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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with: Gert Franz
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with: Gert Franz ( @gert_railo )

Troy Valberg And The Powerlifters Of Equinox

Published in , Comments (28)

Last Saturday, I attended the APA Apollon Winter Iron Bash powerlifting competition out in Edison, NJ. I've never been to anything like that and I have to say that it was just awesome. Not only was the lifting inspiring, so was the diversity of competitors; men, women, young and old were there all there, paying their dues, squatting, benching, and deadlifting.

Ben Nadel, Troy Valberg, Mario Valero, Ken Lee, Gibson Kim, Kyle Hartcorn, Taylor Jackson, And Victoria Viola.  

Among the 51 powerlifters were a number of my friends from the gym:

  • Troy Valberg - Equinox personal trainer, amateur strongman, and musical artist.
  • Mario Valero - Equinox employee and owner of the UNCIVILIZED Brand clothing line.
  • Ken Lee - Equinox personal trainer and owner of Revolution Fitness Systems.
  • Gibson Kim - Equinox personal trainer.
  • Kyle Hartcorn - Equinox personal Trainer.
  • Taylor Jackson - Equinox personal trainer.

NOTE: Though not a competitor in the meet, Victoria Viola (photo) is also an Equniox personal trainer.

While the powerlifting meet consisted of three lifts - squat, bench press, and deadlift - my friends participated in the "Push-Pull" division which only competed in the latter two events: bench press and deadlift. Each event allowed the athlete three lift attempts. On each of these attempts, the athlete could only go up in weight or stay at the same weight. Once an athlete had picked a weight, he or she could not lower the weight on subsequent lifts within the same event.

Here are some videos that I was able to take throughout the day. I believe most of them are available in High Definition (HD) format.


If you're asking yourself, "What's with those tight singlets?" they're required to make sure that the lifters execute the movements with proper form. Each attempt is examined by three independent judges that each pay attention to different criterion. You only get credit for the lift if all of the three judges gives your form the OK. The singlets allow the judges to easily see where your body is and what it's doing.

Troy Valberg, Mario Valero, Kyle Hartcorn.  
Mario Valero - Owner Of The UNCIVILIZED Brand Clothing Line.  
Troy Valberg.  
Troy Valberg And Taylor Jackson.  
Ken Lee Thinking About Lifting HEAVY!  
Mario Valero.  
Ken Lee And The Others Get Ready.  
Gibson Kim And The Other Get Ready To Lift Some Heavy Weight!  
Mario Valero Tries To Losen Up His Back With Some Foam Roller Action.  
The Gang Of Equinox Powerlifters.  
Troy Valberg Gets Ready To Deadlift A Personal Best In Weight.  
The Apollon Gym - Location Of The Winter Iron Bash Powerlifting Competition.  

All in all, the meet was both fun and truly inspirational. I still can't get over the variety of people there. What was especially awesome was the number of people that were in their 60s! And, what's even more impressive was that these people were kicking ass! You should have heard the crowd erupt with cheers when one woman in her late 60s deadlifted like 200 lbs! Quite an unbelievable moment.

Maybe one day I can man-up, dawn the singlet, and get my lift on. Certainly time to put some serious effort back into Project HUGE!

Reader Comments


Awesome videos, Ben! These got me seriously jazzed to get my own 'Project Huge' back on the rails. The time to hesitate is through.


A 60-year old woman deadlifting 200 pounds? that I would have liked to see! Okay, I just don't get weightlifting, but kudos to those who can do this.



Yeah, me too! I've been just "off" the last few months. My knee was hurting me and I basically used that as an excuse to stop doing anything useful in the gym. The last few weeks, though, I've started to get my groove back (sorry Stella). And, with the new year coming up, it's the perfect time for resolutions!


I found a video of it - the guy who ran the meet was recording most of the lifts I think:

She was 63, deadlifted 220 lbs and 230 lbs. Unfortunately, you don't get a sense in the video of how riled up the crowd got.


A while back you blogged that your hand/arm/etc were hurting when you worked out, how are you doing? Hope you are not in pain when you work out.


Ben that was way too early in the morning to subject me to seeing men in spandex and leotards. You need some kind of warning label for posts like this ( or just to buy all of those guys grown up clothes ).



It's definitely a dance that I have to do with my joints. My hand has been feeling really good; but, I still have to be careful when I do certain movements. For example, I still won't do chinups (palms facing face) because it aggravates my wrist.

