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Jake Piwko "The Korean Beef" GDLKGNZ Interview
Weight: 180 lb.
Squat: Comp. Best - 519 lb.
Bench:Comp. Best - 347 lb.
Deadlift: Comp. Best - 584 lb.
How did you get started in fitness?
Growing up, I was always active in sports. I played baseball through high school which was my passion. I also dabbled with football and basketball along the way. I have always been an extremely competitive person, so my drive to “get better” was at an all-time high my senior year of high school. I graduated weighing 130 lbs, and have since been as heavy as 215 lbs.
When I started exercising, I was doing bicep curls and core work and eventually added bench pressing into the mix. I continued on with a goal of gaining weight and building a foundation. It wasn’t until my junior year of college when I learned that I should be adding back squats and deadlifts into my routine. I started squatting 95 lbs and deadlift 135 lbs. As I became obsessed with improving my technique and striving to get stronger, I stumbled upon powerlifting. I had always thought it was only for people who were 300 lbs and already incredibly strong. I had no idea where this journey would take me.
In 2015, I competed in my first powerlifting competition in Duluth, MN. I broke the junior state record back squat in the 93kg class. Over the last 5 years, I have also competed in several weight classes including: 83kg, 93kg, 105kg.
Through powerlifting, I have met some of my best friends, learned about strength training, and coached several athletes through meets at the local and national level.
In my professional life, I graduated with my B.S. in Exercise Science and I am an ACSM certified personal trainer and USAW-1 certified coach. I have worked in commercial and corporate fitness since 2015.
Within the past year, I started my own company Elevate Performance LLC where I do a variety of in-person and remote coaching for individuals of all different skill levels and goals.
Most prevalent hurdles on your fitness journey?
My biggest hurdle of my journey was not having a coach or a variety of resources to help guide me when I was getting started. Everything I did was trial and error - learning technique, programming, etc. Raw powerlifting wasn’t nearly as big as it is now in Minnesota, and Youtube had very limited resources available on the topic. My best advice would be to hire a reputable coach who can set you up with a personalized program that coincides with your fitness goals.
How is your life in fitness different with the ongoing pandemic?
Life is continuing to change daily and the biggest impact for me was not being able to train clients in-person. I have since added Zoom personal training sessions, and worked to increase my remote programming client base. I was fortunate enough to pull the trigger on purchasing some equipment before everything sold out so I was able to continue my training during the shutdown.
What motivates you to continue to progress & how has it changed since you started?
My motivation is to continue to challenge myself to be better than I was before. Whether that's in terms of strength, functionality, or body composition - I want to continue to get out of my comfort zone and achieve goals I never thought I would be capable of.
I don’t think much has changed since I began my fitness journey, the only difference is now I am focusing more on my personal business and working to grow my brand.
Next major goal(s)?
Compete in the 74kg weight class in powerlifting
Do a bodybuilding show (down the line)
Improve at Olympic Weightlifting
Current training schedule? Does this deviate at all?
Currently, I am training 6 days/week. My coach has me guinea-pigging a different training methodology. It encompasses powerlifting, explosive power, and body building-esque training. Depending on my end goal, I will train a few as 4 days a week and as often as 6 days per week. It really depends on if I have a deadline for a competition.
Current diet? Does this deviate at all and why?
I am pretty robotic with my eating 90% of the time. The other 10% is probably pizza.I track everything to the gram and I am currently in a hypocaloric state to lose body fat and improve my composition. I generally eat the exact same thing every day, and I focus on meal composition and meal timing to optimize my performance. If I am in a maintenance phase or a hypercaloric state, I allow myself more flexibility to eat the things I enjoy but I find that I feel better overall eating clean.
What accomplishment are you most proud of as it pertains to fitness?
I think I am most proud of starting my own fitness company. Over the years I have worked for different commercial gyms and their vision was never my vision of how I believe fitness should be. Operating my own company allows me the freedom to coach individuals the way that I believe is best and to help optimize their results. It also provides me the opportunity to keep growing and learning so I can continue changing lives.
Top 3 tips for reaching your fitness goals:
Get a reputable coach!
Learn how to eat for your goals
Consistency, consistency, consistency
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” - Vince Lombardi