Learning from the best Ray Williams

Not even sure how to start this, Ray Williams is dominating the sport of powerlifting, well that is if you consider the borders of the IPF to be relevant powerlifting.

I mean it is hard to not consider a 1,005 unofficial world record, set in the most heavily judged federation in the world, or the almost 2300 lb total he set at the same meet. The dude is insanely strong and has good grace in equal measure. I was able to meet him at Raw Nationals 2016 and he took the time to talk to me and encourage me to reach my own success at the meet!

The most captivating thing about Ray is not his huge squat, his big frame or his gargantuan personality, but rather his undeniable drive and passion for the sport of powerlifting. Training primarily by himself, he represents the most important aspect of success, which is self-motivation. As you can see below he is truly a beast:

 

 

1015 lb squat in training, he is so explosive out of the whole and almost represents perfect technique in the squat. In just 2 years Ray added 200 pounds to his squat and about the same to his total. Moving him from 2nd in the SHW to 1st and a dominating position in the USAPL.

Ok, so how does he do it! He is a dominating force in the USAPL, IPF and frankly just powerlifting as a sport, the current single-ply record is 1,102 lb set by Blaine Sumner. It is only a matter of time before Ray crushes that raw.

  1. Big back=Big total

Ray is a huge proponent of back strength, regularly performing hypertrophy exercises to widen and increase the size of his huge back. His huge lats and delts provide a solid base for the bar during squats, a wide platform to press from and a lot of muscle to deadlift with. I think that Ray shows the value of assistance work and that is something we all can benefit from.

2. Find your form

While his squat certainly looks technically perfect, the way he performs the movement is relatively unique. He takes many steps to walk out, to allow him to achieve his wide stance. He wears his shoes undone and turns his feet past 45 degrees and he drops into the hole extremely cautiously. But, all of this combined provides him with a stable and repeatable base from which to move heavy weight. I am not suggesting that one should adopt all those technical cues, but I do think everyone should experiment with a variety of techniques and modalities in order to achieve their optimal positioning.

3. Skill over everything

If you keep up with his training on Instagram, you will see that Ray does a lot of heavy singles and doubles in the competition movements. This is something that can be carried over to anyone’s training. Whether you do this with RPE methods (Experienced lifters) or a simple percentage linear progression based off of a projected max. If you have any desire to compete you should be regularly performing skill specific lifts. This is one of the biggest takeaways from top tier lifters that can be translated into everyone’s training.

 

Overall, Ray Williams is essentially the best drug tested Raw lifter that has ever competed, I am excited to see the numbers he puts up in 2017 and the continued progress he makes in the years to come. Lifters of Ray’s level can help to transform powerlifting into a mainstream sport and provide all of us that love the sport additional benefit!

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