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Irving Henson Of The PIT Talks Powerlifting And Breaking A World Record

Being both a personal trainer and a power lifter is a double role that requires not just an intense amount of strength, but dedication. Irving Henson epitomises both those qualities, and expresses them through his gym, The PIT. It's a place that takes no nonsense, and expects maximum effort from their clients, while delivering the best they can offer through programming designed to build strength and achieve results.

We speak to Henson about his experiences with powerlifting, running a gym, and how he achieves his goals.

LiveFit Asia: What inspired you to start The PIT?

Irving Henson: I've been a trainer since 1999, and I found that a lot of the time, you have a facility with heaps of equipment, but no proper planning programmes. I wanted to have my own programmes, and put together a team that held the same beliefs and be able to execute what we know works for people.

LFA: What do you mean by "what we know works"?

IH: We focus a lot on the strength training component of a programme. There are many gyms that promote High Intensity Training, and we have that to, but we don't think one component of training does all the work. HIT is just one part of the programme. We found a way to combine various elements into a programme that is sustainable and effective.

LFA: You used to be a competitive powerlifter. How did that begin?

IH: An athlete asked me to try it out in 2013, and I had my first full meet then. I won a gold medal in the below 105kg weight class. In 2014, I joined the Singapore Powerlifting Alliance competition, where I won another gold medal in the below 100kg weight class. Last year, an old injury flared up and I had to undergo surgery, so I missed the full meet. When I recovered, I went for the Global Powerlifting Alliance meet in the U.S. where I won gold and broke the bench press world record for my category.

LFA: What should people take note of when they're considering delving into powerlifting?

IH: The best way to learn how to swim is to get your feet wet. It's a very easy sport to pick up. You just have to make sure you get your technique right. Once you've got your technique to a T, the numbers you can lift will begin increasing. When you hit a plateau, that's where training programmes come in. A lot of people tend to put themselves through so much stress in their first competition, where they think they want to lift a certain amount, or hit a particular weight class. You should just go to your first competition and have fun. Don't put so much pressure on yourself. At the end of the day, your goals can be achieved through the right kind of training.

LFA: What was this injury you sustained, and how did you manage to recover?

IH: Many years ago, I was coaching, and I had three bulging discs on my spine from doing martial arts, and someone dropped a 230kg tire on me. I had my back faced towards the tire, so I had a total of seven bulging discs after. With any injury though, there are ways around it. In my condition now, I'm not going to attempt to deadlift 260kg, but I did persevere through that when I went for the U.S. competition, but during preparation, my back just couldn't take it anymore.

Photo credit: redsports

LFA: Did it teach you the importance of proper recovery?

IH: If you're training at a high level, recovery is very important. But many people worry too much about recovery when they shouldn't have to, especially when you're only training an hour a day.

LFA: Do you spot any common misconceptions or mistakes the average Singaporean gym goer has?

IH: I think everyone wants to be a badass, and lift really heavy. People call it ego-lifting, but I don't see it that way. They're just regarding the destination instead of the process. If you're preparing for a competition, you'll have to train for a year for a mere one minute of work. More emphasis should be put on the process instead of goals. Goals are important, though if you keep focusing on where you want to be, and not how to get there, then you're f***ed.

LFA: What supplements do you take?

IH: I take a fish oil and multivitamin supplement everyday, and a protein shake, which helps with my recovery. I have to consume about 220g of protein a day, and 800g of fish is all I can eat. Ask me to eat anymore and I'll grow gills. I take protein bars and protein cookies as well to hit my macros. I'm all for a well-rounded diet — any diet that asks you to omit a food group is sh*t. I'm not able to eat that much, as 3000 calories is hard to swallow, so supplements play a huge role. I take MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Protein, which has had no drama after so many years.

The PIT is located at 123 Devonshire Road, Singapore 239883. Check them out online at or give them a ring a 6222-4860!

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