I like the simplicity. No excuses, no mind games, no luck, just you and the weight. It means that even when a lot of other things are stressing you out, you can go to the gym and achieve something which you can't question - if you make a lift, that's it, it's done, and it can't be taken away from you. When you can see that you're lifting bigger week after week, doing things that you know you absolutely couldn't have done a month ago, it's a great confidence builder and teaches you the value of hard work and perseverance.
I've only competed properly in powerlifting once, but that was an amazing experience - the atmosphere really brings out the best in people.
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