Sgt. Cody Lefever wraps his fingers tightly around the bench press bar. He arches his back and pulls his shoulder blades together. He tucks his feet under the bench, lifts on his toes and pulls the bar up and down to his chest. There he waits, every muscle in his body clenched like a tightly coiled spring — ready. When the judge gives the command, the bar explodes off his chest in an effort of sheer force.
Four years ago, Lefever walked into a gym with no idea where to start. This year, he broke two United States Powerlifting Association California state records and one International Powerlifting League record in the 148-pound weight class on Nov. 9. This Marine isn’t just pure muscle; he is a dedicated, self-disciplined Marine motivated to go where no powerlifter has gone before.
The 26-year-old Golden, Colo., native first became interested in lifting while deployed to Iraq as an infantryman in 2008. He never imagined that four years later, he would be a record-breaking powerlifter.
“About two years into lifting, I started to realize I had gotten pretty strong, so I got interested in what the records were for California,” Lefever said. “I Googled them and realized I was pretty close to some of those numbers.”
The knowledge that those records might be breakable further motivated Lefever in the gym. He knew he was up for the challenge.
“I’m accepting a challenge every time I go into the gym,” Lefever said. “I am trying to do something that I have written on paper that I am going to do. That instills more discipline in me each day. I have to fulfill that obligation to myself. As a Marine, I continue to train and push through minor injuries, through lack of sleep or whatever it is and that continues to improve me and hardens me mentally.”
All those hours of hard work and dedication materialized in three record-breaking powerlifts for the Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. Lefever broke the California state deadlift record with 512 lbs. and the International Powerlifting League’s World deadlift record at 529 pounds. He then went on to break the state’s overall total powerlift record with 1,196 pounds.
“It felt awesome to break those records,” Lefever said. “It was realizing a material goal that I worked for physically and mentally. It’s important to me because it’s not that it adds value to my life, it just reaffirms that the hard work that you put in is paying off.”
But achieving excellence doesn’t come easily. For Lefever, it required countless hours in the gym, pushing himself to the next level.
“What motivates me to get better is just to be better than myself — to be better tomorrow than I am today,” Lefever said. “I think it is everyone’s responsibility to be the best person that they can be, regardless of if they’re a Marine or not.”
Even with a motivating internal drive, Lefever admits he does have one secret weapon.
“I listen to a lot of metal when I go to the gym,” Lefever said. “Some of my favorite bands would be Bolt Thrower, Lamb of God, or Cannibal Corpse. Really fast, really heavy bands kind of get my mind right for lifting heavy weights. If you want to lift heavy weights, you’ve got to listen to heavy metal.”
Unfortunately, Lefever wouldn’t leak the specific songs he listens to for his biggest powerlifting endeavors.
“I don’t want anybody to have my secret weapons,” he explained.
Even without the secret weapon for powerlifting success, Lefever has this advice for anyone interested in heavy lifting in the gym.
“There are tons of guys that I see in the gym consistently,” Lefever said. “Every single day, they’re there the same time as I am. They’re lifting pretty hard, but their time would be more economical and would be more profitable in the sense of muscle building or strength building if they actually had defined goals and found a program. If they stick to that program for a long time, that is what most helped me.”
As for Lefever, he has big plans for his future in powerlifting.
“I’d like to compete at other big powerlifting meets,” Lefever said. “Obviously, if powerlifting gets accepted as an Olympic sport, it would be phenomenal to be an Olympian. That right now is nothing more than a dream.”
But for now, Lefever says he will settle for sponsorship. Any takers?