I am extremely excited to have Mart on Weightlifting House Interviews. Mart has been a favourite athlete of mine for a while because he has in abundance something that I strive for everyday... STRENGTH! Mart Seim is one of the strongest squatters in the world, with the heaviest squat on film of any weightlifter at 400kg.
At the World Championships in Anaheim 2017 at a bodyweight of around 150kg, Mart hit competition PRs of 191/253, taking the silver medal in the clean and jerk in front a crowd of booing Iranian fans, which only added to the sheer greatness of the moment.
Thanks Mart for coming taking the time to talk with me. Firstly, congratulations on your 253 kg clean and jerk. What was it like hitting a PR and taking the silver medal with the Iranian fans booing?
Thank you very much for having me Seb. Well, It was definitely a distraction, of course, and it reminded me of the Rio Olympics where the Iranian fans did the exact same thing. But I knew as I went up to the bar that I was in better shape this time. Plus it was the third and decisive attempt. I find that if I have the medal within my reach, I generally perform better.
You are a great squatter. Do you recall your best squats growing up until now?
I can't recall exactly, but when I was at a training camp in Russia in 2011, being 19 at the time, I squatted 300 kg for the first time. After that I focused on squats for a couple of years and in 2014, aged 23, I managed to do 10 squats with 320 kg. I actually no longer prioritise squats. Since then squats have only been around 15% of my overall training volume. So in all honesty, I haven't improved my squat intentionally.
I see you squat heavier then other supers. Why is this?
Well, I don't actually push my squat up to maximum anymore. But at the same time there's no point in letting my squatting force decrease, I still want it to remain high, especially if I can do that with less squat training. So if I feel my legs falling out of shape, I do a few heavier, stronger reps. But I've heard that most weightlifters do pay more attention to squats than me.
So how often do you squat, deadlift or press? How many reps and sets of each do you tend to do?
I do squats three times a week. Once a week I front squat, and twice a week I back squat, but I will only do sets once a week. Most squatting sessions I will just go up and do one set of 3, for example, but once a week I might do a few sets. These days, since the weights are relatively heavy already, I cannot do high volume squat programs. For example programs like the Russian squat routine isn't an option any more (with 320+kg being the least amount I would lift on that program), as it puts too much pressure on the the knees. I don't do deadlifts at all, But I do some pulls. I only do the classic pulls and presses twice a week.
Very Quickly, what are your best lifts in the variations of the snatch and clean and jerk?
My best lifts are all available on Instagram: snatch 195 kg, jerk 255 kg, clean 240 kg. Well, my best clean and jerk in training is 240kg but I have done 253kg in competition. I have also jerked 250kg with a pause. I have back squatted 400kg, front squatted 270kg for 4, done clean pulls with 290kg, benched 200 for 3, and strict pressed 170kg.
What are your goals in weightlifting?
... And to provide competition for Lasha in Tokyo.
What was your childhood like in terms of sports?
I tried all kinds of different things. I played a lot of basketball, football (soccer), etc. Eventually in 2004 I started to do weightlifting.
How has your training changed since you started? Do you do different exercises now? More or less volume?
In the beginning when I was young I trained six times a week, Monday Through Saturday leaving only Sundays off. During those sessions I did seven exercises on average each time. That is a lot of volume. Think about what 7 exercises really is... It is a lot of training. Since then the number of exercises has gone down every single year and I do more of the classic lifts and pulls. I devote more of my time and my weekly volume to the more specific exercises rather than the accessory GPP work. Also I never do more than four exercises per training session any more.
Who are some of your favourite weightlifters ever?
I have a few, most of them superheavy weights of course. For example, Hossein Rezazadeh from Iran, just for being so incredibly strong. He is also miles and miles ahead of me still. I also appreciate all of the inspiring weightlifters from the early 2000s who made videos of their accomplishments. Youtube videos in general have given me a lot of motivation. Of course I cannot forget Klokov, who has done so much for weightlifting, and been an inspiration for me personally as well.
So Mart, how do you recommend that we get as strong as you?
You need to work-out like a fiend and remember to eat even more than you do now. You MUST eat! And eat high quality food!
Speaking of high quality food, what does your diet look like?
I eat a lot of protein, usually around 400-500g of protein a day. In addition to that I eat as many carbs as I can. I find that if I eat too much protein that usually means that I am not eating enough carbohydrates, and so I start losing weight, which is not that helpful at all.
Finally do you have a record of your performances over the years?
I do and you can find them here -
Mart it has been a pleasure, thank you for taking the time.
No problem Seb!
For more in depth interviews, listen to the Weightlifting House podcast here!
Feel free to share the interview using the share button below.