September and part of October 2011 - Chris Skoda Goes Heavy and Hits Big PR's
Who is the Warrior this month? Well, let's see... who showed up for every training session not matter how tired he was, who pushed the hardest and did the most amount of work and who was most excited about his lifts? I love it when the answer is so obvious. We all know it was Chris Skoda!! Oh, and who got PR"s all month? Chris Skoda!
At the end of August, Chris was feeling tired and thought his nervous system was shot. But, instead of quitting, he man'ed up and got more serious and work harder. September was a huge turning point for Chris. The gym was going through uncertainty and transitions, people started not showing up to training and the energy level in the gym was down. Instead of using this as an excuse, Chris Skoda decided to step it up and focus on his training and his lifts. He sometimes was the only person who showed up on Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, but he still trained and he trained harder. His hard work started to pay off when he benched 6 plates for the first time. Then, he deadlifted and got a huge PR getting 500 lbs raw for the first time, then went ahead and got 550 raw on the same night. On squat day, Chris wanted to get into the 700's something that he couldn't even imagine himself doing just a few months ago. On Sunday, Chris squatted 735 lbs and was thrilled with how it felt. Then, back to his raw bench training on Tuesdays and heavy shirt benching on Fridays. He wanted to go for 600 lbs. He knew he had to wait for two weeks and do the work first, so the next Friday, Chris did two sets of triples with 525 lbs, gettting only two reps on the first set, then getting 3 reps on the second set. This is when his mind started getting stronger. The hard work, the consistency was building a strong determined mind. Big bench night Friday, Chris came in and was pacing up and down wanting to get his 600 lb bench in. All the warn-ups were just necessities that he had to do to get to his goal. Finally, he got on the bench with 600 lbs loaded, He got so excited that he lost his form and pushed straight up, but his mind took over then and his determination made him not quit and keep grinding a bad bench right up to the finish. He got it but it wasn't pretty. So, he wanted to do it again. This time he was ready for it, his mind was on fire and calm at the same time. He got down and benched the smoothest and most flawless bench he ever benched and he sailed up 600 lbs like it was much lighter. He got off the bench and almost cried from happiness. Later, you could still see him pacing up and down in sheer excitement and disbelief that he got his 600 lb bench PR and that it was so easy.
Chris Skoda had arrived to a new level of lifting. Now, he wasn't just using his strength to lift heavier weights, he now tapped into the power of using his strong mind and desire to lift the weights. Everything changed for Chris, he got stronger and calmer and more confident and his lifts kept going up. So, that was September. Then, Chris felt pain and got swelling in his forearm. He now faced the frustration of wanting to lift more but knowing that he had to back off the heavy weights. A new challenge for Chris, more patience. Each week he came and tried to push and pull but he had to stop as soon as he felt some pain. We told him it would take three weeks. These three weeks were a new test for Chris, a test of waiting through the frustration. He didn't do well with the waiting, but he stuck to it. He still came in and trained a bit but mostly came in to support everyone else, even though he didn't feel confident to spot very strongly. Each week he would test his raw bench to see how far he could ride the fine line before the pain would begin. He squatted on Sundays but didn't deadlift anymore.
Finally, after the longest three weeks of his lifitng life Chris started to bench raw and it felt great, no pain. He decided to give it more time and just stay raw for a while longer, but he pushed the raw as far as he could. One week he got a new raw PR of 370 lbs, the next week he came in and benched another PR getting 385 lbs raw. That went up so easy that he went all out for a huge milestone and benched 400 lbs raw. He was back, his waiting had paid off. Now he is ready to get back nto his shirt and see where he can take that to. Chris also came in on Mondays to squat. He trained raw for a bit, then put on briefs and last week did a greuling session, where he did two sets of 3 reps with 600 lbs in briefs, then went and did 10 sets of 2 reps with 3 second pauses with 415 lbs. This was hard work which Chris loved to do.
Consider that Chris Skoda has his work schedule changed in October and he now had to work 11 hour days, starting at 4 am and finishing at 5 pm and then he would come to the gym to train instead of going home to sleep. He would train until 8 or 9 pm then go home to eat and sleep and would have to get up again at 3 am to go to work. Anyone else might have used their new work schedule to back off training and not show up. But, instead, Chris made his commitment and showed up at the gym, training hard and got new PR's in October. Also, consider that Chris is very disciplined in his eating and drinking. He eats clean at home all the time and will sometimes blend up three chicken breasts in a shake to get his protein and calories. When he goes to work, he brings 10 water bottles and sets them up in a line and by the end of his shift he drinks them all. Chris plans his lifting outside of the gym and includes his plan for eating and drinking to get stronger.
