September 2016 Featured Lifter

USAPL-NY would like to spotlight some of the stand-outs in the state. We will feature a new lifter each month, and ask them some random questions to get some insight into what makes them tick…..

This month’s featured lifter is SEAN CULNAN.



  • 5 time IPF/USAPL team member
    • Member of Junior, Open and Masters World team. Only two other lifters have done that in USAPL history
  • 2007 IPF Masters World Champion – SHW – also won Champion of Champions (highest Wilkes formula)
  • USAPL Best Lifts – Equipped
    • 821 lb Squat
    • 573 lb Bench Press
    • 835 lb Deadlift
    • 2170 lb Total
  • USAPL Best Lifts – Raw
    • 661 lb Squat
    • 529 lb Bench Press
    • 800 lb Deadlift
    • 1928 lb Total – Highest raw total in USAPL NYS history

A little about Sean Culnan

Home City: West Sand Lake, NY

Schools: Colonie Central High School & Hudson Valley Community College

Question and Answer time!!

USAPL-NY: What got you interested in Powerlifting?

Sean Culnan: I played basketball in high school and graduated in 1985. I joined Colonie Athletic Club, which was the only gym around at the time, and latched on to a group of powerlifters who guided me in the right direction.

USAPL-NY: Where was your first meet?

SC: I was 18 years old. My first meet was October 1986 in Dubois, Pennsylvania. ADFPA/USAPL Dubois Open. Lifts were 550 lb Squat 300 lb Bench Press and 550 lb Deadlift.

USAPL-NY: What have you learned since that first meet?

SC: As you can see I have competed for 30 years. What I have learned is the relationships I have developed in powerlifting have far exceeded any of my accomplishments in powerlifting.

USAPL-NY: What goals do you have for the future?

SC: Get back into equipped lifting (8 years since last full equipped meet) and compete at the 2017 IPF Masters Worlds

USAPL-NY: What is your favorite lift and why?

SC: Equipped Squat – the chaos associated with suit, wraps and hearing your name being called in the hole…the feeling cannot be matched. Up until 5 or so years ago, this sport was basically all equipped. I was brought up on equipment. Raw lifting is great because it brings many new strong people into our sport, which is great. To me real Powerlifting, is equipped powerlifting. Young lifters should give it a try.

USAPL-NYWhat is your least favorite lift and why?

SC: Nothing sticks out to me personally, maybe to watch, would be Equipped Bench Press. The power of the Bench Press shirt artificially inflates egos and therefore makes watching all the bomb outs a total shit show.  I always said that if there was a bench press meet, 3 lift lifters would always defeat bench press specialists as they are much more realistic in their attempts.

USAPL-NYDo you follow a specific training program? And if you do what is it? 

SC: I have done many different programs over the years. I would say 5×5 programs for squats and bench press have worked well for me and people I mentor. Although, I think an optimal training environment with great training partners outweighs any specific training program.

USAPL-NY: Do you lift as part of a team? Who are they and how did you become part of that group?

SC: With training for over 30 years I have trained with probably over 300 training partners. Never a specific team name as we never needed one. You knew we were a team.

USAPL-NY: What advice would you give any new lifter young or old?

SC: Be in the sport to be a competitor. Do not be in it to get more likes and new followers. Thrive in competition.

USAPL-NY: Tell us something about you that others in the PL world don’t know about you?

SC: I would say the 1999 IPF Battle of the Giants held in Orebro, Sweden. It was held in a Civic Center filled to its 5000 person capacity and the energy was amazing. The event was a invite only event that consisted of the 12 strongest lifters in the world. Brad Gillingham and myself represented the USA. They treated us first class with television coverage, expenses paid and help with anything we needed. I have competed at IPF World Championships and this outdid those..It was amazing.

Sean also included some questions he has been asked in his 30 years of powerlifting. Listen and learn.

Biggest differences between the sport when you started versus now?

SC: As I said before, up until 5 years ago all meets were equipped for the most part. When I competed at the 2002 USAPL Pennsylvania State Championships, there were over 100 lifters and I was the only one raw. I decided to do for fun. I put on my singlet and belt (no knee sleeves back then) and lifted, never really training raw. I went 5 for 9 and totaled 1928lbs. I feel if I trained raw, as everyone does now, I would have had totaled close to 2100lbs at some point. Also, with social media, the sport is much different. When you showed up at Nationals, you had no idea of training lifts, etc… from your competition. Lifters did it for the competition, not how they looked in the eyes of their followers. Believe it or not, there was also some heavy lifting being done without the use of RPEs.

When you first started powerlifting, what was your biggest goal and did you achieve it?

SC: Each month I would receive my Powerlifting USA and see the results of the IPF Mens Open World Powerlifting Championships and look at those lifters as my heroes. I not only wanted to lift there, I wanted to lift well. At the 2001 IPF Mens Open World Powerlifting Championships held in Sotkamo, Finland I went 8 for 9 and totaled 2123lbs . As stated earlier, my first meet was 1986. It took 15 years to reach that goal. Keep that in mind young lifters.

Tell us something about you that others in the PL world do not know about you?

SC: In February 2015 I endured a very difficult family tragedy. Based on everything I was going thru, I felt I most likely would never compete in powerlifting again. I was comfortable with the decision as I had experienced so many great moments in the sport. My last competition prior to that had been the 2014 USAPL Great Lakes Invitational Deadlift event and I had pulled 744 lbs.  For most of 2015 I trained very light on machines, etc..and also dropped significant body weight. In December 2015 I received a inquiry to see if I would be interested in competing at the 2016 USAPL Arnold Classic Pro Deadlift event . I accepted the invitation for the March 2016 event. As training progressed I set a goal of 744 lbs in the Deadlift to be done on my second attempt. This would show me that although I was dealing with tragedy and grief, I was still alive. I shared this goal with my long time training partner, EC Stumpf, as he recognized its significance. 744 lbs was what I lifted prior to my loss and if I did 744 lbs after it would show I was still capable of being the same person I was before, just a different one. On my second attempt at the 2016 USAPL Arnold Classic, I pulled 744 lbs. The support I received from my family and friends was amazing (the attached post meet picture shows). Powerlifting was my vehicle in expressing myself and what I can be capable of. It shows us all what we are capable of. I am so grateful I crossed paths with this wonderful sport. This sport can be so much more than what it is on the surface, embrace it and you will see its power.


Serving Drug Free Powerlifting in New York

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