My knee has not been great lately; but, I have been starting Physical Therapy for it. I am able to do some front squats and walking lunges. But, I'm not ready to push it hard. Plus, it hurts when I try to do anything back-loaded.

The shoulder is actually doing really well. I brought my benching grip in more narrow and it's really helped take stress off the joint. Plus, I've been doing a lot more Dumbbells with bench press which allows the arm to follow a bit more of a natural path.

So... all in all, it's an ongoing journey. But, I am itching to get back into the gym hardcore again, especially after seeing this Powerlifting meet!


Ha ha ha, what, you want *more* posts with singlets??? :P


you're definitely making major excuses! dude, there are exercises you can execute without putting your joints at risk while you're recovering. A great resource in that regard is Arnold's Encylopedia on BB and "Strength Training Anatomy" by Frederic Delavier. Consider these while you're eating your Krispy kreme and coffee behind your computer!



Quality vids, thanks for uploading. Respect to that lady in her 60s still deadlifting, quality. Looks like it was a good atmosphere too.



@Sean, I am 47 y/o and enjoy the sport of bodybuilding for fun and hobby reasons. I will never be a pro and only shoot for local NPC contests. The "masters" category of contestants (people over 40) is one of the more impressive categories IMHO b/c of the very point you make. People who are "older" have a much bigger wall to climb when it comes to physique building. I look at the younger guys (35 and under) and think "impressive. But you have it easier". When a contest winner is older and wins the over all contest (as well as their own category), it truly is impressive. Chris Dickerson comes to mind years ago, and today he is 70 something, and looks amazing. We had lunch together recently in Ft Lauderdale and he has legs, glutes and a back on him that would be the envy of any man. Very with the 60+ woman you reference. Keep lifting!



Brilliant, here in Britain we have Jon Citrone still in great shape and he's gotta be pushing 70, he has been competing since the 60s.

Closer to me, Gary Lister took second at the Pro Universe this year after a layoff, I used to train at the gym he as running at the time. He was really down to earth and didn't start training until his mid-20s. This is him He used to be a coal-miner so I guess that's where the work ethic comes in. He won an IFBB Pro card and I remember seeing him on stage with Ronnie at an English Grand Prix around 2000/1.



Back in 2001, right after uni in France, I got myself an internship at Siemens in Edison, just 5 minutes from there. That's where I wrote my very first line of CF and I'm pretty sure it had too many hash signs. Nostalgia...



I won't argue with you there. When one exercises causes a problem, the issue is that I get depressed. But, I am on the upswing. I have been going to the gym consistently and am trying to rock out the foam roller to loosen up my IT band and chest (though I need some PT to give me direction on how to open up the chest).

After the holidays, I even want to get back on something like Huge in a Hurry; or perhaps one of the PTs at the gym can give me something juicy to work on.


Ha ha, small world :)


I will be looking for your video next time Ben. I too have laid off, one excuse or another. I started lifting with a "young" bunch and they sure push hard. Just what I need. Good videos and pics!


@Sean. I searched the web for half an hour last night on Lister and I tried to ascertain his stats and background info. From what I gathered he is short and huge. Short guys are prone to growing quickly due to short muscle fibers, whereas tall folks have longer fibers to grow. Those take much longer in time as well. Still very impressive all around, I'd like to learn more about Lister, other than the dozens of BB blogs and youtube files. Any links on his stats? Wikipedia removed his profile/entry for some reason. Thanks for educating me from across the pond on European BB.

@ Ben. I have found that breaking a rhythm can be sometimes lethal. I have chanted in my head for a few decades, "getting in the gym is half the battle". I can't tell you how many times that mantra has gotten me there. Another musclehead friend of mine, 49 y/o Mexican, 6'2", lean 32"w, often complains to me while we are at the gym, that he isn't feeling it: he just walks around the gym w/ his starbucks coffee checking out the eye candy. In narcissistic Miami, a gym full of people can be a huge distraction as there are some amazing specimens of all persuasions: black, white Latinos, Asians, Europeans, Russians, Caribbean, straight, gay, females,'s endless. A body to behold is a body to behold no matter what their flavor. My point to you, Ben, use whatever reason to get your arse in the gym. Maybe youre not feeling it. Maybe the weather sucks. Miami is a rainy region of the USA w/ heavy downpours. Maybe you're dragging arse b/c it was a long day. No worries. Make your gym a rhythm of your life. Just as you shower every day, use the bathroom every day, brush your teeth every day, etc, make gym attendance part of your routine. It's not a question of "if". It's a question of "when" you're going that day. Maybe its to train like an animal, maybe it's to cruise the eye candy, maybe it's to do cardio, maybe it's to do some moderate stretching to get those older muscles (like me) less aching. By the time you get there, you just might find yourself animated enough to go at it w/ the weights This never fails with me. In the end, I tell myself, "at least I'm here". And that is 50 percent of the equation. Slow and steady you'll reach your goals.