For his consistency, for his mental strong breakthrough, for his working hard and pushing through and for getting PR's on all his lifts in September and coming back and getting squat and bench raw PR's in October, Chris Skoda more than earned his Warrior of the Month, he claimed it as his. Chris Skoda is the Warrior of the Month for September and part of October for his example of what it takes to push through, work hard and get PR's when everyone else would just want to stay home. Congratulations Chris, you are a great example to all of us of what it takes to be a true Warrior!!
August 2011 - Shawna Geraghty-Saldan Benches 340 lbs for No. 1 in the U.S. in the current American Women's lifter ranking at 148 lbs.
Shawna Geraghty-Saldan is hands down the Warrior of the Month for August 2011. Imagine a small girl with tiny wrists lifting 340 lbs over her head. Shawna had to diet down and lose 7 lbs to get back down to the 148 lbs class. Her secret weapon of packing on pounds of muscle with pancakes and syryp got her up to a nice 155 lbs and really filled out her bench shirt. She needed to lose the 7 lbs and get right back up to filling her shirt tightly. She suffered getting the pounds off with 24 hours of no water and no food. The 6 hour trip by car on an empty stomach started a huge headache that just woudln't quit. She was also beat up from her last two meets in 8 weeks and had to cut back on her training to heal up her triceps. For two weeks before the meet, she did not do a single bench press. And, her shirt was so tight she had to open with 330 lbs the heaviest weight she had ever lifted. Imagine the thoughts going through her head when she came up to the bench, having not benched in two weeks, not knowing if the triceps would hold out and not knowing if she could press her PR as an opener. But, like a true champion, she channelled all that nervous energy into lifting the weight and her opener of 340 lbs flew like is was 135 lbs. She was very happy.
But, this is not what she came for, she came to set a World All-time Historical ranking and she needed 340 lbs to get on the list. On her second attempt with 340 lbs, she was a bit too careful and lost her momentum and muscled up the weight but could not lock it out. On the third attempt the pressure was on. She already had 330 lbs in the last competition and she didn't want to waste the trip down to this one, so she refocused herself and called up her strong desire and got down on the bench and got serious. This is what makes Shawna stand out from the rest. When the pressure is on, she performs and produces. She got her third attempt of 340 lbs in a nice smooth bench press. This put her at No.1 in the current U.S. and No. 19 in the World All-time rankings. With this lift Shawna had arrived. This is what all her hard work was for.
In less than two years, Shawna had come from a complete beginner never having bench pressed in her life to the top of the U.S. and No.19 in the World. Shawna dedicated herself completely to learning the technique, to training hard and consistently, to thinking about her lifting at all other times as well and to dreaming about how she could get better. Shawna was disciplined in her eating a lot of food to gain strength and sleeping enough to recover. Her improvements came in small increments. Each week she would fight her way for a five pound PR and sometimes take four weeks to get it.
None of her friends understood what she was doing and the dedication it took. Her friends got mad at her for not spending time with them and because now she thought differently, she lost some of her oldest friends. Her value systems changed, her lifestyle changed. She stopped smoking, stopped drinking and stopped going out on weekends, instead she was in the gym bench pressing Friday nights and squatting Sunday mornings and this made her happier than she had ever been before. Shawna pretty much completely changed her life and dedicated herself completely to what she now loved to do, train hard, lift heavy and compete on a world stage. When guys asked her how much she benched and she told them, they would say that they can't even bench that much and they would turn around and walk away. Nobody realized what it took for her to achieve what she achieved. Nobody understood. She was no longer part of their world. She was an athlete competing against the best athletes in the world.
But, all this time, she never considered that she was competing against anyone, she was only competing against herself. Shawna did not set her goals to beat anyone, she did not even set goals as numbers, she simply wanted to lift more each time and push herself harder and see how much more she could lift. Shawna had no limits, no unltimate goals, just hard work and progress, And, every once in a while when she attained a certain number she would pause and revel in it. She would say to herself, I just benched 300 lbs and say it over and over thoughout the day in amazement. Then the next day, that was forgotton and she was on to the next training session to lift more. After her last meet, Shawna repeated to herself all day and on the trip back home, "I just benched 340 lbs, I just benched 340 lbs". It was hard for her to believe it. It is hard for anyone to believe it. How could such a small girl bench 340 lbs.
