Bobby Serna weightlifter

Pocatello resident Roberto “Bobby” Serna, posing at Fitness Inc. in Pocatello, holds the ceremonial sword that he received for winning the overall bodybuilding title at the recent 2017 NPC Idaho Cup Championships in Garden City.

A Pocatello man who recovered from two serious knee injuries recently won the overall bodybuilding title at the 2017 NPC Idaho Cup Championships in Garden City.

“It was a surreal experience,” said Roberto “Bobby” Serna.

Serna, 25, who’s competed in bodybuilding events since 2013, said winning the overall title was more than he’d hoped for. Especially since he’s a light-heavyweight and the overall bodybuilding title tends to go to even bigger competitors. Serna is 6 feet tall and weighed 196 pounds for the fall competition.

He said he was overwhelmed when he won.

“There was so much emotion on my face,” Serna said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Serna’s coach, Lloyd Welch of Pocatello, said he’s not surprised that Serna won the contest, which was sponsored by Bodybuilding.com of Boise.

“Bobby is one of those guys who you tell them what to do and lay out the plan and he just executes it 100 percent,” Welch said. “It was just awesome to see his hard work pay off.”

For the victory, Serna, who trains six days a week for three hours a day, was reimbursed for his entry fees and other costs. He also got three trophies, a powerlifting belt and a ceremonial winner’s sword.

Further, he qualifies to compete in an International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness contest, which he’ll probably attempt in 2019. If he does well enough at one of those contests, he can receive an IFBB pro card and increase his potential for more sponsorships and contest earnings.

Plus, he’s already received a sponsorship from “Feast Mode,” which is a food seasoning used extensively by bodybuilders.

The sponsorships are important not only for income but also to get his name more widely known, according to Serna.

“There are a lot more doors that are open for me now,” he said.

That’s what perseverance can accomplish. Serna said he wouldn’t be where he is today without it.

Serna won the Idaho Cup contest after coming back from two major injuries to his left knee. He tore his ACL and MCL playing soccer in 2010. And he badly damaged it again in 2013 while helping train cheerleaders at Idaho State University, where he attends school. Only this time he tore his ACL, MCL and LCL. Plus, he had to get a knee meniscus transplant.

While he was recovering, he put the time to good use by earning a certificate in personal training.

His knee took over two years to heal. But by 2015 it was well enough that he started getting back into bodybuilding.

“The knee feels great,” Serna said. “It’s never been better.”

Serna — who says wife Deena and son Beckham are also a source of strength — is a good example of the benefits from weight training and bodybuilding in addition to perseverance.

When he graduated from Aberdeen High School in 2009, he weighed 120 pounds. When he won the contest, he was 196 pounds. Now, as he prepares for powerlifting competitions, he’s bulked up further to about 210 pounds.

Next, he plans to enter regional powerlifting competitions to see how he does. And he’ll try to qualify for national or world competitions.

But he plans to use care. And wear a knee brace while he trains.

“I know how my body works now,” Serna said. “I test my limits, but I know where my limit is.”