👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Francesco Pelizza, I am Italian and I am 33 years old. I was born in the 86 in Parma, the UNESCO city of food. I did university and got BSc and MSc degrees in Molecular Biotechnology and Biologist State exams in 2014.
Afterwards, I went to Scotland, in Glasgow where I started my PhD in Quantum and Classical Physics Multiscale Modelling, succeeded the 8 of August 2018. Within and after my PhD, I had collaborations and scientific exchanges with the Helmoltz Zentrum in Munich, Germany and where I moved to work on two different post-doctoral projects.
The first were bioinformatics studies on tobacco smoke induced cancer by NGS analysis and the other project recently ended with a publication submitted in January 2020 about using a modern approach of Deep Learning, consisting of developing Convolutional Neural Networks to find active molecules (drugs) able to inhibit the lung’s fibrotic damage reparation process (ECM deposition) to prevent humans health degeneration due to insufficient lung functionality.
Sportwise, I started gym in 1999 to support other sports such as football and rugby, but I’ve very quickly moved to just gym as other sports did not take me so much as lifting weights was.
In 2009, I’ve started to compete in powerlifting towards the Italian Powerlifting Federation (FIPL), where I totalised in 10 years (not competing since 2014 May to November 2015 and the whole 2017), two International Silver Medals (Western European Cups) along of six European Competitions (within 2010-2014) and to the Italian level 13 gold medals, 10 silver medal and three bronze medals.
In these 10 years of competition, I’ve beaten a long time 21 records (between -120kg and +120kg bodyweight category) of which four are still acting. Between 2010 and 2013, I’ve been trained by Ado Gruzza, currently still one of the most skilled powerlifting trainers in Italy and from January to May 2014 the one and only Ivan Boris Sheiko trained me.
After that training peak, I’ve taken independent training as I moved to UK for the PhD and I am still training quite autonomously although I still took advice a long time from Ado Gruzza whenever we shared some time together in the gym.
Currently, as I am spending a considerable amount of time in Verona I am also exchanging a lot with Dimitri De Molo, former trainer of Elite Verona Powerlifting together with Carlo Alberto Bonomelli and Davide Zapparoli.
In my case, what attracted me in powerlifting was the fact that it was about weights and I was lifting weights because it was an activity I could do whenever I had time, while for many other sports there were tight moments of the day where it was possible to train on that.
The gym offered me a more flexible training scheme more adapted to my life rhythm and I just always loved lifting weights, is so rewarding!
Hobbies, whenever I have the time would be cycling, coding with python, movies, billiards and fishing.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
How I did train changed a lot along 20 years. Before competing since 1999 to 2009, it was three to four times a week training around three to four hours per training doing standard training schemes and routines of popular bodybuilding social culture in Italy at that time.
Although, it was just personal training I was pushing very hard as I really liked the sensation of muscle aching and pain during and after training but I never really trained squat and deadlift until I’ve started competing.
In competition time, I often exchanged training style from Russian (Sheiko) to Norwegian (Wolf) methodologies, which in both cases were administered from Ado Gruzza. In some years (2010-2012), I’ve reached five days training per week at five to six hours per day, it was the most time consuming training ever took, I was pointing to hit European level and Word Games.
Between 2013 and 2014, I’ve stayed mainly with Sheiko training Methods, until, in November 2013 I’ve met him in person and in 2014 he trained me for 5 months. In such five months, I’ve really transformed my strength. After the competition in Sofia (May – European Open Powerlifting championship) the second European Open competition I’ve participated in, I moved to Scotland for my PhD and a new powerlifting epoch started for me from scratch.
In Scotland I was alone, with a couple of PhD Colleagues, which also shared training in the gym but not to my level. At the beginning, it was hard as from a great group of friends I had in Parma, now whatever I was going to do it was on my own and that was the hardest part.
For the first six months, I almost did not train then I’ve started to take back my passion for training and lifting weights. In that training epoch, I’ve focused on sensation.
Indeed, as I was doing all alone and I did not have a trustworthy judge that I could rely on to understand if I was doing good enough for the day and right or wrong execution, I was forced to trust myself. Which was why I started to focus on sensations.
Such focus meant to me that I was going to lift weights depending on how I was feeling that day and the time I had. Since I was working everyday as much as I could do for my PhD, training was really not much, around 60-90 minutes 4-5 days between Monday to Friday.
I then started to optimise everything, warm-up, weights ramping to the training sets and rest time. It could have been felt as “all in a hurry” but it was not, I was just doing whatever I felt confident in the time I had.
So, sensations were crucial as I did not feel right in lifting a weight. I was just not going to do it and if I felt right I was even going to break any limit I had so far.
