Chuck Z interviews Kara Bohigian and Craig Smith at the 2007 Arnold Classic.
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A conversation with World Record Holder Kara Bohigian
At the Arnold Classic on March 3, 2007 I had a chance to
sit down and speak with World Champion power lifter,
Kara Bohigian who was accompanied by her new
husband, Pro Highland Game Athlete, Craig Smith. You
couldnít find two nicer people in the sport, or anywhere
else for that matter. They were both gracious with their
time and I very much enjoyed speaking with them. We
spoke about a number of topics and you can tell from the
interview how down to Earth they are. It was an absolute
pleasure for me. I thanked her at first for granting us the
interview and she told me that she was glad we asked and
that she wanted to do it. In the beginning of the interview
we started to chat about training gear and how she was
getting aggravated with the equipment. I talk so much
that I forgot to turn the voice recorder on. We catch this
conversation a couple of minutes in:
Chuck: Coming from a weightlifting background itís got
to be frustrating because even in the squat, nobody seems
to be hitting depth.
Kara: Yes. Itís not as if we are intentionally cutting it
high. Itís not like a raw squat, when you are going down
it feels as if your head is going to explode because the
equipment is getting so tight.
Chuck: Like I said, I came from bodybuilding. The first
time I used the equipment I thought I was going to choke
myself to death.
Kara: Oh yes. I canít even wear a squat suit. I wear just
the briefs and that is already killing me. Normally in a
regular raw squat, coming up is the hard part. You donít
even think about coming down.
Chuck: But with this, itís just trying to get depth?
Chuck: Craig, you did power lifting too didnít you?
Craig: I played a little bit.
Chuck: You played with the suits and stuff like that?
Craig: A little little bit.
Craig: Nah! Itís not for me. I would much rather see it
all without that stuff.
Chuck: A friend of ours on anabolicfitness.net, Monster
loves the Highland games. He wants to do it, but he has
to get in condition first.
Craig: Itís a whole day.
Chuck: Did you ever do the Highland games Kara?
Kara: No. I donít think I can. He is trying to get me too.
Craig: We might get her to do something.
Chuck: That would be great.
Kara: I donít know, Iím kind of clumsy. Iíd be picking
up the caber and dropping it all overÖ. Throwing the
weight in the audienceÖ(laughter from everybody)
Chuck: How did you start up? What was your evolution
in lifting? Where you a Tom Boy?
Kara: (Laughing) No, not at all. I was a gymnast when I
was little and I did some track. My father was a track and
field athlete, so I used to run in the little kiddie meets and
do gymnastics and dance, stuff like that. I was always
pretty muscular from gymnastics and I liked training, but
injuries started piling up. When I was in High School I
Chuck: You did gymnastics all through elementary and
Kara: Yes. So in High School I started doing
cheerleading instead and then I was doing track in the
other seasons and doing shot-put. We started benchpressing
of course for shot put and I was like, (really cute
voice) ďooooh I like this.Ē This was as far back as about
fifteen. I loved it. It was always my favorite thing to do.
Thatís how I started lifting. I used to sneak after school
to the YMCA.
Chuck: You used to sneak?
Kara: (Laughter) Yes! I was supposed to be home. I
would sneak to the yucky YMCA so I could bench press.
Chuck: (laughing) Most kids would sneak out to drink
and do whatever and youíre sneaking out to workout?
Kara: Yes. To bench press.
Chuck: That is very cool. So what started you in power
lifting? Itís not traditional; most girls donít normally do
Kara: (laughing) No! I kept lifting all through High
School and also through College. I went to Georgia Tech.
Chuck: An engineering degree correct?
