“Zach, you’re in the hole” I put my headphones back in and begin to prepare myself. I start by wrapping my knees. Each lap around cracking down as tight as humanly possible. As each lap passes I lose more and more feeling in my legs. I feel my heart start to race as I continue to wrap tighter and tighter. I’m tapped by a fellow competitor- “Zach, you’re next.” I tuck in my last wrap and pull it snug. I reach over to grab my wrist wraps and belt. Wrapping my wrist tightly I hear the announcer - “Up next, Zach Homol weighing 181lbs going for 705lbs, an IPA world record! The bar is loaded!” I tighten my belt and begin to approach the platform. My heart is pounding out of my chest as I approach the bar. I fill my body with the utmost fear. Trembling as I grab the bar, I faintly hear the cheers from the crowd. Everything is blurry except for the bar. I stare for a second, taking in the moment knowing that one false move could cripple me for life. I let out a slight grunt and slam my head against the bar. As I extend my arms back I know in my mind, heart, and soul that I’m willing to die to execute this lift. The initial fear turns into anger as I begin to position myself under the bar squeezing my shoulder blades together, digging my traps into the bar. With each fraction of a second that passes I become more and more confident. I’ve been training over 12 years, envisioning this very moment. I’ve dreamed this moment for hours and now it’s time to create the reality. As I start to unrack the weight it feels as if nothing is on my back. My confidence continues to grow as I set up in my position. I change nothing, setting up the same way I have billions of times prior to this attempt. I faintly hear the “DOWN” command from the head judge. I fill my stomach with air, then begin my descent. I hit my depth mark and begin to stand up hearing voices that seem to be miles away screaming “UP! UP! UP!”. “RACK!” the head judge yells! I look over to see 3 white lights, a perfectly executed attempt! Standing beside those lights stood the godfather of powerlifting, Louie Simmons, with his thumb in the air congratulating me on the attempt.
I walk over to meet with the judges as they check my gear making sure all material was considered legal for the record. I shake hands with the spotters and judges, thanking them for being present to run the event and keep each lifter safe. The judges give the thumbs up and clarify the record. Smiling, I let the moment sink in.
I think back to the countless hours I spent working to perfect my form, about all the times I was told I should “just quit” because no matter how much I trained I never got any bigger or stronger, back to when I was told I shouldn’t train 7 days a week. The number of times I was told I was “overtraining” when I would spend 8 hours on a Sunday (my only day off from the coal mine) at the gym working to perfect my form, I simply can’t count. I think about all the missed birthday parties, nights out with friends, & cutting out early on Holiday’s to train. Every sacrifice I had to make to live in this moment I had envisioned for over a decade.
I then come back to reality, smiling and thanking those who come up and congratulate me on the lift. I feel very blessed and am humbled by the moment, but the excitement wears off quickly. By the time I make my way back to the lifters area, the only thought in my head is my next attempt on the bench press.
I trained over a decade, devoting my entire life to setting a record in my respective weight class in the sport of Powerlifting. Yet it took less than 2 minutes for me to temporarily erase the moment from my memory. Knowing I made it to this moment by remaining HUNGRY, I didn’t make it here by being satisfied with each personal record (PR). I was able to achieve this goal because I never let MYSELF, or ANYONE else set my limits. I strongly believe WE are capable of achieving TRUE greatness. We just have to redefine what we see as greatness..
Get your mindset right, set the bar higher, push harder, and never stop believing!