Editors note: Allen Zou is a Boston native who helped found the Boston Latin School Powerlifting team while a student there. Without athletes like Allen, the High School program in Massachusetts cannot succeed. We at mass-lift are extremely grateful for his activity in this area of USAPL and his promotion of drug free powerlifting throughout Massachusetts.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from, where you are now, what you do for a living, etc.
My name is Allen Zou and I’m 20 years old. I’ve lived most of my life in MA, specifically Boston, after moving here from Texas when I was 5 years old. As of right now, I’m living the broke college student lifestyle bumming lifting equipment off of friends. I’m currently a freshman at the College of the Holy Cross hoping to major in Biology. When I’m not at school, I lift at the Wang YMCA of Chinatown and my favorite brand for powerlifting equipment is definitely Titan.
Tell us how you got into the sport of powerlifting? How did this change your life?
I started lifting weights at the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton when I was 14 years old doing a pretty bad bodybuilding split. Basically, I was a bench bro. When I was 15, my friend Edward Ho was looking for a powerlifting meet instead and asked if I wanted to compete with him. Why we went all the way to to New Jersey is something I’ll never know but we stayed with my uncle and competed at the 29th Annual New Jersey State Championship hitting 95/92.5/147.5 @53.8kg.
Before I started lifting, I was a pretty bad student and I didn’t have much direction in my life. Since then I have fallen in love with the sport and have been working hard to become stronger. The sport has changed my life for the better. It taught me discipline and there has been a clear carryover in the other parts of my life, most specifically academics. I know for a fact that I would be pretty similar to the the bummy 14 year old that I was before I started power lifting.
What weight class do you compete in?
I started competing in the 56kg weight class but have slowly moved my way up to 59kg then 66kg. I’m now transitioning into the 74kg weight class hoping to put up some bigger numbers.
What is your favorite lift? What are your best lifts?
My favorite lift is a tie between the bench press and the deadlift. Basically, anything but squat. My best competition lifts are 182.5/140.5/228 and a 546kg total at 66kg. Since moving up I’ve been able to hit 200/138/265 at about 73.5kg body weight. Sadly, without a decent barbell at school my bench training has taken a hit.
You’ve done a bunch of meets, some National level. Which one sticks out as your favorite and why?
My favorite meet was actually a local meet, the MA and RI Open State Championships back in May 2016. This was the day after my last day of high school and it was my best meet yet. This was my first meet ever going 9/9 and breaking the T3 66kg Raw American record for bench press and deadlift was something I wanted for awhile. It was also the first meet where friends came to support so that was important to me.
Tell us where you train. What’s your training routine like? Does your classes interfere with your lifting or vice versa?
Right now I’m training mainly at Holy Cross’ gym which has made my training extremely difficult. The barbells at Holy Cross are much thinner than your standard 29mm and have very little knurling making my bench training near impossible; my bench is about 20lb less at school than back at home. My training itself is pretty simple squatting and benching twice a week and deadlifting once a week followed by some assistance work each session. I’ve always liked a linear periodization style of training so that’s mainly what I stick with.
Weeks when I have a lot of exams I’ll try to plan my training accordingly. Classes themselves don’t interfere much but a lack of a decent gym and barbell has had me stuck on how to increase my bench.
What current goals are you trying to accomplish now? I saw you take 243 kg for a ride at Raw Nationals, any chance you’ve got a big deadlift in your future?
In terms of meets, I would love to compete at Raw Nationals again and someday compete at an international meet (NAPF, IPF, or the Arnold). However, the biggest issue for competing at bigger meets has always been the cost which I’ve had to cover myself or with the help of my family. My more immediate goals are to transition well into the 74kg/163lb weight class, break 450 wilks, and total 1400lb+.
As for the deadlift, I recently hit 265kg/585lb in the gym weighing 162lb which was a huge 80lb PR for me.
I’ve seen you do a lot of great things on the Platform, but tell us about what you consider is your greatest moment in powerlifting?
My greatest moment in powerlifting has definitely been competing at Raw Nationals 2014, despite bombing out on the deadlift. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing but that was a pivotal moment for me since it kept my ego in check. Bombing out also made me want to compete again at Raw Nationals to redeem myself and since then I’ve been wanting to compete at bigger meets more.
Who are your mentors? Who would you say you look up to as far as a coach, opponent, or fellow USAPL lifter. Any role models in the field of Strength sports?
My mentors are most definitely the younger lifters I’ve helped coach on both the Boston Latin School and John D O’Bryant School’s powerlifting teams. Being able to teach someone else how to lift has helped me learn a lot about lifting itself and they have given the Wang YMCA where I train back at home a good environment. Of course Big Mike has also been a big influence running some of the best meets around
I look up to quite a few lifters but some of the lifters that I have actually met/know are Henry Hsu and Eric Kupperstein. Henry Hsu has been a great help, especially on the deadlift. He taught me the basics of sumo deadlifting and I admire how he has successfully juggled his academics, running a team, and competing both raw and equipped. Sadly, he won’t give me a free NUPL shirt but that’s a different story. I’ve been a fan of Eric Kupperstein since I first started competing at the age of 15. To be so successful as both a raw and equipped lifter for such a long time is quite impressive. His deadlift is also something that I could only dream of matching someday.
What inspires you to keep training? Do you have any tips that could help other lifters who are just starting out be motivated to achieve?
I just really love the sport and want to keep getting stronger. Being in a good gym with friends who compete as well is definitely a good way to keep on track. As for any tips all I can say is reinforce good form and train with higher volume. Also, don’t be afraid to compete! Having a meet in mind is always a good way to stay motivated and after the first competition there’s no turning back.