Kara: Yes. So there was this little gym down there and I
was pretty much lifting by myself doing routines in
bodybuilding magazines. I always liked lifting heavy
rather than dieting or trying to look a certain way. I liked
working out with the guys. It was around 1996 and they
closed our gym and everything on campus for the
Olympics. They gave us this membership to a corny
gym. It was closed on Labor Day of 1996 and so I went
up to Coffeeís Gym. I head about Coffeeís gym in
Marietta, a super hardcore gym and I heard that they
were open everyday, even Christmas. I went in and I was
on the bench press of course and in the middle of my set,
John Coffee, the owner walked up and said, (in really
cute imitation of John Coffee) ďCan you press that much
over your head? Try some power cleans!Ē He taught me
to power clean and how to Olympic lift. I competed in
the Nationals the next year.
Chuck: I am so amazed by Olympic lifting.
Kara: Itís amazing!
Chuck: I mean the technique and the speedÖthere is a
question for you. You said that you train a hybrid sort of
way. I know you do cleans and overhead presses.
Somebody posted your over head presses on
Youtube.com and I was like, ďOh my God, I canít do
that!Ē (Kara giggles)
Kara: (Giggling) Oh you could if you practiced it. (Kara
was being overly nice)
Chuck: How do you feel that your overhead pressing
correlates to your bench press?
Kara: It is directly related.
Chuck: Anterior deltoid strength?
Kara: Yes. It even applies to your raw bench. It
definitely helps shirted bench because of your
tricep/lockout on the shirted bench, but even my raw
bench, I can just do overhead press and pretty much be
Kara: Yeah, Yeah!
Chuck: Is that your Zen? The place where you want to
Kara: Oh yeah. You know what is so funny? I quoted
him saying that and so many people have quoted my
quote of him. So many people feel the same way. I donít
know if you know Tim Harold, he is a Westside lifter? I
saw him say something about that quote because that is
just how so many lifters feel. The gym is where they feel
comfortable and just like Billy said, they love it as much
as the first day there and they canít really say that about a
whole lot else in their life.
Chuck: There are so many things in life that you have to
do: You have to pay your taxes, you have to take care of
your family, you owe people time or whatever, but that is
just something that is selfish and yours and nobody can
take credit for it. I always said it was almost like a
church. I feel comfortable there.
Kara: A lot of people feel that way. Oh yeah!
Chuck: I saw that in a span of 18 months you competed
in 5 different weight classes?
Kara: (Giggles) Yes!
Chuck: How do you do that? How do you go up in
weight and down in weight? What do you normally do?
Kara: Oh my goodness! Iím kind of like a sponge.
(Giggles) Depending on what I eat, itís obviously not all
muscle or fat, itís mostly water. I did that in Olympic
lifting. My natural body weight is always around 154lbs
if Iím not dieting too strict. When I first began Olympic
lifting I was in the 70kg weight class. I thought to
myself, let me get a little heavier and see how that goes. I
got up to 165lbs and my lifts were going good and then I
got up for a while to 183lbs, 83kg and stayed there for a
while and got real strong. Then I thought, all right, Iím
fat. (Laughs) I decided to go down in weight and see how
well I could maintain my strength each weight class. I
went down 165lb and hit about the same lifts, went down
the next class, at the time I think it was 151.8lbs, the
69kg class or something like that. I hit about the same
lifts. I went to the 63kg class and had a little bit of a drop
off, but not much to where it was still just as good. I went
to the 58kg class, which is 127lbs, 128lbs. (Giggles) That
was my point of diminishing returns. (Giggles harder) I
thought, I look good, but I canít lift.
Chuck: That sounds like somebody with a curiosity toÖ
Kara: To manipulate my body weight. I feel like when
you have been lifting as long as I have itís hard to get
stronger. I feel like I never really get a whole lot stronger
so I like to, whenever I hit a plateau, gain some weight
and then try to lose it and see what I can maintain. Just
play around a little bit?
Chuck: Is that the same natural curiosity that would lead
somebody from gymnastics to weightlifting to power
Kara: Yeah! Just kind of try everything.
Chuck: I feel the same way.
