As told to J.V. Askem
UPDATED: Nov 11th, 2002

Nov 8-10, 2002- GNC's Show of Strength, New Orleans, LA (5th)
Oct 26th, 2002- Oregon's Strongest Beaver, OSU at Corvallis, OR (1st)
Oct 19th, 2002- No American Strongman Championships, Shreveport, LA (8th)
Sept 13th to 23rd, 2002- Worlds Strongest Man, Malaysia (3rd in his preliminary heat)
Aug 3rd, 2002- Strongest Man In The West, Boise, ID (1st)
July 18th and 20th, 2002- IFSA Nationals, St Louis, MO (5th)(qualified for WSM)
May 11th 2002- Ohio Strongman, Athens, OH (tied for 3rd, won tie breaker (nat'l qualifier)
April 6th, 2002- Midwest Strongman Challenge, Columbus, Ohio (2nd)(nat'l qualifier)
Feb 9th, 2002- Northeast Strongman Challenge, Boston, MA (tied for 3rd)(nat'l qualifier)
August 18th, 2001- Washington Strongman Championships, Seattle, WA (1st)
July 28th, 2001- Behemoths and Boats, Kennewick, WA (4th)
June 16th, 2001- Big Sky's SM, Missoula, MT (Tied for 2nd on points, 3rd on placings)

JVA's NOTE: The following interview is a compilation of several interviews, the first of which appeared on this site in Oct 2001. Since then I've conducted several other interviews,  and thus what follows is updated to Sept 2002.
First interviewed: Oct 2001
Second Interview: May 2002
Updated: Sept 28th, 2002

JVA: Well Jesse, it's been awhile since our last interview, so let's cut to chase by telling everyone what your vital statistics are?

JM: For the vitals, I turned 23 years old on Sept 14th 2002, while at the WSM contest in Malaysa. I stand 6' 4" tall, and I weighed 300 pounds just before leaving for WSM..

JVA: What are some of your PR's now?

JM: Officially I snatched 330 lbs and C&J'd 407 lbs last October at the 2001 WA State Weightlifting Championships. Other gym lifts include: Front Squat 495 lbs, Incline Press 405 lbs done this summer while visiting my cousin in Arizona, Clean and Jerk 440 lbs each done seperately about 2 months after the 2001 WA State Weightlifting Championships.

My best Olympic style back squat is 550 lbs, but I haven't trained the squat much lately. I feel SM training has kept my leg strength up without squatting.

However, I feel Olympic squats put much more emphasizes the quadriceps. In strongman, I feel you need raw strength in the quads for certain events such as the truck pull. I also carry the yoke high on my traps. The power style squat doesn't build the functional leg strength that the olympic style squat does. In my opinion, the parallel squat has no place in any strength training regime with the obvious exception of competitive powerlifters.

JVA: When you squat, do you use re coil gear?

JM: All I wear is a Velcro Olympic lifters belt and neoprene knee sleeves to keep my knees warm.

JVA: Exactly what kind of knee sleeves?

JM: You know, the Rehband (sp) type that Wade Gillingham sells.

JVA: What about your other gym lifts?

JM: I've Romanian Deadlifted- 440X3 very easily, and did a Deadlift Hold with 800 lbs for 15 seconds (lifted it from knee height). This wasn't that hard on the grip, but it felt like my arms were going to be pulled out of my shoulder sockets. So I had to put it down. Also deadlifted 625 easily with a 2" thick bar.

JM: Recently I've been training Wide Stance Good Mornings and did 560 lbs just before the IFSA Nationals in July. However, I've had to back off of the GM's because of my hamstring.

JVA's NOTE: The hamstring problem was initially a football injury done doing spin drills.

JVA: Why the wide stance on GM's?

JM: They best simulate the stones.

JVA: What's your best stone so far?

JM: The heaviest I've loaded in a contest was 365 lbs at the IFSA Nat'ls. And I've shouldered my 335 lb stone.

JVA: What about your overhead?

JM: Military Press with Axle Barebell- 300X3. I've mainly been using the Axle or Log for overhead pressing

JVA: Great pulling, but your MP seems still to lag?

JM: Yea, I know, you keep nagging me to do more strict pressing, and I'm working on it!

JVA: Hold it!!! Hold it!!! I have to ask! How much can you banch???