Merry Christmas to all. Type at you next week. Pax Vobiscum



Hi mate, Lister's a great guy, really down to earth gent. The antithesis of a self absorbed type. Used to interrupt his workouts to spot any newbies who needed a hand. He was a pro in the NABBA, and won their Pro Universe. Then competed to win an IFBB Pro card and did so, competed in a couple of shows. Made a comeback at 2010 Pro Universe and came second. Probably about 45 now.

I will dig out some stats and decent info on him.

He's actually about 6'2" though mate, maybe he looks small in vids?

@Ben, sorry for taking over your wall here mate, it's all related, ish!





Gary lives near Harworth, a coalmining mining village in Nottinghamshire, England. He is an ex-miner and now runs a gym in Newark, Nottinghamshire, England. You can find this gym by searching Listers Universal Gym on Facebook. He runs it with his partner Becky Williamson who is a fitness competitor.

Gary's context history is found in these two links.,+Gary

This is his 2010 Pro Universe competition.

This is him competing in his prime, in 1998 where he won the overall NABBA Universe Amateur and turned pro.

Competing in 2008 as a guest spot

And when he won the Pro Universe in 2003

There is a good interview with him which I will dig out when I have time.

Hope this is of some use.





No worries on the tangential conversation at all :) I'm just happy that people come here to talk at all!


I couldn't agree with you more about just getting to the gym. It really is half the battle. It's like workout routines as well - "The best workout routine is the one you actually stick to!" You just gotta get there and get it done.

I think the key component to that is to have structure. That way, the motivation to get to the gym isn't make more frictional by the feeling that you have no idea what you're doing. Pick a time and have a plan. Then, you just need to follow that plan.

Take last night for instance; I went to the gym late in the afternoon. I was tired and feeling a little funky from lunch. I didn't really know what I was gonna do, other than some Back. Troy (one of the guys in the videos) and asked if he could just give me a plan for the day:

- 50 pullups, no matter how many sets.
- 3x10 DB rows
- 3x12 Face Pulls

I'll tell you, just having someone give me "direction" change my attitude. I went from feeling like I was just going through the motions to actually having a kind of sick workout. I only made it to 40 pullups before my body totally gave out; but, by the time I left, I had a crazy back pump.

All to say, like you said, you just gotta do it!



Speaking of gyms in the UK, I tried to go to Dorian Yates' gym last year. I was in London for 2 days; but, unfortunately, it's in Birmingham or something.



It is indeed in Birmingham, and it's quite easy to miss. I went in once out of sheer nosiness. It is grim, like a dungeon, very hardcore.

Scared the crap out of me lol!

There was a random guy in there whose wrists were bigger than my legs!!!!



the subject of "not knowing what to do in the gym" is a common one that men (and women) often share with me. Hence the value of having a certified personal trainer. I am standing on the shoulders of giants (Ms. Olympia Winner Yaxeni Oriquen, and her husband, Tomas Garcia). They were my trainers for years. They both KNOW the gym quite well. I was always amazed that when Tomas trained me, we never did the same routine. It was always completely different. Fast forward several years, I have risen to the occasion to also feel fairly comfortable in any gym whereby I could walk in and throw a routine together quickly. I have a client who lives in a condominium with a gym on the first floor: dumb bell racks (up to 50 lbs), smith machine, bar bell and decent amount of plates for an amateur. I am his third trainer, he tells me, and he presents w/ multiple medical issues in his mid to late 50s. He is a challenging client. I make sure that everytime we train/meet, we never do the same routine and it follows my philosophy of "shock and awe". His goal is growth.

