Daniel Bell is without a doubt one of the greatest powerlifters to ever grace the earth, having performed some never-before-seen lifts on multiple occasions. He is mostly known for his incredible squat prowess and a number of World Records. However, it was a very long journey for Daniel to get to the top. So, in this article, we have covered everything from his early life, powerlifting career, workout programming, and much more.
Daniel Bell grew up in the small city of Galva, which is located in Illinois, and was always been a man of larger stature. So, his first choice of sport was American Football, with the start of his career taking place when he was in sixth grade. He was much heavier than his peers and even weighed 315 pounds (142.9 kilograms) at the time of his schooling journey. Daniel also had to get a special helmet for football and was not allowed to run with the ball until a few years later.
Having realized that sport was one of his purest callings, Daniel Bell turned his attention away from school and education. Thus, by the time he got into the later stages of the schooling process, Daniel had only studied enough to pass his subjects. Moreover, he was doing that mainly to be allowed to play football. In the meantime, Daniel’s strength became evident during high school, since he was capable of squatting 495 pounds (224.5 kilograms), more than enough to leave everyone in the room impressed. Moreover, when he performed the leg press, Daniel would need to load all the weights at his disposal in the gym.
Although Daniel Bell knew from the start that college was not quite suited to him and his desires, he still went to a Community College for two years. After giving it a chance, Daniel confirmed his suspicion and decided that his life should go on a different path.
Daniel Bell’s first sanctioned powerlifting competition came in 2005, during which he was only 18-years-old. Bell did not even train for powerlifting back then, but he saw a flyer for the 2005 APF Illinois State Meet. He found it intriguing and decided to apply. So, he came in to compete with only the basic knowledge from the gym. Moreover, he was very inexperienced on the deadlifts and ended up missing all three of his attempts. Consequently, Daniel was disqualified in his powerlifting debut.
Following his first powerlifting competition, Daniel Bell began playing rugby for a team in Iowa, which delayed his continued participation in the sport. He spent three years on the rugby team, but his second powerlifting competition came even later. In fact, it took place in 2014, which is nearly a decade after his debut. Even during the second appearance, Daniel still thought of himself as a “gym bro”. However, it did not take too long for Daniel to get the rhythm and improve drastically.
Daniel Bell first set a goal of squatting over 800 pounds (362.9 kilograms) raw in a sanctioned competition. He accomplished that just a few months later, in 2015, and moved on to the 1,000-pound (453.6-kilogram) squat. Obviously, he fulfilled that goal a few years later as well. In fact, Daniel has squatted 1000+ pounds (453.6+ kilograms), with knee sleeves or knee wraps, over 20 times in sanctioned powerlifting competitions so far.
By chasing goal after goal, Daniel Bell got close to the World Records and made it his mission to claim them. Like always, having set his sights on them, Daniel Bell broke multiple All-Time World Records and is currently in possession of two.
Daniel Bell has taken part in 36 sanctioned powerlifting competitions so far and won 27 of them, including the ongoing 14 competition win streak. Dan competed in both the ‘raw’ and ‘raw with wraps’ divisions, while also switching between the under 140-kilogram and over 140-kilogram weight classes throughout the years.
It is not a surprise that one of Daniel Bell’s world records is the dearest to him, but more so because of how much effort he had to put in to achieve it. Bell has revealed that he was haunted by Petr Petráš’s Total (Raw W/Wraps) World Record and knew that he had to reclaim it. So, three months after Petr, Daniel put up a 1,182.5-kilogram (2,606.9-pound) total, which he is most proud of.
Another reason why Daniel Bell says that this Total World Record was special for him is because he performed it for his country rather than himself. This kind of selflessness has been displayed all throughout his career, which is why he is adored by so many fans.
Daniel Bell has been sticking to a relatively similar program throughout his entire powerlifting career, and it has never stopped working for him. However, he always makes sure to listen to his body and adjust accordingly. Moreover, Daniel often makes sure to wrap up a training session on a positive note rather than a negative one since he believes it significantly affects confidence levels.
When it comes to preparing for a competition, Daniel Bell prefers to go through a full 12 week training block. However, he has been known to compete after an 8-week training block.
Bell has told us exclusively what his training regimen during his powerlifting peak looked like. So, here it is:
Monday “Hell Day”: High Rep Back / Bicep
Tuesday: Deficit Deadlift or Paused Squat (Alternating Weekly)
Thursday: Bench Press (alternating weekly between close grip and comp grip)
Sunday: Squat or Deadlift (Alternating Weekly)
Opposite to training, Daniel Bell believes that recovery has helped him make the most progress in the past 2-3 years, as well as given him such longevity in the sport. He makes sure to get eight hours of sleep each night under any circumstances, which shines a light on how important the rest is.
Now that Daniel Bell is not as focused on powerlifting as he was before, he decided to change up his training. As he told us exclusively, he trains six times a week, but it is all about light bodybuilding or machines. He also alternates between lower and upper body workouts.
Daniel Bell exclusively told us that his diet during the peak of his powerlifting career consisted of 4,500-5,000 calories a day. He ate five meals a day, three of which were clean, and the other two were just “convenience”.
On the other hand, Daniel Bell also told us that he now eats three meals a day and makes sure to fast for 16 hours a day. He still tends to stick to clean meals, but has no problem with eating some pizza or McDonald’s on occasion.
Daniel Bell does not think that gaining weight or cutting weight before a competition is a good decision. Instead, he competes at a bodyweight that feels good for him, allowing him to lift heavy weights but also retain some endurance.
Interestingly, Daniel Bell prefers chicken as opposed to red meat, stating:
“I just put it on the grill, season it a little bit, put some broccoli and rice with it and I have no problems. So I eat that about five or six times a day.
“I’m pretty big on white rice, because it’s easy to digest and its complex carbs that my body uses for fuel.”
Daniel Bell also went to tech school in Wyoming for nine months and ended up landing a job in a factory working on huge mining trucks. He ended up working there for six years before moving on. Daniel also had a goal of joining the Marine Corps at one point and even lost over 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms) of bodyweight. That goal did not come to fruition, but Daniel still found his passion.
Although not many powerlifters have day jobs, Daniel Bell is working as a Mobile Diesel Technician. He has over 15 years of experience and is still as hardworking as he is in the gym.
Being a mechanic is in his genes, as his grandfather also had a trucking company in Illinois. So, a few generations later, Daniel utilized his huge hands to work on trucks and keep everything up and running.
Apart from his greatness as an athlete, many stories can be heard from Daniel Bell’s fellow powerlifters about how great of a man he is. Daniel revealed on multiple occasions that he started doing powerlifting because everyone was friendly. So, now that he is one of the greatest powerlifters in history, Daniel uses kindness to help new generations of athletes.
Daniel Bell’s most recent competition came in April 2023, where he unfortunately suffered a leg injury. He has since not been very active on social media, but he has overcome multiple injuries beforehand. So, hope still remains that Bell will decide to come back and perhaps even explore the equipped division of powerlifting since he has revealed his ambitions about it multiple times already.
Watch our interview with Daniel Bell on discovering his incredible strength:
This article is written by Vedad Tabakovic, a journalist with three years of experience in covering Strength Sports. He aims to deliver accurate and engaging content.
If you have questions or need clarifications, please leave a comment below, and Vedad will respond promptly.
Vedad is a lifelong fitness enthusiast, who is especially passionate about all things Strength related. Vedad loves to write about strength sports just as much as he likes to train. Worked hard to gain his knowledge, but is still in a constant chase for improvement.
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