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Lifting weights has become increasingly “trendier” with the rise in gender equality roles, social media, and more health awareness. Everyone lifts for different reasons: to lose weight, to train for a sport, to relieve stress, for enjoyment, the list is endless. People talk about how lifting has increased quality of life in many ways, and for some, it has become a lifestyle commitment.

It’s great to see so many people wanting to be healthier, feel better, and challenge themselves. For me, lifting has become one of the most important aspects of my life and something that has sparked a passion like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

I don’t have a story about how lifting saved my life from a deep, dark place or how I overcame a significant barrier. I have always been someone who likes a challenge and can’t sit still for too long. I started playing sports at a young age, continued through high school and then in college I started lifting weights since sports when sports season was done. I liked to push myself, sometimes being a little too hard but that is because I wanted to be good and knew what I was capable of.

How I found my inner strength

My journey into the world of bodybuilding began at 20 years old. I had become interested and decided to try it out. My first Figure competition I placed 4th in novice. Well, that wasn’t good enough for me. The following year, I placed first in my class and then won the overall earning my IPE Pro status. Since that goal had been conquered, I wanted a bigger challenge.

Instead of staying in the “natural” division, I decided the next year I would switch to the NPC because that is where the most well-known bodybuilders have started. I thought that if I wanted to be at my best, I had to compete with the best. My first year in the NPC I won two overall titles back to back, also earning my way to the National level. I competed in 2018 at Jr. Nationals in Chicago and USA Championships in Las Vegas, coming away with second callouts for both shows. Everyone wants to win, so I took it as a great learning experience instead of failure.

During my offseason from bodybuilding in 2017, I became interested in trying powerlifting. It was a way to still compete against myself but with a different goal and mindset. Once I started, I was hooked. My first meet I walked away with 4 National Records. I kept getting stronger throughout the year thanks to my “Newbie gains” and was successful at each of my next two meets I competed in. After my first-year powerlifting, I had broken six National records, won two Best Lifter Awards, and I could deadlift triple bodyweight. Things seemed to be off to a great start, and I was eager to keep getting stronger.

As I am starting my second-year powerlifting and my second try at an IFBB Pro card, the real work begins. Now that it has been a couple of years into both powerlifting and bodybuilding, the “Newbie Gains” have gone. Every week isn’t going to show a PR, and meal prepping is a constant thing. Patience will have to become something I learn quick. As I am getting ready to compete in the biggest meet thus far in my powerlifting career and facing a setback already, it comes down to two options: I could quit because it is hard and frustrating or I can persevere and figure out the issue, correct it and come out stronger.

Here is the point I am trying to make with finding inner strength. I am someone who excelled early in bodybuilding and powerlifting. I know I have great potential in both. I know there will be a time that will come where a setback will occur, like now, and how I respond is essential. Things will not always follow “the plan.” That isn’t how it works. There will be tests along the way. There will be moments you will want to give up. You will want to cry, and yell, throw some things, or not do anything at all.

How bad do you want it?

This is when this question becomes a reality. Not just an Instagram post with a picture from a photoshoot dressed up and shredded, at prime conditioning, with a motivational quote attached. Having to deal with setbacks and obstacles will show real character. It will bring out the inner fire that is either there or not there. For me, having these obstacles only makes me want it more. It is hard to deal with, of course, but like we have all heard before “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Powerlifting and bodybuilding have not just made me physically stronger, but mentally. Both will test willpower, how much you’re willing to endure, how uncomfortable you can be, and how dedicated you are. Finding the inner strength needed to persevere towards my goals is where I am at in my short experience with these sports.

Anyone who has become great at something didn’t get there by going through the motions. I have gained so much knowledge in the four years I have been competing; not only about lifting, programming, nutrition, and dieting but about myself as well. I have done many things I once thought I wasn’t capable of doing.

Everything starts with your mindset

Many people think that you can go to the gym and do your workout then go home and eat your food according to your meal plan and you will progress. That is true, to an extent. That is doing the bare minimum. Bare minimum gets you minimum results. I think that if you want to be great at something, mental preparation is just as necessary.

Your mindset determines everything. When you are going up to lift a weight that could crush you if not executed correctly, when you are so tired you can barely keep your eyes open but still need to finish a workout, and when you have had a bad day and want to go home but still need to train. This is where I feel like a person decides how bad they want it — finding that inner strength to overcome. Deciding that you will do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

It all starts inside. Having the grit to make it through the tests and obstacles on your way to your goal. I feel that is how someone becomes the best they can be. From the short time I have been in this world, I have become someone I never thought I could be. I am strong. This only makes me eager for what is to come for the rest of my journey. I will only get stronger, mentally and physically. I will learn more. And I hope to pass on what I have learned someday to help others find their {inner} strength.

Jeff Davis

My name is Jeff Davis, my passion lies in the fitness industry. I’m looking forward not just helping people become fit but helping people put their health first.