Author’s note: The questions for this interview were written by Stephen Powell. Daniel Engman asked Andrei these questions in Russian and translated his answers to English. Additional edits for length and clarity were made by Stephen Powell.
Andrei Aramnau (Aryamnov) was born in April of 1988. He began training at a young age and won the Jr. and Sr. World championships in 2007 and ran away with the competition in the Men’s 105kg category in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After winning the 2010 European Championships, the future seemed bright and limitless for Andrei as many more victories and records were eagerly awaited by weightlifting fans. Instead, he only competed Internationally once more before announcing his retirement in 2016.
Now, Andrei is back in training with plans on competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Here Andrei explains what kept him from competing more often, how he trains, and what he thinks of the current state of doping in weightlifting.
Stephen Powell: In the 2008 Olympic Games, you won quite easily. Which numbers were you ready to lift to win, should there have been tougher competition?.
Andrei Aramnau: Anything can happen in a competition, so this will be an approximation. I was ready to do 205 in the snatch and 240-245 in the clean and jerk.
At what age did you start to lift, and what did the coach at that time emphasize in your development as a weightlifter?
I started to lift when I was 10 years old. In Belarus we start with basic athletic development for children. Besides that, we did press behind the neck with snatch grip, press with clean grip, front and back squat. Overhead squat to learn to hold positions. Then just snatch and clean & jerk.
Do you work on mobility or flexibility?
Weightlifting, is like this. First technique is stressed, then you work on strength and speed. I only do very basic stuff to warm up the muscles like plyometrics. The only stretching I do is with the bar.
After your victory in Beijing you only competed twice Internationally before announcing your retirement in 2016. Why did you compete so infrequently?
I was ready to to break my records after Beijing. I trained to set records and compete only when one of my records was in jeopardy of being broken. My main goal was to set World records that no man could ever break. In chase of these records I got injured.
First it was my left hip, then other injuries started to pile up. I realized that the way I was training would lead to consistent injuries and made adjustments but the injuries to my hip kept bothering me. I had to continue training to stay on the Belarus national team.
In 2010 I was in a competition, in the warmup room I did 180 in the snatch, then something happened to my hip, and I was again injured.
After that you all know that the Belarusian team did not extend my contract with me and that conflict is well known.
Why did you decide to comeback and compete for the 2020 games?
I have two answers, yes, I am preparing for 2020, to do that need I need to compete twice Internationally.
No one will just put me on the Olympic team. I hope to compete again Internationally at the 2019 European Championships. The Belarusian team has had some issues with doping so it might not be until Autumn of 2019. Due to these reasons I am considering lifting for another country as Belarus does not support me. If this were to happen I hope it will be sooner than later. I need to provide for my family.
God willing I will go to the Olympics in 2020, if not I will be happy with the gold medal I won in Beijing.
Have your training philosophies changed as you have gotten older. Has anything changed about you program, do you change the training routine based on how you feel?
My training is always pre-written. I have a specific volume I need to lift each week to improve but if I feel tired or overtrained I will back off and rest. Training is a process and so right now I’m strengthening my weaknesses.
I train 6 days a week for about 3 hours I day. I do very long warm ups with light weights. It takes me almost 45 minutes to get to my work sets for the snatch.
Do you currently have a coach?
No, I don’t need a coach, I have enough knowledge to train myself. I used to need a coach to support me mentally, but now I’m older and don’t need a coach to play psychologist. What I do need is a sports doctor.
What are your best lifts in training thus far?
I I’m still in basic training but near the end of November I plan on doing 180 and 210-215 kg. Maybe a little more.
When you won the gold medal in Beijing. Did you get any financial support?
Yes, I was offered a home. Instead of accepting it I told them to use that money to repair a sports school for children and teens. It was important for me to give back and I am the coach of that club.
Other than training and coaching what do you do in your spare time?
I live with my wife and daughter. I love to go fishing, learn how to cook with my wife and spend time with my family.
In looking ahead for Tokyo, are you in favor of the stricter doping tests and regulations?
Doping is wrong, and it needs to be stopped. However, doping will always exist. Lifters who cheat will eventually get caught. Weightlifting is hard on the body. Although I am against the use of steroids and other PED’s there are some medicines on the banned list that support heart health and function that should be taken off the banned list. However, I do not feel sorry for lifters who lose their medals due to using any banned substances.
It’s been widely believed you had to have a finger removed in order to continue weightlifting. Is this true?
Yes, I was born with six fingers on one hand, I had the 6th finger removed surgically when I was a teenager. I could not compete in weightlifting if I hadn’t. The rules of competition are the same for all participants.
Any final thoughts?
I’m a simple person, I speak honestly about what I’m asked. I speak my mind. Some like it and some don’t.
I would like to thank Stephen Powell and Daniel Engman for reaching out to me and to whomever will read this interview. I would like to come to the U.S. and do some seminars and travel there.
I also thank anyone in the U.S. who knows of me. The U.S. is doing well Internationally again and may God Bless any American lifter who is aiming to make the 2020 Olympics as I am.
If you would like to keep up with Andrei’s training and coaching, visit his YouTube page. Some of his videos have English subtitles.