By August. Shawna had trained for and competed in 5 meets in 2011. In the January Battle of Montreal, she achieved 4 Canadian records and PR's on all her lifts. Then in April, she flew to Los Angelos, California and squatted 424 lbs and benched 292 lbs for a No. 5 current U.S. ranking in both liftsand both PR's. Then in May in the Canadian Pro/Am Nationals Shawna set two AWPC World records (in the drug free division) and she was drug tested for this achievement. Then, in July, Shawna focused primarily on her bench and at the METAL MILITIA MONTREAL Bench Wars attained a 330 lb bench press and huge PR and just missed getting on the All-time World ranking top 20. Then, August 6, Shawna Geraghty-Saldan competed in Ithica, NY and benched 340 lbs and just missed 350 lbs (one arm was locked out and the other was an inch away). In all these meets, Shawna rose to the occasion and in all these meets which each one had its own challenges with things going wrong before the meet, Shawna consistantly performed and produced results. This is a true sign of a professional athlete, the ability to rise above and still achieve what she came to achieve in every competition. This is what is truely amazing about her performance.
For her achievement, for her dedication, for her complete transformation, Shawna Geraghty-Saldan achieved what no other woman in the U.S. achieved and for this Shawna Geraghty-Saldan hands down gets the Metal Miliita Montreal August Warrior of the Month award.
July 2011 - Joanick Boilard Gets His Official 600 lb Bench Press Goal
Joanick Boilard came to us from Sherbrooke, Quebec. In his first bench session, he benched 405 lbs for a PR (Personal Record). He jumped up off the bench, very happy with a big smile on his face. From the first day, Joanick knew he needed to train with us for his lifts to go up. He bought a membership and made the commitment to drive almost 2 hours each way and train with the Metal Miltia Montreal Powerlifting Team at Montreal Barbell. It has been two years since and Joanick still drives every week and is never late for a training session. At the METAL MILITIA MONTREAL BENCH WARS 2011 on July 9th, Joanick Boilard officially benched 600 lbs at a bodyweight of 220 lbs drugfree. Joanick's squat has increased up to well over 800 lbs and he fearlessly squatted 875 lbs in the gym. He deadliftted an official 600 lbs at the 2011 Canadian Pro/Am Nationals at Montreal Barbell.
Joanick is a Metal Mlitia Warrior. He is an example to all of us for the consistent dedication he makes to training with the Metal Militia Montreal Powerllifting Team and the hard work he puts in every week to improving his lifts. Joanick is an example of how a Warrior supports his team members. At every meet, he arrived a day early to spot and load or to judge and to help out his team mates during their lifts. Then the next day, sometimes tired from the day before, it was his turn to compete and to put up his best lifts. Joanick puts his team first and himself second.
June 2011 - Shany Gilbert and Clint Harwood - Biggest Bench in Canada, Female and Male
The first time I met Shany was in Toronto at the CPO Nationals on May 10, 2009. It was her birthday, she turned 18 years old and for her birthday gift, Shany asked her father to take her from Gatineau, Quebec to a powerlifting meet in Toronto. She was alone with nobody there to help her. We watched her lift and immediately saw her determination. She was so excited that she lifted in the full meet both days, first in the Amateur on Saturday, then in the Pro on Sunday. I spoke with her father, who didn't know why she was so interested in powerlifting, considering that not he nor anyone in their family trained or went to the gym. I told him that in her I saw a champion, she has the mind of a champion. I told him that there were good people in Ottawa that could train her in powerlifting, but please bring her to me in Montreal. The following weekend, the whole family came down for the trip from Gatineau to bring Shany to train with us. She loved it and that was it. From that day on, Shany had her father drive her down almost two hours each way, every weekend to train with us.
One Friday night at 6 pm, Shany was not there. Something was wrong, because she was never late. I called but here was no answer at her house. Finally, at 8:00 pm Shany arrived. On her way driving, someone sideswiped her car and it was totalled. Instead of using that as an excuse to not show up, Shany phoned her dad and asked him to rent a car and pick her up and take her the rest of the way to Montreal to bench with us. Her father came in with her and said that maybe we shouldn't let her bench because she was just in a big car accident. I said we will let her go and maybe the adrenalin will help her. Shany benched a PR that night she got 275 lbs for the first time. Shany never missed a weekend of training with us. She would have her father drive her down on Friday and she would stay with us for the weekend then he would pick her up on Sunday after squat sessions. This was her dedication and determination. Shany improved tremendously because of her desire and because she was consistent.