JM: Ha ha!!! I know how much you hate that exercise, and I agree that they aren't that valuable, but about 2 1/2 years ago, while still at college, I didn't have access to a good weight room with a platform. So I did some BP's for a couple of months, and got it up to about 400 lbs. For me, I fell if I can clean and jerk any given weight, I can bench it after only a few bench workouts.

JVA: Interesting! I had a similar correlation between my BP and Jerk. But I believe it's from all the overhead pressing we do, not just the jerk by itself.

JVA: What about your curl?

JM: I've done a good strict one, back against the wall, with 185 lbs. and can do several reps alternating thumbs up hammer curls with 90 lb dumbbells.

JVA: You're known for your grip. Are you doing anything differently?

JM: I haven't been working on the grippers because I left them at a friends house in Montana. Just training the actual events has been strengthening my grip. I've been doing all my assistance work with a thick bar. I think the thick bar builds great strength in the hands and forarms while your curling, pressing, or whatever.

JVA NOTE: In July 2002 I photographed Jesse closing two IronMind #3 grippers simultaneously in each hand. Look for that photo in the future IronMind catalog.

JVA: Exactly what are you doing on the farmers walks?

JM: Just what you told me some of the big name guys are doing! I start out very heavy (over 300 lbs each hand) and walk several short distances 80 to 100 feet and try to keep my foot speed up. Then I lower the weights and walk/sprint for maximum speed.

JVA's NOTE: Jesse took second the Phil Pfister, in April in Columbus OH, on a Farmers Walk with two 325 lb weights.

JVA: How close are you to closing the Ironmind #4 gripper?

JM: Ha ha! Honestly, not even close.

JVA: You mentioned training speed on the farmers walk, don't you also have a similar approach with the yoke?

JVA's NOTE: Jesse rarely trains the Yoke anymore, because it is now one of his strongest events. Also, the future appear to be putting the Yoke in as part of a Medley, rather than as an individual event.

JVA: Speaking of the yoke, how heavy and how far have you walked it?

JM: I've walked about 100 feet for two sets, the full length of my grandpa's barn, with 800 lbs, and I think my time was about 24 seconds both sets.

JVA: So, you do your implement strongman training separate from your weight room exercises?

JM: Yes, as you know, for years I had a home garage gym at my parents house, and that was set up with everything I needed for weight room training, but that recently changed. Actually, for me, all I really need is a platform, bumper plates, a bar, and a rack.

JVA NOTE: In June 2002, Jesse and couple of his training partners rented a facility which houses now all their SM implements, free weights, plus a few machines. Gym work is generally done on week days, with SM implements plus deadlifts on Saturdays.

JVA: How is your training program laid out?

JM: During the week we generally start about 4:30 to 5:00 PM when my training partners, Shane Neal and John Allen, get off work. The on Saturdays we train implements starting about noon.

JVA: I understand you'd like to be a coach or gym operator someday. Tell us more what your future plans are?

JM: Yea, I'd really like to own a gym some day.

JVA: You mentioned you've had a home gym for many years. Exactly how long have you been weight training?

JM: Well, I started when I was in 8th grade, but I was just messing around. After my 9th grade season of football I decided I didn't want to pay for collage so I bought a bar, a rack, and some plates. I weighed 170 at 6'3" at the time.

Within a year I was up to 180 pounds and started at tight end and defensive end on the football team. Unfortunetly I was doing the retarded routines that I found in the pump magazines. So the 10 pound weight gain was less than I would have probably gained had I not been lifting at all! However, the summer between 10th and 11th grade I found MILO the magazine. MILO, for those of you who don't already know, is the BIBLE for strength athletes. After reading only 3 back issues, I totally changed my training regime.

I started training for strength instead of just trying to get sore. At the end of my junior year I competed in my first power meet in the 198 class where I went 400 squat, bombed 260 bench, 440 dead. By the end of my senior year I weighed 226 and placed 2nd in the WA state high school power meet in the 220 class with 500,295,540.

Now, even though I was competing in power lifting, I was training like an  Olympic lifter. I was watching the training videos from Ironmind, and following the course in Jim Schmitz's olympic lifting book, "Olympic Lifting for The Beginning and Intermediate Lifter". J.V., I understand you know Jim?

