Scotland’s Andrew “Weetabix” Cairney – From Exploding Knees to Top Powerlifter

Andrew Cairney 2012 British Champion Powerlifter
Deadlift time.

After blitzing the 2012 British Powerlifting Championships, with some great results, we had to speak to Andrew Cairney.

In this interview you will get an insight into his journey, including what adversity threw at him and how he overcame these things to triumph.

Andrew Cairney 2012 British Champion Powerlifter
Deadlift time.

Phil Burgess: You recently competed at the 2012 British Powerlifting Championships and in your words “ you had a good day at the office”, what did you win?

Andrew Cairney:

  • Best in class in full power
  • Best in class in deadlift
  • Best overall squat
  • Best overall open lifter
  • Best overall lifter
  • Broke 2000lb barrier
  • Broke 800lb in the squat

Phil Burgess: What is full power? and which ones of these achievements were you proudest of?

Andrew Cairney:  Full power is squat, bench and deadlift i.e. full lifts instead of individual lifts which some people do i.e. bench only or deadlift only

I also got a World Record in deadlift but it was quite a trivial one at 335kg but a WR non the less

I was most proud of the squat as I felt I had a little more in me and I beat some very strong and talented guys for the squat of the year award.

This was my main priority as I had won best bench and deadlift at previous comps and I wanted the clean sweep as this would show I was a good all rounder instead of a great individual lifter.

Phil Burgess: What are the best lifts you have recorded in a Powerlifting meet for the Squat,Bench Press and Deadlift?

Andrew Cairney: Best lifts are 370kg, 245kg, 335kg so pretty much what I hit at comp, the only thing that upset me was not getting the bar cleaned on the second deadlift and my grip slipped causing me not to go heavier, as I felt I had a shot at 350kg.

Phil Burgess:Which one of you lifts do you feel needs the most work to improve, and what are you going to specifically do to improve it?

Taking the Yoke for a Walk.

Andrew Cairney: Definitely my bench it sucks, I have a pretty good raw bench, I just struggle to find a good shirt.

My first shirt I loved and I hit 250kg in training, but it blew on me and I have never got one to work the same.

Had I still had my original shirt I would be close to 600lb by now that I am sure

Phil Burgess: Being a Scotsman, have you ever competed in the Highland Games or any Strongman competitions?

Andrew Cairney:  My biggest claim to fame is I am the only man who has lifted all the manhood testing stones in Scotland.

I have lifted the dinnies, pressed the inver overhead (only 4 other men in the world have done it, one being the legend Bill Kazmier), and I am the only man to have pressed the Menzies stone.

I got published in Milo magazine and made front page of iron mind for this and I am very proud of it.

Yes I actually did strongman before powerlifting, I was UKSC Scotland’s Strongest Man twice and Scotland’s Strongest Team twice.

I competed at Britain’s Strongest man and UK’s Strongest Man 4 times.

I was going ok at strongman and I was competing at the Arnold classic Amateur and I blew both my knees out and that kinda was the end for me.

People have asked when I am gonna return to strongman but my drive for the sport is not there anymore and I feel powerlifting is much safer.  

I am doing better at it than I did at strongman so i feel I have found my sport

Phil Burgess: What do you love the most about the sport of Powerlifting?

Andrew Cairney:  The thing I love most about powerlifting is the great relationship with fellow lifters, everyone supports each other and your closest rival is also your biggest fan.

I have made some awesome friends in the sport and I honestly feel that strength sports have the best athletes who really support each other.

Squat Training

Phil Burgess: What is the worst injury you have suffered in your lifting career?

Andrew Cairney: My worst injury was the result of another one, I detached my calf in August 2009 at UK’s Strongest Man and I had so many important shows coming up that I just strapped it up and got on with it.

However I was not putting equal weight through my legs as I was protecting the bad calf and this caused my knees not to track properly. By the time I got to the Arnolds comp in March 2010 my knees where in bad shape.

During the Log Press I ripped both my knees off trying to get under the log.  It was horrible, I hit the floor and I couldn’t find my knees, I went into shock and I was in Grant medical center so fast where they operated on me the next morning.

It was the most amazing place and the staff where incredible after a few days I was ready to fly home

I was told to prepare for the worse, they said that my lifting days were over and I would not be able to walk for around 6 months, my whole life just crashed to the floor.

Once I got home to Scotland I got every single piece of information I could on my injury and I read everything.  I then started physiotherapy and the two of the most amazing women I have ever met Jennie Barkley and Jenny Smith taught me how to walk again.  I was with them for a year and I will never forget all they did for me.

Phil Burgess: I read that you consume 9000 calories a day? Including 48 Weetabix a day? Is this true?

Andrew Cairney:  My diet is crazy, I have a very fast metabolism and I swear that is the level of food I need to be able to train and keep my bodyweight.

Phil Burgess: How much do you weigh for competitions, and how much does your weight fluctuate between competitions?

Andrew Cairney:  I used to be well over 140kg or 308lb during my strongman days but generally I keep around 130 to 135kg or 290 to 300lb.

I find when I go any heavier it affects my mobility and I am too lethargic and I don’t really gain much strength, so around 300lb is great for me and I am trying to keep that weigh whilst reducing bodyfat and increasing muscle.

Phil Burgess: How popular is Powerlifting in Britain?

Andrew Cairney: Powerlifting is not as popular as say soccer or rugby but it has a massive following and there are many very strong lifters.

If you look at Britain’s record on the international stage they are right up there with the best.

Phil Burgess: What is your next competition and what is your goal for this and the rest of 2012?

Andrew Cairney: I am doing push-pull at the body power expo at the NEC(it’s the British equivalent of Arnolds).
Then I am taking the rest of the year off to focus on the World Championships in November. This is unusual for me, as I am a comp whore and normally compete at any chance.
I know in order for me to get a world championship medal, I need to go underground, live in the gym for next 6 months and do nothing but train.
When Andy met Terry...

Phil Burgess: Do you compete equipped or raw? And what are your thoughts on using equipment?

Andrew Cairney: I am up for raw lifting when the opportunity comes around.
I train mostly raw so I feel I have a good raw foundation, and my opinion on equipment is that it’s here and it’s not going away.  I love to see big lifting so I am all for it,
I think powerlifting is no different from any other sport that has moved forward from technical advancements

Phil Burgess: How often do you train? And do you follow any systems like Westside or another?

Andrew Cairney: I train 4 days a week and I am a huge fan of the Westside system it has improved my training more than anything else.

Phil Burgess: Final question, where do you live?

Andrew Cairney: I live in Glasgow but I train in Dumbarton which has some of the nicest people on the planet.  
Scotland in general has some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth and I am very proud to be Scottish.
If anyone came to visit me I would show them the stunning architecture of Glasgow and the Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Phil Burgess: Thanks for your time Andrew, and lets hope that 2012 proves to be an injury free year for you.