After two months of training, Shany showed me the Canadian records that she wanted to beat. I told her to forget about those records, she will easily beat them with time, but her real records are the World All-Time Historical records. She put the Canadian records aside and never looked at them again and she wrote down the World All-Time records and carried those around with her always.
Shany Gilbert has a gift. Not only does she have an incredible strong mind and unstoppable desire, but she has a great body for strength and a genetic gift for building muscle. Her body responds similar to the way Mat Court's body responds. I pushed her hard and her body responded. I kept maxing her out every week and she just kept getting stronger. I got worried, I called Bill Crawford and told him what I was doing and he said "just keep pushing her". We put her on a Metal Militia training program where we worked on her form and pushed her max with singles and every other week we maxed her out with triples. We only had three pieces of equipment, a monolift, a bench press, and a reverse hyper. Shany did not do any accessory work. She did all her work on the main three lifts until she was exhausted. When you bench as heavy as she does, you do not need to do extra tricep work or extra abs or core work. It's all done with the main lifts.
After the first year of driving every weekend from Gatineau, Shany decided to move to Montreal and go to school closer to the gym. She spent the summer living with us and then found herself a room to rent, then an appartment to rent. She found a part-time job and did everything she could to keep herself going to Montreal Barbell and keep her training set on her goals to get into the All-time records.
By May of 2010, Shany got on the All-Time list with her 363 lb bench press in the 165 lb weight class. Then, at the METAL MILITIA MONTREAL BENCH WARS in 2010, Shany benched an incredible 406 lbs which put her up to number 4 in the All-Time World Records and put her in the Women's Hall of Fame for achieving over 400 lbs on her bench press.
The following year, Shany met Joffrey who supported her in her goal to get stronger in powerlifting. With Joffrey she attained a new high level of mental toughness, mental strength. She came back to the Canadian Nationals and Pro/Am competition and this time under world level judges, Shany squatted her way to not only a new Canadian All-Time hghest squat by any female, but also made it up to number 6 in the All-Time World Records with her 600 lbs squat. She squatted it on her second attempt but the judges did not give it to her, saying that it was a bit high. She showed her mental strength when she came back and got 600 lbs with a deeper squat on her third attempt. Shany also upped her bench to 424 lbs and moved up to number 3 in the All-Time World Records. Her total then also set a new ranking in the All-Time Records.
Shany is an example to all of us on the Metal Militia Montreal Powerlifitng Team at Montreal Barbell. She is an example of what dedication, desire, a big appetite and hard work can do. She is an example of the power of setting a goal and never quitting. And, Shany is an example for all women that a woman can still be very pretty and look very feminine and still be the strongest in the world.
Clint Harwood owns and runs The Anvil gym in Toronto, Ontario, a hardcore powerlifting gym that has produced many top Canadian powerlifters who have achieved several World Powerlifting Records. Clint Harwood has been a Metal Mlitia Warrior for many years. I first met Clint at the WPC World's in Lake George, NY in 2006. He entered the bench only and got all three of his benches and finished with a huge personal record, PR, of 771 lbs. which also earned him the title of the biggest bench in Canada. Later, in May of 2008, at the Canadian Nationals in Toronto, Clint benched 806 lbs and became the first man in Canada to bench 800 lbs and more. It was a big goal for Clint and right after he achieved it he asked to be drug tested so that it would be known that the biggest bench in Canada was done drug free.
After becoming the first man in Canada to bench 800 lbs, Clint decided to drop weight from and went from a Super Heavy Weight Class where he was up to 365 lbs, right down to the 275 lb / 125 kg weight class. He also decided to start squatting and deadlifting and planned to enter his first full powerlifting meet in two years. In these next two years, Clint struggled to maintain his bench in the high 700's. He began researching bench shirts and tried various different materials and shirt types. After achieving his goal of competing in a full power meet, Clint decided that the lower weight class and the full power training were not for him. He decided once again that he is a bencher and that he performs best at a bodyweight of 308 lbs. A few months ago in an email, Clint told me he will now maintain a steady bodyweight and will focus on bringing his bench back up to a higher level than before.
In the meantime, Mike Guay from Montreal Barbell came on the scene and in July 2010, he took away Clint's biggest bench in Canada with an 810 lb bench press at the METAL MILITIA MONTREAL BENCH WARS at Montreal Barbell.
