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Phil Wilde


Laser Focus and Belief…..
Phil Wilde went down in West Australian powerlifting history as the first man to squat 400kg, achieving the feat twice over a 4-month period.
Like all great stories Phil’s journey to this accomplishment had its fair share of drama and controversy that only added to the man’s integrity and legend status.
Hailing from Bunbury, I first meet Phil at his first comp in 2014 as a 24 year old where he managed to hit a 235kg Squat, 180kg Bench and a Deadlift of 260kg for a Total of 675kg.
As you can see Phil’s numbers where solid from the start, however it was his enthusiasm that hinted there would be bigger numbers in store – all he needed was time and guidance.
The other stand out positive Phil had in his corner was his teammates, it was obvious they were all enthusiastic about the sport and were all craving bigger numbers themselves. As Phil’s journey unfolded their support played a pivotal role in keeping him on track and getting the workload done outside of Muscle Pit.

Arriving at Muscle Pit…..
A change of direction at his current training facility in late 2015 led to Phil and his teammates quitting their place of training. This in turn led to several conversations with Phil about the sport, the commitment needed, and the work ethic required to both reach the lofty goals he’d set himself and to be part of the team at Muscle Pit.
From the outset Phil wanted that 400kg squat – a lift no one in WA Powerlifting history had achieved. A point amplified when you look back at some of the great lifters this state has been represented by. Names like Alex Kipica, Mat Klimmer, Joe McGowan, Paul Jordan and Adam Coe etc… none had tried let alone imagined the possibilities of a 400kg squat.

The Start…..
I’ve never been a fan of “online coaching” it’s BS – its “online programming”. True coaching encompasses so much more, but that’s a topic for another day.
So as part of Phil’s buy in to Muscle Pit he committed to a minimum of one training session each week at Muscle Pit (that’s a 4 hour round trip from Bunbury). We also set up a mono-lift up in Francis Cowan’s back shed in Bunbury to help things along for Phil and his original training crew of Francis, Ash Hartigan, Colin Hogan, and Brett Lilly.
Phil delivered on work ethic and with his positive temperament he quickly became a very popular member of our team at Muscle Pit.
To maximise his time in Perth he’d sometimes crash at fellow teammates houses to save him traveling back to Bunbury; exhausted after some grueling sessions on Friday nights. This allowed him a second training session over the weekend before returning home to Bunbury on the Sunday.
Training with stronger guys both physically and mentally will get you stronger and in doing so Phil thrived in Muscle Pit’s culture. More importantly between both his Bunbury and Muscle Pit training camps his belief system was starting to engrain into every fiber of his being. 400kg was going to fall.

The First 400kg Squat in WA History…..
Upon his arrival at Muscle Pit, he had a best squat of 305kg. Over the subsequent years Phil’s progress saw a steady climb going 325kg (ProRaw 7), 350kg (ProRaw 8), 365kg (2016 W.A States), 370kg (ProRaw 9) and then the Big One 400kg at the 2017 W.A States.
It was quite clear leading into the 2017 W.A States Phil was going to have a crack at 400kg. After missing 380 at ProRaw 9 on depth (two to one), a weight he carried with ease, only reconfirmed my belief.
His prep leading into the 2017 W.A States had gone well, apart from Shannon Florissen, (who’d taken Phil under his wing during his time at Muscle Pit), unable to train with him due to a torn lat he had picked up at ProRaw 9. Everything was tracking perfectly.