Chuck: You talked about the Glucorell and Sesapure,
how does that effect your training? How does it affect
your pre training when you are trying to make weight
and stuff like that?
Kara: Oh! It can really be hard. I have really learned
how to make weight over the years because back in the
Olympic lifting days I used to diet most of it off. It would
affect my performance. I would do a little bit of sauna,
but most of it was dieting.
Chuck: When you called me you said you were in the
Kara: (Giggling) Yes! My Olympic lifting coach, John
Coffee was so funny, he always says, (imitating John
Coffee in Southern Drawl again) ďYou donít wannaí lose
any tissha.Ē (The room cracks up) Not meaning muscle
or fat, Tissha! Spelled with an Ďa.í He always said, just
do, water offÖwater back on. So however long you have
for a weigh in, if you have 24 hours before a weigh in
spend 24 hours, cut your water and then put it back on.
So I recently cut some ridiculous amount, 19lbs in a
couple of days and put it back on in a couple of days.
Kara: Itís all water.
Chuck: Do most power lifters do that? The sauna bit?
Kara: I donít know. I am able to lose a lot of
subcutaneous water, so I donít know how many other
lifters have the same thing or they enjoy the sauna
process as much as I do. I can get into the sauna and suck
out a lot of weight. I donít know if itís because I am
female or because I eat WAY too many carbohydrates or
both. A lot of lifters do manipulate their diet a good bit
longer than I do. I will eat like crap and then the last few
days just water and salmon and the pounds just fall off.
Chuck: The joys of power lifting.
Kara: Itís lovely! (Giggles)
Chuck: How did the Glucorell and Sesapure help out?
Kara: They are mandatory!
Chuck: Do you manipulate that as well?
Kara: Yes! I really noticed it at one competition. I told
Larry (Owner of Anafit) that I took the Glucorell right
after the weigh in with Pedialyte and Gatorade and I just
could not believe how much weight I put back on. It just
went to all the right places. It wasnít like a lot of times I
made weight, came back and my stomach was real full. It
came back in my delts, my traps and my triceps. I think
after one of the times I made weight (points at Craig) he
saw that my traps, delts, everything was bigger than two
days ago. So that stuff is incredible! It mimics insulin, so
it really shuttled everything into my muscles.
Chuck: And it gets rid of the sugar so quick that it really
doesnít have time to end up in the fat or anywhere else.
Kara: And of course the Sesapure is amazing. (We both
laugh) I canít wait; I am going to start taking that
Chuck: Do you use Thermorexin?
Kara: Oh yeah!
Chuck: That stuff is stronger than ephedrine to me.
Kara: It is so strong! I donít think people realize. That is
what I use when I am in lighter classes. You know, in the
low 140ís, high 130ís? That is my secret right there!
Chuck: My wife recently wanted to drop weight. She
used the Sesapure, Thermorexin and GlucorellR
combination. She didnít change her activity level, she
didnít change her diet and within a couple of weeks she
dropped fifteen lbs and really felt good doing it. Do you
use them Craig?
Craig: No! I havenít tried them yet.
Kara: You have to try my stuff. The Thermorexin is
Chuck: Did you like the old ephedrine?
Craig: Oh yeah!
Chuck: Seriously, the Trex is great. For me it last like ten
hours. Just one does it for me; I like it way better than
Kara: You know I know some people that will take two,
three a couple times a day, I take one. I love it.
Chuck: Thank you. Larry just had me try some of the
Red Blast. I thought it was fantastic. What did you think?
Kara: I hit PRís the first day I took it. I told Craig
because I was so shocked. I just told you my best bench
in training was only 405lbs. I just really didnít want to go
bench. This was last Wednesday. I thought Gosh, I just
donít feel good, I donít want to bench today, I am going
to have a horrible bench. I was not going to even go to
400lbs; I will probably only do 350lbs or something.
