“To the young guys I’d say, listen to this old man, I’ve been where you are. Don’t make my mistake, protect your hands, you won’t get any new ones if you mess these up!”
User Profile: CT Fletcher – Master’s Competitor
CT Fletcher is a 53-year-old power lifter and now a bodybuilder from Long Beach, California. He trains at Metroflex Gym Long Beach under the excellent guidance of co-owner Chris Albert. Metroflex Long Beach is Big Back Grips’ home gym, which is how we met CT. As a power lifter, CT has trained bare-handed all his life, which makes sense since power lifters are only allowed lifting chalk in competition.
But now that he’s into bodybuilding, he’s a true Big Back Believer. We recently sponsored him in the NPC Excalibur in Culver City, California. He came in 2nd Place, Master’s Over 50. The next morning we did a photo/video shoot with him at Metroflex, and afterwards we had a few minutes to sit down and chat.
BBG: First CT, can you give everyone a little background on yourself: where you’re from, what you do, etc.
CT: Well, I’m originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, but I’ve been here in Southern California for 50 years. I was a 6-time world champion power lifter, and now I’m a world champion professional bodybuilder.
BBG: Now, you’re 53 years old. When did you pick up your first weight? When did you start pursuing power lifting seriously? How long were you at it?
CT: I was 22 when I picked up my first weight. I started lifting seriously in 1983 and kept lifting until 1997.
BBG: Now that you’ve switched to bodybuilding, do you still do or plan to do more powerlifting?
CT: Half my workout, still to this day, is devoted to power lifting. It is a major part of my workout. As far as whether I will go back to competing in power lifting, I’m done with that arena. I’ve accomplished everything I set out to accomplish in power lifting.
BBG: What are some of the highlights of your power lifting career? What are you especially proud of?
CT: I won the world strict curl championship three times and the world bench press championship three times. But the highlight of my career, by far, is the 705 lb shirtless attempt at the baddest bench press in America contest in 1995. I didn’t actually make that lift but I still feel it was my greatest accomplishment because I did it drug free against the best power lifters in the world.
BBG: For the people who come to our site who may not know, can you explain the difference between power lifting and weight lifting in the competitive sense?
CT: Simply power lifting is to go out there and see who is the strongest and who can lift the most weight in 3 disciplines: squat, bench press and dead lift. Weight lifting is lifting weights to develop the entire body.
BBG: How do your bodybuilding workouts different from your power lifting workouts? How does your powerlifting background serve you now as a bodybuilder?
CT: Bodybuilding workouts involve a lot more detail work and a lot more repetition. Power lifting earned me the mass that I have today. My mass was achieved through power lifting, so it continues to serve me even today as I set out for more bodybuilding titles.
BBG: Now, those years of bare hands and chalk for powerlifting, what has it done to your hands, anything good?
CT: Nothing good. Just a lot of calluses and rough spots. In my youth I considered them battle scars, but now I just worry about not scratching my girlfriend face with them.
BBG: As a former STRICTLY bare-handed guy, how tough was it for Chris Albert to talk you into giving BBGs a try? We know old habits die hard.
CT: Initially I will say I didn’t want to try them. I’ve spent 25 years doing it bare-handed and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
BBG: What did you find the advantage was?
CT: I got a much better grip with Big Back Grips, and the non-slip effect was a added bonus. No longer did the pre-rubbered bars that supposedly solve the grip problem, which in reality wound up being totally useless after a month or so of heavy lifting, the rubber cracked, broke off, and even before that happened, spun freely around the bar, which erased any possible benefit they might have given.
BBG: What would you say to more senior lifters regarding Big Back Grips and hand protection? And what would you say to younger lifters?
CT: To the older guys I’d say, I’m as old school as they come, and totally understand your reluctance to use something that might make use seem any less “Macho.” I’m one of the founding fathers of No pain, No gain, so I get it, I do. But…with age also comes wisdom. With that wisdom I’ve determined that my girlfriend likes my less abrasive hands, much more than the thickly calloused ones I usually sport, something about sand paper doesn’t feel good. To the young guys I’d say, listen to this old man, I’ve been where you are. Don’t make my mistake, protect your hands – you won’t get any new ones if you mess these up!
BBG: Now, this question is not about hands, or grips, or anything in particular: As a man who has spent plenty of time with a barbell in his hands, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned that you want to pass on to some of the athletes just starting out.
CT: You have only One Life, live it with NO regrets, you don’t want to watch your life pass you by, and you sat on the bench, GET IN THE GAME!! So what if you strike out from time to time, you can Never hit a home run without Swinging Away!!
BBG: And what would you say to lifters who have been at it a while and are wondering how much longer they can keep it up?
CT: I WOULD SAY, DUMBELLS, OLYMPIC BARS, IRON PLATES, BENCHES, MACHINES, ARE ALL FOUND IN THE ONE TRUE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, “IRON”.
BBG: What does the future hold for you as a lifter, either powerlifting or bodybuilding?
CT: The Future is Bright for me. Right now I’m one of the top over-50 competitors on the planet. I won’t be satisfied until I am the UNDISPUTED Number One guy on the Planet, period.
CT: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part: back or legs, shoulders, chest or arms, even abs. Just pick your favorites.
CT: For Arms I usually start with single-arm dumbbell preacher curls, because it’s an isolation move, that forces you to keep strict form while performing the movement, and I can envision boulders and mountain peaks while performing this, my favorite biceps movement.
Then I will follow this with e-z curl bar preachers again for the strictness of the movement, I will perform 6 sets, 5 out wide, 5 in close to work both heads of the biceps.
Then I move on to “T” curls, performed on and incline bench with palms facing as far east and west as possible; the hanging portion forces blood into the arms, then the contraction of the biceps further loads them with blood and causes one Helluva pump!!
Finish with either concentration on cable curls. I perform 5 to 6 sets of each exercise, doing a minimum of 10 repetitions.