Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
In his first year competing in powerlifting, Sgt. Cody A. Lefever broke three records in his weight class during the International Power Lifting League World Championship held in Las Vegas Nov. 9. The 26-year-old competitor broke two state records for California and an IPL record for the 148-pound weight class.
Lefever stands at 5 feet 5 inches and weighs approximately 160 pounds before cutting weight for competitions. The Denver native, trains year-round in addition to Marine Corps physical training sessions and his duties as the store manager for Marine Corps Community Services at the Combat Center.
On Nov. 9, he stepped onto the platform in his second competition, his first being at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., in the beginning of the year. Lefever lifted 407 pounds in the squat and 275 pounds in the bench press.
His chance to break a record came during his 3rd attempt at the deadlift. Any state record must be broken by a competitor’s third lift, said Lefever.
Aware of the previous record of 507 pounds, he informed the judges of his record breaking attempt and asked for weight to be added to the bar for a total of 512 pounds.
“I went into it and I knew what lifts I had to do in order to achieve what totals I wanted and what rankings I wanted nationally,” Lefever said. “I designed my whole training cycle before that to be able to prepare me to hit these lifts.”
Lefever’s trained for that moment. He lifted the bar and broke the Calif. dead-lift record, and in combination with his bench press and squat, his total score of 1,196 pounds beat the old state record by just six pounds. He did not stop there.
“I told them I wanted to go for a 4th attempt and I told them I wanted to do 529,” Lefever said. “They told me I had like 5-minutes to recover, but I was really in the zone, so I told them just give me two minutes and I’ll be ready to rock.”
After his two minutes of rest, Lefever made his 4th attempt and lifted the bar. His 529-pound lift increased the 512-pounds he just set and it also broke the IPL record of 523 pounds. His dead-lift score stands as the 4th highest across all the power lifting associations in the United States this year and his total score is ranked in 8th place.
Although Lefever has proven himself to be one of the country’s top ranking competitors in his weight class, he was not always the heavy lifter he is today. He has only been lifting for four years, and training competitively for the past two.
Before joining the Marine Corps, Lefever had never done any weight training. He spent his free time mountain biking, skate boarding or BMX riding.
“In high school, I was 110 to 130 pounds. I didn’t weight train or anything,” Lefever said. “I’ve always been the kind of person that looks for a new challenge.”
It was this drive to challenge himself that led him to the Marine Corps. He joined in 2005 as an infantryman and served as security forces in Washington D.C. It wasn’t until his first deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2008 when he started lifting weights.
“Before then I never lifted weights, I just did regular Marine Corps physical training,” Lefever said. “It was a new challenge. It was something that interested me, so I thought I’d go in there and see what I can do.”
“Honestly, for my first two years, I was like the average gym goer,” Lefever continued. “I thought I knew what I was doing, but in the grand scheme of things, looking back where I was then as to where I am now and what I know now versus then, I was absolutely clueless. I thought I was building muscle and I thought I was getting stronger, but in reality I wasn’t going anywhere. I was just spinning my wheels.”
Lefever’s experience in the gym increased with time as he talked with other lifters and was inspired by their capabilities, he said. He began sticking to a program, recorded his progress and did so consistently.
In 2011, he realized his potential for competitive lifting.
“I remember looking up the Calif. records for powerlifting and I saw that I was pretty close to some of them. That inspired me to reach out and try to contact other powerlifters. They pretty much told me to ‘put up or shut up,’” Lefever said. “If you’re going to say that you’re strong, then you’ve got to get on the platform. You can say, ‘I can dead-lift 500 pounds and the record’s only 400.’ Well then, why don’t you hold the record?”
Lefever began focusing on the three lifts. Every other exercise he performs is geared to make himself stronger in those events.
Today, he continues his training five days a week, Monday through Friday, fitting in his lifting around his work as well as his regular Marine Corps physical training.
“On PT days I go to the gym early, four to five in the morning. I’d train for an hour, hour and a half, and then go to the workout,” Lefever said. “I still have to pass the (physical fitness test) and (combat fitness test), I’m not exempt from that.”
His hard work both in the sport and in the Marine Corps has paid off. Currently in his second enlistment and ranked as one of the best dead-lifters in the nation, Lefever will be changing duty stations to Camp Pendleton before the end of this year. There, he will be joining the base’s powerlifting team and continuing his aspiration to compete.
“The thing about powerlifting is the strongest lifters are the guys who have been doing it the longest,” Lefever said. “Being ing my first year of powerlifting, I can see myself doing this the next 20 to 30 years, or even longer.”