Interview with Kendrick Farris on Newton-Sports.com

Kendrick (“King of the Platform”) Farris, 2012 USA Olympian

Kendrick Farris Olympics 2012I first met Kendrick Farris in 2000 at the AAU Junior Olympic Games’ weightlifting championships. Twelve years later, Kendrick has just been selected as the sole male weightlifter representing the United States in the Summer Olympic Games in London.

Kendrick is 25 years old, married, with one son. He’s a junior at LSU-Shreveport, with no plans to retire from lifting after the Games. He may experiment with moving up to the 94kg class, but regardless, he is basically injury-free and eager to continue to lift heavier weights.

I asked Kendrick to share some of his insights on life and weightlifting with bulletin readers.

HN:     Kendrick, you’ve been at it a long time in terms of weightlifting years. Are you ready to hang up your lifting shoes?

KF:     No, I actually feel like I’m just getting started! Although I have been lifting for 14 years, I didn’t get serious until my senior year in high school. Readers must realize that periodization works. I don’t max out that often. I keep building confidence toward even greater performances.

HN:     What titles have you garnered?

KF:     This is my second Olympic Team. In 2008 I finished 8th in the 85kg category. I’ve been Pan American Champion, medaled in the Pan American Games, participated in the Junior World’s and the World’s, and have won USA National Junior and National Championship titles.

HN:     Kendrick, what advice do you have for coaches reading this bulletin?

KF:     Patience! To be successful coaches need to study weightlifting technique and training methods that work (not just the latest fad) and they must look for athletes who seek a higher level of accomplishment.

HN:     Kyle Pierce has been your coach since Day 1. Could you have done better by evolving to other coaches and their methods? Has your remaining in Shreveport held you back at all?

KF:     No! Kyle understands me. He knows the sport and he knows how to bring someone along. I owe Kyle a great deal of my success.

(Kyle Pierce was also on the telephone interview)

KP:     Kendrick has always been open to other coaches’ ideas. He’s gained a lot from working with you (Harvey Newton), Roger (Nielsen), and Zygmunt Smalcerz, in particular.

HN:     What advice do you have for new lifters?

KF:     Like coaches, I think lifters must study the sport. You’ve got to be pro-active in terms of setting and achieving goals. Lifters must face the ups and downs of such a grueling sport as weightlifting, but you’ve got to stick to it and work, work, work toward improving training and lifting goals. You can’t set any limits on yourself psychologically. Success will not come overnight, and you can’t always hit a personal record. But, you can never lose sight of, or let up on achieving, your goals.

HN:     How about advice for experienced lifters?

KF:     Three simple rules:

      1) Believe more in yourself

 

      2) Work hard

 

      3) Achieve your goals

 

HN:     Kendrick, you have a very explosive lifting style. What’s your opinion on technique vs. greater strength?

KF:     Technique and strength go hand in hand, both are crucial for success. I’ve always thought of this in terms of pitching (a baseball). Sure, learn the basics, but then make the lifts your own. You know we do a lot of 10-rep work, something not utilized by many coaches. In fact, I’m doing 10s right now, even though we’re only a few weeks from the Games.

I’ve squatted 243/10 and deadlifted 260/10, but I’d say neither of those were absolute max loads. I can do those lifts in good form, without risking injury. I also throw in some eccentric and isometric emphasis, especially in deadlifts. This is with the final rep(s), when I’ll take a slow (6 second) descent and/or stop at the knees for a few seconds.

KP:     Whenever Kendrick has gotten stronger his lifts have looked easier. It’s really difficult to separate the two ingredients; they’re deeply intertwined.

HN:     Speaking of technique, what is it with your jerk?

KF:     I’ve always had trouble doing split jerks. At 85kg I’ve power jerked 220/1 and 210/3 from the rack. I’ve cleaned 218kg in training. My legs are actually stronger now, so I expect to increase the C&J in the future. It’s just never felt natural for me to split in the jerk and I find it fairly easy to power jerk.

KP:     On some third attempts Kendrick has done a squat jerk, but this is really a power jerk with an overhead squat. Kendrick has done a 225kg split jerk from the rack, so we know he can do this. But as long as he feels confident in the power jerk, why change? (HN note: this is very similar to discussions of Yuri Vardanian’s somewhat unusual jerk form in the 1970s and ‘80s.)

HN:     I’ve been very impressed in your initial lift-off speed in the past few years. We have so many lifters who think they need to start the pull slowly. How did you get so fast?

KF:     I always try to move as fast as possible. When I’m readying to start the lift I mentally check my positions. I’ve done some 30-second, unweighted “holds” of my key positions, even outside the gym and drill on initiating rapid transitions from one key position to another.

KP:     Carl Miller (USA’s first national coaching coordinator, circa mid-1970s) emphasized, “The lifter should make as fast as start as possible with the leverage at hand.” (Editor’s note: From Olympic Lifting Training Manual, page 14, self-published) Despite Kendrick’s great speed, you’ll note he does not jump off, or stomp, at the top of the pull. Every move is directed toward technical efficiency.

HN:     What are your future plans?

KF:     I want to keep lifting for at least four more years. I enjoy coaching and spreading the word to youngsters about our great sport. I’d like to be able to arrange opportunities, including scholarships and sponsorships, for promising lifters.

KP:     Kendrick was a sponsor of the recent USA University Championships.

HN:     Thank you, Kendrick (and Kyle). Best wishes for a successful performance in London!

KF:     Thank you.

To learn more about Kendrick Farris and to support his continued success on the weightlifting platform visit his website at http://kendrickjfarris.com.

Harvey Newton