My name is Chris Janek.  

I am the owner of Tank's Training Facility in Granite City, Illinois.

I have been a sponsored athlete with elitefts for seven years. My status changed a couple of years into the sponsorship. Then it changed into a coach. From there, I became a columnist. 

Did I retire?

Did I quit powerlifting?


I had a hereditary issue called aortic valve regurgitation that put my lifting and life on pause. What was supposed to be an easy fix led to three open-heart surgeries, then ultimately a heart transplant.

I was recently blessed with a new heart!

I spent ten weeks in the hospital, and finally, after almost six years, I am on my way back to being healthy and happy.

I always enjoyed lifting heavy, as the type of sports I competed in were strength sports like football and wrestling. I played football for eighteen years, and my position was mainly nose guard. It is not glorious for those who know the position—I competed against 600 pounds between two offensive linemen almost every repetition.

During my six-year wrestling career, I competed as a heavyweight. My main moves were to overpower the competition and shoot doubles or throw them. Playing those positions and sports always led me to lift heavy.

The transition from my sports career to powerlifting just made sense since my base was built.

Around 2010, geared lifting was the thing, and I had no idea what it was. I was fortunate enough that a good number of powerlifters in my area were familiar with geared lifting and competing. Along with this, I would religiously watch videos and read articles on elitefts. Having my strength base, I started throwing some gear on to see what this was all about, and I fell in love right away.

At my first geared powerlifting meet, I totaled elite status, which at the time was 2450. From there, I did a couple more powerlifting meets and eventually totaled 2725 pounds at the 308-pound weight class at the Arnold Classic. I then applied for sponsorship to elitefts, and Dave Tate made me a sponsored athlete.

Then EVERYTHING was put on hold.

One day while at home, I suddenly fainted in front of my family. I found this weird, as I have never fainted or passed out in my life. We scheduled a doctor's appointment and got in that day. Everything checked out to be fine, but my doctor wanted me to meet with a specialist to be safe.

It's here they found my hereditary issue. It was an easy procedure, but unfortunately, they could only perform it through open-heart surgery, aka cutting me open. Today, the procedure can be done using a non-invasive means through the groin.

The "easy fix" led to two more open-heart surgeries to fix some mistakes, which ultimately led to an entire heart transplant. I lived with a ten percent ejection fraction for four-and-a-half years (normal ejection fraction is 60-70 percent).

Along with this, hearing my artificial valves click and clack for years was a weird thing to deal with.

To top that off, I was hardly able to walk very far without stopping to breathe. It was very humbling. Mentally, I was thrown off and had a tall hill to climb.

Going from 310 pounds to 255 pounds was an adjustment.

No training was tough, both mentally and physically.

Watching my athletes and powerlifters was (and still is) tough to watch daily.

I went to the hospital on July 16th, 2021, for a scheduled procedure.

When I got the results, I was admitted towards the transplant. I spent over ten weeks in the hospital and lost another 53 pounds (down to 200 pounds—what I weighed in the eighth grade).

I remember waking up post-transplant and seeing my arms and legs and not comprehending they were mine. The atrophy from lying in bed for 23 days is insane.

It took me some time to be able to move my legs and walk again.

My determination to get healthy and train again is at 100 percent.

Here I am today, five days from being cleared to lift and drive myself.

There are going to be many challenges ahead of me this next 11 months. My immune system is gone from plasma exchange, intravenous immunoglobulin, and thymoglobulin—all of which have killed my T-cells and destroyed my COVID vaccine shots.

Currently, I have to avoid everyone and wear a required mask until my immune system gets better, which is around the six-month mark.

I am also on over 40 pills daily. They all have unique side effects.

I am up for the challenge!

My first goal is to gain the weight back slowly to my pre-transplant weight of 255 pounds while getting my body and muscles built back up.

From there, I will re-evaluate and see where to go. 

I do have aspirations of lifting heavy again.

What is heavy, you ask? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

The biggest thing is staying healthy and being around another 40 years for my wife, children, and family.

I will start by filling out my coaching log at elitefts (SOON!) and detail as much as I can to help the reader see how I get back to par.

I will include as much as I can, along with coaching my athletes and clients.

I hope I motivate as many as I can to train their ass off and never take training or their health for granted. You never know what tomorrow holds. 

Feel free to write a comment below. Email me at with any questions or comments as well.