As you'll notice, the title of this article doesn't make any sense, especially in the territory most of “us” are in. “Us” meaning people who weight train. However, I've caught on to a recurring theme in my gym.

To preface this, it may come off a little cocky at first and seem like I'm tooting my own horn, but I'm not. Read the entire article and you'll see what I mean and whether or not the same thing happens for any of you out there.

I'm not by any means very strong. However, thus far in my training, I've accomplished a lot and I'm decently strong. I've squatted 550 lbs, benched 420 lbs, and deadlifted 570 lbs all before I turned 20 and all raw. Again, I'm not super strong but respectable in my opinion. Now, in my gym, this puts me at the top tier of the strength category. Some people might feel the urge to beat their chests in triumph and all that crap but not me.

See, when I first got in to powerlifting, I was training with guys who had been lifting for 20 years or more already, dudes like my father, who at 198 lbs could routinely throw 405 lbs on the bar and bang out reps in the bench. There were guys who could squat and deadlift weights that were mind boggling to me. I was lucky enough to have so many guys with so much experience to guide my young and impressionable mind. They kept me away from all the crap on the internet, thus allowing me to gain a strong base in both the physical aspect of training and the mental aspect.

One of the most important things I learned as I went and learned from them was internal drive. Finding someone who is stronger than you and chasing them. Busting your ass to catch them and pass them. I've always sought out the strongest guys in the gym to train with because that’s how you get stronger. Seeing someone bench 315 lbs with ease when I was stuck at 250 lbs made me hungry. It pushed me to work harder until I hit 315 lbs and so on.

Let’s put this in to powerlifting perspective. Do you think Ryan Kennelly would have ever benched 1075 if Gene Rychlak and Scott Mendelson weren’t also in the 1000-lb range? Do you think that without that competition Kennelly would've ever dreamed of benching that much? It used to be that 800 was this insane number that no one dreamed of. Granted, the technology in bench shirts has changed a lot but still. Now there are plenty of 800-lb benchers. Seeing someone else do it makes you realize that you can, too. It makes numbers that were previously out of reach seem attainable.

Now, to get to the point of this article...each day I have a heavy bench session or heavy leg day something out of the ordinary happens. I start my warm ups and the benches and free weight area of the gym are still full and buzzing. As I progress though, the numbers begin to fade. I cross the 315 barrier and it drops even lower. By the time, I'm knocking on 400 lbs, the free weight area is almost empty. Is this a coincidence? I used to think this until it began happening regularly. It's as if people are afraid to be seen as the weaker person. They are so prideful that they can't admit they're weaker and they shy away.

Are you kidding me? This was never me. If I saw someone who was far stronger than me, I was up front watching and asking questions. I wanted to know how he got so strong and why I wasn’t as strong as he was. I admitted my weakness while at the same time vowing in my mind that I would stop at nothing to surpass him—to bench, squat, or deadlift more.

My father taught me very early on that there will always be someone stronger than you and always someone hard on your heels. If you let up, you will be passed, and if you don't keep pushing, you'll never catch up. This is why I'm not satisfied still. It's why I wasn’t satisfied being the strongest in school or on the football team. It's why I keep pushing even though I may be the strongest in my gym. I know that I may be the biggest fish in this small pond, but I'm a very small fish in many other ponds, as the saying goes. Had I felt good enough about being at the top of my local gym’s strength pyramid, I would probably still be squatting 425, benching 315, and deadlifting 405. That's the level most stronger guys around here are at. But I didn’t stop there because I knew I could be so much stronger. I knew I was just beginning to scratch the surface of my potential.

So to sum this all up, don't ever be satisfied. Take pride in what you've accomplished, but always acknowledge that there are barriers and boundaries to be pushed. If someone is stronger than you, don't just give up and run away. Learn why they are stronger than you and bust your ass to try and pass them. It would be so easy for me to come in to the gym each day and know I'm the baddest cat in there and just coast. However, I know there are guys out there much stronger than I am and if I let up I will never catch them. So I keep my head down and pound away at the weights each and every training session. And if you ever do make it to the top, never let up. Someone will always be close behind and each day you put less effort in is a day your competition is getting stronger than you are.