His former trainers did the usual "cardio" exercises of "superman" on the ball, jumping up and down and stepping on ball/bench, etc. He grew tired of the routines and they never used weights. I have to show respect to all trainers, it's just a matter of professionalism and gym etiquette - don't burn any bridges - and just listen to what other trainers do w/ their clients. Not surprisingly my high maintenance client is worn out and continually challenged w/ my training b/c he is not accustomed to it. On those weeks when he travels on business, he doesn't train b/c, he reports, "he doesnt remember what we did". I consider that a compliment.

It is a herculean task to build up a really decent repertoire of exercises in the gym, where you can just walk in and throw together exercises per each body / muscle part/group. It has taken me years. Now, I have no fears or misgivings about the gym prior to going. My enemy is my volition. I know when I get to the gym, I will throw something together that will be good b/c, frankly, where there might be a limited number of exercises one can do, there are a host of mix and match routines that are endless. Shock and awe.

If you have the "feeling that you have no idea what you're doing" or sense that "I didn't really know what I was gonna do, other than some" X, you have a few things you might want to do. I suspect, Ben, you've done some of these already.

1. devour a few books (1 or 2) that have bodybuilding exercises per muscle groups. Each day should be dedicated, IMHO, to a muscle group. Learn as many exercises as you can per each muscle group. Read the books as a reference. Watch the guys (and/or gals) in the gym to learn from them. Ask them, as they train, what they are doing. Get the nerve to approach your fellow musclehead. He is probably more than happy to teach another fellow since he will need your help one day in the future.

2. Hire a CPT (certified personal trainer). I'd help you but we're kinda far apart. Get someone who walks the talk, and looks it. HIre him for 5 or 4 x/ week. Stick to it for 6 months. $1000/month ought to take care of his fees. Dig deep in your pockets and in your motivation. What you learn from him (and yourself) will be priceless...and forever.

3. Compete in a contest. You will learn a great deal about your body and the rate of growth for yourself. You will walk away as a role model and a mentor to many in and out of the gym, even if you feel, as many of us do, "I'm too small". We all feel that way. Right now I'm feeling might big around the waist! Egg nog and Brandy taste great! But losing weight is secondary for me than gaining mass . And you have to grow. Losing the fat is a piece of cake with changing your metabolic basal rate (BMR), measuring your intake, your portion size, etc, etc, etc..and cardio.

If you feel you are aimless in the gym or unsure before you get there, conquer it asap. Once you have commanded the gym space, you will be a very confident man, you will tackle the gym w/ a vengeance b/c you "know" what you are going to do before you get there, AND you will be a great asset to the gym guys/gals there. The sport needs more mentors. You just might be that next guy who trains another for a contest one day. Even if you feel you are too small.

Keep Lifting!



Sean wrote earlier:

"@Ben, sorry for taking over your wall here mate, it's all related, ish!"

i respond:

LMAO! OK, I'll try to salvage this thread to tie into the "charter" of the group. (Is there a charter? :) )

I have Cold Fusion on my Mac. I haven't the foggiest of what to do with it. I stumbled upon this blog by accident but glad i'm here. So I'll bite: how do I learn Cold Fusion and why should I? I use Dreamweaver CS5 and have just a very bare bones understanding of how to use it. My website was used with a template from Dreamweaver. I have paid for classes and they were of no help to me. I could not keep up with the video classes / instructionals and found myself often pausing and rewinding. I was very frustrated with Lynda and dumped her. I then took a class on Dreamweaver two years ago and learned nothing: I couldn't keep up. I was embarrassed to raise my hand and was completely lost in class. i stopped going. I'm dense when it comes to these things. I learn best by someone sitting by my side AND by trial and error. I have a few Dreamweaver books but feel they are over my head (Lynda publishers). I have a ton of Adobe software on my Mac and know how to use very little of it, sad to say. So here I am on this blog talking about bodybuilding b/c I sound somewhat intelligent. But talk about script and I lose consciousness. is there any hope for someone like me? :) I would like to use all of my Adobe Software to promote my business of certified personal trainer. I'm also a published writer, and used to post all of my writings on my website, but removed all of them b/c I didn't know how to create a decent website that showcased my writing as well as my personal training business.



@Sean, thanks for the links to Lister. But I had already found those prior to posting about my ignorance of the man. They provide no info on his stats nor his story. The you tube videos are pretty but again, no info on the man. What's a good reference on the web? I've already search and posts




There is a youtube interview with him after a show, quite informative. I will find it and post the link.




