From March 2011

How in the world can a 165 lb person bench press well over twice his body weight or perform a 534 lb deadlift? Well just ask Jason Manenkoff, National Powerlifting Record Holder and Seasoned Coach. This Hoboken native doesn’t play around. He’s incredibly gifted and talented, but not just behind a barbell. He’s a veteran in the community as an elite trainer and coach as well. Extremely educated with a degree in Kinesiology, Jason holds numerous certifications in Strength and Conditioning as well as Track and Field.

Jason’s love and passion for the industry, specifically the sport of Powerlifting, is exemplified in his personal triumphs throughout his career as a competitor and athlete, as well as in his dedication to all the people he coaches. Manenkoff is currently in the planning phase of opening up his own dream facility, Iron Arena Powerligting and Performance. This will be the staple training grounds for all who are interested in honing in and developing their skills in the sport. Placed in the heart of Hoboken, you can find Jason at his new home either lifting heavy shit or coaching others to do so. We were lucky enough to catch up with him and get him to sit down on our “Bench” as he shoots the shit with Liz about what it’s like to live in the world of Loaded Bars.

(Q) How long have you been a coach and what facilities have you worked for in your tenure? Please outline and explain briefly what your specialty was at each.

(A) I've essentially had the opportunity to coach athletes since my junior year of college. I received my USATF Level II Coaching Certification in 2004 prior to graduating in 2005. My Junior year I assisted the head track coach in planning for both indoor and outdoor seasons as we had no official sprints coach at the time. He felt based on all the research I had done and my ability to take charge of my summer training groups workouts and competition schedule I could handle the task. Aside from my own respectable results that I had achieved that year I could proudly say I take some credit for my training partners success (in his first year of college track and field) in winning the 100-meter dash at the Division III National Championship. (Not bad for a skinny white kid that a few months prior was CUT from the schools soccer team!!). My first job out of college was at a performance Facility called "Velocity Sports Performance". From there I was hired as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Stevens Institute of Technology along with taking on the role of Sprints coach for the Track and Field team. While working at Stevens I was also doing part-time work at Club H fitness in Hoboken and it wasn't until my role increased at Club H (I played a big part in developing and running the trainers education program) that I left Stevens to be full time at Club H where I am currently employed.

(Q) Where did you study and what degrees and certifications do you hold?

(A) I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the State University of New York, Cortland Campus in 2005. I am also certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a Level II Track and Field Coach in the Sprint and Jump events by the USATF.

(Q) What titles did you hold as a former college track star and describe one standout moment during this time for you? 

(A) I have numerous conference championship titles in a variety of events including the 200 meters, Long jump along with several relays, which I'd have to go back and confirm. I was also #3 in the Northeast in Division III in 2002 in the 100m, 200m, and the Long Jump. One standout moment may have been the first time I broke 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash, which was my senior year at the conference championship. As a post collegiate running semi-professionally (aka open) my relays team placed 2nd at Penn Relays in the 4×400 in 2008. I was also part of the 4×100 meter relay Team in YEAR that won USATF Club Nationals in 2007 and took silver in the Sprint Medley Relay. Along with those being "defining moments" in my career there were also milestones that I can recall, a few being when I first broke 22 seconds in the 200-meter dash and 50 seconds in the quarter mile both indoors and outdoors.

(Q)How did you move from being a collegiate track and field star to a professional track and field coach?

(A) I actually have not coached any "professional" track and field athletes. I did however work at an NCAA Division III University as Track and Field Sprints Coach along with Strength and Conditioning Coach for 24 of the universities athletic teams.  

(Q) When and why did you transition from this sport to Powerlifting (both as a competitor and coach)?

(A) Overuse injuries had been taking their toll on the track (lingering Achilles issues), along with marginal improvements which over time didn't seem to add up as well as I would have liked for given all the time I was putting into training. I always did a bench press meet or push pull (bench press & deadlift) meet each year since college and did pretty well each time so figured why not give it a shot and see what I can do if I trained exclusively for the sport of powerlifting. This was less than 2 years ago.

(Q) Describe to me what Powerlifting is in 3 sentences or less.

(A) Powerlifting is a strength sport which contests 3 lifts in which you are given 3 attempts of each. The lifts contested are the squat, bench press and deadlift.

(Q) What titles and records do you hold in this sport and what’s the next one on deck?

(A) I currently hold the "USAPL" American Raw Bench Press Record in the 165 lb. weight class along with "RPS" State Records in the Bench Press in NY, NJ, PA, and CT along with the "APA" Drug Tested Raw Bench Press Record in NJ. I am currently (as of 3/1/12) Ranked #6 in the Bench Press (395 lbs.) And #28 in the Deadlift (534 lbs.) in the USA by in the 165 lb. weight class.

(Q) What kind of rush does Powerlifting give you and why do you love it so much?

(A) Powerlifting is all about the establishment of a goal and creating a plan of action based on trial and error to achieve that goal. Once that goal is accomplished you are on "cloud 9" for a bit but then it’s time to reevaluate you performance and determine a new goal! It's an ongoing cycle but nothing feels better than seeing all of your hard work and months of blood sweat and tears pay off.

(Q) How hard is it to coach Powerlifting and how does it differ than coaching bodybuilding, endurance or any other genre of sport performance?