Taking the bar, on my shoulders or hands, was all a game of sensations since it was mandatory for me to feel the lift as affordable. Since that day I’ve started to gather some interesting strength and in April 2016 I won the Absolute Men Title at the Scottish Open Raw Championship and just after 14 days I’ve flown back to Italy to compete for the Italian Gear Open Championship, which I won for the -120kg bodyweight category.
Such achievements allowed me to be back into the game and my competing career started again. Right now, I do train from 40 to 120 minutes per day and three to four times per week as I don’t have much time since my job is really time consuming.
When I train I only do squat, bench and deadlift. If I want to do more I consider cycling. Recently, in training I did 205kg in RAW bench which is 2.5kg more than my last competition in october 2019 and I do 270 squat just knee sleeves (no belt) which was unthinkable even just last year and deadlift is good too.
My philosophy right now is to do the essential lifts as I do in competitions, to do it at the best mindset and executing the lifts with the highest technical grade I am capable of and trust my daily goals.
To become stronger, you cannot push every day to the limit, sooner or later you will burnout and you won’t lift that much for a while. It is very important to focus on the sensation!
If you are benching 130kg or 150kg it doesn’t really matter, if you think to the weight, you’re done, you won’t push your best, you will push against your fear.
To push to your own very limit is to feel the weight you are approaching to lift, as sensation, is it good or anyway not too bad? Just lift it!
This approach allows me to get to the competition platform ready to do the very best I have in my muscles, before, I wasn’t performing so well.
Although I have more experience, I think focus on sensation does all the difference in succeeding the biggest lifts. Because if you feel right with a weight, you will just lift it.
If you think “oh my it’s heavy” you’re sensing bad, and you won’t succeed to your 100%, you will eventually succeed until the 92-94% of your real 100% you can lift and this is because you will feel fear.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Sometimes it is very difficult especially when work is very hard during the day and I would often work 10 and more hours. But sometimes it is very hard even when not working because of the stress of preceding days.
So when I am good or very tired, the focus is the same, finish the day! That’s what makes me overcome all the problems of life and leaves me able to perform good everyday.
With the actual mindset, the biggest challenges of life were to achieve my PhD and accept the recent loss of my father. Sport is a great tool to increase our health status and happiness/satisfaction feelings related to physical activity but it can not become a path of desperation!
Indeed, people which put everything to their training as a life mission, or cannot see life without sport I don’t think it’s a mind-wise healthy choice and I really wonder how much they will really enjoy their path they’ve done.
Also, competing for winning I don’t think it is a fair reason. Of course, since you compete it is important to give the best but since we are talking about sport, it must be a pleasure and something you do enjoy at least until sport does not pay you the bills.
In my opinion, sport should always be a pleasure even when it’s about money. Especially, never abuse your body either, because people doing so, they will generally feel to have lost everything when their body crashes such as in injuries.
By keeping in mind that sport is for fun as well as competition where the strongest will win, you will never be disappointed.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Currently, I am planning to keep competing the whole year 2020 and any other year after, possibly getting back to the European scene of powerlifting.
I do not take too further my plans as life taught me that many times it is impossible to have very long term plans as such plans easily get broken. So I do put myself on the line everyday to push further for a brighter future in sport and life successes.
What’s in the pot right now for personal projects are two very important projects bounded to Nutrition and sport indeed. I am currently working in Italy as a Nutritionist specialised in performance sports such as powerlifting, CrossFit and cycling.
My main goal is to bring technology to Nutritional support for people. In fact, as I know coding I am developing Smartphone apps and since I know the nutrition business I see it lacks technology.
Nowadays, if you are prepared by a nutritionist, even if such a person does follow you using also technology such as social channel and doing internet calls, there are still very few technological supports for the clients.
The first app to be released will be an App that allows people to have a direct channel with me from being supported in their goals having me as a Nutritional Professionist, in such App they will be able to visualise their nutritional plans I make, a chat to talk to me, a diary to store all the information about their progress (bodyweight and bodyshape measurements) they register into the app as well as they can register what they eat and pictures about themselves to appreciate later the progresses.
Moreover, they will have access to several guides in supplements and competition preparation to be ready at their absolute best in the bodyweight category they wish to compete in. The second App will be to revolution the world of Bio-Impedence, bringing such technology to everyday use for people and professionists, which does want to offer such service to their clients.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I do rest at night after dinner on the couch and if needed I do stretching and I use a pneumatic massager that releases tension from my muscles. In past times, I had injuries that required the intervention of physiotherapists for proper recovery (tendonitis).