JVA: Yes, I've known Jim Schmitz for many years. He's one of the main guys for the sport of OL in the USA, and has coached the likes of Ken Patera and Bruce Wilhelm. I even lifted against Jim a couple of times.

JM: Who won?

JVA: I did. Jim was a little better snatcher, but he couldn't come close to my presses or clean and jerks. Anyway, who's interviewing who here?

JM: Ha ha! Sorry, go ahead!

JVA: So you say even though you were Powerlifting you trained like an Olympic lifter! Why?

JM: Even before I met you J.V., I instinctively knew that the Olympic lifts were the best way to develop functional power and strength. My best olympic lifts in high school were a 220 snatch and a 300 clean and jerk.

JVA: So appears, that even at a young age, you're no stranger to most strength training protocols?

JM: That's right. I've done bodybuilding, or rather tried to do bodybuilding. Also Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and now Strongman.

JVA: I take it you don't like bodybuilding? Then and now!!

JM: Yep, I found out early on that that was not the way to get strong. And strength is all I care about. I couldn't give a rats tar star what I look like as long as I'm strong. Just stick to the basic core movements, keep the reps low, and the weights heavy.

JM UPDATE: My philosophy about bodybuilding has recently changed a little! Since advancing in the pro Strongman ranks, I've found some bodybuilding advantages. In fact, the hypertrophic effects of super setting leg extensions and machine squats have had a therapeutic effect on a knee tendonitis problem.

JVA: I remember, you had an immediate interest to learn the OL's correctly, and your self taught technique, at the time I met you, was pretty good. What got you started doing OL movements?

JM: As I said previously, I saw the immediate athletic advantages of doing the quick and precision movements over the slow PL type exercises, and I felt the the OL's would better improve my performances in football, wrestling, and track.

JVA: So you've done several sports? How well did you do in wrestling and track?

JM: I didn't wrestle until my junior year in high school. I can honestly say that I was afraid of getting my butt kicked. But the wrestling coach was also my football coach and he talked me into coming to practice. I got pinned my first match! I think I could have been a good wrestler had I started earlier. Recently I wrestled in the intramural tournament at Montana State and that was a blast! I never weighed over 212 while wrestling in highschool. So it felt awesome to wrestle at my current weight of 275! I took down the 3 time Montana State high school heavy weight champ three times in the first one minute  round, and pinned him 20 seconds into the second to win the championship.

In high school, in track I competed in the decathlon. Some best distances and times were: 100m 11.4 (10th grade), 1500m 5:16, 110 high hurdles 15.6 (at 226 bodyweight!), long jump just over 21', triple jump about 40', high jump 6'2" (never practiced), standing threw the disc 158', and three stepped the javelin 185', but threw over 190 in practice a few times.

JVA: Now getting back to your learning the Olympic lifts! When I first met you, you could execute a perfectly good Power clean and Power snatch, but you weren't doing the squat versions. Why?

JM: Simply stated, I was lazy. I rarely squatted, and when I did, I didn't put much effort into it.

JVA: Why was that?

JM: I took two years of weightlifting, 9th and 10th grade. We were actually GRADED on how much we could bench and military press. We were never required to squat. I would power clean and power snatch over in a corner while the other dorks benched. I probably would have squatted come to think of it, but we only had a half hour to lift. I would usually lift after practice again at home, but that was just more bodybuilding crap when I should have been squatting.

JVA: Now, just to review, what type of OL gains did you make after you seriously started to focus on the full squat versions of the lifts?

JM: As you may remember, in Dec 1998 I was only snatching 220 lbs at about 240 body weight. And you might remember you worked with me during Christmas break. I then entered my first OL meet one month after going back to school in January 1999. In that contest I snatched 242 lbs and C&J'd 286 lbs.

JVA: Why such a low C&J in that first meet? You had done 300 lbs at home before going back to school?

JM: I blame that all on the strength coach that was at Montana State at the time! He didn't have a clue how to strength train people.

JVA: Why? What happened?

JM: Well, when I got back after Christmas break in Jan. 1999, the coach had us (the football team) doing all this bodybuilding stuff.  And the worst part was, this coach expected the smaller backs and receivers to handle the same weights as us linemen were using. We had one guy totally wreck his knee when a leg press literally bent his knee back the wrong way.

