Who is a Powerlifter?

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Who is a Powerlifter?

Yesterday, I wrote about “Who is a Weightlifter”. I had a lot of fun writing about my thoughts on what it takes to be a weightlifter. It was fun to reach back into my thoughts of being a weightlifter, and combining those thoughts with the experience of coaching some of the best weightlifters in the country.

Today I get to talk about the sport where I spent most of my strength athlete career. Powerlifting is a very different sport than weightlifting. There are some similarities, but for the most part it’s completely different. Weightlifting is all about movement, speed and strength. Powerlifting is about strength, but more than that it is about who is the most courageous.


I have coached a lot of men and women in the sport of powerlifting, but only a few have the heart to be considered a powerlifter. Let me say that everything that I am about to say is my opinion. If you want to call yourself a powerlifter, then good for you I think that’s awesome. I am all for it. However, that won’t change the way that many hardcore old school powerlifters feel. There is an unspoken code that I am going to lay out for all of you.

When I meet a guy like Brandon Lilly, we immediately have a bond. We never competed together, or at the same meet. However, we know that we both felt the same about our beloved sport. We were driven to be the best. No one or nothing was going to get in our way.

Just like weightlifters, we were driven by something deep inside. That something was different for all of us, but it drove us all the same. We eat, slept, and dreamed powerlifting. World Records didn’t scare us or intimidate us. They were simply targets.

I sought out the best coaches like Louie Simmons and Charles Poliquin. I sought out the best team. I had the best sport’s medicine doctor with Dr. Lawrence Gray. I surrounded myself with all the best. I wanted to know anything and everything that might help me reach my goal of being the best powerlifter in the world.

I was one of the only powerlifters of the time that paid complete attention to my diet. I had a nutritionist that dialed in my nutrition perfectly for me. At the end of my career I even had a chef to prepare the majority of my meals. As you can see I was focused.

If you are afraid of pain, then powerlifting is a terrible choice of sports. I tore a quad. I had shoulder surgery. I battled through two herniated discs. One back injury led to me struggling to walk. What did I do? I figured it out. I received a cortisone shot, and Dr. Gray helped me battle back. I focused on strengthening my core like never before. I read everything that Dr. Stuart McGill wrote.

My neurologist told me that I should quit, or I ran the risk of permanent paralysis. That didn’t come close to stopping me. It was just another thing for me to overcome. I didn’t give the paralysis one second of my thought. All I saw was a problem that I needed to overcome.

If you want to go through life pain free, then powerlifting is the worst possible choice. I was blinded with my desire to dominate. I had a goal, and I was going to reach it. I remember the moment when I realized that I was different. It was the first time that I squatted 900 lb. 900 pounds is a big number. It was the first number that scared me. It was the first number that made me doubt my own ability.

Then I experienced something for the first time. That fear and doubt turned into the deepest and darkest anger that I had ever experienced. All of a sudden I wanted to attack the weight. I wasn’t scared at all. When I approached the bar, the anger was mixed with all the love in my heart. Love and anger are powerful feelings when mixed together.

I am not sure that just anyone could do this. My love has been filled with a lot of terrible things, and a lot of beautiful things. I have never had just a middle of the road life. My life has been filled with extreme circumstances causing extreme emotions. Those emotions allowed me to conquer any and all fears.

900lb didn’t scare me anymore nor did any other weight. If I missed, it was simply too heavy. In powerlifting the mind beats most of the competitors. It’s only the few that are able to overcome the fear of the barbell. It was only when the barbell was loaded to a weight that could possible kill me that I even felt alive. I needed those world record weights to remind me that I was alive.

Every great powerlifter knows exactly what I am talking about. It’s not something that can be explained or taught. I can maximize every athlete’s potential as a coach, but I can’t feel him or her with the extreme emotions to succeed at all costs. That’s something that has to be there genetically at birth, and then those genetics have to be maximized throughout life.

Powerlifters are definitely genetically gifted for strength, but more than that they are gifted to overcome fear. They are gifted to overcome pain. They are gifted with the ability to focus on one goal and one task without distraction. Is that you? Are you able to stare death right in the eyes and simply grin ear to ear? I know that I am.

Yes you back squat, bench press, and deadlift, and that makes you a powerlifter by definition. I am so glad that you are powerlifting, and I will help in any way. There is some difference in the greats and the people that just like to train. This article was written to give you all an idea of the mindset of a world champion. Run while you still can because once you crossover nothing can save you.

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