A Funny Story…..
When programming Phil I always staggered his de-load, so the week after his final heavy squat session I had set him for a few sub-maximal reps at a 300kg. This night I would have been happy with 8…. However, as it is here at Muscle Pit sometimes the environment just lifts you or as it panned out this night it escalated to push you.
The prospect of seeing someone squat 300kg let alone rep it gets people excited so there was no shortage of spotters and support crew on hand to cheer him on.
Now, it’s fair to say Phil’s cardio at any body weight let alone at 154kg on his 5ft 8 frame isn’t the best. His lack of walking ability, cramping, mobility, and the accidental breaking of chairs at restaurants is folk lore at Muscle Pit. Moving up and down on the spot for Phil is his go to; lateral movements come with massive effort.
So, with the spotters in place and Gary McCartan nominating himself as chief rep counter and with music blasting Phil started.
With the team in full vocal support and riding every rep with him, Gary had to count loud and clear “1, 2, 3”, Phil was a repping machine,”5, 6” beads of sweat were now running down his temples, Phil pushed on, he was going ok… “7” the support was loud, the music was loud, the big man was starting to fade “8”… before Phil could even think about racking the call came over the top of the cheers “come on one more” screamed Gary, Phil Obliged “9” and “again!!” screeched Gary, the spotters and loaders where on full stand by nervously laughing as they could see how spent Phil was, Phil gritted up and went for it “10” … I’m now thinking we’re on fkn de-load and this is going to fuk things up, but like Gary I was a little intrigued, could he get one more rep out? Unrelenting, Gary called “Come on Phil’, everyone there were beside themselves “let’s go” – Phil was now totally fucked, his lungs were on survival, his shirt was soaked – but he went for it…. and got it “11” shouted Gary as Phil came up and just as I breathed a sigh of relief for the big fellow…. Gary screamed those words that I’ll never forget “You can’t finish on an odd number” which was greeted with screams of nervous laughs and encouragement from those watching, disbelief, and excitement filled the room, this was insane. Phil now on auto pilot gave one last drop into the hole and with every fibre in his body pushed up, up, he was gone…. but he got there…. with nothing to spare!! The mono slammed shut in record time as Phil slumped to the floor exhausted, gasping for air while the rest of the crew walked away celebrating and laughing madly at what they had just witnessed. Meanwhile Phil just laid there for 20minutes eyes closed sucking in air and listening to his heart beating, I’m standing over him thinking we really should invest in a defibrillator and bottle of oxygen. – Don’t you just love powerlifting.

The Controversy and the Making of a Legend….
After the epic rep out session, I knew without a shadow of a doubt we had 400kg.
Two weeks later, on the 10th of June Phil took his place amongst the other lifters at the 2017 W.A State Championships. The only thing I thought that would stop Phil from achieving this would be nerves. There was bit of a buzz leading into the comp that Phil was going to have a crack at the 400kg mark, so the anticipation was high.
He started out with a solid opener of 365kg, the bar moved well. It was plain to see from the speed of the accent Phil was on. He then elected to go 380kg. Again successful. It was now set up for the big one… 400kg.
As I mentioned earlier no West Australian had squatted or attempted to squat this amount of weight in the history of the sport, and that dates back to 1972 (45 years at the time of writing this).
Everyone in the venue knew regardless of success this was going to be epic. The pressure was on everyone including the spotters, who called for backup to ensure Phil’s safety…. We now had 7 spotters on the platform. This was the first mistake as there can only be a max of 5 spotters on the platform. The extra bodies also would be responsible in obstructing the view of one of the refs, but I digress.
It was time…. as the saying goes “commeth the hour commeth the man”.
Phil stepped on to the platform, forcibly grabbing the bar, eyes fixed intently on the lump of steel he was throttling…. The crowd was already cheering words of encouragement. The enormity of the occasion was lost on no one, anticipation was high.
Such was Phil’s focus I can guarantee he heard none of it…… Then without warning and with Cobra like speed his forehead struck the bar with force and purpose… the crowd lifted again. Blood now was rolling down his face from the self-inflicted wound as he nestled the 400kg into his back – and with a shunt the 400kg was lifted from the racks.
Gulping down some huge breaths, he got the call “Squat” … the pressure his body was under was forcing even more blood from his head. In a flash the weight rocketed down and, in a blink, it was on its way back the crowd was in a frenzy as he stood tall “Rack” and with that the spotters scrambled to assist the placement of the bar back on the rack.
Lights went two to one in Phil’s favour. The applause was deafening. His walk out of the Mono-Lift after the lift was epic… He was the man!! It was done… or so we thought.

