Liberty employee becomes one of four in the world to lift 1,000 pounds

When Spencer Mather lifted more than 1,000 pounds over his head, it wasn’t the strenuous physical demands that challenged him. 

“Most people think this was just a physical challenge, but the truth is, it has a very large mental aspect to it,” Mather said. “The mental difficulty it takes to put 1,000+ pounds over your face and bench press — it is something that I cannot really explain.”

Mather has now become the fourth man in the world to have ever benched 1,000+ pounds without any reliance upon performance enhancing drugs.

According to Mather, he owes this success to a man he calls coach.

About 10 years ago, Mather discovered his interest in powerlifting. He had heard of Bill Gillespie, and in 2014, he finally met him at a bench press competition.

Bill Gillespie is a world-renowned record holder for weightlifting. Gillespie took Mather under his wing and trained him to accomplish a massive feat of strength. Over time, Gillespie and Mather developed a friendship outside of their training time together.

“Bill has been an encouragement and mentor in my life. I would not be the man I am today without the Lord bringing him into my life,” Mather said.

In January of 2022, Mather witnessed his coach set an all-time world record. This sparked in Mather a desire to start preparing to accomplish this feat for himself.

“When I saw my coach accomplish this, that made me want to become part of the 1,000+ pound club for the equipped bench press,” Mather said.

Mather trained for about a year before he attempted the challenge. During this training period, Mather dedicated himself to his goal of powerlifting and did not pursue any other sports. He wanted to be fully focused and to commit all his strength toward his goal.

Every day, Mather and his friends would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to train at Campus Recreation. He would bench press three days of the week, all year. Each session was divided into two parts and would last for about three hours. The first half focused on compound lifting while the second half focused on accessory movements that built upon the weaknesses in the compound lifts.

Finally, the day of the competition arrived. He stayed focused and dialed into what he knew he was about to do. 

Mather was able to overcome the mental challenge, and he achieved his daunting goal. He accredits his success to not only the training he completed leading up to the competition, but the Lord’s hand in his time of victory.

“I feel very accomplished about the feat of strength that the Lord blessed me with,” Mather said. 

Now director of warehouse services at Liberty University, Mather is pursuing his doctoral degree in business outside of his fitness goals. Starting out working with Campus Recreation as a freshman at Liberty, Mather has sought for dedication his whole life.  

Mather is now allowing his body to rest and recover from the competition. He does not have current plans to pursue any further powerlifting goals; he wants to focus on working out to be in good shape so that he can be healthier, both mentally and physically. 

Ferree is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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