My Journey: Emiel Oldenkamp

GASP Ambassador Emiel Oldenkamp is originally from the Netherlands but grew up in Belgium before moving to Sweden. As a child Emiel played various sports but he didn’t find true passion in any of them.

At 15 years old he found his way to the gym together with some friends. Take a peek into his journey and you may gain some valuable training tips as well.

A One Way Street

I enjoyed working out a lot, and after two years in the gym I started taking it seriously and never looked back. This coincides with when I discovered powerlifting on the internet and started organizing my training around the squat, bench press and deadlift. Inspired by lifters like Dan Green and Pete Rubish, I wanted to be strong and look strong. Since I had always measured my progress by the weight I lifted, it just made sense. I purchased a cheap squat rack (my local gym didn’t have one), a barbell, and some plates and started to train in my garage.

Shortly after I moved to Sweden, I participated in my first powerlifting meet. The entire experience of training towards it and competing elevated my interest and passion for training to a whole new level. It is also during this period that I started coaching friends for free to gain experience and began pursuing a degree in Applied Mathematics. We are a little over 2 years further now. My passion for coaching and competing has only grown larger during that time and I have started coaching people professionally in May last year.

The Best Is Yet To Come

Being 22 years old, I realize that I am only at the start of my journey and still have much to learn. This does not mean that I am not proud of where I am right now and that I don’t appreciate the people that have helped me along the way. I would never be where I am right now if it weren’t for mentors, clients, friends, and my extremely supportive parents and girlfriend. The best is yet to come, and I am very happy to also have GASP in my corner now.

The Little Things

Outside of my own training and studies, I coach people in powerlifting and strength in general. Teaching and coaching are big passions of mine. I also hope to hold more seminars and workshops in the future as I have always loved public speaking.

Alongside that, I enjoy going on walks and watching movies with my girlfriend. I am also an avid music lover and have played music in some way for basically my entire life. Although it isn’t as big a part of my life as it used to be, it is still very important to me.

Balancing The Scales

I believe in a rational and well thought out approach to training that encompasses both the tangible and intangible factors. This does not mean that my approach is complicated, I am very big on keeping the program as simple as possible. This way, when complications occur, we can easily adjust variables to solve and/or track down the source of the issue. The why is just as important as the what, and I make sure to also convey this side to my clients. By doing this, I hope to let the training transcend the weight room and improve overall movement and quality of life outside of the gym as well.

The basic concepts of training aren’t complicated. Planning is not hard when everything goes to plan and getting strong is not hard when you don’t get hurt. There needs to be a balance between sticking to the plan and being able to adapt, between getting stronger and staying healthy, between just getting the work done and enjoying training. Together with the athlete, I try to find out where those balances should sit for them at this point in time and help them balance these scales.

No Excuses

My best tips to someone new to powerlifting are:

Start competing as early as possible
If you are thinking about competing, or even just enjoy training, give competition a shot. People are always complaining about “not being strong enough yet” and that they will compete once they have achieved an x kg total in training. The truth is that you will never be strong enough if you think like that. Look for a competition nearby, sign up, get in touch with your fellow competitors and have fun.

Educate yourself
In an ideal world, everyone would have access to a great coach or mentor to learn about lifting technique, programming principles and other considerations regarding training. The sad truth is that these services are expensive and not everyone has the means to make use of them. Luckily, we live in a time where almost all information is readily available, and mostly free. In this day and age, there are very few excuses for being badly informed. Start out by learning the basics of anatomy and exercise physiology. You don’t need to become an expert in these fields, but you need to be able to evaluate the validity of the information you come across. There are a lot of very good resources out there, and even more crappy ones. The same applies to coaches. Being able to correctly decide into which category something fits is an extremely valuable skill, and the time (and possibly money) that you spend on developing this skill is an investment that will keep on generating profit for the rest of your training career.

Focus on growing
With very high specificity programs being popular in the powerlifting world right now, many beginners fall into the trap of almost exclusively performing the squat, bench and deadlift in their training. What beginners need, alongside learning correct technique, is to build muscle mass. The best way to do this is to do dedicated hypertrophy training and to not be afraid to eat. Spend a good amount of the year training with hypertrophy as the main goal and stop identifying yourself with a certain weight class. Unless you are competing at a high level, weight classes are not relevant and should be disregarded. If you are cutting for a local meet, you are fucking up big time. The whole phenomenon where basically everyone that doesn’t have a huge arch has a ‘poverty bench’ can almost entirely be attributed to them being too light and not carrying enough muscle mass. Don’t let a bodybuilder of the same body weight as you bench more than you.

Looking Ahead

In the short term, I want to total well over 800kg at my next competition coming October, the 2019 IPL Worlds in Leipzig, Germany. Next, I will compete again in November at the WRPF Swedish Nationals as my first competition in the 125kg weight class.  After that, I will spend a fairly long time training with hypertrophy as the main goal, steadily growing into the new class. I am also spending a lot of time trying to grow my client base and get my name out there in the world of strength coaching.

In the long term, I want to have a positive influence on the world of strength sports as a whole and establish myself as one of the top strength coaches in the world. As an athlete I want to put myself into a position where I can keep on improving for as long possible on all fronts training wise. Lifting weights is a big part of my life and something I love to do, and I want to be able to do it for the rest of my life.

Passion and No Compromise

I believe in living a life with passion and no compromise. I don’t believe in selling people bullshit and I tell them how it is.  I pride myself on being an honest and loyal person who does not refrain from speaking (or shutting) up when I feel it is appropriate, probably my Dutch genes taking control.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you wish to contact me with questions, criticism, or if you’d like to enquire about coaching or a seminar/workshop you can reach me at [email protected] or @the_old_camp on Instagram.