The Controversy….
This was tough… As ecstatic as I and most of the crowd were, not everyone was happy with the refereeing decision claiming the squat to be high, with one person immediately lodging a protest and making more noise about the legitimacy of the lift than a formula one race car.
The thing is Phil’s thighs are massive in circumference with short femurs which makes it hard sometimes for refs to get a read on depth – which is hip joint below the top of the knee.
As meet director the buck stops with me, so I needed to sort this out impartially.
My first reaction based on my experience over the years is to always back your refs, they have the best seat in the house and are best positioned to make the calls. We have all been victims and
benefactors of close calls. It’s part of the sport. After a 24-hour investigation with conversation with the adjudicating refs and multiple video footage including side views, I spoke with Phil and asked his opinion and thoughts.
Now, this was a massive piece of W.A. history and in my opinion, it required integrity to go with it. The amount of bitchy-ness by some in this sport using social media as their lectern can be sole destroying to their target, sometimes these very complainants are so-called defenders and champions for mental health. It’s ironic.
Phil asked my opinion which I gave and reiterated what I’ve written above… Phil response was “Fuck it, let’s get it at our next meet. I’ve done it once, let’s do it again and add to it.”
My final words where “let’s get to work”.
Integrity right their folks, A man with a champion mindset and a man that puts the sport before himself without hesitation.
For a while at the gym every sticky situation was meet with the phrase “What would Phil do?”.

The Fuck You Moment….
History shows that in 2017 Phil’s next meet that year was Pro Raw – Big Dog’s 2. At the time the biggest Pro – Meet in the world.
This kid from Bunbury was now sharing the platform with the sport’s biggest names. Assembling in Melbourne from all over the world was Andrey Malanichev, Eric Lillibridge, Dan Bell, Shawn Doyle along with Australian legend’s Gawain Johnstone, Luke Poli and Alex Simons.
Phil again squatted 400kg and no one this time could cast a shadow, taint it or take it away from him. The enormity of it was not lost on our crew watching the live feed back at Muscle Pit and the traveling support team. It was there, done, etched into the archives of West Australian powerlifting forever. Phil Wilde – the first man to squat 400kg…. and boy did we celebrate!!
To all the doubters “Fuck You”….

No one was more relieved than me. Keeping the Faith and installing that belief into your lifters continually is taxing – to find the positives daily, to keep things on track when the wheels fall off either inside or outside of the gym is sometimes soul searching and frustrating. A lot of life went down over the 4 months leading into that comp – Phil deserved a hero’s ending but deserving and getting it are two different things. The outcome is never guaranteed, even when you have worked your arse off, and turned over every stone to make it happen. Excuses have never been part of this Gym’s DNA… Phil could have spat the dummy, he could have sulked and had a lifelong hard luck story to retell at parties, he could have focused on the knockers, but he didn’t, he knuckled down, refocused and was relentless in his pursuit…Respect!!

It’s also worthy to note since Phil’s 400kg squat two others in this state have hit the mark Shannon Florissen and Dylan Hellriegel both from Muscle Pit.

This was moments before Phil Wilde’s record breaking lift.

The pressure was on, it was his third and final squat – 400kg was loaded on the bar and waiting.

As we prepared at the Chalk bowl, we all knew that 3 months of toil was about to come to a head in less than 40seconds.

We were going to be celebrating or his detractors were going to be lighting up the socials in the way only shit people can do.

With Gary McCartan in one ear hyping him up, and me in the other going over his key set up cues it was time.

As he nestled into the bar and unracked I rode that lift every inch of the way…

The applause was deafening and thundered across the Nullarbor – He’d done it.

I was happy for him, happy for our team, happy for his supporters.

Personally, As I mentioned in the article, I was just relieved, exhausted and proud he’d come through… Integrity had won the day.


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