall body strength that is developed slowly over time. Generally the deadlift will get stronger as you increase your entire body strength. This is accomplished by focusing on strengthening the posterior chain, legs, and grip. The more work you put in the gym the stronger the deadlift will get.
Q: What kind of training do you do in order to be at the level you are?
BG: I generally train with weights three days a week, and do other cardio-based exercises on my off days. I have my own training program that I have developed through years of experience. I also use this program to train a number of other top lifters and athletes at Jackal’s Gym. On Mondays, I alternate partial rack pulls and full deadlifts every other week. My assistance work includes front squats, box squats, RDLSs, bent rows, power cleans and high pulls. On Wednesdays I train the bench heavy with progressive singles and a high volume of sets. My assistance work includes front raises, biceps, and triceps work and some rowing movements. On Fridays I primarily train a 5x5 squat approach in the 60%-80% range. I train at a fast pace and try to complete all sets in 15-30 minutes. My assistance work includes shoulder presses, light bench press, bent rows, leg extensions, and leg curls. I occasionally add in leg presses or power rack partial squats. A 5x5 approach is very effective but can really fatigue the body. GNC Pro Performance HMB helps combat the fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness. On occasion, I will add in various strongman exercises, and I continually add in extra exercises for rehab purposes as needed.
Q: What would you say is your most memorable experience you’ve had while competing in this sport?
BG: It is tough to pick one particular competition. If I had to pick one event it may be my first World Championship Victory at the 2000 IPF World Championships in Akita City, Japan. Powerlifting has allowed me to see the world. Overall, I have competed in five continents. Every event has been memorable and I take nothing for granted. I have been very fortunate to have a long career by training thoughtfully and listening to my body. I have met a lot of great people along the way and have developed lifelong friendships. I hope to continue to travel the world and compete on a high level.
Q: I know you’ve been a lifetime drug free athlete, what has this helped you achieve and why do you think it’s important to be a drug free athlete?
BG: I have trained and competed drug free for my entire career. I do not look at this as a sacrifice but rather as following the rules of the organization and taking time to build muscle and strength gradually and in a healthy manner. I don’t know any other way. I think being a drug-free athlete has increased my competitive career. I have trained hard, paid attention to my diet, and used sports supplements to help me perform at my fullest ability. I am still making gains at age 43.
Q: What are your ultimate goals and how do you feel HMB will help you get there?
BG: My ultimate goals are to keep training and competing at a high level as long as possible. GNC Pro Performance HMB has been a great addition to my supplementation plan. I have had less delayed onset muscle soreness and more endurance since I started taking the product. This allows me to train harder and longer on a more frequent basis.
Thanks for your time today Brad, and we are truly happy that you are a part of our team.