What Are You Willing to Do?

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What Are You Willing to Do?

What are you willing to do? I love to ask this question periodically to my athletes and all of you. It’s a question that you should ponder at all stages of the game. When I visited Westside Barbell last weekend, I was reminded of this question several times. Let me tell you a story about Jason Coker.

Jason has been my friend since 1999. We met in Colorado Springs at a World Gym that I was managing. Jason had been in and out of trouble at this point. At this point of my life I was drawn to people like Jason. The only real difference in the two of us was that I had never been caught.

There was something special about him, and I knew it. He was bench-pressing that day, so I watched him work up. He went on to hit 440 pounds weighing about 165-pounds. At the time he had mediocre form at best. I introduced myself, and after some small talk, I told him that he could be one of the best bench pressers in the world.

Fast-forward 17-years later and he is without a doubt one of the best benchers and overall powerlifters of all-time. He has benched 900lb while weighing 198lb. That’s crazy! He has also totaled 2420lb while weighing 220lb. He’s unbelievably strong, but that’s not the most impressive trait about him. He has overcome more injuries than anyone I have ever known.

He’s in his early 40’s, and he has broken his back twice. He has torn his triceps. He has a jacked up hip. All of these are off the top of my head. I didn’t interview him for this article. These are just facts that I am positive about from being his friend.


Jason is a strength athlete. He knew going in that there would be consequences for taking the game to the very edge. He knew, and he didn’t care. He had one thing on his mind, and that was to be the very best. He is competing this weekend in an attempt to break the total world record at 181lb.

Where does it all end? I am guessing it will end with him suffering an injury that simply won’t allow him to continue on. Dave Tate told me a longtime ago, “You will never retire from the sport. The sport will retire you.” He was right with me, and I am probably right with Jason.

This goes for powerlifting and weightlifting. Donnie Shankle comes to mind anytime while discussing this topic. He severed a vertebra from dropping a snatch down onto his neck. He had to sleep sitting up in a recliner. Did that stop him? Not even close!

Donnie dislocated his shoulder twice, and yet he continued his quest. Finally he dislocated his other shoulder at last year’s American Open. I was in the back with him when it happened. Was the American Open his last showdown with the iron? That’s a great question that only Donnie can answer.

Why am I telling all of you these horror stories? If you are new to the iron game, I want you to look into the future. Are you willing to break your back twice? Are you willing to drop 900lb onto your face like Jason did? Are you willing to drop a near 400lb snatch onto your neck? Are you willing to dislocate both of your shoulders? Are you willing to be in constant pain for the rest of your life?

If you are going to tell me that you want to be the best ever, then you better be able to answer, “yes” to all of these questions. If you can’t answer “yes”, then understand that you are lifting for fun, and that’s ok by me. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone desire to be the all-time best. The glory will probably never match the consequences.

I’m not trying to deter anyone from his or her dreams. I just want all of you to look at things through a clear lens. A lot of people try to paint a picture of weightlifting and powerlifting as a flashy sport. Social media is filled with a lot of mediocre athletes pretending to be a great lifter. They are showing off their tattoos and fancy clothes. These are not your world champions. I am not hating on these Instagram heroes. I say more power to them. They are making a living, and good for them.

This article is for the people that could care less about social media. This article is for the people that only desire to be the best at their chosen craft. I love coaching people that just like to be strong and look good. I am cool with whatever your goal is. I simply like helping people reach their goals and dreams.


I am just talking about the man or woman that comes up to me at a meet and tells me that they want to be the best. Do you really? I have had several people come to my gym barking their desires of greatness only to quit a month or two later. Most people get the thought of greatness in their head because they are only considering the point of standing on that podium as the best lifter in the world. They haven’t considered what that road will look like.

Let me leave you with this thought on this glorious Thursday morning. There is only one way that I can explain becoming the best lifter in the world. I want you to pretend that there is a place on earth called Utopia. This place is amazing. No one has to work, and everything is free. There is no pollution, and everyone is given a mansion to live in. There is just one catch. To get there you have to walk through the most treacherous jungle known to man, and you have to walk through that jungle naked. It’s going to take you about ten years to get through the jungle. The worst part is Utopia may or may not be on the other side.

Now are you willing to walk through that jungle?

Remember on September 17th-18th we will be hosting the Mash Barbell Picnic” on the Farm. Weightlifting Day 1 and Powerlifting Day 2, but more importantly hanging out together the entire weekend. Check it out below:

The Mash Barbell Picnic

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