Watch the Arnold. Do it! Do it noooow!

Note: This week’s posting schedule for the site got a little thrown off because I took the opportunity to interview Ray Williams and decided to post it immediately. It turns out that it was pretty popular. We had almost exactly twice as many hits in a day as the next best post in the history of the site (“Sexy Isn’t Always Better” which has, go figure, pics of hot chicks bending over). Gregor, of All Things Gym fame, shared the post on Reddit, and we had a few dozen forums also link back to the story. In fact, a couple Redditors were so impressed by the story that a new bar and several 100lb plates are on their way to Ray’s gym, so that he can start working that linear progression to like, a million, give or take. <golf clap>


Going forward, Thursdays will be a Q&A with our very own Tsypkin. In fact, he sent me a post for today before he got on a plane for Columbus (not to be confused with Cleveland), OH, because he is a very nice person, and thorough. Instead, I’m going to risk his wrath and wait until next week to post his very excellent advice. Why? BECAUSE ARNOLD, THAT’S WHY!

We have a bunch of our very own lifting this Friday in an international contest of raw strength. That’s kind of a big deal. For the full line-up of lifters involved in Friday’s USAPL/NAPF raw meet (all of which takes place on Friday), GO HERE.

For the times that each flight is lifting, GO HERE.


To watch the U Stream, GO HERE.

There will also be weightlifting at the Arnold, sanctioned by the USAW, and it will serve as the qualifier for the Pan-Am games.

You can read more about it HERE.

The Start List is HERE. This includes flights, weight classes, coaches, times, etc.


*** I currently do not have a live stream link for weightlifting at the Arnold. I will update this if someone can send me one. Thanks. ***


Stay tuned,and I shall provide more links and updates.

Meet the Man Who Squats 905…Raw

Over the weekend, a video quickly started spreading amongst the powerlifters of the world. Everyone stared in disbelief as they watched…questioning at first, but finally settling into simple awe. This shocking video depicts a man none of us have ever heard of, squatting over 900 pounds with just a singlet and a belt at the Alabama State USAPL Championships. No XXS knee sleeves (certainly no wraps), no special squat-suit – not even special lifting shoes. Just a large man with a LARGE amount of weight on his back, moving it around like he’d done it a hundred times.

This man is Ray Williams. In only his second powerlifting meet, he smashed the American USAPL Squat record with his second attempt, and on his third, easily squatted a weight that would shatter the current IPF world record, were it done in the proper circumstances, with the proper judging, and, of course, assuming he becomes accustomed to waiting for the “rack” command. Did I mention this is his second meet?

I tracked down Ray in Mississippi and spoke with him on the phone about his past, his lifting, and his future goals in the sport. I had no choice but to speak to him as a fan more than as a fellow lifter – he was as respectful, humble, and generous with his time as anyone you’ll ever meet (and likely the only person who addresses me as “sir!”). He was quick to give credit to his family, especially his brother, who got him into the sport and will be competing alongside him at 2013 USAPL Raw Nationals in Orlando. Last year, the Super-Heavy showdown between Brad Gillingham and Randall Harris was epic, to say the least. I can’t wait to see what goes down this year.

Everyone is saying “Who is this guy?! Where did he come from?” Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ray Williams, and I’m from the small town of Demopolis, Alabama. I’m about 6 feet, 361 pounds – that’s what I weighed in at the meet this past weekend. I coach Junior College Football. I’ll be married 2 years in November, and have 2 beautiful kids. My wife and my kids – they’re my motivation for powerlifting. One of the biggest reasons I think I was able to get 900lbs this past weekend was because in 2011, my daughter died. She was born, survived 11 days, and passed away due to being born premature. That, over everything else, is my motivation – her.

You have a pretty extensive football background as a player, and now you’re a coach. How important has football been to your life?
Football kept me out of trouble growing up. Seventh and Eighth grades were the toughest two years of my life. I had more discipline referrals than I had positive comments. In High School, everybody was like “come out and play football!” It was naturally easy – people pat you on the back for going and knocking the mess outta somebody! I signed at UT-Martin, made All- American my Senior year, All-Conference my Junior and Senior years. If I could do it again, I would. I was able to try out for 2 NFL teams, but it didn’t work out for me. I could have played Canadian ball, but it was just too far from my family.

