I wasn't able to watch much of the Olympics this year, but I did get a chance the other night and I heard comments by an announcer that just irritated the hell out of me (well, not really). There's still plenty of hell in me but it did bug the shit out of me, really. I've just been so busy lately that my TV isn't getting much use and I'm not so much into watching sports anyway, because I'd rather be playing them. I did, finally, get a break and was looking forward to watching some of the Olympics because of all the odd sports you rarely get to see. Unfortunately, I do not have cable and the selection was limited, so I got to watch women's beach/sand volleyball. I enjoy watching it because it's fairly fast paced with scoring, and keeps my short attention span happy. Plus, they look pretty hot and I like the uniforms, even the long sleeve deals they were wearing this year. I got to sit down, relax and watch the US women, however, when the announcer started yapping away, I should have just turned the volume down.

Karch Kiraly

I sometimes get the impression that these announcers just like to hear themselves talk or they feel they aren't allowed to just be quiet if they have nothing useful to say. The announcer guy started talking about how the girls just need to focus on each point. He then proceeded to say, “I know this is cliché, but when Karch Kiraly was in the Olympics, he never thought about winning a gold medal, he just focused on each point.” First off, I guess I should make sure everyone knows who Karch Kiraly is if they don't already, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't know him. He was one of the greatest indoor (and especially outdoor/beach) volleyball players of all time. He's a volleyball legend. What irritated me the most was saying that it's cliché. That's like calling "the sky is blue" cliché or saying "water is wet" cliché. It's the truth, it's not cliché to say the truth. Plus, you have to be kidding me if you thought that Mr. Kiraly didn't think about winning a gold medal. I'd bet my life he thought about it and that's why he went to the Olympics. I also bet that because he was such a great athlete, he knew he had to just focus and do his best on each point to get himself that medal. It's a process, you can't just think about the big picture and what you want. You have to focus on doing the little things right and working hard, which leads you to the rewards of the big picture. Maybe it's because I'm an athlete that I understand this stuff....maybe most people watching won't have any idea.


I saw a lot of kids and younger guys come into powerlifting full of all kinds of big talk and they end up quitting, never to be heard from again. They quickly find out that it's not all about talk or just believing you can do anything. Yes, you have to believe in yourself, but come on, you just can't say you'll do it or believe it to happen. If you believed real hard, could you fly? If you say yes, then I say go find a 40 story building or bigger and jump! That's some sarcasm for the idiots that would think about doing it. I can think and believe as hard as I want, but I'm not going to lift a 747 on my back. I, on the other hand, believed in myself, my abilities, worked hard, made a plan, trained smart, and achieved some great things that very few people have ever done.

When I first decided to pursue powerlifting seriously, I knew I could be good. How good? I didn't know that, but I was going to find out. I didn't have any super insane ideals, I did feel like I could compete on a world stage and hold my own. My plan was to learn, train hard, work hard, push myself as far as I could, sacrifice, and focus on myself. I knew it wasn't going to happen overnight or even in a year. I let myself dream some while keeping in mind the reality of the situation. It was all about just improving. My first meets were not about winning. In my mind, as long as I beat my best and made new PRs, I was on track to hit my goals. Even when I bombed, it was ok as long as I learned something that I could improve at my next meet. I wasn't worried about competing against anyone in those days. I knew if I just competed against myself and kept improving, I would eventually compete against the lifter I really want to. I think for the majority of my lifting career I improved in every meet, with some occasional bombs. I know for the first six or seven years, I improved my total in every single meet.

As I improved and started doing national and world competitions, I started to compete against other lifters. I wanted those titles as little signs of my hard work. I still knew I was really only competing against myself, though. I would look at the numbers and what I needed to get, but when I was under the bar it was me against myself. I've never been under a weight I physically could not lift. If I missed a weight, it was because I performed wrong in some area. Sometimes it was because I trained wrong going into the meet, but in most cases, it was just some little technical issue. If I was going for world records, it was me against myself, or as I like to think, it was me against the bar. I like to use that idea to get myself pumped up, but when I get under that weight, I know I can lift it if I do what I need to do correctly. So, it's me against myself.


I see a lot of guys that always want to compete and they never reach their own potential. They sell themselves short and base themselves on their competition. I trained in a gym when I first started, where guys would be happy to put 10 or 20 pounds on their total after a year. That seemed insane to me, and I would've been pissed. The only way that should happen is if you have injuries or you're already at the highest level and even then, those are shit gains. I'd see guys compete against the same people for years and years and years, where neither of them made any real gains. I competed with a lot of guys like that and then just shot right past them. I was focused on myself and nothing they did affected me or what I was going to gain. I could've fallen into a trap and believed like they did, but I had much bigger things in mind.

The only people I really paid much attention to were the best-of-the-best. This was because I felt I could learn a lot from them and they were the people I wanted to compete against. Even with them, though, I never let them decide what I could or would do. I remember my first Pro meet, I opened with the highest squat opener ever at that time and people told me I couldn't do that. My response, "Why the hell not?" I kept that opener and got loose on the first attempt...bombed it. On my second attempt, I smoked like it was nothing. It wasn't too high of an opener for me and the fact that no one else had done it meant nothing to me. I remember looking up to Brent Mikesell a lot. He was a nice guy with great technique and an amazing squat. After he broke the record with 1,070 pounds (or something like that) I remember thinking, "Wow, that will take a long time to be broken and the human body can't do much more then that." Damn, did Brent show me a thing or two. He continued to raise that record to 1,170 all by himself. He didn't let anyone say anything about it and didn't worry that no one else hadn't done it. He knew he could do it and went to work. He was a frontiersman of the sport and led the way so others could follow. Those are guys to look up to, to aspire to be. They chose their path and they clear-cut it!

True Strength

There is also a meet in every single lift. I see so many lifters that let one lift delegate the next lift. It's like focusing on each point. For golfers or hitters, it's like focusing on each swing. They are all separate entities and don't connect with each other. For instance, I'm notorious for missing my first and/or second attempts and then smashing my third. This is because I don't let one bad lift flow into the next. I missed it, so that meet is over. I learn what I did wrong, fix the problem, and then go hit the next lift. Lifters will miss one lift and it will destroy them to the point of bombing out. There's always a reason you miss a lift, and it's rarely because you're just not strong enough. If that's the reason, then you're stupid for choosing that weight if you're not strong enough to lift it. It could be a gear issue, you may have rushed it, and in most cases it's technical issue. That's another reason why you should buy my DVD and learn your damn technique! All you have to do is realize the issue and fix it. The only time I get frustrated is when I can't figure the problem out. Luckily, for me, I have very good training partners and we all regularly critique each other. This makes our technique awesome and prepares us for helping each other at meets. You can't let the negative thoughts get to you. You have to be positive and know what you're capable of.

I often say true strength is in the heart and in the mind. I truly believe this. You have to be confident, but not arrogant. You have to know in your mind and in your heart that you can do it. You also have to use your mind. It's not just about believing you can do it, with no other reason than you believe. You work, train and prepare for it. You have to use your brain and approach it intelligently. Use your heart to believe in yourself and that you can do it. Use your mind to intelligently work your ass off to prepare to do it.