10 Questions with Jamie King
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
10 questions is a blog series hosted by North Shore Barbell aimed at giving exposure to some of New Zealand's top powerlifters & coaches.
Jamie is a multiple-time New Zealand champion across various divisions, current NZ & Commonwealth record holder and former World record holder. Among other things, he is known for never having physically failed a squat in his life.
Best lifts in competition:
300kg Squat / 165kg Bench / 318kg Deadlift | 775.5kg Total at 92.6kg
260kg Squat / 147.5kg Bench / 307kg Deadlift | 712kg Total at 82.4kg
Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, I'm Jamie Peter King (JPK) and I'm 26 years old. I grew up in sunny Invercargill, which seems to be strongly correlated to being a top male powerlifter in New Zealand. I now fulfil the stereotype of a young male in Christchurch lacking hair (albeit forced upon me by nature of inherited male pattern baldness). My professional career (yes, powerlifting is not and never will be professional - stop living a lie) is as a power electronics engineer designing solar inverters and energy solutions at the Christchurch research and development branch of an American company called Enphase Energy.
How did you start lifting weights, at what age and why?
I first started lifting weights in my final year of high school at 17 as an outlet for feeling alone and bullied throughout school. My first year was mainly comprised of messing around with machines, curls and not many compounds. Slowly I was introduced by the magnificent (for 2011) online resource of bodybuilding.com to the glorious movement of squats, with my first squat session involving 80kg for 5 sets of 5 reps. Ironically, I recall thinking after 2-3 sets "Damn, these are pretty taxing and make you quite puffed. I don't know why I'm doing this and if it's worth the effort."
Nearly a decade later and I'm still having the same thoughts on sets of 5s. Later on that same year I worked my way from the squat rack to deadlifts, where I found to my delight that thanks to my freakishly relatively long arms (my fingertips touch my kneecaps when I'm fully standing), I was naturally good at them. On one of my first sessions, I pulled 180kg weighing about 66kg. Furthermore, deadlifts looked cool, you felt powerful doing them and they weren't as taxing as squats.
At this point, I reached a crucial fork in the road. Pleased with the visible results of weight training, I could have then taken the Tim Lambesis route of steroid abuse and bodybuilding, eventually culminating in solicitation of murder blamed on said steroid abuse, or I could have chosen the masochistic yet high paying sport of powerlifting. Predictably for those who know me, I chose the latter.
What drew you to Powerlifting specifically?
The ability to input measured exact amounts of work and obtain equivalent measurable results as output, while being able to control a significant proportion of the environmental conditions to your advantage. My previous sporting backgrounds were in white water kayaking, ice hockey and field hockey, the former of which had a large degree of environmental factors influencing your instantaneous capabilities and enjoyment, while the latter two were team sports which did not mesh well with my independence. Being naturally strong in at least one lift (deadlift for me), definitely helped generate momentum behind my commitment to powerlifting in the first couple of years. Choosing attempts based upon your ability to predict outcomes of your performance under a given weight to a certain level of confidence is another exciting aspect.
Who or what are your biggest influences when it comes to lifting and anything related to it?
Obviously the three people who have coached me on a client-to-client basis, being Thomas Lilley, Tom Hart and Jason Clarke. I've seen many powerlifting interviews where lifters won't thank previous coaches following a falling out, which can be disappointing (not for every case) since lifters consciously pick their coach (it may come as a surprise to some but we are not actually on the Chinese state-sponsored weightlifting team) and therefore making the most out of said coach is somewhat their responsibility. Jason Clarke's ability to function with two molecules of serotonin following 5 consecutive 5-day RNVs in his early 20s is particularly impressive.
Other than that I don't have many as I made the mistake of following lifters in earlier years who later turned out to be drug cheats or otherwise lacking in moral fibre. Moral of the story: don't idolise people, kids.
What’s your best lifting memory or moment?
Plenty to pick from personally...winning my first nationals lifting raw against equipped lifters (while deadlifting more than John Strachan), world record deadlift, first 300kg deadlift, reclaiming my New Zealand junior deadlift record after exceeding what had been the world record for a long time, winning 2016 Asia/Oceanias, first 300kg squat, 7 national titles and counting, 325kg deadlift, THAT 303kg squat.