@William, you may want to get "ColdFusion 9 Developer Tutorial" by John Farrar (by the way, what version do you have on your Mac? You may want to just get rid of it if it's CF7 or CF8 and install CF9). This book is a pretty good, compact tutorial to get you up to speed. There's CFWACK, of course, really handy for in-depth coverage of key functions like components and such.

As for what do with sites and your CF knowledge . . . here's one idea . . . how about where you enter your current weightlifting skills, your target weight and how much you want to eventually lifting, and have the site generate a customized weightlifting regimen? I'm just sketching this out very generally; I know zero about weightlifting and likely never will. But just throwing out ideas . . .



Ha ha, awesome. The only think I know about Dorian's training is the "Blood and Guts" video. It's awesome though. I love the guy who's accent is so extreme I can't hardly understanding anything he's saying, except:


... classic! I actually say that to myself sometimes before a set (that's a bit embarrassing to admit).


I use to read T-Nation (Testosterone Nation - religiously. It is jam-packed with outstanding information and all kinds of great exercise ideas. When they came out with that whole bodybuilding series, I-Bodybuilder, I loved the videos. Actually, randomly, Troy Valberg and some of the other guys from the videos above made it into one of the T-Nation articles:

In my mind, I have a tone of exercises; but, what I put down in the gym is much much much more limited. I am sure part of it is self-consciousness. For example, Troy was doing reverse-band bench press the other day. Looks really cool and I completely understand the mechanics of it; but, it's probably something I would be nervous to try on my own. Not nervous that I would get hurt or anything... just some amorphous nervousness of doing a "fringe" exercise without it being part of a real routine or anything.

It's hard to articulate.

Troy is a PT at my gym; I think I'll just end up investing some money in hiring him in the new year. I'd love to work my way up to a Power Lifting competition (assuming I could ever work my into singlet).



Good link to the T-Nation article, cheers.

The guy with the funny accent is Leroy Davis, he was a competitive bodybuilder too, albeit an amateur, who could prob have turned pro but amateur national comps always clashed with Dorian's preparation for the Olympia. Basically sacrificed his competing plans for Dorian. There is an article on by Kris Gethin which reunited the pair for the first time in years recently, link is

Also shows (I think) Dorian and Leroy's sons training. Dorian's son is a fair size.

There is more about it in this thread below, and Leroy's son Liam also wades into the discussion!

Two youtube vids containing interviews with the infamous training partners!





Steve, you wrote: "Anyway, anyone have tips for getting out of a funk or plateau, not a physical one but more lack of motivation to get in there and hit it? Thanks"

I respond:

Motivation is a tough one in bodybuilding circles and I have found that committing a time of the day as being YOUR personal (sacred?) time in the gym is crucial. Do not deviate from it. Tell yourself you MUST go. Go through motions the night before you retire for bed, or moments before you leave in the morning, of packing your gym bag, putting your protein powder in your shaker, getting your ear piece in hand for your iPhone music, get dressed upon waking (or whenever your time slot comes), put on shoes and leave your house at the same time frame every single day (or every other day - depending on what your commitment to self is for your physique goals). It is much easier to keep this rhythm going once you have committed an "I shall do this, no excuses" attitude. Once you stop it for a week or so, it is very difficult to get back into the groove. Once you start it, it is unconscionable to stop it and you just do it.

The above works for me and there are days when I wake at 5:15 AM that I think, "Ugh, I can't go". 10 minutes later my body lumps over to fall out of the bed, I carb up after jumping in my pool to wake up, dress, and in a matter of minutes I'm driving to my gym by my usual 6 AM deadline. Once I'm there, I train like an animal and am done in 45 minutes balls to the walls to point of almost passing out at the end. The comments I get from my fellow muscle-heads at the gym, my circle of colleagues who also are impressive in size, just serve as psychic support. Having that camaraderie is also very motivating. The catecholamine rush is profound. The look in the mirror at the gym when I remove my shirt shows my pump and I think, "damn, I'd do myself". Soon I'm floating out of the gym before 7:30 AM ready to tackle the day with pride.

You don't make excuses for why you don't brush your teeth daily, go to the bathroom, shower, etc. Training should be no different. It is a part of your daily routine and breaking from it is non-negotiable.

Refer to my website for some more motivating materials.

Hope this helps.

William in Miami

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel