Celebrating the end of exams just found whole new meaning, recent Bournemouth University graduate Owen Hubbard left the partying to the rest of us as he flew out to South Africa to set the Junior World Record in the Bench Press! Just 1 hour after the final exam of his entire degree Owen boarded a plane to the IPF World Classics where at only 21 years of age and 83kg in bodyweight he bench pressed a staggering 190.5 kilograms…. That’s like three times the weight of Mo Farah holding a watermelon! As well as ginormous bench Owen can Squat 257.5kg and Deadlift 265kg giving him a combined powerlifting total of 705kg…… lightweight baby?! StudyFit caught up with the student power lifter, originally from Merthyr Tydfil, to find out more about him, how he built such strength while at University and what his future plans are. Naturally, there was only one question to open with.
You’re one of the UK’s strongest students! What’s that like?
“It’s not really something I think about too much, but it’s nice to be reminded from time to time! The great thing about powerlifting is that you can always get stronger, so I haven’t finished achieving yet.”
How and why did you start Powerlifting? How long has it taken you to build your strength?
“I started Powerlifting at quite a young age, around 15. As a younger child I was a bit of a fat kid sitting at 11 stone, aged 11. So to combat this I joined the local gym which was a real chalk, meat heads and rusty bars type gym. This environment introduced me to weight training pretty early on and through this style of training I ended up losing quite a bit of weight and getting down to around 8% body fat. Then I did what quite a lot of gym goers do, and became complacent. Luckily there were a few guys in the gym, who competed in powerlifting. I’d seen them gym shifting these massive weight and thought yeah, I wanna be able to do that! So I jumped in at the deep end, and 2 months later I was in my first comp totalling around 360kg in the 75kg class. From there I caught the bug and never looked back.”
Where do you train and do you train by yourself or with others?
“Throughout my time at Bournemouth University I’ve been fortunate enough to train with a powersports club, Bournemouth Barbell. This is run by a terrific coach, Paul Rees, who has helped me since my first year of University. It’s safe to say that without him I wouldn’t be where I am now. He creates a good lifting environment with other likeminded lifters which, I believe, is paramount to success.”
How have you learned what works for you and what doesn’t?
“It’s a lot of trial and error. I train with my coach, Paul, 3 times a week but the rest of the week I train on my own due to work commitments. Over the years I have picked up a lot of things that I know works for me in both my nutrition and training. After every training cycle I review and adapt to what suits my needs at that particular moment in time. By doing this you can work on weaknesses and build on strengths!”
Which body parts do you find toughest to work on?
“I wouldn’t say there was a body part that I find toughest to work but there is an exercise for sure….. I HATE deadlifts! Probably because they are my weakest lift by far. But all I can do is keep working at it as much as possible until it gets better. I blame my short arms…” Weakest lift? You lift 265kg! Make the rest of us feel small why don’t you Owen.
What type of diet do you follow?
“This is an aspect of my training that I’ve done a lot of experimenting with in the past and I’ve finally got to a point where I can keep my performance up as well as maintaining my body weight around 83kg. This is very important for a power lifter who has to stay at a particular weight for his or her category. I usually train each day at around 5pm. Before I training my meals are mostly high fat, high protein (around a 50:50 ratio) with no carbs. Post workout this is where I introduce carbohydrates into my diet, around 150/200g altogether… depending on how hard the session has been! Over the years I’ve found I don’t really hit the higher rep ranges enough to warrant a ridiculously high carbohydrate intake throughout the day. Carbs just tend to make me sluggish for lifting more than anything. This is what works for me!”
What is the IPF and what was it like competing in the IPF so close to your final exams?
“The IPF is the International Powerlifting Federation and is the largest drug tested federation in the sport of Powerlifting. I was fortunate enough to compete in their World Classic Powerlifting Championships in South Africa in June this year. Competing there was pretty stressful considering my last Uni exam was the same day as my flight out to South Africa! My social life suffered a little leading up to the competition as I spent early mornings in the library so that I had enough time to train in the evenings. I’m glad I had the opportunity to lift out there and it was definitely worth the stress leading up to the competition!”
How do you motivate yourself to train and eat clean?
“For me this is easy. I want to be the best and I know if don’t do it, someone else will. I have the ambition to become a World Champion and I know that’s not going to happen unless I’m training as hard as I can all the time.”
What tips have you for others who want to take up Powerlifting?
“The Great Britain Powerlifting Federation (GBPF) website is a good place to start or see if your University have a club, learn the rules and compete! Powerlifting is such a welcoming sport and that’s what got me hooked in the first place. I was a 15 year old boy with no idea what I was doing in my first competition and I was welcomed and supported by the other guys at my gym who had been lifting for years!”
What would you say is the key to managing training and diet as a student?
“Diet is preparation for sure. For the last few months of my degree I lived out of Tupperware in the library shovelling mackerel salad down my throat. I was probably the last person you would want to sit next to but it’s got to be done!
Training is similar and you get out of your training what you put into it. If I wasn’t too far away from a competition I would socialise and go on nights out without a problem, but I would do it strategically. Basically never go out the night before a heavy squat session as that hangover is just going to make it a write off! Bench on the other hand, your lying down so it’s not too bad!”
What do you like to do when you’re not lifting?
“Obviously the occasional night out never hurt anyone. Also I’m a bit of a secret nerd inside too so I love my gaming and anything do to with superheroes. Sad I know… “
What are your future plans?
“I’ve graduated from Bournemouth University now with a 2:1 in nutrition and am personal training out of 180 degrees gym in Sandbanks. It’s a nice place to be, training people on the beach!
Competition wise I have a bit of a break now until the British Classics in October held in Dover, so I’m training for some big numbers there.”
Owen’s Training Regime
Training can vary depending on how far away from a competition I am. The closer to a competition I am the heavier the weights and my session become more intense and focused on the main three lifts; squat, bench and deadlift. On the other hand, the further away from a competition I incorporate more variance, assistance and repetitions.
Typically leading up to competition my training consists of the following;
Monday – Squats
- Squats – 8 sets x 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
- Tuesday – Assistance Bench
- Barbell floor press – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Overhead press – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Weighted dips – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Bench press (speed work) – 10 sets x 3 reps (explosive)
- Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Finish with foam rolling and mobility work
Wednesday – Deadlifts
- Deadlifts – 10 sets x 2 reps (building the weight up)
- Deficit or block pull deadlifts – 6 sets x 3 reps
- Weighted chin ups – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Weighted side bends – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Thursday – Bench
- Bench Press – 8 sets of 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
- ‘Board’ or ‘chains’ Bench Press – 5 sets x 3 reps
- Friday – Assistance work/active recovery
- Bent-over rows – 3 sets x 10 reps (concentrating on technique and squeezing the scapula together)
- Wide grip chin ups – 3 sets x 10 reps superset with Lateral raise – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Barbell curls – 100 reps in as little amount of sets as possible
- Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Finish with 20/30 minutes of foam rolling
- Saturday – Deadlifts and squats
- Deadlifts – 5 x 5’s
- Deficits speed deadlifts – 3 x 5’s
- Squats – 5 x 5’s
- Heavy bent over rows – 3 x 5’s
- Weighted sit ups – 3 x 20’s
- Glute ham raise – 2 x 20’s
- Back raises – 2 x 20’s
Sunday – Bench
Similar session to Thursday’s but usually a little lighter and stricter. This means incorporating paused bench into the session. Paused bench involved a 1 second pause at the bottom of the rep before pressing the bar; this is how the bench press is performed in powerlifting. When training I usually pause the first and last repetition.
- Commonwealth Champion 2010
- British Classic Champion 2013
- British Equipped Champion 2014
- Junior World Record Holder in the Bench Press @ 83kg (190.5kg)
- British classic record holder for both the junior and senior