It would probably have to be placing 2nd in the Junior 83kg class at 2016 Worlds. I had followed the rise of raw powerlifting since the inaugural (Protip on how to trigger untested lifters - call the first IPF classic comp the first raw comp) classic 'worlds' in 2012, but due to educational commitments and the sheer expense that comes with travelling to what are primarily northern hemisphere world championships that was baulking to a poor student, I couldn't attend until my last year as a junior which makes it the most special.
I came into that comp ranked well down in nominations so people didn't really take notice (sponsors never did take notice, or they're running Internet Explorer so the page of results hasn't loaded yet) until I secured 2nd overall with my last deadlift. Also took home a couple of bronze medals for individual lifts in the squat and deadlift, which was nice. A lot of people are prone to forgetting powerlifting is a sport of the total (including a certain someone I lifted against and beat on that day), so any high placing or total PB for me is the most important.
What has been your biggest lifting fail?
As a single moment; missing my third squat and last two deadlifts at 2019 worlds. There are multiple causes for a performance that an otherwise consistent lifter like myself would regard as subpar, so I won't follow in the footsteps of a certain world leader in searching for a scapegoat for my own mistakes. The most telling outcome was missing my last two deadlifts for the first time ever. Usually my deadlift gains large amounts on my total with my final two attempts relative to a lot of other lifters, so to only make 1/3 deadlifts put me well behind my intended goals.
Over a sustained period; not having an individual coach dedicated to programming me in my formative years of powerlifting. This is heavily biased towards hindsight however, in particular as bAcK In My dAy powerlifting was yet to take off with online coaching the exception rather than the norm (other exceptions in this time that have more unfortunately became normal include: powerlifters shilling CBD oil on social media, powerlifters giving out unsolicited advice on social media, powerlifters taking social media too seriously et al).
What’s the best gym you’ve ever been to and/or trained at?
To be honest, I prefer training in my garage the most. I prefer the fewer distractions while I grind!
More sensibly: Garage gyms do offer me fewer distractions but for some the social element of joining other people training for powerlifting may be higher up on their perceived individual version of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs than mine. Garage gyms will always be there for you and won't shut down on you in an unprecedented global pandemic. Powerlifting gyms do have better overall equipment, spotting when required (only really necessary if you train to fail - and I hate failing) and conditions - Westside Barbell lifters would be revealed as pussies if they had to do heavy deadlift triples at 10pm on a weeknight in a Christchurch July winter!
What are your top 3 songs to lift to?
* flexes fingers *
* Darth Sidious voice *
"I have waited a long time for this moment"
Disrupted - Emperor
Mefjus Caterpillar - State of Mind
I'm Gone - Tantrum Desire
However, any heavier drum and bass tune is suitable background noise for vibing with the steels.
What is your “guilty pleasure” exercise?
Touch and go bench. It will trigger the new lifters who buy a full SBD kit before their first competition while praying at the two altars of specificity and RPE due to its association with gym bros and bodybuilders, but thanks to my excessively long range of motion and general soreness caused by low bar squats, this movement has helped me build significant gains cycle by cycle (TRAINING cycle, that is) on my bench over the past 12 months.
As a more generic reason, I'm also a big proponent of building a base both over the short term (think over year as short term) and longer-term (first 5 years) of their powerlifting career. Usually if a lifter struggles with deviations that do not suit their specific set of constraints, they are more likely to fail on critical third attempts that can turn a good day into a great day. Plus, variety also keeps lifters interested for longer - there is plenty of time to make the specificity gains later.
Closely interlinked with this is taking the USA approach to COVID-19, that is DO NOT go hard and go early on powerlifting minutiae such as weight cuts, competing at every possible competition and linearly tracking every set and rep to ensure it meets your projected expectations of where you want to be in 6 months.
Kiss, marry, kill - Squat, Bench & Deadlift and why?
Marry - squat as the mark of a good powerlifter is how good their squat is. With a few notable exceptions (and we're scientists here, so we consider exceptions while still focusing on the overall trend), their squat is proportional to how consistent and committed they have been with their training over sustained periods of time. Therefore to be a good powerlifter you have to be "Married to the squat".
Kiss - bench, because nobody outside of powerlifting really cares about lower body 'functional' movements, let alone how much weight you move in them. They only care about titties and how much force you can exert on an arbitrarily sized weighted bar when horizontal with said titties.
Deadlift - kill, because in the words of Pete Rubish after his 795lb beltless with tren deadlift "I kill it motherf**ker, yeah!"
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