Each year, the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio brings together the world’s top fitness athletes to compete in more than 70 sports and events. This year Legend Fitness sponsored two-time IPF World Champion Jona Leo as he competed in the Titan Pro Bench Bash. He sat down with us to share his first-hand experience at this event, shed light on his training schedule and discuss plans for the months ahead.
What competition class were you in and what were your results?
On the final day of the event, I competed in the Titan Pro Bench Bash, which was sanctioned by the IFP and USA Powerlifting. I competed in the +120 kg class and didn’t have the most favorable results. But, these results have inspired me to correct technical issues before the IPF World Championships in Lithuania this May.
What training program did you use to prepare?
I use a training protocol I have developed over the course of a decade. The base of it is linear periodization with special considerations to movements with high carryover to raw and equipped bench pressing. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with a legendary strength coach, Bill Gillespie of Liberty University over the past five years.
What were your favorite highlights from the event?
Competing at the Arnold Sports Festival is always an honor, no matter the result. The Arnold provides a meshing of nearly every type of strength and conditioning genre and offers every individual appreciation for their focus and determination. Like many other trade shows and expos, it’s also a great opportunity to see and experience products from a variety of companies. Seeing other equipment competitors first hand reiterates why Legend Fitness is my equipment of choice.
How many times have you competed?
This was my fourth trip to the Arnold Sports Festival, with the other three appearances resulting in a podium spot. My competition life started in 1991 and if I there’s one piece of advice I can offer to competitors starting out–don’t wait to compete at larger national meets. From 1991–2009, I only competed in didn’t compete in local and regional meets, rarely pushing myself to become better. Then in 2010, I entered my first USA Powerlifting National Championships, which resulted in my first victory. That win secured my National Team spot to Austria in 2011. Since then, I’ve won five national championships and two IPF World Championships, along with four IPF World Records, two IPF silver medals and one Pan-American Championship.
How long have you used Legend equipment to train?
My first taste of Legend equipment was three years ago at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, SD. I always took advantage of every opportunity to work out there because the equipment was the best in town. Since then, I’ve created my own arsenal of Legend Fitness equipment.
Why do you choose Legend equipment?
First Legend offers a robust equipment portfolio that is built to last for generations. I want to buy equipment that my children will be able to utilize decades from now. Secondly, the Legend Competition Bench is my personal favorite because the dimensions match IPF specifications and the spotter stands allow for great lift-offs under heavy poundage. The bench and the full cage are the most heavily used pieces in my private gym. The full cage is built with ZERO disappointments, providing safety and features that offer big lifters peace of mind.
What’s next for training regimen and/or upcoming competitions?
My next meets are scheduled for May – the IPF World Bench Press Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania and then the USA Powerlifting National Championships in Killeen, TX. The training focus leading up to IPF will be dialing in technique and getting platform ready. It’s an exciting time as I have two other training partners preparing for their respective World Championships. Current IPF Junior Bench Press World Champion, Easton Schuster, carries a 585 equipped bench press at 199 bodyweight and will be representing USA again in Lithuania. Also, high school senior, Natalie Richardson, will be lifting in the IPF Sub-Junior World Championship held in Minsk, Belarus in mid-June.