Turlock resident Ryan Clay has put in plenty of hard work over the years to go from what he described as a “skinny” kid in his youth to now holding a world record for heaviest deadlift in adulthood.
As a powerlifter competing in the World Association of Bench Pressers and Dead Lifters, Clay broke the 242-pound class deadlift world record in the men’s RAW division (drug tested with no equipment) after completing a 706-pound lift on May 15. The prior record was held by Cephas McTizic of Arkansas at 705.2 pounds, which was achieved in February 2020.
Clay’s accomplishment came at the WABDL California State Championships in Chico, which was only his second time ever competing in a powerlifting competition. During his first competition last year right before the pandemic hit, Clay broke a state record while competing in the 220-pound weight class.
“In my mind, I knew I was gonna break it,” Clay said of his most recent, 706-pound feat. “I’ve been working really hard and going into it, my mind was set. I told myself I’m not coming home unless I break it, so in my mind it was as good as broken. I just had to go and perform it in front of everybody, and even after doing that it was still kind of surreal.”
Clay is new to the sport of powerlifting; he says he was a “skinny” kid and never stepped into the weight room until playing basketball at Modesto Junior College. He began building his current strength in recent years when he started working out at Harding Performance Boot Camp, owned by his friend and fellow 2008 Pitman High School graduate Anthony Harding, and after encouragement from both Harding as well as his former college strength coach, he decided to see what he could do.
“It showed me I was stronger than I thought,” Clay said. “I want to get world records in multiple divisions so everyone knows this guy’s something serious. Growing up I was really weak actually, so it’s something I’ve always wanted. It took longer than expected, but it feels good to finally reach this point.”
Clay plans to continue training to become even stronger, he said, hopefully one day breaking the additional world records on which he’s set his sights. The journey from a small child to a man with record-breaking strength hasn’t been easy, he said, but it’s been worth it.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can't do something. If you really want to do something, you can — it’s just a matter of putting time in,” Clay said. “It was hard the entire time, but I just put my head down and kept grinding.”