Senior record-breaker achieves global recognition through armlifting, strongman


Jacob Lipkin

Senior Ryan Weiner poses with his many weightlifting medals outside of school on Thursday, Dec. 9.

Aidan Dilo, Staff Writer

Senior Ryan Weiner has become a global force in armlifting and strongman, winning national titles and setting world records in his weight class for the Rolling Thunder, Double Overhand Axle Deadlift and Farmer’s Hold lifts.

Armlifting is a diverse weightlifting sport that, as Weiner puts it, relies entirely on grip strength. There are numerous armlifting categories such as the Rolling Thunder and Double Overhand Axle Deadlift, in which Weiner has lifted 180lbs and 313lbs in the 70kg weight class, respectively. Strongarm also takes a unique approach to weightlifting, emphasizing how long objects can be lifted rather than how heavy they are. Weiner holds the national Farmer’s Hold record for one minute and twelve seconds at 200lbs per hand.

Weiner did not show an immediate interest in armlifting and strongman or its competitive scene when he first began weightlifting.

“I did gymnastics for about 10 years and was ready for a change,” Weiner said. “Sometime around the ninth year, our coach introduced us to weightlifting to help us get better, which ended up being more fun for me.”

Even with the introduction of weight training, it was only after meeting his coach, Richard DeStefani of Radical Strength and Fitness, that Weiner took his first significant step into armlifitng and strongman.

“It was two and a half years ago when I first met him,” DeStefani said. “I saw potential in him, so we started working together. I introduced him to all the armlifitng, all the grip stuff. He started getting an itch for strongman on his own. That’s when I introduced him to all the strongman lifts and how to do them.”

I love competition. Personal growth is awesome, but it feels great to do very well in a supportive environment.

— Ryan Weiner, Senior

Weiner has made substantial progress with his coach over the past two and a half years, allowing him to compete at a high level. He has participated in and won the 2021 Teen Nationals and N.Y. State Record Breakers.

“When he first started, his deadlift was in the low 300lb range,” DeStefani said. “Now, he’s looking to pass to the 500lb mark after hitting 495lb in August.”

In order to qualify for Nationals, participants must win lower-level competitions. For qualification for even higher-level competitions, competitors have to finish within the top three in Nationals. One might assume this creates a highly competitive environment, but Weiner’s experience at his first competition and others shows this is far from the truth.

“[The first competition] was really fun,” Weiner said. “I didn’t really know what to expect since I had never done it before. I did okay on most of the events, but one thing I noticed was that your competitors, and even your direct competitors, want you to do really well.” 

Though personal growth has been an integral part of his journey, it is the sense of competition that Weiner is most fond of.

“I love competition,” Weiner said. “Personal growth is awesome, but it feels great to do very well in a supportive environment.”

Weiner plans to continue pursuing his passion at both the national and international levels.

“In June, I am going for the National Record in the Farmer’s Hold, and whenever borders open up in Scotland, I’m going to lift the Dinnie Stones, which I am the youngest ever to qualify for,” Weiner said.

Weiner has also qualified for the U.S. Armlifting Team by placing in the top three in his weight class. This would make Weiner the youngest person ever to qualify for the US Team in armlifting. Being a member of the team also makes him eligible for the APL World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

“Seeing Ryan from when he first came into training to where he’s at now, he’s just grown exponentially,” DeStefani said. “The sky’s the limit for him. I’ve seen other people at Ryan’s level, and now they’re competing internationally and have all these accolades.”

Weiner finds his progress and achievements extremely fulfilling.

“The whole experience has felt incredibly rewarding,” Weiner said. “You get to spend a lot of time and dedication towards one goal, and when it finally pays off, it feels great.”