Mass-Lift is proud to announce Eli Burks as the January Featured Lifter. Although Eli is from Missouri, he is currently in the Northeast working towards his medical degree. Eli lifted Raw in the 2011 Massachusetts/ Rhode Island State Championships. He threw around his mid west strength and hit a few personal records in the process; ultimately his 733lbs deadlift was the heaviest lift of the entire day.
I am 24 and have enjoyed powerlifting for several years now. I went to the University of Missouri for a degree in Medicinal Chemistry and have been attending UMHS Medical School for the past two years. At Mizzou I was the president of the Strength Club and we hosted several meets and had an amazing group of people who lifted with us.
How did you get into the sport of powerlifting?
My first introduction to powerlifting was a push/pull event at the “Show-Me Games” in Columbia Missouri when I was 18. I heard about the event the day before and there was same day registration. I enjoyed the experience but most importantly liked the overwhelmingly nice and positive people I had the chance to meet.
What weight class or weight classes do you compete in?
I initially weighed 178lbs when I was 18 and competed in the181 division quickly moving to the 198lb category where I competed until I left for post-grad school. I haven’t competed in almost two years and when I showed to the MA/RI State meet I weighed 207 lbs.
What are your best lifts?
At the MA/RI meet I did a 556 lb squat and a 733 lb deadlift being PRs for the two lifts. My best competition bench press is 400 lbs. When I competed before I left for school I did a 706 lb deadlift under 200 lbs at the Night of the Living Deadlift when it was USAPL sanctioned…an amazing meet.
What USAPL National meets have you lifted in and how did you place?
Have you lifted in any NAPF or IPF meets if so how did you place?
I’ve competed in both the Concrete Raw Invitational and the IPF GNC sponsored Pro Deadlift Competition at the Arnold. Both events were incredible and, time permitting; I hope to go back in the future years.
Where do you train?
I train at several different locations, when I’m in Missouri I lift at Wilson’s North and have been there for several years. When I’m in the North East I lift at a Planet Fitness (The affordable monthly rate and location for me was hard to resist). For intense training there is “Clark’s Gym” in Columbia, MO where anything goes and heavy lifting isn’t just allowed but assumed.
Do you lift with a group/team or by yourself, if so who?
I lift by myself 90% of the time, mainly because of my crazy schedule. The last two years I’ve only got to workout 2 or maybe 3 times a week with weights and at strange times. When possible I enjoy to lift with local lifters Bill Duncan, Ben Meredith, my brother Amos and sometimes with the MU Strength Coaches.
What current goals are you trying to accomplish?
I have several goals I’m working towards. I think most people have several and if they don’t then they probably should. My goals range from school, family, volunteering, personal life and lifting. Immediate lifting goals include a 1700+ lb total in March (light 220’s) at a sanctioned event. Long term lifting goals include an 800lb deadlift next and then go from there. A 2000+ raw total would be welcomed of course.
What is your greatest moment in powerlifting?
My greatest moments in powerlifting are always setting PR’s or watching others set PR’s. No matter where I compete or at what level I compete, the vast majority of individuals I meet are nice and friendly with common goals. It’s exciting to watch these people set their personal bests.
Can you tell us a little about your training routine?
3 workouts a week. Two of the workouts a week will be strictly squats. Usually 5 working sets of 4 or 3, maybe 2 reps followed by 3 sets of box squats (4-5 warm up sets before working) . It usually takes me about an hour to do that and I’m left pretty damaged. The other workout each week consists of 5 sets of bench press with similar rep fashions followed by dumbbell shoulder press and 15 minutes of arm work. Every 3rd week I replace a squat workout with a deadlift routine where I do a lot of warm up starting with just the bar for sets of 10 putting on 45’s until I reach 585 for working sets and usually ending with 675. I always do deadlifts from the floor resting the bar on the ground between each rep. Reps I do with the weights depend solely on how strong I’m feeling at the time. I’ll only go 700+ on training days where I feel strong.
Who are your mentors?
I met and got to compete against Tom Eiseman who is an amazing man, competitor and also an inspiration. I’ve had the ability to know and workout with the MU Strength football coaches and they all compete in powerlifting and are always fun to workout with. Gordon Lake is a great friend of mine whose zeal for the sport is a real inspiration. Bill Duncan is a master lifter who I’ve been close to since my first event and we regularly share training information. Becky Rich is a female powerlifter who has had a lot of success with USAPL and helps inspire me to train heavy.
Do you have any tips that could help other lifters?
Lift heavy. For the body to adapt it needs to be presented with something it can’t do. This adaptation and strength gain come slow, so remain patient and compare your numbers years at a time, not days…that’s a self destructive event. The physiology of lifting is of course a long discussion as there are pHDs in the subject, but pushing the human body to near maximal exertion will allow the Golgi Tendon Organs in the tendons to let more motor units in the muscle to be recruited at a time…so feel free to incorporate failure training into a routine. I go into every training session knowing that each time I work out I have more potential than ever, even if I am feeling 80%, because so much of lifting is mental.
What inspires you to keep training?
Competing against and beating my PR’s is what I train for. I try not to take anything for granted, my health is no exception and I feel that taking care of my cardiovascular and physical person is the thanks I can give in appreciation.
What is your favorite music to listen too when your training?
I listen to a wide variety of music when I lift. Local rapper “Tech N9ne” has many songs on my playlist. I also enjoy listening to Boys to Men…most people don’t believe me when I say that until they ask to listen to my speaker when I’m working out. When I workout I don’t get real intense actually, I’m usually really calm and like to relax while lifting weights in a cathartic manner. That being said, Tech N9ne usually wins out before I step on a platform for my 2nd and 3rd attempts.
Do you compete in any other sports?
I enjoy all sports. Growing up my parents put us (siblings) in Taekwondo, soccer and baseball when we were 5. I’ve played basketball, football, wrestling, track and even cross country for schools I’ve attended. In College I competed in powerlifting but also in Rec sports such as basketball, flag football and dodge ball. I was the 2010 MU Rec Sports athlete of the year. I got the pleasure to know the Rec sports staff quite well as the MU Strength Club president and they are all amazing people who were always going above and beyond to help us set up local meets.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Family has always been the biggest part of my life and whenever I get the chance I like to say “Thank you” to my entire family for always being there and being my inspiration for being a better person.