I also do use supplements to regenerate cartilages such as marine cartilages, MSM, condroitin and glucosamine, ialuronic acid and others hydrolised cartilages (bovine and chicken), which also increases tissues flexibility. I do sleep if possible seven to eight hours but is not rare I do only sleep five to six hours.
Fortunately, as a nutritionist I’ve worked on my biorhythm such as I can also afford short sleep days without not accusing that much. For work I travel a lot with my car and I work a lot of time seated hence I do take care of my knees which also accuse a lot postural stress. Anyway, the best care for our body is not to abuse it.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I do eat 1900-2300kcal per day (sometimes less) in mainly three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) with a typical mediterranean diet made of any meat, fish and other proteins source of Italian cultural food.
Every main meal has carbohydrates and proteins, fats are kept as low as possible, where the richest carbohydrates meals are the lunch usually or sometimes the dinner. I do use supplements mainly for vitamins and minerals with also acetyl carnitine. I then use cartilage supplements as answered before.
Near to competition, I also use Creatine-Ethyl Ester as it is the only creatine really useful for the human body without creating useless water retention and giving the best muscle functionality.
My favorite supplements brands are sometimes pharmaceutical such as Multicentrum, Supradyn. Massigen and such. Other more common brands are WHY, SELF, ProNutrition, Optimum Nutrition, +Watt, Yamamoto Nutrition and Long Life.
The main target in my diet is not to suffer of energy lacks, hence, meals and type of food are balanced to such intent. The nutritional plan over months does not change significantly and there are not cheat days, I eventually take one to two meals at the restaurant per week, but not every week.
Supplements Mentioned by FrancescoOptimum Nutrition
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Since I started liking lifting weights when I was a kid I’ve read some books about musculation, which are quite generic and “old style” in the first years of training. I then moved just to train in the gym as I liked since I was 16 years old, where I stopped reading such books and experimenting sport by myself.
I went back reading some famous books for interest without using them as inspiration for my own practice between 18-20 years old then it was just my very own passion about lifting weights.
Something I discovered later and brought me a lot of enthusiasm for the historical meaning of it, was the movie “Pumping Iron” as it changed the entire fitness industries for ever.
I’ve never moved to do body building, I’ve always been a lifting weight person, six packs abs were out of my goals since I’ve sorted out that to have such results was necessary to lose strength.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Do it for your own, enjoy the ride while doing it, keep living life with equilibrium, focus targets you want and really think about the realistic time scale. Don’t just put two to three months’ time target and be disappointed in not achieving it, if you do not know a lot about training does trust somebody that does, this will bring you to a much higher success rate than trying your own and crying on poured milk.
If sport becomes your job, remember the genuine stimulus that made you start anytime hard moments will touch you. Personally, I think that for increasing squat technique and mechanistic execution, a very good improvement would be cycling on the road or country.
Not fully aware of why but it gives you a very high legs muscles coordination to squat with more harmony and keeping your muscles awake during the lift of significant weights leaving you able to push to your own very limit.
To such extent, two to three sessions of cycling 30 minutes each at medium-high intensity is enough to get such squat advantage. For bench and deadlift, just think to the technique and the fact that the barbell is not that heavy after all.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I do take clients right now as a Nutritionist and I provide Nutritional and Supplements plans for people who practice sports of many kinds such as CrossFit, powerlifting, cycling, triathlon, athletics, football, rugby and simply gym or bodybuilding.
I do meet clients in person if possible and I do work considerably a lot by on-line using e-mail, chats and social media. Just last year, I’ve started new movements to promote nutrition as seen with a new approach.
I personally believe that nutrition should not be seen as an instrument of wanted results, but instead, nutrition should be seen as an instrument of wanted function. Indeed, the human body is able to adapt to any sport we created, it is just about time of practicing and the body will gradually adapt to perform better.
What nutrition can do is to increase body functionalities, so if you do CrossFit you will have metabolic requirements different from a football player as well as different requirements from a swimmer.
The REM Nutrition Business I’ve started in 2019 does exactly that. REM stands for Requirements of Energy in Metabolism and as all the experience I’ve gathered so far has been focused to make Nutritional Plans personalised to every customer I have.
Indeed, the philosophy of REM Nutrition is to take care of the individual characteristics of a person and to structure a Nutritional Plan for such person. Which is exactly the opposite trend of what companies that want to put Nutrition in business.
I am taking the opposite direction because I believe there is not general way to treat humans, hence, it is impossible to give everybody the same diet which will work on anybody. Nutrition is not a slogan business for masses. Nutrition is a service to help people satisfying their needs.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
Follow me on Instagram @francesco.pelizza