The Next Level...

by Rhaea Stinn

by Luke Tremblay


Raw powerlifting has become a mainstream sport viewed on social media by millions of people; and as a result, raw powerlifting is growing in popularity!  As raw powerlifting becomes a more recognised sport, the desire to achieve and exceed personal records burns like a wildfire within the competitors and athletes!  Men and women alike discipline their bodies in training to conquer “the next level” of accomplishment.  Records are being broken and new “stars in the making” arise.  

I recall during my first powerlifting meet, back in 2014, at the Belle River Regional High School competition, there was a battle within the heavier lifters to squat 400 lbs, bench press 300 lbs, and deadlift 500 lbs.  Fast forward 15 months, to the 2015 Ontario Junior Championships, and the numbers being chased increased to a 600 lbs squat, a 400 lbs bench press, and a 600 lbs deadlift.  I witnessed Kerry Dennison establish a National deadlift record of 695 lbs that day, sparking a desire within many competitors present to accomplish a lift of the same magnitude.  

Not long ago, in our sport, a 700 lb raw squat was an accomplishment exclusive to the Open Men’s heavier weight classes of 120 kg or 120+ kg.  Nowadays we see junior lifters, such as Cameron St. Amand in the 105 kg weight class and Jackson Spencer in the 120 kg weight class, achieving squats well into the 700 lb range.  As well as, Ty Scratch in the Junior 120+ kg class nearly conquering a squat of 800 lbs!

In 2017, at this years Ontario Junior Championships, Christopher Dang and Joshua Reyes successfully deadlifted well over 600 lbs.  Christopher weighing roughly 160 lbs and Josh 180 lbs.  This highlights only a few of Canada’s upcoming great lifters.  Keep in mind other weight classes and lifters from different countries, who exhibit incredible strength and talent.

One area specifically where there has been great strength improvements over the past few years is in the women’s divisions.  The amount of women lifters that I have seen deadlift over 400 lbs is just too many to keep track of!

Powerlifter Preparing for Competitive Benchpress Lift

We are seeing drug tested lifters lift weights comparable to those competing in federations that don’t drug test. What could be the cause of that? Some people will assume the “drug free” lifters are just not getting caught taking banned substances.  I don’t think this is the case.  I believe this is caused by everyone’s desire to reach “The Next Level”.

2012 IPF Classic World Championships was the first international competition in the raw division. Blaine Sumner won the 120 kg+ with a total of 907.5 kg. Ray Williams now has the total record at 1105 kg, which he set this year. That’s a 200 kg increase in just 5 years.

So, what can a lifter do to reach The Next Level? No doubt training is the number one contributing factor to increasing strength, that is where we will start. I would recommend two ways of seeking useful training knowledge; hiring a coach or learning on your own.  Within the powerlifting community, there are many knowledgeable coaches that I would trust, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits with your price range. You pay for their service but it’s an investment in yourself and you can learn from them.

I chose a different route when I started powerlifting.  I didn’t have much disposable income and knew very little about powerlifting. Soon I realized there were other resources to gain knowledge from, and I utilized them. Youtube is filled with lifters that share their knowledge and experience at no cost. I would suggest subscribing to CanditotrainingHQ, also, that is where I learned the majority in the beginning.

Equally important to an athlete’s training is nutrition and sleep. Nutrition and sleep play a huge role in determining just how hard and long one can train. Athletes can thrive off an increased calorie intake, as well as, increase sleep duration.  This is because it decreases the likelihood of overtraining. I tell people that overtraining is simply lack of recovery. Elite athletes will reach a point of plateau.  This occurs when they can’t eat anymore food without gaining weight.  There are a large number of lifters who will never reach this point.

Finally, the training environment can have a large impact on progress. As soon as I started training at the Power Pit, a very successful powerlifting club, I increased my rate of progress dramatically.  Here I have the privilege of training with legends of the Canadian Powerlifting Union, as well as other great upcoming lifters. These training partners have shared a tremendous amount of knowledge, along with creating a competitive environment that all lifters benefit from on a daily basis.

Male Powerlifter Lifting

I continuously find myself putting more time and effort towards reaching The Next Level. I am constantly logging more hours on youtube and reading more articles and studies. Looking for new techniques to try will always be an important aspect of my training.  Providing myself with enough sleep and time to cook meals will have a crucial impact on training.  I won’t be giving up until I reach The Next Level.