So did you get your introduction to lifting from football? How long have you been lifting in general?
I started really, really getting into weights my 10th grade year. I said “If I want to be good at football, I might want to be good at this, too.” My Senior year, me and my brother William were first and second for every record in the high school. I squatted about 545, benched 440, and hang-cleaned around 315 or 335. I didn’t deadlift until after I was done playing ball.

How long have you been powerlifting specifically?
This was my second meet. My brother got into it first, and one day he talked me into it and I just ran with it.

What are your current meet and gym PRs for the big 3 lifts?
I squatted 860 and 905 (the 905 didn’t count due to a step forward before the call), benched 475, and pulled 700. I’ve benched more in the gym, but everything else was a personal record.

Do you follow a specific training schedule or program?
I try to focus on the core lifts, not so much on the auxiliaries. My week looks like this:
Monday – Deadlift, all sumo from the floor.
Tuesday – Squat, usually it looks something like this:
700 5×5
I want to work up to 5×10 at 700 because the gym I work out in, the bars aren’t long enough for more weight, that’s all I can get on there. Whatever I can get on there, I can’t let myself get comfortable with it, so I’m trying to add reps every week since I can’t add weight.
Wednesday – Bench Press:
Right now I don’t bench enough for my bodyweight, so I have to get to where I can rep 450 comfortably for 5 reps for multiple sets. I do multiple sets of 5 until I’m comfortable with a weight. I strained something in my arm and right shoulder and if I get out too wide, it hurts, so I try to keep my grip narrow.
Thursday – Rest
Friday – This is for all my auxilary work that make me better on my core lifts. My favorites? Curls and Tris! I’ve done biceps and tris every day for the last few weeks. I have to get my arms up.
Saturday – I just go in and loosen up and do a little cardio.
Sunday – Rest

Where do you workout? Do you train alone, or with a partner/group?
We have a huge gym in Fulton, MS, the Davis Event Center, probably one of the best Junior College Basketball Gyms around. Attached to that is a very nice weight room and I work out there. I have a partner, a student assistant that is trying to get back into powerlifting form, and I’m trying to get stronger, so we push each other.

Do you mainly train the big lifts, or do you perform variations of them as mainstays in your training?
I mostly focus on the big lifts and auxiliary work (bis and tris).

What do you think has contributed the most to your phenomenal strength levels?
I hate failure. I hate to fail. When you’re up on that platform, and everyone’s looking at you – I have my wife, my friends, my family looking at me – I don’t want to fail in front of these people. Kind of like when you’re working out, you put 700lbs on the bar, you can almost bet the entire gym is only watching you. If you get back there and you can’t move the weight, you just failed, in front of everyone. I hate failure. I hate to fail.

Tell us more about the “Cornbread and Buttermilk” story in the local newspaper. What’s your diet like?
If you google ways to get stronger, everybody in the world has their own program, “This is how I got stronger.” But somewhere in there it says “you gotta eat!” My wife’s done an awesome job feeding me, and my mother did an awesome job feeding me when I was young. I’ve always been a big dude, and one thing my grandma brought us up on was cornbread, collard greens, good down-home southern food – it’s always been a staple of my diet. I try to eat good – I’m 361 pounds, but I don’t want to look 361. I try to stay away from fried foods and greasy stuff as much as possible, but my #1 Kryptonite right now is Mountain Dew – I love it.

Finally, where do you think this is going? This being your second meet, the sky’s the limit. What are your goals for powerlifting, and your squat in particular?
I don’t want to sound bold… Right now I realize I’m blessed, but that I still need to get stronger. But right now my goal is to just get back to the lab and get better. To answer your question – everyone’s joking about calling me “little Mark Henry.” That guy was really, really good – he squatted something like 933 in high school. But I want to be just as good as him.


Impressed yet? I am. My favorite part of the conversation was a little more informal, but in regards to the 905 squat he took in the video at the top of this post:

Ray: I was wanting to hit a thousand, but they didn’t have enough 100lb plates.
Me: What?? Would you have called it, if they had it?
Ray: Oh yeah! I would have tried it. That’s my goal at Nationals. I want to do 1000 pounds.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, a legend in the making: Ray Williams.


The Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnold is here!

It’s finally here – this is the week of the Arnold Sports Festival, which runs this Thursday to Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, and is so massively awesome, it might make you shit your pants. You’ve been warned. If you do, just own it.

This is a huge deal. We have a bunch of 70sBig lifters competing, a lot of readers attending, and there will be more sports and competitions and displays than we could possibly begin to preview, or cover. Luckily, I’m guessing not many of you care as much about the “5k Pump ‘N Run” or the World Jump Rope Championships, and we’ll be sticking to covering mostly the lifting exploits, and probably a few pictures of the IFBB stuff just for funsies.

In the spirit of Ladies’ Mondays, I thought I’d highlight two female weightlifters who will be competing on Saturday, and whose coaches actually post on here.

Glenn Pendlay is a household name in our world (unless you’re ow3n), and his MuscleDriver USA team will be very well-represented at the Arnold, which also serves as the qualifier for the Pan-Ams. I think he’s coaching around 9 athletes, which sounds pretty much like cardio. We’ll cover some of the guys later in the week, but you already know Jon North is one of ’em. Did you realize, however, that Jon’s wife is also competing? Jessica is a ton of fun to watch in the MDUSA training streams, because her quiet intensity and determination is inspiring as hell. Check out this video, ignore the cheesy music (really, Jon, really?), and tune in Saturday to see how she does in the 75kg class.

Big Ben “Brown Thunder” Claridad has also been a friend of the site for a long time, and was teaching us all how important it was to have ginormous arms before we even knew who CT Fletcher was. He’s not only competing (105+), but also coaching two female lifters, Emelie (75+) and Cecily (69). I haven’t met Emelie, but I can attest to the fact that Cecily is just as fun and inspiring to watch as Jess North. When I briefly met her and Ben at Cal-Strength, I got to witness one of the most badass jerk recoveries of all time. Little did I know she would make a habit of it.

Amanda and Jess at Raw Nats

In Powerlifting, I could go on and on about at least half of the female competitors. There are several who have posted on here in the past, and several who I’ve met in person and are flat out awesome. Amanda Padgett’s long humble discussion with my special lady friend at Raw Nats is something Jess still smiles about to this day. She also loves to tell the story about her competitor, the one-and-only Jennifer Thompson, taking time to cheer her on mid-meet. JT is one of the best powerlifters of all time, male or female, and at last year’s Arnold, she broke the 300lb bench barrier – raw and drug tested – at 132 pounds. I think she’s going to break that this year… Check out this vid she put out in the past week of her smoking a 305lb training lift.

We’ll continue coverage this week of more lifters, more sports, more hookers, and more blow. If you’re attending the Arnold and would like to submit some photos, I’d appreciate it – click on Submissions and get’r’dun.

PR Friday, 22 Feb 2013

It’s PR Friday! The new phone book’s here!

We started off the week strong, with a write-up on Ryan Carrillo, his quest to compete at the IPF Bench Press World Championships, and a quick interview .

For those that have donated, may Crom grant you many bench PRs. You are good people. Ryan is sincerely thankful to everyone who donated. He got about 150 doll hairs from our readers on Monday, but I think we can improve on that. Go to and donate your face off. For best results, do it about 30 minutes before your scheduled intensity day training.

Here’s a picture of Ryan eating a Brontosaurus rib. Yes, this is how we do it in Texas.


Justin dropped us a quick note on Tuesday to let us know he’s still around, just busy stacking paper. Lots of good, positive comments by all, which he appreciated. I’ll be taking over the Editor duties, though I’m not as funny or ripped as Justin, just more ridiculously-good-looking, and I like run-on sentences. Any non-grammar feedback is appreciated, so you can always hit me up via email, mmmk? I’ll respond when I’m not doing curls. Many thanks to BSmith for helping me out with all the behind-the-scenes work…and for making this killer .gif.