(A) To coach Powerlifting you must have a vast understanding of all disciplines of exercise science, which includes anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and exercise physiology. Powerlifting is a sport where technique is vital in each lift and close attention must be paid to the way the human body recovers from the rigors of training or else disaster may strike. You must also have spent quite a bit of time in the trenches hitting the iron YOURSELF! There isn't a book out there that will tell you what it feels like to have 500+ lbs. on your back in a squat, or what it feels like to pause a loaded barbell weighing 400 lbs. on your chest. You must have gained expertise through your own trial and error so that it may be passed on in order to keep the athletes you coach from making the same mistakes you made. Unlike team sports such as football, baseball and basketball there is no team for you to hide behind and no one to blamefor your own fuck ups. It's just YOU and the LOADED BAR!

(Q) What is the biggest misconception of Powerlifters?

(A) The general public thinks Powerlifting is in the Olympics. Guess what… IT'S NOT! The sport that folks see during the summer Olympics is actually the sport of "Weightlifting". Weightlifting contests the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. Powerlifting contests the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. Using both sports synonymously is akin to referring to "Skeleton" as "Bobsled". While they compete in a similar environment with similar equipment there are vast differences and are 2 entirely different sports.

(Q) What is the percentage of women to men in this sport and who are its stars (both genders)?

(A) I'm not sure regarding the answer to this but I believe that the number of women competing is growing. In the past year I, myself, have got another 3 women involved in the Sport, two of which are now nationally ranked (Noriko Kariya and Sarah Kaplan) along with Cynthia St. Clairwho should be joining the USA ranks come mid 2012. Regarding who the "stars "are is pretty subjective question, which I'm unable to answer since there are so many weight classes, divisions including drug tested and non drug tested equipped and non-equipped/raw. For me to pick a selected group of individuals may be considered biased based on my own values and beliefs.

(Q) Tell me about the various Powerlifting federations.

(A) In the sport of Powerlifting as we know it, what originally started out as 1-2 organizations years ago has now turned into an overwhelming 30+!!!!! To make matters worse, each federation has their own rules regarding what gear can be used, if they are drug tested or not, along with their own interpretation of the rules. There is no real consistency between many of these federations. Some have more credibility than others and it's pretty easy to distinguish which organizations lack legitimacy. But all that aside, we still see new federations popping up each year, which is further fragmenting the sport.

(Q) When, where and how often are competitions held?

(A) You can find Powerlifting meets being held virtually every single week across the country due to an influx of countless federations. As I said above, some better than others in terms of quality judging, good competition, meet organization, awards etc.

(Q) Where can someone find more information on this sport?

(A) (thanks to valuable time put in by veteran lifter and statistician Johnny Vasquez) is probably the most valuable source of powerlifting news on the Internet. is another good site full of training information along with a lot of top lifters training logs.

(Q)Tell me about VPX Sports Nutrition and what is your role with the company?

(A) Best known for its energy drink "Redline", VPX Sports Nutrition is a sport supplement company who I am sponsored by thanks to good friends of mine Anthony Roberts and John Romano. Along with being part of "Team VPX" I am also one of their staff writers. You could check out some of my articles on the site at along with my Q&A (click on – ask-jason-manenkoff).

(Q) So I hear there’s going to be a new bad-ass Powerlifting and Performance facility opening up soon in Hoboken called Iron Arena. Have any idea who’s behind this? Lol. 

(A) Hahaha… rumors spread quickly I see. Well…,the rumors true!!! Currently under construction, this 3,000-sq./ft. dream facility of mine will open its doors in early spring 2012 in Hoboken NJ!!

(Q) How long have you been thinking of opening up your own facility and what did it take to finally make it come to fruition?

(A) It has always been my goal to create a training environment for my clients that is highly conducive to results. Iron Arena Powerlifting & Performance was developed to be the absolute best place to train in Northern NJ.

(Q) What kind of clientele will this facility cater to?

(A) We cater to any individual, from novice to world champion, with a sincere commitment to achieve their fitness goals. These goals may include enhanced strength and endurance, diminished body fat content, increased muscle mass and definition, and a desire to maximize general fitness conducive to a better quality of life. We specialize in small group training and believe that training is small groups is the way to go. Training in that type of atmosphere adds a sense of camaraderie encouraging teamwork, which is motivating especially when the times get tough. During small group coaching you still get the individual attention and individualized programming as you would from 1-on-1 training without having the experience watered down as you would in a large group or group fitness class.

(Q) What can we expect from Iron Arena the facility and Jason Manenkoff the competitor/coach in the future? 

(A) As I have high hopes for Iron Arena the facility. Since it’s still in its planning phase, only time will tell what the future holds. As for myself, I plan to assemble/add to what will soon be one of the most dominant Powerlifting teams in NJ. As a competitor I soon hope to surpass the 400 lb bench press barrier in competition and progress closer to my ultimate goal of breaking the Raw Drug-Free 165. Lb weight class All-time World Bench Press Record of 418 lbs.

(Q) Any last thoughts or people you'd like to shout out?

A – I'd like to give thanks to John Romano & VPX Sports Nutrition for sponsoring me. Also big thanks to my friends for all the support in my athletic endeavors throughout the years as well as my newest business venture. Can't forget my uncle (Gary Branfman) in Texas who believes in me 100% and shows that even at the age of 57 it's never too late to take on the sport of Powerlifting. My training partner Yaniv Meirovitch, co-owner of Iron Arena, for pushing me to the limit day in and day out 10+ hours per/wk in the gym and for putting up with my bullshit. I know I'm not the easiest person to deal with at times. And last but not least I'd like to give a thanks to Club H Fitness for giving me the outlet for the past 7 years which has allowed me to grow as a coach, mentor and teacher.