Chicago Tribune: “He’s 5 Foot 7 and 215 Pounds and There`s No One Stronger”, by Bill Hageman


“He’s 5 Foot 7 and, 215 Pounds, And There’s No One Stronger”
by Bill Hageman
December 20, 1987

To read the orignal article, click here

Ed Coan worlds strongest man

Picture the world’s strongest man. A huge guy, right? Standing 6 feet 6 inches, maybe 6-7, weighing maybe 340, 350 pounds, glowering at his competition, growling, snarling. Nasty.

Now meet the world’s strongest man: Ed Coan of Evergreen Park, who is nothing like you’d expect.

Coan, 24, won the champion of champions title last month at the world powerlifting championships in Dayton.

He’s 5-7, weighs 215 pounds, and has set more than two dozen world records. Pound for pound, he’s the strongest man in the world. Heavy stuff, right?

I don`t really think about it, says the soft-spoken Coan.  It’s nice to have it said about me. But in my mind, I keep thinking about what I can do next.

Powerlifting involves three lifts: the squat, the dead lift and the bench press. In the squat, the lifter balances the weight on his shoulders, squats down and returns to a standing position. The dead lift involves bending to lift a weight off the ground, then straightening to a standing position. For bench press, the lifter lies on his back on a bench and lifts a weight above his chest.

Coan, who competes in the 220-pound class, had a 965-pound squat, an 854- pound deadlift and a 551-pound bench press. That gave him a 2,370 total, best of any lifter at the meet, regardless of weight class. It’s also the third-best total in the sport’s history for any weight class.

Coan’s strength has even surprised doctors. Dr. James Stoxen of Evergreen Park tried to do a stress study on Coan’s body during maximum lifts. He fed his figures into a computer at the Patient and Research Center at the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard. The computer, though, refused to accept the data; it wasn`t programmed to calculate figures that high. With the help of Dr. John Triano of the Center, Stoxen finally calculated that there is 6,792 pounds of back compression on Coan’s vertebra.

All this from a guy who figured he was too small for football in high school and instead went into wrestling.

“I first started lifting when I was a freshman at Brother Rice,” Coan says.  “I was 4-11, 98 pounds. That was kind of an incentive.”

“I was such a twerp, I didn’t even go out (for football). Everybody made the team, of course, but I figured wrestling would be easier because of the recognized weight classes.”

Coan’s athletic skill wasn’t evident when he was younger. “When I was growing up, from kindergarten through 2d grade, I had to go to special classes at IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology ),”he says. “You know, bounce the ball in a straight line.”

His first powerlifting competition was in 1980. He won the best novice lifter award in his first meet. Coan shares, “This is where I want to be.”

Just as Coan’s appearance isn’t what one would expect, neither is his schedule. He competes in only two meets a year (the nationals and world championships) plus the occasional invitational. And he doesn’t spend eight hours a day in the gym.

“I’ve got my training down after years of working on it,” he says. “Therefore, no wasted time.”

His training regimen sounds simple.

“After a contest, I take two weeks off. Then I start . . . conditioning work, a whole lot of repetition. As a competition gets closer, I cut out the simple things, swimming, basketball and get down to more serious training.”

“Too many people try to maintain a peak-performance level. It can’t be done. You see it with pro athletes; they get hurt.”

Coan works out four days a week. “Mondays, maybe up to 3 1/2 hours,” he says. “Tuesdays 2, 2 1/2 hours, off Wednesdays, 1 1/2 hours Thursday and 2 hours Fridays.”

Which gives him weekends off to relax with friends. “I arranged it that way,” he says, smiling.

“I don’t go out for massive partying. I go out and have a good time, but I don’t stay out until the wee hours. Mostly because I don’t like that. It kills me for Mondays. And that’s my biggest day (in the gym).’

Of course, he must have some type of exotic diet.

“No. It’s pretty basic. I stopped soft drinks. Just water, some form of milk, skim milk maybe, juices.”

“I will occasionally cheat. It makes me feel happy. If you’re unhappy, it affects everything. If you stay happy, you’ll stay healthy.”

“So once in a while, junk food.”

Coan does his working out at Quads Gym in Thornton.

“We have the same group that works out every morning,” says Tom Milanovich, the owner of Quads. “We kind of help each other out. I think Ed has benefited from it. And he’s a pretty good influence on kids who come in.

“Ed has a good personality for someone who has attained what he has. And that’s good for the kids to see.

“I can’t say enough about him. He’s probably what powerlifting is all about. A lot of times, when people have been as successful as Ed has been, they get big-headed about their ability. And they display it in their personality. But not Ed.”

Coan is just as pleasant at meets.

“I’m not one to go up to the bar and scream and yell,” he says. “I save my energy for the lifting. I’m a quiet terror when I go up there. I joke with everybody, and enjoy myself . . . until I touch that bar or put on that belt.”

Coan’s immediate plans are to work for Weider Enterprises, which puts out a line of magazines and weightlifting- and body building-related products.

“I’m going to be writing for them and endorsing for them,” he says. In the future, “I hope to market a whole line of products, nutritional supplements.”

As for competition, “The highest total ever set was 2,425,” Coan says.

“Next year I know I can beat that. I want to get it. Then there’s a heck of a lot more to do. There’s 2,500.”



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