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Brian Pankau
How I Work as a Strength Coach and Educate Powerlifters and Weightlifters

Brian Pankaus Stats When We Talked with Him 💪

United States
32 years
180 cm
(5 ’11)
87 kg
(192 lbs)

Follow Brian on Instagram

👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hello, my name is Brian Pankau, going on 33 years old and feeling the strongest I’ve ever been.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, I currently reside in Orange County, California after being stationed on the west coast while serving in the Marine Corps as an infantryman.

I’ve always enjoyed fitness and having it as part of my life. Everything started at first playing soccer for a private team growing up. Then in my early teens we received a multi-system exercise equipment to start working out on.

Throughout school, I played all sports available to me such as track, football, and my favorite wrestling. I had many great coaches especially during my weightlifting class.

While serving, I witnessed an Olympic weightlifting event and got hooked from there. Watching the men and women competing and moving that barbell so quickly overhead peaked my interest, and soon I was involved in wanting to learn more.

After two years of training, I went on to compete in four small competitions earning one silver, and two bronze medals for 81kg class. This was my passion, which led me to becoming a personal trainer and strength coach for almost 12 years now.

I’ve worked at numerous gyms and currently reside in 24 Hour Fitness Garden Grove, CA. Being able to work with a large amount of seniors and seeing their health change throughout their training is truly rewarding.

Alongside this I still train athletes mainly for powerlifting and weightlifting, but have had several physique athletes these past few years.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

Warming up is just as important as the workout itself especially if focusing on heavy strength training.

My typical training day revolves around primary lifts. If I’m working towards a powerlifting meet that would be squat, bench, or deadlift. And for weightlifting, it’s the snatch and clean and jerk.

Regardless of what I’m working towards, the main outcome is improving my strength and lifting ability. I follow specific programming that I create for myself to follow, then as I reach prep time I’ll follow a program designed by a fellow coach or friend that coaches.

Why? Because without knowing you can create a program that will be slightly easy for your abilities, so another coaches program will push you to go beyond what you’re comfortable with.

Typically, I’ll load up on food early evening the night before then indulge in a bowl of oatmeal with eggs or something similar. I’m not at my best early morning, so I workout late morning or mid afternoon.

Usually I consume a Legion pre workout beverage and Performix pre workout. Both are simple in ingredient profiles such as citrulline, caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine. I’ve learned those high stimulant based pre workouts just crash the body and had more negative impacts to my lifting than beneficial.

Warming up is just as important as the workout itself especially if focusing on heavy strength training. I spend 20 minutes using bands, a foam roller, and other equipment to help get the body warmed up and moving before even touching the bar.

Another 20 minutes is devoted to movement with the bar and warming up to my top working set. A squat day for me could look like 1×1; 2×3; 2×5-AMRAP. After this would be 3-4 accessory lifts. Totaling about 1.5 hours of movement.

Afterwards, I’ll eat a hearty meal or small meal with a protein shake. Either way it’s important to refuel my body to be ready for the next wave of clients in the evening.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

Being a personal trainer and coach, I see the starting point for many. I’ve trained clients with severe health conditions and helped others rehab after having surgeries. This helps me remember why training is important – to keep the body healthy for the years to come.

Training for competition still means I need to take care of my body and put the thought of health first. So any day I feel less motivated I think where I would be if I just don’t workout, and about those that look up to me both in life and social media to keep them motivated to train.

The biggest challenges I’ve faced are both from the past and even present. I’ve recovered from a dislocated shoulder during competition performing a third attempt snatch. Later, injured my elbow and lower back. Now, I’ve hit a wall in increasing my lifting numbers and have to change things up.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

My training has been going very well. Lifts feel much stronger, but constantly working on new techniques and my form to always do better and train harder.

In the next five years, I’d like to see myself owning my own training facility and having a larger athletic team for competition. I’ve also considered going back and being an assistant coach for wrestling.

Being a successful trainer isn’t easy, and it took years of experience to reach this point. Now I just want to grow my business out further and even take on more online clients while also continuing my education towards strength and conditioning.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

Basic fundamentals always work.

