The Iron Gladiator – An Interview with AJ Roberts

AJ Roberts is the owner of Elite Sports Training and has made a name for himself as one of the industry’s premier performance enhancement coaches, helping athletes achieve their sports performance goals at various different levels.

AJ has been in the strength and conditioning field at the division one level since 2002 assisting with the general supervision and coaching of strength and conditioning programs for all varsity sports at the University of Idaho.

AJ is an accomplished athlete and coach in the sport of power lifting and holds several state, national, and world records. Roberts is listed in Power lifting USA Top 100 lifts in two weight classes.

Wannabebig: So AJ, how did you become involved in power lifting?

AJ: Well, the town I went to high school in had a WADBL female world record holder who approached my weight lifting class about competing in some local competitions. I was the only person who took her up on the offer. Ever since I’ve been hooked.

Wannabebig: When you first got started in power lifting, what were your stats in the big three?

AJ: At my very first meet I competed in the teen dead lift only division and pulled a state record of 470lbs at a body weight of 200lbs. I didn’t think my numbers in the other lifts were good enough to compete with so it wasn’t until a year later in 2004 that I did my first three-lift meet under the guidance of Brent Mikesell. I went 545/365/560 at a body weight of 220lbs.

Wannabebig: What are they now?

AJ: My best lifts to date are a 950lb squat, 700lb bench and a 705lb dead lift in the 308-weight class.

905 Pounds of Iron

Wannabebig: What are your best and worst lifts?

AJ: I wouldn’t say I have a best or worst lift. I try to think I am a pretty well rounded lifter and constantly work hard to improve all three.

Wannabebig: Are there any people who you feel have impacted you as a lifter?

AJ: Brent Mikesell, Agnar Adalsteinsson, and Matt Ludwig. These three people are the reason I am where I am today. Without their guidance and constant support I would have never been able to achieve what I have.

What is your training approach to powerlifting? (is there a certain style or method you follow)

AJ: I have never really followed a specific training routine instead I have come up with a hybrid training template that incorporates ideas from Iron gladiators, Westside, and Metal Militia.

Wannabebig: What are some common mistakes you see power lifters making in the gym or in regards to their training programs (design, exercise selection etc)?

AJ: I could write a whole article on common mistakes but I think the biggest mistake people make in the gym is doing too much. When I was in England training with Andy Bolton I was amazed at how basic his training program was. I always thought you had to do more if you wanted to get stronger but the key is in recovery. When it comes to strength less is often more!

Wannabebig: DVD’s that you suggest people watch to better themselves mentally and/or physically?


Three most important lessons people need to learn in order to become stronger?


  • Surround yourself with people who are stronger
  • Learn from those who are consistently successful
  • Realize strength takes time

Wannabebig: Thanks for your time AJ.

Written by Maki Riddington

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