Record-Setting Weight Lifter Overcame Adversity to Achieve Incredible Feats

Record-setting weightlifter Steve Johnson has accomplished incredible things in his life, but the challenges he’s faced along the way make his story even more remarkable.

Johnson set a new U.S. raw deadlift record last summer when he lifted an incredible 909.4 pounds.

“The reaction explains it all,” he said. “It’s so exciting, because not only did I set the record – I’ve joined the smallest, most elite group of deadlifters in the entire world.”

Life wasn’t always easy for Johnson, as he has gone through homelessness and a whole host of other adverse circumstances on his way to the top, but he’s grateful for the experience.

“In a way, I’m thankful for what’s happened,” he said. “Because if it never happened, would I have ever turned out to be this good at what I do? Or would I have had the same mentality and mindset?”

Back in 2005, Johnson was out of a job, and he even was evicted from his apartment. He found sanctuary in the gym, living in the parking lot of an XSport Fitness location in Arlington Heights where he worked out.

Johnson’s motto, honed and put to good use during his trials and tribulations, has served him well over the years.

“Train like you feel you’re about to die, and then train some more,” he said.

That message has inspired countless other weight lifters and athletes, and Johnson's Instagram feed is loaded with those kinds of stories:

Now, Johnson has his eyes on a new goal, as he’s looking to deadlift a half-ton of weight.

“It’s not a matter of if I pull 1000 pounds,” he said. “It’s a matter of when.” 

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