CT Fletcher Curling

We also had a follow-up by Tsypkin on posterior training, specifically for weightlifters, complete with how-to videos featuring his lovely assistant. Some guy named Pendlay commented a couple times. How many other sites have world-class coaches giving you free advice in the comments? That’s a rhetorical question; I don’t read other sites. We did get the comment of the week, though:

Who the hell is this GlenPendlay guy and where did he come from? Can’t believe someone here named themselves after a kind of row… – ow3n

Ow3n wins 12 points.

Most importantly, we are ONE WEEK FROM THE ARNOLD. This is the biggest sports festival in the entire freaking universe, and a bunch of our folks are competing, so pay attention. We’ll get you previews and links to streams and whatnot next week.

Mike’s training has gone well and he’s looking to hit some big numbers. Subscribe to his Youtube channel, read his training log, and watch this video about what he does in the final week before a big meet.

Big Chris will be defending his North American Championship from last year’s Arnold. How does he prepare? He drinks chicken. He. Drinks. Chicken. If you don’t pull 700+ double-overhand, and/or can’t spell “K-A-L-E,” watch this video, and get to work. cya

List your PRs and which event you’re most excited to watch at the Arnold. Personally, I hit some modest bench PRs and got a brutal PSOA-release massage (DIY Guide for you sickos), and I have to give a shout-out to my special lady friend, who pulled 280. I’ll be watching the Arnold streams while at a Bachelor party next weekend. Whatcha got?

Posterior Round-Up: Part 2

As promised, here’s the second article by Jacob Tsypkin about building up your backside. This one is specifically targeted towards weightlifters, but every general trainee can learn a lot about a coach’s approach to attacking weaknesses by really analyzing these lifts. 


Last week, we discussed various general posterior chain strengthening movements which, while useful for improving the snatch and clean & jerk, are not specifically designed to improve those lifts.Today, I want to give you some drills and variations which are particular to creating positional strength for weightlifting.

1. Paused Snatches/Cleans

I typically employ a 2 count pause just below the knees. This is the mechanically weakest position in the pull and this helps develop the ability to stay over the bar. For newer lifters, the pause also presents them with a chance to correct their positioning during the pull. Singles and doubles are best here.

2. Two Stop Pulls

I’m not a big fan of plain old pulls. I think pulls are better employed when you do something to alter them from the actual lift. This is one of my favorite variations: stand on a board, 1-3”. Assume your start position, and SQUEEZE the bar off the floor, so that you are in your “normal” starting position with the bar floating in mid air. Pause for a 2 count, then proceed with the pull until the bar is just below the knees. Pause for a 2 count, and then finish the pull. We usually do 3-5 triples here, with around 100-105% of the best lift, but some heavier singles or doubles wouldn’t kill you.


3. Snatch/Clean Deadlifts

You should strive to pull these with exactly the same line that you pull your snatch or clean. If you can’t do it, it’s too heavy. Doing these without straps is great to build up some grip strength and confidence off the floor. A rep scheme I’ve been using, which I got from Coach Don McCauley:

Percentage of your best snatch/C&J. Do them touch-and-go (not BOUNCING, just TOUCHING,) and after two workouts, up the weights about 2.5kg.

4. Snatch/Clean RDLs

Instead of standing straight up at the top, start at your first position (bar in crease of hips for snatch or mid thigh for clean, weight in heels, shoulders slightly behind bar and knees slightly in front of bar.) From there, lower the bar to your second position (bar just below knees, weight in heels, shins vertical, shoulders well in front of bar) and come back up TO YOUR FIRST POSITION, and then aggressively finish the hips as you would in a pull. 3 sets of 5 is good here, typically I will start a cycle at about 85-90% of the best snatch or C&J and work up over the course of 4-6 weeks.

5. Eccentric Pulls

Do a snatch/clean pull. Lower the bar over a 10 count, back to your starting position. Focus on maintaining tension and hitting proper positions all the way down. A word of caution: it is best to do a few weeks of isometric paused work (such as the aforementioned paused snatches/cleans or 2 stop pulls) before jumping into these. Start with around 100% of the best snatch or C&J, and three singles of 10 seconds each should be plenty.


Jacob Tsypkin is a CrossFit and weightlifting coach, the co-owner of CrossFit Monterey and the Monterey Bay Barbell Club in Monterey, CA. He is available for weightlifting seminars and rarely gets mad.