“I was addicted to drugs, I was an alcoholic, and a complete wreck,” former soldier, world record holder, and Ludowici resident Trent Williams said. “I was disconnected from God. I totally unplugged from everything. I was a really bad person and in a bad place.”
Williams served in the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart from 2009-2013, and served overseas from 2010-2011, and shortly after, medically retired.
Before serving in the military, Williams suffered through a period of time— experiencing major trauma—driving him to drugs and alcohol. At one point, Williams considered taking his own life. He reconsidered after looking at a photo of his daughter Ellsy.
“That experience stuck with me for a very long time,” Williams said. “I was either going to die in the streets or make something of my life. If anything, I would give my family something to be proud of me for. So I signed up to serve in the Army at 26 years old.”
Now, Williams channels his issues into exercise and record breaking.
Williams grew up around weightlifting. His father was an avid weightlifter, and he spent time working out with him, he said. He was naturally inclined to succeed at the tricep dips, but never thought he was world-record good.
“The current record was something that I did reps for,” Williams continued. “So I figured I’d roll with it.”
Williams set his sight on breaking a world record, after his daughter would watch him workout at gyms. Initially, Williams brought Ellsy to show her that with hard work, and a great work ethic, anything can be done. After admiring the trophies, she asked her dad if he would get her one.
“Instead, I thought, why not go bigger? Anything is attainable,” Williams said.
He began the extensive training for the world record in October of 2017, and spent well over a year preparing and training for the event, he said. Williams began looking at the requirements and guidelines when it comes to setting or breaking a Guinness World Record. He submitted his application, and began training harder once they confirmed and sent him the information he needed.
“I chose to complete the process all on my own—they send you the guidelines and you do it all yourself,” Williams added. “Having a representative come was like, $2,000. Breaking a world record is expensive stuff.”
On September 29, 2018, Williams officially broke the world record for the Heaviest Weighted Tricep Dip, tipping the scales at 106.59 kilograms, or 235 pounds at Peller Athletics in Alpharetta, Ga.
“I’m proud of my record, but my next goal is to use this as a platform to help people realize what can be,” Williams said.
Williams uses weightlifting to show that anything can be conquered with determination—in his case, injury and addiction— no matter the circumstances. He read about fitness and neural plasticity extensively, and how exercise can change brain chemistry. Williams was tired of being miserable, and put in a lot of work to change that.
“When I work out, I visualize the weight,” Williams said. “Every time I lifted something, that one rep was me beating that addiction. If I did 100 reps, then that was me beating that addiction 100 times. I thought I was more powerful than my addiction. It’s a powerful mechanism.”
Williams shares a lot on his Facebook page, and it has been well received, he said. He was asked to speak to wounded police officers in Texas this summer, he continued.
“When you go to a counselor, there’s a big disconnect,” he said. “Certain motivational tactics don’t work for those hardened from trauma. Sometimes, you need to yell and scream to get that warrior spirit kicked up.”
Williams has his sights set on the next goal: breaking another world record; and getting his story out.
“It’s the hardest battle you’ll ever fight,” he said. “That battle in your head. I know what it’s like to suffer. I want to be that support system for people. Never give up. Keep moving forward. Find a purpose. Pursue that purpose. This life is worth living. I’m proof.”