Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Jerry Prince, Lee Phillips, Dennis Melka, Ryan Parks
Lee Phillips is not only one of the biggest and most promising heavyweight lifters in the United States, but also one of the least seen and, therefore, least known.
Steve Merjanian, Lee Phillips
There is no question that Lee is one of our top heavyweights. He proved this when he took third in the Olympic tryouts with a very impressive 1074 total. And what's more, he looked as though he was capable of breaking that 1100 pound barrier, but the extreme heat and some bad breaks dictated that this was not the night for the big breakthrough.
Most everyone in the weightlifting game is definitely aware of the tremendous lifting of which this jovial giant is capable. However, the fact that he doesn't make his presence felt too regularly accounts for the fact that a great number of lifting fans have never seen Lee lift. I can assure you, though, that once you have seen him lift, you will definitely be impressed with this man's great strength.
Due to Lee's desire not to compete too often and his relative newness as a top competitive lifter, I hadn't had a chance to get to talk with him as much as I would have liked. Therefore, I was very pleased when he decided to stay in York for a few weeks after the tryouts in New York and take another shot at making the Olympic team at the final Olympic tryouts that were held in York. While Lee was training here, I had a better opportunity to talk with him and learn more about the best heavyweight in California.
One day Ike Berger was training and Lee and some of the other lifters were watching him. I took this opportunity to ask Lee some questions about his training and personal background. When you sit next to this six foot, 309 pound athlete who looks more like he should be out fighting bears with a stick than lifting weights, you can't help but get the impression that this man must have been born half-grown. However, when I expressed this thought to Lee, he smiled and set my thinking straight on the matter. "No," he replied, "In fact I was quite small as a youngster and was not expected to live. You may not believe this, but I was a typical 97 pound weakling when I started to train. I was 4'11" tall and weighed all of 97-1/2 pounds. I started training eight hours per day and, believe it or not, three months later I was 5'7" tall and weighed 167 pounds."
Needless to say, I found this hard to believe, but Lee swears it is the truth. He then told how he later gained approximately 80 pounds in eight months.
"How did you ever do that?" I asked.
"I had been training for some years without getting anywhere. You know, just keeping in shape and entering a few contests now and then. One day I decided that I wanted to be a top international lifter. It wasn't hard to figure out that I would never make much of a heavyweight weighing 210, so I started to train in earnest in an effort to bulk up and gain strength. Eight months later I tipped the scales at about 290."
"What made you gain so much weight so fast?" was my next question.
"I just ate A LOT OF FOOD and DRANK 16 QUARTS OF MILK A DAY," he replied and smiled as he saw my face portray my amazement.
"After all," he smiled, "that's only one quart of milk for each hour you're awake."
I had heard that Lee was a good athlete in high school and college, but I must admit I was a little surprised when I found out what an outstanding athlete he really was. He was California Interscholastic Federation (includes about 350 high schools) in three sports - football, track, and gymnastics. In college he continued his gymnastics, but received most of his honors in football where he made Little All American. After graduating from Los Angeles State with a B.S. in Chemistry, he entered the service and made the "in service" All American team. In fact, Lee had an offer to play football with one of the top pro teams, but wanted to retain his amateur status.
The 35-year old powerhouse from San Gabriel, California, has been successful in other sports, but wants most of all to be a top international lifter and trains with this object in mind. He isn't one to just sit and idly wish to reach the top and do nothing about it.
His usual schedule calls for from four to six days a week training. Lee is a firm believer in doing heavy bodybuilding during the off-season and as he explained it, "I think all weightlifters should do bodybuilding movements. I myself enjoy bodybuilding exercises - done in a heavy way - such as bentover rows, squats, curls, dips, pulldowns, etc. When bodybuilding I keep the sets high - about 10 - and the reps low - about 3 to 5. I usually spend Monday and Thursday on bodybuilding movements and Tuesday and Saturday on the Olympic lifts or lifting movements such as power cleans or power snatches, plus rack work - isometric, isotonic, or just partial movements." In addition, Lee does 5 sets in the leg raise each day.
He believes that by including heavy bodybuilding in his training he can become a more efficient lifter, as bodybuilding movements improve leverage, athletic ability, and help to stimulate interest in competitive lifting. This was the training schedule he was following prior to the Olympic tryouts.
We had an occasion to talk with Lee over the phone a few days ago and he informed us that he is training harder than ever - probably with an eye on the 1965 Senior Nationals that are to be held in Los Angeles.
Currently he is training six days a week - heavy bodybuilding three days and performing lifting movments three days - and running four days a week. By following this routine he took his weight down to 278, and then built it back up to a 292. He feels that this will help his leverage and speed. Incidentally, his waist now measures six inches less than it did before he started his new training routine.
Since Lee usually varies his workouts according to how he feels on a particular day, he didn't give us an exact training schedule, but preferred to list the exercises that give him good results (although he doesn't perform all of these at one training period or even in a week). These result producing exercises and how he trains them are as follows:
Press Off Rack.
Starting with 135 pounds, he works up to 370 or 400 in about 10 sets, doing 2 reps the first 5 sets and singles for the remaining sets.
Press From Eye Level.
He works up to between 410 and 470 in about 6 sets of singles.
Press From Just Above the Head.
He works up to between 520 and 570 in about 6 sets of singles.
He performs a total of 20 to 25 sets. After warming up, he usually works up from 400 in 30-lb. jumps, performing 2 reps per set, until he reaches about 670. He then takes 10-lb. jumps, performing only singles, to about his training limit which he lists as 720. Lee says that back squats performed in this manner really bring up his lifting power.
Clean Grip High Pull (straps).
He does 10 to 15 sets, working up to 550 in singles from 135.
Snatch Grip High Pull (straps).
10 to 15 sets, up to 440 in single repetitions from 135.
Deadlift (off 12" blocks).
He works up to between 650 and 730 in about 6 sets of singles.
Other exercises that Lee has found helpful are: dumbbell presses, incline presses, front squats, and the three presses, three pulls, and three squats on the isometric rack.
A typical workout for Lee usually includes 35 to 50 sets and takes five hours to complete.
Best Official Lifts to date:
Clean and Jerk 400
Enjoy Your Lifting!