JVA: Exactly what did this clown of a coach have you doing?

JM: An example of his leg program: Squats- 5 sets of 10 reps, Lunges- 3 sets of 20 reps, Leg Extensions- 3 sets of 15 reps, Belt Squats- 3 sets of 20, Stiff Leg DL's- 3 sets of 15 reps, Leg Curls- 3 sets of 10 reps.

JVA: So what happened on that training regime?

JM: I got weaker! I couldn't even stand up after racking a 300 lb clean. And as if being lighter and weaker wasn't bad enough I developed severe back pain.

JVA: I seem to remember you saying something about having to sign a contract?

JM: Yes! You won't believe it! I used to SNEAK into the weightroom on my own time to do snatches. I got caught once and was warned not to do it anymore, and the second time they made me sign a contract saying I wouldn't "power lift" or I would forfeit my scholorship.

JVA: Power lift???

JM: Yea, that's what the coach called Olympic lifting. He didn't know the difference.

JVA: Did your weakened condition, from all this bodybuilding stuff, also affect your performance on the football field?

JM: Did it! I was so stiff I couldn't move properly.

JVA: So what finally happened?

JM: Our team had a losing season, and at the end of the FB season the athletic director cleaned house and hired a new coaching staff.

JVA: Did things improve?

JM: You bet they did! They wised up and promoted the assistant strength coach Brett Tudsbury to head strength coach, and because Brett is an Olympic lifter himself, I was given more autonomy with my weight training workouts.

JVA: So I take it you then started to improve?

JM: I didn't improve so much during spring ball and the regular football season, but when I could totally focus on my weight training my lifts soared.

JVA: Give us an example of your gains?

JM: From Dec 1999 to Dec 2000, my Snatch went from 275 lbs to 325 lbs, and my C&J went from 341 lbs to 400 lbs.

JVA: Any increase in body weight?

JM: Not really. At the 1999 American Open I officially did a 275 lb SN and a 341 lb C&J at about 275 lbs bwt, and that was with only 3 weeks to train after the 1999 football season. Then one year later, when I did the 325 lb SN and 400 lb C&J, I also weighed about 275 lbs.

JVA: Up until last year, you never did your best OL's in a contest. Why is that?

JM: While at Montana State U, I had 3 months of spring ball, and then another 4 to 5 months of regular season football. This I was never able to get in my best shape when there has been a convenient contest to enter.

JVA's NOTE's: I witnessed Jesse snatch 325 lbs in training in early Dec 2000, and I saw his first 400 lb C&J on Dec 11th, 2000. We had planned to go to the 2000 Oregon Open WL Championships which was scheduled for Dec 16th, 2000, but icy roads held us back.

It's my opinion, had he been able to make it to that meet, Jesse would have officially SN'd 150 kg/ 330 lbs and C&J'd 185 kg/ 407 lbs there. That would have been 60 lbs over the then Senior OL Nationals qualifying total.

Ten months later, at the WA State Weightlifting Championships, Jesse officially did the above lifts. Since then he has been too busy training and competing in SM to do any Olympuc lifting. However, while doing an informal workout, in the warm up room at a meet in Silverdale WA, in Feb 2002, Jesse Power Snatched 352 lbs.

JVA: Now, bringing us up to the present, your goals seemed to have switched away from Olympic lifting to Strongman. Why is that?

JM: As much I love Olympic lifting, I feel I have much more opportunity in Strongman. The best anyone can do in Olympic lifting is the Olympics, and for the last one, the U.S.team was only allowed 2 men, Oscar Chaplin and Shane Hamman. With those kind of odds, and the lack of media coverage Olympic lifting gets, I think I have better future in Strongman. Plus, as any Strongman will tell you, what we do is FUN!

JVA's NOTE: Jesse is now a good enough Strongman to where he's now getting appearnace money and travel expenses, plus what ever prize money he can win. OL does not offer these rewards.

JVA: Does that mean you've abandoned Olympic lifting for good?

JM: Not at all! I still feel that Olympic lifting is the best strength training protocol there is, and I still hope to do an Olympic lifting meet or two occasionally in the off season from Strongman.

JVA: Thanks Jesse for being so honest and candid with your answers. I'm sure your fans will appreciate it.

JM: I have fans? wow. Hey, it's my pleasure. Thank you J.V.