Meet New Team Member Meana Franco

TAGS: Jordan Houser, PLExp, Meana franco, steve goggins, team elitefts, Powerlifting Experience, dave tate

Steve Goggins hit his highest total of all time on March 1, 2003 — the same day that he became the first man in powerlifting history to squat 1100 pounds. Méana Franco was 12 years old.

Now, more than a decade later, elitefts™ is bringing the two together.

Goggins, a man any history-aware lifter knows as not only a champion but also as an ambassador of the sport of powerlifting, has spent his life doing two things: developing his own abilities, and coaching others to reach the apex of their personal performance. His status as a legend was earned through his records and unmatched longevity in the sport, his permanent impact on the sport through the guidance he offers young lifters.

Franco, the newest member of elitefts™, now enters the world of powerlifting with one of the greatest lifters of all time as her coach.

“Having Steve Goggins help me is one of the most amazing and humbling things I could ever ask for,” Franco said. “To know that he sees potential in me and wants to take me on is huge to me.”

Franco first appeared on the elitefts™ radar at Learn to Train 8 (LTT8) in November 2013. Her impressive numbers that day were enough to catch owner Dave Tate’s attention, but he didn’t quite feel that she was ready to receive an offer to join the team.

“At LTT8 there was talk of adding Méana,” Dave shared in his training log earlier this week. “But after Zane Geeting and I crunched some numbers with her lifts, we decided it would be better to sit back and wait.”

Sitting back to wait and watch is exactly what Dave did. And in the meantime, Franco kept working. She kept training, she kept following the site, and she kept contact with many of the sponsored athletes. When The elitefts™ Powerlifting Experience came around, she registered.


“Going into LTT8 Dave Tate told me I had potential. It was one of the best things that I’ve heard my entire life,” Franco said. “The first thing that I did after that was get on social media as much as I could and get advice from the other team members.”

She worked during this time to answer every doubt that Dave may have had about adding her to elitefts™.

“I befriended Joe Schillero and Brandom Smitley and message them on Facebook. I asked for advice on anything that I could,” Franco said. “I trained as hard as I possibly could and did as much as I could to stay confident and humble while working my ass off.”

The work she did during this time paid off; Saturday, she was officially named a member of Team elitefts™.

Dave shared in detail with the team how he informed Franco of her addition to the team — and the story goes something like this:

Dave discovered during The elitefts™ Powerlifting Experience that Franco’s weightlifting numbers, if done in competition, would rank her as an IPF Raw Elite Powerlifter, and also within contention of last year’s records set at Worlds. Franco had at that point already expressed that her two main goals were to first be a part of elitefts and then to become the best female powerlifter in the world.

With this information, and all previous doubts quieted, Dave and Goggins pulled Franco outside after her first deadlift. They told her that there was only one thing that she needed to change for her final attempt of the day: her shirt. The shirt that Dave then handed her was, of course, the team shirt. She was in.

To Dave, this was an opportunity to yet again give back to the sport that has consumed his life. It will go down as just one more example of his devotion to building up a new generation of powerlifters that he hopes will someday exceed even his accomplishments. But to Franco, the moment she was handed that shirt will always be a giant step toward her future — a chance to do something with her life that satisfies the persistent need to find her life’s calling.meana franco goggins tate PLExp team elitefts 082214


“I have passion for this and want to take it as far as I can,” Franco said. “Knowing that Dave and Steve [Goggins] see potential in me is an amazing feeling.

In the future when Dave looks back on the day he gave Franco her team shirt, it will likely be seen as a ceremonial invitation to the team, as something that he has done multiple times before and always makes him proud of what elitefts™ has become. For Franco, it will be more than that: she will remember that day as the start of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a chance to do something more, and the moment her potential started to become reality.

“I knew that I was good at lifting and I knew that I had potential, but that was my ‘holy shit’ moment where I realized that I could be great at this,” Franco said.

She does not hide how emotional the journey has been for her, instead embracing the importance of the opportunity.

“The story Dave shared is missing the fact that I totally teared up right in front of him,” Franco shared on social media Tuesday.”

Goggins becomes a part of her journey and brings with him the ability to provide exactly what Franco needs to reach her goal of being the best in the world. Beyond being a wildly successful lifter, Goggins has grown a reputation as a leader in the coaching of female powerlifters.

“I’ve worked with women since back in my days personal training and when I was in the military. I started training women to compete back in 1988,” Goggins said. “It’s easier to get women to train. They listen. They do exactly what you say.”

Goggins and Franco teamed up immediately following Franco’s addition to the team. It is a real life story of semi-retired veteran meets up-and-coming novice — Goggins as the all-knowledgeable legend, Franco as the inexperienced youngster with little but potential to show for herself.

These points are clear when looking at the accomplishments of these two elitefts™ team members:

Goggins Infog SIDE BY SIDE-01

The above image shows each major advancement in Goggins’ PR totals from 1985 to 2003. That final meet on the list, March 1, 2003, is what Goggins is most well known for: being the first man to ever squat 1100 pounds. But he was also the first man to ever squat 500 kilos and deadlift 400 kilos in the same meet, and the first lifter under 242 pounds to squat a grand. His résumé sheet is longer than could ever be included in this article.

Then we have Franco. If you’re wondering where to find the visual representation of Franco’s career, don’t go scrolling through the rest of the article to look for it — there isn’t one. Despite her phenomenal displays of strength at LTT8 and The elitefts™ Powerlifting Experience (going 330/190/30 at a bodyweight of 148 in the latter), Franco has only competed in one powerlifting meet: a small bench-only competition in which she took best female lifter. Here is what you need to know about her:

  • She is 23 years old and lives in Ottawa, Ontaria (one of only three Canadian-based elitefts™ athletes)
  • She played rugby during high school, college, and for one year following college. A collection of minor injuries and hip issues led her out of the sport.
  • She studied Fitness and Lifestyle Management at Algonquin College and works as personal trainer.
  • Her long-term goal is to work as a strength and conditioning coach.
  • In 2009 she was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, a genetic disorder that causes cysts to develop on one or both kidneys.

Her competitive history is short, but will soon pick up. She will compete in a full-power meet August 30 at the RPS Maple Leaf Nationals: Great White North Invasion, where she anticipates breaking multiple amateur junior world records. The next stop will be October, to make her name in the IPF.

This is a pivotal time in Méana Franco’s life. She has put behind her athletic endeavors in rugby and zeroed in on her one goal: to be the best female powerlifter in the world. And it’s a goal within reach. Tate and Goggins would not take a risk on an inexperienced lifter like Franco without some sign of promise for the future, some assuring symbol of her coming greatness.

What Franco has already done is enough to warrant the invitation to the team that she accepted last week. But Tate and Goggins are banking on something more; they’re putting their seemingly-untouchable powerlifting reputations on the line not for what Franco has done, but what she will do.

Goggins should know. He, above all others, should have the ability to predict powerlifting success. Last Friday he was inducted into the York Barbell Powerlifting Hall of Fame, the greatest honor someone in this sport can receive. His success reaches to all facets of the sport, his name on every top-ten best list.

What Franco now has is more than the support of Tate and Goggins, two legends in the world of powerlifting. She premieres in the sport with a team of world-class powerlifters, strongmen, bodybuilders, and strength coaches behind her.

Whether she sees this as empowerment or responsibility, the next step is hers.

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