Training both in person and online causes my schedule to change routinely. I’ve learned as much as I prefer a certain time to lift – it just isn’t always going to be that way. I can always set aside at least an hour to train, so I make sure my clients are all focused on first.

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That being said, it leaves less time to sleep since I do like to write in the evenings and enjoy my personal time. Generally, I sleep five to six hours each day, and sometimes even four. I’ve never been one to sleep long hours and catch up on my Sunday’s having them off.

The best way I prevent injuries especially moving the weights that I do is simple and no new concept: Warm up, perform exercises properly, eat well, and stay hydrated. Basic fundamentals always work.

Injuries can’t always be prevented, and I handle them calmly and take a deep breath in to reset my mindset towards rehabilitation and doing what I can to maintain strength and mobility.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

My line of work being a trainer is pretty active. Moving weights back and forth plus demonstrating movements adds up when mixed in with my own workout program. So I consume around 4,000 to 4,500 calories daily.

I don’t have the healthiest diet and do enjoy good foods and drinks with moderation of course. I’m not trying to compete in physique or anything, but not to say I just eat junk all day. My body fat stays around 13-16%. The high calorie consumption is necessary for the energy needed for not just lifts, but the recovery process as well.

Meal prepping calorie dense foods such as pasta and potatoes alongside meat or chicken helps me out a lot with maintaining my food intake. Even when I have 10 minutes between sessions I still quickly warm up a meal and eat before getting back to it.

I’m not too heavy on supplements now as I was in my 20s. I only have the pre workout I discussed previously, along with multivitamin, creatine, and fish oil.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

Progress simply takes time and isn’t just going to happen overnight.

I enjoy watching Olympic weightlifting meets on YouTube, and get lost in watching several weight classes before going to bed. This helps inspire me to keep pushing myself to do better and reach levels that they’re on at some point and time.

Music inspires me greatly for my workouts. Usually I’ll blast a Metallica album, but I do enjoy violin and cello music coming out that relaxes me while I focus on the next movement to come.

The best advice I’ve ever received early on is trust the process and the results will come. I say this to each client worried about progress and to myself as well when feeling defeated. Progress simply takes time and isn’t just going to happen overnight.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

Focus on the basic fundamentals and commit themselves. If I could go back and change my first several years of training I would do those two things: Doing a lot of curls and bench presses didn’t do much else for the rest of my body.

Being a trainer I’ve seen lots of crazy things within the various gyms. These are the ones who refuse to listen to any helpful advice and take it as negative criticism.

The worse are on the dual cable machine where people fling their arms around like crazy, or the many gym bros that place the pin in to lift the entire weight stack and not even get one repetition in.

Biggest thing is use what weight works for you and don’t worry about what others think. The only way to ever get better and stronger is to progressively reach that point. No famous lifters or bodybuilders just got that way. They started the same place like everyone else.

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

Yes, I’m always open to taking on clients via online and have openings to take on more. Training in person I’m limited, but have a few time slots open for anybody living in the Orange County area.

I’ve met plenty of great trainers and coaches, and I’ve seen way too many bad ones as well. I can say I thoroughly develop training programs based on a clients needs and don’t do the whole template workout garbage that’s out there.

Every person’s body is different and needs a specific program to help reach the goals desired. For example, an athlete superb in the bench press with tight hips needs to focus on deadlifts and squats to compete. But also work on getting the hips to not be tight and improve mobility as well.

I always say in eight weeks results begin to show, but for true results 12-16 weeks of training is needed to see noticeable changes regardless of your goals.

The most common training question I receive is “Why is my weight not changing as much now?” First, have to make sure the diet and training programs are going well, then remember that after dropping the water weight at the start your body won’t see weight fluctuations as much while losing fat and putting muscle on simultaneously.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

The best way to stay up to date with my training and getting to know a little more about me is through my Instagram page @quad_a_lupe.

This is where I post workout videos, motivational posts, and fitness memes as well. I also own Strong Fit Living, which is a blog that provides free articles to help those seeking to improve their lifts and reach their goals.

Thank you for taking the time to review this and learn more about me. I’d like to get to know anyone interested in fitness as well! Feel free to DM me on Instagram or submit an inquiry through my Contact Me page on my website.

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