The following year at the 2011 CPF Canadian Pro/Am Nationals at Montreal Barbell, Clint staged his bench press comback. He wasn't completely ready with his choice in the right bench shirt but he decided to enter the contest anyway and do his best. It was at this meet, that Clint shocked everyone and opened with an 826 lb bench press and executed it flawlessly to regain his title of the biggest bench in Canada. Mike Guay tried to match Clint's benches but his form failed him that day and he was not able to get a bench in.
Clint Harwood is a Metal Militia Warrior for many years. Clint had driven to train with the Metal Mlitia in New York and has come to train with the Metal Mlitia Montreal Powerlifting Team all in his quest to become a better bencher. Clint is an example to all of us both at his Anvil gym and at Montreal Barbell where the Metal Militia Montreal Powerlifting Team trains. Clint leads by example not only with his strategic planning and accomplishment of his goals, but mostly Clint provides us with a model of behaviour that says "nice guys can be supportive, can have great sportsmanship and can help others out during the meets, while they still achieve their own highest goals". You don't have to go to a meet and just sit and concentrated on yourself. Clint, drives to almost all of our meets at Montreal Barbell, and he brings his wife Pamela with him to run the front desk while he judges, and helps his teamates from the Anvil and then lifts and still gets the highest bench in Canada.
January 2011 - Shawna Geraghty-Saldan
October - December 2010 - Ghislain Roy
Ghislain Roy started the strong mind revolution. "I am a Warrior!", is the mantra he repeated to himself all day everyday while at work. "I am not scared, I am a Warrior!". And, thus Ghislain Roy lead the turnaround in strong mind thinking in our team at Montreal Barbell Powerlifting.
Ghislain had done two meets, completed them both but was not completely happy with his results, especially his squat. When he got up to 555 lbs and 600 lbs, he started thinking too much and then started shaking and squatted only part way down and came back up earlier than he wanted to. Then, one day both Shany Gilbert and Cheryl squatted over 500 lbs for reps and 555 lbs for singles. Ghislain came over to me and said, "The girls are squatting as much as me, I will have to squat more." The following week a new Ghislain walked into the gym. He got down to business and worked his way up to 6 plates on the bar. Went over, got under the bar, no hesitation, squatted it... no shaking, no fear. Then, he loaded 650 on the bar, same thing. Then, he called for 7 plates on the bar, 685 lbs. We all looked at each other wondering...what is he doing... will this crush him. He got under, squatted it and walked away like nothing was different, like he expected to do it. The next few weeks, he came in and did the same, only he kept adding weight, 50 lbs at a time. Each week, we looked at each other but said nothing to him. Finally, he asked for 8 plates on the bar and I had to ask him, "Ghislain, are you sure? that's a big jump in weight?". He just said "Yes". Normally, if it were anybody else, I would have stopped them and not let them make such big jumps in weights for their own safety, but just one look at Ghislain's face and I could see that he meant it and he was going to do it. This went on until Ghislain asked to load 925 lbs on the bar. Now, I was worried and everyone else looked to me to stop him. But, we let him go. We watched him get ready, we watched him appraoch the bar like a snorting angry bull ready to charge, we watched his body go into shaking convultions of intensity as adrenalin pumped his neck and head red. We watched as he took forever to stand up with the weight and then he started down and went all the way down then started back up pushing a mountain of weight that should have broken his back. He stood all the way up and racked the bar, we started to breath again and we all changed at that moment. We all saw the courage and intensity that seemed impossible but was possible. From that session on, all of our lifts started to go up. We all started to add mental intensity and mental courage and we all started to fight for our lifts. Ghislain changed us all. He did the impossible. In a matter of two months he went from being afraid to being completely fearless, a warrior in the true sense. We saw Ghislain add more than 300 lbs to his squat in two months. And, Ghislain was not a beginner, he had been training for 15 years before this transformation.
But, Ghislain did not simply just change his mind and make it stronger. He did everything he possibly could to increase his squat. He redesigned his program and started squatting 5 times a week and deadlifting 5 times a week. He bought an industrial sewing machine and started making his own squat suits and briefs, testing different designs and levels of tightness. He adjusted his eating plan. And, he set goals each week and quietly chanted them to himself all week at work preparing himself for what he was going to squat that week.
For this, ghislain earns the Warrior of the Month award. Ghislain lead the revolution. We are all now much stronger mentally from Ghislain's example of attaining what was impossible and seeing what it really takes to achieve your goals.
To read Ghislain's training log of how he became a mental warrior - click here