Chuck: A girl saying, ďI will probably only go to 350lbs,
not 400lbs.Ē (I start laughing in amazement)
Kara: (laughing) Itís all a sham! I canít bench 400lbs,
my shirt canít bench 400lbs, but togetherÖwe can bench
400lbs. Weíre a hell of a team! So I took a bunch of
those (Red Blast), I think I took about five and I went in
and hit 425lbs. I thought, where did this come from?
There is no reason my bench should have been that good
that day. I told Larry immediately, ďBig PR.Ē
Chuck: Thatís great! I feel more alert and far better
pumps than I am used to. You should try it Craig!
Craig: That I have. We dead lifted on that. I really liked
Kara: Oh yeah, we dead lifted that day. Good Stuff!
Chuck: How did you and Larry meet?
Kara: This is actually true. I liked Anafit products so
much I was buying them long before I met Larry or was
sponsored. I had read all the rave reviews about the
products on various fitness boards. I think I started off
withÖIt might have been the R-ALA (Glucorell) before
they renamed it. I thought it looked really cool. I was just
buying that and buying some other stuff (Thermorexin I
believe) and told Larry that I really liked the products. I
think it was Mike Miller that put me in contact with
Larry. I was a big believer in the products before Anafit
ever sponsored me. They have come out with more and
more since (R-ALA), particularly the Sesapure. Itís my
Chuck: You know, I have to talk to Scott about that
because I still donít understand how it actually works. I
think it inhibits some enzymes that store fat. I have
looked at lot of studies on Pubmed.com and everybody is
looking at it in the medical field.
Kara: Itís amazing. I actually had to stop taking it
because I was trying to gain some weight. It is usually
hard for me to make 148lbs. I remember it was one year,
2005 and it was around Halloween. I was eating all sorts
of Halloween candy and I didnít even have to cut weight
and I am usually pushing 160lbs around that time of year.
I canít wait to start taking it again. (Laughter). You can
eat whatever you want and you donít gain weight.
Chuck: I heard you just got married to Craig! Do you
guys plan on having any children? Like really really
really strong children? (We all laugh)
Kara: He already has two. Weíre going to start teaching
them to Olympic lift soon.
Chuck: How old are they Craig?
Craig: Four and Six.
Chuck: Congratulations man! Girls? Boys?
Craig: My boy is six, my girl is four.
Chuck: Can I show you a picture of my son Ben? (Kara
starts to laugh) Iím like the proudest Dad in the world.
Chuck: My wife actually sent me a video of him. (I am
showing the picture to Craig and Kara)
Kara: Awwww! How old is he?
Chuck: Fourteen months.
Craig: Thatís cool!
Chuck: It is cool. He is at the age now where he is doing
the monkey walk with his arms in the air.
Kara: No way! Aww! He is too cute!
Chuck: Do you guys plan on having any?
Kara: I donít think so. His are just perfect! (Laughter)
Chuck: I just wanted to mention that I did go to your
website Craig. Itís very cool! You did a great job on that.
Chuck: Do you have a website Kara?
Kara: No! (Laughter) Just a bunch of videos floating
around. Iíll have some more videos up on Craigís site
soon. Some more Olympic lifting and strong man stuff.
Chuck: I want to see you compete in strong person.
Kara: I got third at strongwomen nationals last summer
and I am going to do it again this summer. I really
enjoyed that. It was very fun.
Chuck: Did you do it with Heather Lee Bossowski?
Kara: No, but I would love to train with her sometime. I
did get to compete with Elena Seiple. She was awesome!
She was fantastic! I trained with the crew from Coffeeís
Gym: Brett Tucek, Mark Bevins and then Dan Garreau
and Scott Helms sometimes too.
Chuck: I would like to see you do the Highland Games
Kara: Me do it?
Chuck: Yes, you do it!
Kara: Weíll see. (Giggles)
Craig: Weíll see if we canít get her to do it.
Chuck: My son is Russian, Finnish and Polish, so if he is
a strong man, I will have you train him Craig. (Laughter)
Craig: We can do that!
