Guest post by Bonnie Schroeder
If you know me (in person or via social media), you know my perception of reality is slightly... warped. I am constantly forgetting I'm pushing 125 lbs on a good day and 5'3" with my squat shoes on.
In my mind, I have the same size and presence of Chad Wesley Smith, Ray Williams, or Brian Shaw. What led to this overdose in confidence? This extreme positive mental dysmorphia?
I didn't know what I was getting into. A couple years ago powerlifting was a completely new concept to me. I had a CrossFit background, but a serious passion for heavy lifting. Luckily, at the time I had an amazing training partner that had competed in powerlifting who convinced me to sign up for a meet. I entered my first meet with only two to three months of semi-serious powerlifting prep under my belt, won my weight class, and was hooked immediately.
Love at first sight kind of shit.
Powerlifting is not for the faint of heart. Just ask anyone starting their first week on my training program. This sport requires mental toughness, tenacity, and the willingness to push yourself farther than you realized you could. Powerlifting will chew you up, spit you out and then tell you to chalk up all over again. Absolutely nothing in this sport is given and sometimes every last pound has to be fought for, but if you commit and dedicate yourself to the challenge, it can be one of the most gratifying and life changing experiences you will ever have.
"Powerlifting will chew you up, spit you out and then tell you to chalk up all over again."
Realizing your own physical strength is such a simple concept, but nothing is more empowering. You are much, MUCH stronger than you think but sometimes it just takes the right amount of passion for that strength to be expressed. Still, the physical developments pale in comparison to the mental changes that come with maturity in the sport. In the beginning of my career, my confidence would slump if I missed a lift or had a tough training session. Now I understand these "bad days" are what grows our character as well as our physical and mental strength. The sooner you can accept these days as stages of progress, the stronger and smarter you'll be. Putting in the grueling, necessary work day in and day out is just as much a part of the sport as waiting for those white lights on meet day.
Now after being competitive in powerlifting for a few years, I feed off of the challenge. I live for the daily grind that yields the most rewarding results.The running joke in my gym is that Bonnie is "the same size as everyone else", and I am. I'll prove it. You'll see me attack my workouts with as much guts and ferocity as the biggest guy in there. Watch me grind out those last couple reps even when everything burns and it feels like my head is going to explode. Watch me on meet day and you'll know exactly what all that necessary, "behind the scenes" work in the gym was for. Competition days are work days.
"I step onto that platform with a job to do and I will not let anything stop me from getting what I've earned."
Mental toughness extends far beyond what we do in the gym. It shapes us as people, coaches and leaders. It's incredible to see what powerlifting has done for so many people and it is beyond rewarding to see the positive changes it has made in every one of my clients. Each day I wake up grateful that I get to help others find their confidence in the same way I found mine. Find your passion, commit, and enjoy the growth.
About the author
Bonnie Schroeder is a top 20 nationally ranked USAPL certified coach and athlete out of Davenport, Iowa. She currently holds USAPL Iowa state raw records in bench press, deadlift, push/pull and raw total in the 57kg division. Bonnie also currently has the highest Wilks score in bench, deadlift, push/pull and raw total out of all women's open weight classes in the state of Iowa in the USAPL. Her best lifts include a 128.1kg squat, 84kg bench, and a 172.5kg deadlift (over 3x her bodyweight). She trains and coaches out of Summit Training Center in Bettendorf Iowa where she is passionate about working with competitive powerlifters as well as those interested in strength and conditioning.