Ryan Stills, vegan powerlifter

Ryan has been a world class powerlifter for several years, making his mark at the highest level against the strongest opponents.

He’s competed in raw divisions with IPF and USAPL in the 120 kg category. This includes four category wins at the IPF Masters’ World Championships. Over 2016 to 2021 he won his category eight times at national level or above.

2021 saw him take a category win at the World Championships in Sweden with some massive lifts. He also took the Best Lifter award.

Eight category wins at national and world level

  • Four World IPF Category Wins
  • Other international category wins and national titles
  • Total of 872.5 kg in the 120 kg category
  • Squat of 317.5 kg

“My greatest accomplishments would be my four IPF Master’s World Championships” Ryan says. “I haven’t really done a meet in the past 5 years that didn’t have great implications on my placing, I really don’t know what I could push myself to do.”

Personal bests are remarkable. His squat of 317.5 kg is well over 2.5 times bodyweight and his bench is a massive 207.5 kg. He’s also deadlifted three times his bodyweight with 360 kg. His total of 872.5kg is among the world leading figures.

Vegan

In 2019 Ryan turned vegan. “I don’t want another sentient being to suffer or die for me to exist” he explains. “Once I came to the determination that I could not allow myself to have excuses as to why I couldn’t do this, I vowed to find a way to do it. And I have.”

This wasn’t the first attempt, as he’d tried to drop meat before and struggled to meet his large calorie requirements. “This time I started with a more comprehensive plan and had better resources at my disposal. Now it is just who I am.”

Travelling provides a few challenges, but nothing he can’t overcome.

“It does become tougher when I am in a different state or even a different country, but it’s doable. I will usually bring pea protein shakes, pea is the protein source and not the flavor, on flights with me. When I get to a new location my first stop is to the grocery store for supplies.”

Veganism is still relatively unusual among the larger lifters but other vegans have performed at the higher levels. The transition went well for Ryan though.

“I haven’t missed a step” he says.

Ryan trains focussing on the three lifts and also has a family and full-time job. He trains three days a week at about three hours a session. This needs good fuel.

“I eat a good amount of tofu, seitan and tempeh. For snacks I often have trail mix and black berries. Here in Portland Oregon, we have so many vegan restaurants also. My good friend Aaron Adams has an amazing place called Fermenter that I frequent weekly!”

With a record like Ryan’s it might seem crazy to wonder whether his diet is sufficient, and he has support from those he values. “My coach Mark Robb and the team at Reactive Training Systems have been nothing but supportive of my choice to be vegan. They are such a great team to be a part of. As for people I train or compete with, they are also supportive. Many think I’m nuts to not eat meat, but never judgmental.”

He’s also aware that having support is crucial when you’re aiming high.

“I don’t want another sentient being to suffer or die for me to exist. Once I came to the determination that I could not allow myself to have excuses as to why I couldn’t do this, I vowed to find a way to do it. And I have.”

“None of this would be possible without my best friend, business partner and wife, Melanie. She holds down the fort when I am off competing thousands of miles away. She makes all the meals I eat. Melanie runs our gym, ODD Barbell, while also raising our three kids. She is also a pretty damn good lifter!!”

And support like this is needed because Ryan isn’t finished yet. He recognises that at age 45 (in 2021) maintaining and growing in strength is not an easy feat.

“My main goal is to break the IPF Masters 1 World Record Total this year” he says. This stands at 865kg, which he is capable of, although he feels he can lift closer to 900 kg.

Ryan remains one of the most impressive lifters worldwide and proof that veganism can power anyone to success. We’ll be watching his progress.

Ryan on Instagram: @ryanstills_powerlifter

See Ryan’s results

Ryan’s wife Melanie

Ryan’s gym

Training services

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