Who do you respect? Does that person have the strength to be who they are? As I sit here and type this, I can tell you that over the last year, I truly discovered what it means to have strength. I’m not just talking about being strong. Anyone can be strong. Strong has so many definitions today, but to me strength has only one.

To have strength means that you’re not only strong, but you have the strength to keep on being stronger every day. You can shoulder the worries and ups and downs that people go through and never give up hope. You have the strength to keep on keeping on when the chips are down. You have strength to lend to your family and your brothers in iron, and in turn, your strength creates strength in them and makes you stronger and vice versa. You have the strength to uphold loyalty and honor, the strength to have the unbreakable will and unstoppable attitude, knowing that you will do what it takes and what must be done to be what you want to become. You have the strength to become what many didn’t think you could be and you believe that you can. That’s what strength is all about.

I have seen strong lifters come and go. Some had that unbound potential to be something truly amazing but the strength wasn’t there. I know of a person who has God given genetics and physical strength to do many things, but he doesn’t have the strength to be that person that everyone knows he can be. He didn’t have the strength to help and support his brothers when the time was needed, but he wanted their help. In other words, he can be the strongest guy in the world but won’t have an ounce of strength to keep it. Another person I know has the strength to become something, the mindset, will, and attitude. It’s only a matter of time before his physical strength catches up. When that happens, he’ll have the strength to move mountains simply because he is willing to pay his dues in and out of the gym and sacrifice what must be sacrificed in the name of strength. He lends his strength to his brothers, and therefore, they lend it back in support. Does he have the strength to be the strongest? Yes, he does. He also has the strength to be patient and know that true strength is knowing when not to rush things.

Strength is about being the strongest guy in the state or world or whatever and having the strength to keep on being the strongest, to take the world on your shoulders like Atlas. That’s the strength I’m talking about. I believe my fault is finding lifters who don’t have the strength to be better, to be stronger, to be different. Everyone wants to laugh at the freak, but when he does something amazing, they suddenly want to be him. What does that tell you? That tells you that he has the strength to be who he is. Instilled with confidence, he’s ok with being called a freak. It’s a badge of honor for him. It means to him that he has greater strength than normal people because he isn’t settling for average. Being in the crowd and being the one the crowd talks about are two different things. Being one of the hundreds of 700-lb benchers and being the one freak who benched 700 lbs at 165 lbs are two different things. Settling for average doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t make sense. I’ll always want more. I’ll never be satisfied.

Having the strength to never be satisfied is truly being strong. Being the strongest is only a matter of time if you’re training with that mindset. If you see nothing but your goal and have the strength to get there no matter what or no matter how long it takes and you have the strength to endure and evolve, that is strength unbound. Repeat it to yourself. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Remember it when the tough times are around or when your brother is down. Remind him. Never surrender. Don’t even be satisfied! That is true strength. Physical strength is only the manifestation of the strength within. That’s how it should be represented.

In the last year of my life and lifting, I truly found out what strength means. I have came across so many lifters who have potential for the sport of powerlifting and some who are doing it but are missing that one important factor, that factor known as strength. I’m more impressed with a guy who hasn’t benched 600 lbs but is working his ass off for it and has never been known to give up and doesn’t even possess the benching ability at all than a guy who has the ability to bench 800 lbs and is strong enough to do 800 or more but doesn’t possess the strength to do it, the ability to do what it takes to get there and beyond and to not let anything stop him.

A good friend of mine exemplifies what strength means. He grew from a boy to a man and stepped out of a shadow of that man. People are amazed by him, and it’s not just his physical strength. He’s lending it to his brothers who train with him over and over again. He possesses the strength to be in the top 20 in the sport of powerlifting. It’s only a matter of time before his physical strength shows this. That friend of mine motivates me every day. I was confused as to why he changed so much when he went overseas, and now I know why. He has strength. The strength of character, unstoppable will, unbreakable attitude, and brotherhood. It’s only a matter
of time before his physical strength shows this, and it’s already speaking volumes for him.

A true man of strength is never complacent with what or who he is. This goes for the gym and beyond. Watching a person evolve is motivating for me. It fires me up because it reminds me of the strength that I must have to do it as well. I don’t want to be doing the same thing next week, next month, or next year. It’s simple. I evolve or I die. The reason why average people look down on those who are different is because they don’t get it. They don’t understand why they go through the hassle, and they don’t realize that that person has the strength to be who he is because he is never satisfied and it shows. People ask, “How do you do it? How did you get big?” How this, how that...it’s all relative to strength. The challenges that person went through to get to where they are now were long and dark miles. In their eyes, they aren’t satisfied and aren’t there yet. True strength is about never being satisfied.

“Real men of strength speak not of their strength by words but by their actions.” Take a second and reread those words again. This pisses some people off. Why? I have no idea because I’m not average. To others like Chad Aichs, it’s self-explanatory. Anyone can talk big numbers, talk a big game, and talk shit to top it all off, but it takes real strength to put it out there on the platform and let your actions do the talking. I learned that last year, and it’s those words that I won’t ever forget. And that meaning can go outside of the strength arena into life itself.

A friend of mine told me, “It ain't bragging if you can back it up!!” That's strength right there brothers, nothing else, and it makes sense. That comes from someone who’s committed to strength and is willing and able to back it up no problem with or without words. It doesn’t matter what the mouth says. It matters what your actions do.

So strength is about having the power to walk and be who you are with confidence and pride. It’s about wanting to become something more than just average. It’s having those around you who have that same strength that you do and want it just as much, if not more, than you. It’s about facing what’s real, the strength to survive a bomb-out, embarrassment, humiliation, being owned, or whatever and rising like a phoenix from the ashes because a man with greater strength than a man without it will always be stronger.

It’s about the strength to lend to those who don’t have it and giving them the strength to do the same as well as your brothers in iron and your own family. Having strength isn’t selfish. It never should be. It’s about giving someone the strength to keep going, to never surrender and never give up no matter how long the fight. It’s about having the strength to recognize strength in others and respecting that. The people I respect have this and they know who they are. It’s also about having the strength that speaks for itself and having the strength to go above ego or arrogance. The kind of strength that even the mighty Hercules possesses. The definition of strength—“having the dedication, determination, desire, and discipline to believe and become.”

So ask yourself…do you have strength?