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Fit Doctors #1: Medical Officer, Benjamin Soh aka Doctor Deadlift

They call him Dr. Deadlift.

27­ year ­old, Dr. Benjamin Soh doesn’t just diagnose and give advice on leading a healthy lifestyle to his patients, he walks the talk by spending hours lifting heavy weights in the gym and eats just like any of us, but healthier. In this interview, the 104 kg doctor who stands at 184 cm tall, talks about his passion for powerlifting and how he squeeze in a gym session amidst his hectic schedule.

Tell us what got you into powerlifting, and what are you doing currently?

I started powerlifting as a natural progression from strongman, as it was more flexible and could be done in nearly any gym (vs strongman training which required a lot of specialized equipment and thus had to be conducted at a fixed time). This was around the time i started my work as a doctor, and so it was important that I could conduct my own training and squeeze it into my tight work schedule.

I'm currently working as a Medical Officer in the Singapore Armed Forces.


What is your current pr for bench press, squats, and deadlift?

My all time PR for Squat is 241 kg; deadlift, 280 kg (NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM DR.DEADLIFT); and Bench Press, 180kg.

What is your training like?

As per above, my training is scheduled as and when my work schedule allows. Often times, due to the unpredictable nature of my work, I may not be able to train on a previously scheduled day. Hence, I train ad­hoc, with each session focusing usually on one or occasionally two big lifts (squat, bench or deadlift), while taking due care to give at least one day of rest before training the same big lift again.

Over time, as I prepare for a meet, I go from higher volumes (e.g. 6x6 @ 70% 1RM) in the main lifts down to lower volumes (e.g 5x1 @95% 1RM) as the meet goes closer. This allows the body to first build up a volume base, then improve strength as the volume is tapered and the intensity is increased.

Accessories like the typical bodybuilding movements are typically done when I remember to do them. I do however make it a point to train my back regularly, as direct upper back and lat work carries over very well to deadlift.


What is your diet like?

I believe a lot in whole food. That said, I don't do any meal prep or calorie or macro tracking. I go by general portion sizes and track my weight on the scale, focusing on lots of protein from animal sources, as well as sufficient vegetables and fruits. The rest of my diet is generally what I feel like on the day. I do try to avoid too much fried food though, mainly for general health benefits, as those tend to contain a lot of bad trans fats.

What does your supplement stack looks like?

I take Whey Protein, Animal Flex (a joint support supplement), fish oil, multivitamins, creatine, and MSM (also for joint support). Powerlifting is quite taxing on the joints, as you may imagine, and we need whatever help we can get.

However, the best supplement for recovery is still hands down a regular good night's sleep. I also take a sleep supplement that contains ZMA and melatonin, as I believe in the importance of quality sleep.

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How do you manage to squeeze in time for training on top of your hectic schedule as a medical doctor?

I always believe that if you love something, you will make time for it. Just like husbands make time for their wives, all around the world, no matter what profession. Honestly, not all regions of medicine are equal, and I just train when I can. In hospital postings where I've had to work 80 hours a week, my training has understandably suffered. At times when my schedule is less hectic, such as now in SAF, I try to put in more frequent but shorter sessions.


What are your top 3 tips for someone looking to get into powerlifting?

1. Perfect your technique. I've had countless injuries through my career that simply stemmed from doing a heavy exercise wrongly. The problem is that not all injuries go away, and many often set up patterns of compensation that can cause more injuries down the road. Get it right the first time, and you'll have a lot less grief along the way. The scene is so much more vibrant now then when I began and there are many good coaches out there who can advise you.

2. Get Swole. I often see people who come in and within their first meet or first year of training worry about cutting weight to be "competitive". Newsflash, unless cutting weight is going to put you on a plane to represent Singapore at IPF worlds, you're just cutting Kilos off your total which will just prolong the process of improvement later. Focus on putting on as much quality muscle mass as possible (without too much fat) and the numbers will come in time.

3. Be patient. Some what related to point 2. Quality muscle takes time to put on, and it will take you time to reach your body's own genetic limit. Naturally, as you approach the limit, it gets harder and harder to hit the limit. Most of the best powerlifters in SG today have trained for a good 5­-10 years (albeit not in a "powerlifting" manner) before they became famous or strong. Expect to hit your peak in your late 20s and early 30s, and build your lifting with that long­term goal in mind. It doesn't matter how many KG you can put on your total in the next 12 weeks if you're just gonna get injured after that go back to square one (and believe me, I've been there). Longevity is the name of the game. Always remember that.

Follow him on Instagram @doctordeadlift !