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Andrey Malanichev is a powerlifting behemoth who has set multiple world records (and often breaks his own). Currently, the 6′ 340-pounder holds the world record in the back squat with a 1,067-pound lift and has totaled 2,513 pounds between the bench press, back squat, and deadlift.
We caught up with one of the strongest powerlifters of all time—and his helpful interpreter—to learn more about what it takes to be freakishly strong. Spoiler alert: a lot of potatoes and sleep.
“I eat anywhere from four to six times per day,” Malanichev says. A typical breakfast for him: a bowl of soup, a large serving of potatoes or pasta, and “a very large steak.” He pretty much repeats these meals throughout the day. In terms of daily calories, Malanichev eats close to 12,000. “I really don’t enjoy eating this much,” he says. “At this point, the food loses all flavor. There’s no enjoyment.”
Malanichev’s recovery plan? Two words: sleep and eat. On top of his insane diet, Malanichev sleeps 12 hours per day. “I go to bed at midnight, and I wake up at noon,” he says. This is because an elite powerlifter like Malanichev needs to give his muscles optimal time to repair themselves and allow for a longer release of growth hormone, which happens during deep sleep.
Interestingly enough, Malanichev avoids sports massages. “A massage loosens up my muscles,” he says. “And I can’t squat as heavy as I do with loose muscles.”
Malanichev has three rules for new squatters. The first: “Do not go heavy, and practice your form.” The second: “Accumulate volume by keeping the weight low and performing more reps.” The third: “Always wear knee sleeves or wraps. This way, you’ll protect your joints.”
“I tried what you call mobility work once,” Malanichev says. “It is all the rage. But after doing one little stretch, I tore a calf muscle. This was a bad experience for me, so no more.”
Yep. A man who routinely squats 800-plus pounds simply squats with the bar and performs a few hyperextensions to warm up.
*We don’t suggest that you follow his lead.
Malanichev’s accessory work is all centered on increasing his competition lifts—that is, the bench press, deadlift, and back squat. And the moves that do this best, according to the strongest squatter in the world, “are really nothing special.” Closer to competition time, he stops performing these to save energy. Here are the Russian’s favorite assistance exercises:
“If you’re a serious powerlifter, you need to do weighted crunches,” he says. “A strong core allows you to stabilize yourself during heavy lifts.” Do a few sets of 15 to 20 reps at the end of your workout.
Here’s how Malanichev trains to set a world record. Follow it to achieve your own personal best.
Directions: Spend three weeks on each phase. Follow this split: Monday, back squat; Wednesday, bench press; Friday, deadlift.
Take a week off from training and then work up to a 1RM on your lifts, ideally on different days.