Kara: Sounds like he has good genetics!
Chuck: Thank you. Is there anything that you want to
add? Is there anything that you want to talk about?
Kara: No, not really! Iím just glad you let me do this. I
really really really love Anafit products. Like I said, I
was a customer before I was sponsored and I still would
be if I wasnít sponsored.
Chuck: Thank you so much!
Kara: I was telling a girl in the cab ride over how cool
the products are.
Chuck: Really? You know whatís so funny? You can talk
about products all day. You can tell people about certain
products out and a lot of it is crap! The majority of stuff
out is crap, ninety percent or so.
Kara: You are right, it is!
Chuck: You hear all these amazing testimonials about
how that product works and this product works and it just
doesnít. Itís the same old redundant stuff. The thing
about Anafit is itís not the same old stuff.
Kara: No itís not!
Chuck: It works and itís effective.
Kara: You know I read a lot on fitness forums and the
people there have been around forever. They go ahead
and say the stuff that works and doesnít work. All these
girls on the womenís forums were going nuts over all
this stuff. I thought, I have to try this. Itís not like it was
on an Anafit forum. This was years ago.
Chuck: I go on the womenís forum and help out once in
Kara: Itís cool you guys go on there and help out with
products and stuff.
Chuck: Just a couple more things and I will let you guys
Kara: No problem!
Chuck: You use Inzer gear right? What shirts and what
equipment do you use?
Kara: I have used every bench shirt they make, every
single one and Like the RageX the best. Thatís my
Chuck: The single or the double?
Kara: The double. I have worn singles too and the single
is outstanding, but the double doesnít stretch out as
quickly. I have the same shirt that I have been wearing
for over a year now. I just feel like I donít have to
replace it. I do a lot of meets where I wear a single ply,
but a meet like this I use the same old double that I wear
meet after meet. But I like their denims, Ultimate denims
and their old EHPHD (Extra High Performance HD
Bench Shirt) too. They have a huge product line and
some really cool new stuff in the pipeline.
Chuck: They have a denim shirt too?
Kara: Their denims are great. They have this super
denim itís crazy red denim. Itís a little bit too aggressive
for me. I know some of the bigger guys are really
enjoying that shirt.
Chuck: Inzer has great products. I really like their stuff.
Kara: Me too! I like that they have such a massive
selectionÖeverything from modest single ply stretchy
pieces, to advanced aggressive equipment. They offer
something got every level and style of lifting.
Chuck: That leviathan suit is deadly.
Kara: I canít. That is where I draw the line. That suit is
Chuck: I have a training partner who bought one a little
too small for him. He is like I am 330lbs and I can fit in a
180lbs suit. He canít get it cinched. You see him hanging
from the bar. A 350lbs man hanging.
Kara: That is what you have to do. It will stand up by
itself. That suits crazy!
Chuck: Yeah! They have it standing up in the power
Kara: Itís ruthless! I wonít wear it itís too much.
Chuck: If there were nothing else you would like to add?
Would you like to add anything Craig?
Craig: Nope! This is all her. (Kara Giggles) I am just in
Kara: Oh shut up! (Laughing) He is such an idiot! Heís
a fricken professional athlete!!
Chuck: You guys seem really cool together.
Chuck: Thank you so much for the interview. I really
appreciate you both spending the time with us. It was an
honor to meet both of you.
Kara: Iím just glad I got to do this.
Chuck: I wish you both the best of luck. Thank you
We all talked for a couple of minutes in the lobby. Kara
and I talked about the movie Monster Inc. and how we
both started to cry at the end. Craig said she started
crying before the sad part even came. I admitted I did
Seriously, Kara and Craig are wonderful people. I was a
fan of Kara before, but I just went to the head of her fan
club because she is so sweet and funny, you have to love
her. Craig is a very cool guy and I could have talked
music, training and much more for hours with both of