World Record Holder Tom Kallas | Full Interview
Tom Kallas: Okay.
Interviewer: Like if you, if you're talking, and you kind of want to say something, but don't know if it'd be appropriate, it's fine.
Tom Kallas: Okay.
Interviewer: Like, it's not a conversation with your grandmother. It's a conversation with your buddy's mom who used to buy you booze. You know what I'm saying?
Tom Kallas: Yeah. I used to bug her.
Interviewer: Yeah, you used to bug her. Exactly.
Tom Kallas: This is more comfortable.
Interviewer: Hey, what's up? Here with Tom Kallas. We are at the record breakers meet. Tom, what do you do? What's your thing?
Tom Kallas: My main thing is squatting. At the meet I'll be doing squat, bench, and deadlift, but my bread and butter is the squats. So, I'm gonna try to go for something big today, see how I feel. I'll be a little sick, but [Danny 00:00:58] informed me, if you're just getting over a cold, or a sickness, you're actually stronger.
Interviewer: That's right.
Tom Kallas: That's on my side right now.
Interviewer: Stronger when you're sick, right? So next time you got a little sniffles, you should be so lucky.
Tom Kallas: Yeah, I'm lucky. I'm lucky I got sick.
Interviewer: Hell yeah. Squatting, is that your favorite thing, or is it just what you're best at? Because sometimes people, you know, it's different.
Tom Kallas: It's probably both. I mean, it's my favorite thing because I'm the best at it.
Tom Kallas: That's my best lift. I have a couple world records at 165. I got close at 181. Now I compete at 198. Record's 810 for the world record.
Interviewer: 810, at 198 pounds?
Tom Kallas: Yeah. I might be going to break that today at a fourth attempt, if everything feels good.
Interviewer: Oh, man, that'd be cool.
Tom Kallas: So, 815's the number I'm going for.
Interviewer: What's your most you've ever done?
Tom Kallas: Most I've ever done was 805.
Interviewer: 805's current PR?
Tom Kallas: Current PR.
Interviewer: What was your body weight for that? Or is it in training?
Tom Kallas: 200 pounds.
Interviewer: 200 pounds.
Tom Kallas: In training.
Interviewer: So moving up to 198 is a little more comfortable for you?
Tom Kallas: Yeah, because now I cut 4 pounds yesterday, so it's like nothing. Usually I'm cutting 15, and I'm walking in just what I train in.
Interviewer: Four pounds.
Tom Kallas: Way more comfortable.
Interviewer: I breathe that off at night.
Tom Kallas: Right. I slept it off. I sweated it off in my sleep last night.
Interviewer: Just fuck around and wake up on weight.
Tom Kallas: Yeah, it's easy. I feel a lot better going to a meet rather than draining myself 24 hours before and then trying to rehydrate, trying to get food in. I'm usually making myself sick because I'm eating so much, and then hoping I can get my weight back in strength.
Interviewer: How long have you been training as a powerlifter?
Tom Kallas: I've been training since I was 18, so I'm 24. Six years, right?
Interviewer: Six years.
Tom Kallas: Yeah, six years.
Interviewer: Before that, what was your background?
Tom Kallas: Before that, I was a competitive bodybuilder. I did five bodybuilding shows when I was between 16 and 18. That way, I knew kind of how to diet and keep my body weight a little lower. It was a little bit easier for me. A lot of powerlifters get a little sloppy in the off season, or even on the on season, and then they have to compete in a higher weight class, records are harder to break.
Interviewer: You did five shows.
Tom Kallas: Five shows.
Interviewer: That sounds hard.
Tom Kallas: It was tough. I would diet for six months at a time, no cheat meals, very strict.
Interviewer: So, five shows over the course of like three years. That's a pretty quick turnaround, huh?
Tom Kallas: Yep. Usually I'd do two shows a year. The last year I competed, I just did one, then I said, "I think I'm gonna try the powerlifting for a little bit."
Interviewer: Do you think that going from bodybuidling in to powerlifting, that that's a good way to go? Do you think that more people could try that, or, let me phrase it this way. In your opinion, what would be the ideal background for a powerlifter?
Tom Kallas: I think it did definitely help because now I know how to train accessories a little better. A lot of powerlifters would go in and do your squat, their bench, their deadlift, their main movement, and be like, "Oh, I'm tired. I'm going home," and then they don't work the little muscles. They don't train accessories. This way, I was able to, one, train accessories better, know how to do, let's say my top end of my deadlift sucks, how to train around that, how to train accessories for that. And then also dieting. I was able to keep a lighter body weight so I compete in lighter weight classes and make, for me, world records more attainable. If I was sloppier, I might be 215, 220, and records there would be very hard to chase, and most of those guys are squatting in the nines or high eights, and pulling the eights, benching the five, so it would be hard even to keep up. This way I can go up a little bit in weight classes, but I can still stay leaner and obtain more records, hopefully.
Interviewer: You mentioned records. Is there something that maybe in powerlifting, or maybe it's outside of powerlifting, we'll do athletic first. What are you most proud of as far as athletic accomplishments?
Tom Kallas: Definitely my two world records that I held. I broke the 165 world record in, it's got to be three, four years ago now. I squatted 677, and then I re-broke it at 710 at 165. I was smaller back then, obviously, a lot lighter. I did more cuts. Ever since then, I've been chipping away at the 181, and then I can never get it.
Interviewer: It's kind of right there.
Tom Kallas: Yeah, just like I said before, the weight cutting just fucked me, so now I'm just gonna go for the 198s and see how it goes.
Interviewer: Nice. Maybe outside of athletics, or maybe inside of, what just in life are you most proud of? What would you say is your biggest accomplishment, or something you're most proud of?
Tom Kallas: Probably my family now. I just had a daughter four months ago, as of Tuesday. It's huge, and she's here sleeping. She don't really care.
Interviewer: Supporting you.
Tom Kallas: She don't really care what's going on. As long as she sleeps, and then my old lady's here, too, so it's awesome to have the support of them to come all the way. We're from Chicago, so we came to California, so it's nice.
Interviewer: Well as someone who has a daughter, let me tell you best advice I heard is, someone said, "Oh, congratulations. You have another boss."
Tom Kallas: Yeah.
Interviewer: Get ready for that.
Tom Kallas: She already bosses me around.
Interviewer: There it is.
Tom Kallas: It's alright.
Interviewer: Awesome, then last thing. If someone wanted advice on how to get strong, what's just one thing you would tell someone if they say, "Hey, I just want to get strong." What's your one piece of advice for that?
Tom Kallas: Consistency and time. That's it. Just put your work in, whatever it is. If you can get in the gym four days a week, three days a week. If you just consistently get in and put an hour in, two hours in, whatever it is, it's eventually gonna pay off. A lot of people find a program, do it for three to four weeks, and then they fall off. This program sucks, it doesn't work for me. Well, you didn't even give it time to work. So just consistency and time pays off for everything.
I've been doing this ... I've been really squatting for 11 years, and it's taken me to right around a 800 pound squat. That's just taking time. It doesn't like I just woke up and squatted 750, 800. I've been doing this for a long time, over a decade.
Interviewer: Awesome. So, consistency over time.
Tom Kallas: Consistency over time.
Interviewer: Awesome man. I really appreciate it. Thanks, Tom.
Tom Kallas: Thanks buddy, appreciate it.