An inspirational and genuinely helpful strongman, powerlifter, and strength coach monster, Clint Darden sits down with Cutty Strength to answer some questions.
Hometown: Murray, Kentucky
Current Location: Limassol, Cyprus
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What age did you start lifting and why?
I began training in the gym at the age of 16 to rehab a torn left erector and ended up seeing how much weight training improved my athleticism and fighting ability. At the time I was a competitive martial artist.
Next thing you know I had beefed up from 154lbs to 175lbs and I fell in love with training in the gym.
What is your favorite lift?
I love squats and deadlifts when it comes to gym lifts. As far as strongman goes I enjoy anything involving legs, back, and grip strength.
What is your least favorite lift?
I dislike all pressing!! That being said, my most recent endeavor into Olympic weightlifting has every lift going overhead.
What drives you?
Honestly, I try not to dig into my own mind very much because being honest with yourself is one of the worst things that an athlete can do psychologically, especially as you get older.
I have goals and I’m a little crazier than most when it comes to goals and achieving them no matter what they are… I will leave it at that. Most people fail or are not driven because they do not have goals they feel they must achieve. The trick is turning a WANT into a NEED.
Most people just WANT their goal. Want is like deciding that you’d like to go out tonight and get ice cream after you eat your steak and baked potato. NEED is when you are starving and you would literally set no boundaries on what you would do to get that meal so you and your family will survive tonight.
That is how I see my goals; I don’t want them, I need them. You don’t get that way overnight.
Who is your role model?
Role model? My parents. I can’t say that there are a lot of strength athletes that I look up to. The internal drive that Dave Tate has is amazing and he inspires me via personal e-mail now and again. Recently I’ve met, trained with, and been coached by Morgan Ask and at age 64, is celebrating his 50th year of competing after hip and shoulder surgery.
He is preparing for Olympic Lifting World Championships again this August. Seeing him max effort squat several days in a row with his arm in a sling is pretty motivational as well as his desire to help people no matter where we are.
We have had impromptu snatch sessions in the middle of the median in the highway and even in a bar while drinking beer!
What do you feel the biggest mistakes in the gym are?
I should have spent the first many years of my training learning how to do the powerlifts correctly. The “bodybuilder” squats destroyed my knees and doing lots of improper pressing ended up tearing both of my rotator cuffs twice each.
I also made the mistake of believing that I would get a stronger core by never wearing a belt. What I ended up doing was not only having a beat up lower back all the time, but I lost a lot of time training with much lighter weights than I should have been.
Fear is another huge mistake in the gym. I’m not talking about the people who “fear nothing” and come into the gym like a lion and “unleash beast mode” on every machine between the walls. People should not fear any exercises, especially the core lifts for each body part! They should embrace them and base their training around them no matter what.
What are your top three tips?
1.) Eat huge amounts of the most natural foods you can find.
2.) Do the core lifts no matter what.
3.) Learn something every single training session, even if it is a bad session.
Dan Green recently wrote an article about how he feels box squats have little carry over for him. What are your views on box squats? Have they given you much carry over?
I think that you said it best… “for him.” I think that the box squat is hands down the most productive athletic exercise that there is. I have yet to work with anyone that couldn’t box squat with intensity every single week of the year with proper technique and not get stronger and stay injury free from them.
For some people it may not do a ton for their actual squat, especially their RAW squat, but it makes every athletic movement shoot up as well as their deadlift. As far as making he box squat carry over to a RAW squat, that comes down to simple programming intelligence.
I’ve taken RAW lifter after RAW lifter and seen them break record after record on their meets’ RAW squat. Intelligent programming is key!
Do you use any supplements? Which supplements do you feel are worthless?
Supplements are not needed. Some mornings I train on very little sleep, so on my way to the gym I have a carb and protein shake and I’ll drink some more carb/electrolyte/BCAA drinks while training, but that’s about it.
Anything beyond the basics; protein, carbs, BCAA, creatine, glutamine, etc… is a waste of money.
And finally, a reader request:
Do you put anything in your beard to keep it soft and luxurious?
I do have my Russian secrets when it comes to my beard. It does get quite a bit of attention and care.
10 Questions with Strength Coach Clint Darden,