10 Questions with Jason Clarke
Updated: Mar 5
10 questions is a blog series hosted by North Shore Barbell aimed at giving exposure to some of New Zealand's top powerlifters & coaches.
Jason is one of New Zealand's most well-known powerlifting coaches and works with a number of the countries top lifters both in person at North Shore Barbell and online through his coaching service Precise Powerlifting Systems. As well as this, Jason is an active competitor in the 93kg class and works on the Auckland Powerlifting Association committee, helping put together competitions throughout the Auckland region.
Best lifts in competition:
222.5kg Squat / 155kg Bench / 290kg Deadlift | 667.5kg Total at 92.4kg
Tell us a bit about yourself
Kia Ora, my name is Jason Clarke, I'm 28 years old and reside in Auckland and always have. When life hasn't been turned upside down by a global pandemic I spend my days facilitating North Shore Barbell as one of the co-owners and coaching powerlifters online through Precise Powerlifting Systems, which essentially consists of me talking to myself/my computer for 6-8 hours a day.
How did you start lifting weights, at what age and why?
I started lifting in a gym at the age of 15 (13 years-ish ago) in order to gain some muscle and strength to perform better on the rugby field. Although the first few years of going to the gym were just random non-sensical training sessions it did bring me to the realisation that I enjoyed what I was doing in the gym far more than playing Rugby. Albeit maybe not the best training regime for some of the earlier years, I have pretty much gone to the gym 3-4x per week ever since I joined, with maybe a few months off here and there.
What drew you to Powerlifting specifically?
Funnily enough from my early exposures (west side etc.) I had always thought powerlifting seemed a little bit egotistical and overly dramatic until in ~2013 I read a copy of 5/3/1 which was left in the staff room of a gym I was working at. Initially I was a little sceptical of undertaking the programme but I had gotten a little sick of training for aesthetics so I though "fuck it, I'll give it a shot". I really enjoyed the way that 5/3/1 was structured in the sense you were essentially competing against your prior weeks rep work to best your E1RM, which was more than doable as a beginner.
From there, the objective nature of the sport and clear progressions/regression of strength have been what has kept me in powerlifting. Additionally striving for "optimal" technical proficiency is something I believe has kept me looking forward to each session with things to work on, albeit to my detriment at times. The community is definitely something that draws me to the sport and makes it more enjoyable, however, I think I would still train for powerlifting even if the community didn't exist.
Who or what are your biggest influences when it comes to lifting and anything related to it?
My influences in powerlifting I think have developed and changed pretty drastically over time and continue to do so. Early on I was a massive Dan Green fan (completely ignorant to the rampant drug use) and he definitely helped me understand that you don't need to be obese to be good at the sport.
After I found the IPF I followed Brett Gibbs pretty closely starting from 2014 worlds which subsequently lead me to many more IPF lifters as a by-product of watching different world championships. "Back in the day" I used to religiously watch Layne Norton's training videos and admired his work ethic, however, trying to emulate that probably didn't help my own training so much. Since then I don't find myself influenced so much by lifters but more so by coaches and "thinkers" in the industry, which I guess most probably coincides with my understanding that training concepts are more important than training programmes. Two main influences in this area that pop in to mind are probably Mike T and Greg Knuckols, for reasons I'm sure I don't need to explain.
What’s your best lifting memory or moment?
Probably a few, first competition stands out as fond memory for sure but also pulling 290 at nationals in 2019 rounding out a 9/9 day and a 17.5kg total PB after coaching 20 odd lifters throughout the week and 3 within that session. Probably more relief than anything. Helping coach at worlds in 2018 was also good fun.
What has been your biggest lifting fail?
Missing my squat opener (200kg) at my first ever Auckland Champs in 2015 a weight which I had hit for a 3x3 in the training cycle leading up to the comp. I honestly don't think my squat has mentally recovered since.
What’s the best gym you’ve ever been to and/or trained at?
Get Strength, undoubtedly a big inspiration for the way we run NSBB and the environment we try and encourage.
What are your top 3 songs to lift to?
My music choices change pretty frequently, especially when it comes to training, sometimes I don't even really "utilise" music in training. However, I'll note a few songs I currently chuck on for a big set.
One - Shapeshifter
Real motherfuckin' G's - Eazy-E
Pouya - 1000 rounds
What is your “guilty pleasure” exercise?
Any excuse to change my technique.
Kiss, marry, kill - Squat, Bench & Deadlift and why?
Deadlift, it's just that more aesthetically pleasing.
Squat, because after all we have been through I still feel we can do so much more together.
Bench, because it's lame and makes people leave/stop paying attention to competitions.
If you want to get in touch with Jason about his coaching services, you can contact him at Jason@precisepowerliftingsystems.com
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