With a nickname like “The Godfather,” Dave Spitz is clearly doing something right. The founder and mastermind behind much of California Strength’s growth, he’s a massive figure in American weightlifting. His team (not to mention his direct coaching) has produced some of the top U.S. lifters in the last decade and helped popularize the sport with an early and huge online following. If you’ve ever searched the web for lifting motivation and stumbled across videos of Donny Shankle, Jon North, Spencer Moorman, or other Cal Strength athletes, chances are you have Dave to thank.
But Dave Spitz is just getting started. In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, we dive deep on a number of topics, including:
- Cal Strength’s growth
- Being early YouTube strength pioneers
- Dave’s experience coaching NFL stars and prepping college players for the combine
- Does the U.S. “lose” top weightlifters to other sports?
- The Bulgarian System
- Why Wes Kitts is a once-in-a-decade (or rarer) athlete for Cal Strength
If you look at the number of NFL athletes that exist, there’s roughly 1,700 that are in the NFL today. I probably have, of that 1,700, I have relationships with probably close to 50 of them. Not one of those athletes do I think I could pluck out of the NFL and make in a weightlifter that even comes close to rivaling what Wes Kitts can do.
Dave Spitz doesn’t shy away from any question, and in this conversation, he gives us some great insight into what’s real, what’s overblown, and what’s possible for weightlifting in America.
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In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Dave Spitz and host David Thomas Tao discuss:
- Dave goes into his athletic background (starting in the 3rd person!) and how he found a passion for weightlifting in some unlikely circumstances (2:31)
- Dave’s experience with the foundation of the Bulgarian weightlifting system — including a coaching trade that ended up taking Dave to Bulgaria (3:40)
- Cal Strength’s growth online in the early days of YouTube (6:28)
- Cal Strength’s role in training pro athletes in team sports, and how that functions within the rest of the business (8:05)
- Is America losing its best weightlifters to other pro sports? It’s complicated, and Dave has a pretty firm grasp on why (10:06)
- How long Dave needs to determine if someone has a future in elite weightlifting (13:20)
- Why Wes Kitts is the culmination of over a decade of work building Cal Strength (18:54)
- How Wes feeds off fan energy and excels in the sport’s highest-pressure moments (25:00)
- The athlete Dave has learned the most from in his coaching career (28:00)
Relevant links and further reading: