Why are we here?
You surely have your reasons. Maybe you are interested in getting stronger or in changing the way that your body looks. Maybe both. Maybe you just stumbled upon the link and thought from the title of this post that there were life answers to be found here. If it’s the former, I hope you’ll stay a while and listen. If it’s the latter, the answer is 42. Just 42.
As for me, I’m here For the Love of Lifting. And to turn a cheesy phrase every now and again.
I had my iron initiation in my senior year of high school when my friends on the football team invited me to join them for their triweekly after-school lifts, though I was but a scrawny soccer player. Looking back on it now, our gym endeavors were laughably pathetic, mostly consisting of us benching and curling almost every day. Maybe I’d throw in a couple sets of dumbbell lateral raises on the days when I whimsically decided I wished I had boulder shoulders. While the program we had been subscribed by their coaches did include great movements like squats and deadlifts, we just skipped them, because, frankly, they didn’t seem like much fun (plus I kind of thought that as a soccer player, my legs were surely super strong anyways… ha!). Without easy access (these were the dial-up internet days for many of us) to all the resources that are so available on the interwebz now, we really just didn’t know any better.
Ugh… How it pains me to think about those dark times. Unsurprisingly, the developments in both my physique and strength levels were rather lackluster. I was pretty lean, sure, but I hadn’t really managed to build anything. It was only in college (oddly enough, the same time that I moved into a dorm and got access to broadband…) that I started to figure out what was what. I found a good gym partner, we started picking up heavy things, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So why am I telling you this? Because I have learned a lot over the years, and I really want to share my experiences and passion for the world of lifting with you. I am not at the elite level when it comes to my strength or my physique, but I have developed from a 170-some pound (might be hard to believe from the picture below… I’m tall) stick of a boy who got stapled trying to bench press 95 pounds to a somewhat lean, somewhat strong 245 pound man-child over the past 7 years of my lifting journey, and I think I have acquired a lot of helpful knowledge along the way.
I got into lifting for the same reason most people do: I wanted to look good—bigger, more powerful, yada yada (we’ll set the implied body image issues of this mindset aside here for a moment, but I have more to say about this in the future). Don’t get me wrong, the aesthetic aspect of lifting is still a big part of why I enjoy playing with weights so much, but I have also found something more during my time under the bar. If you let it, the iron can ground you emotionally against the frustration and anger that can start from one life stress and bleed into the other facets. It can provide you with goals and the fulfillment that comes with meeting them. It can build your self-confidence as well as it builds your body. More than anything, the iron can strengthen your willpower. The resolve to persevere, to finish that squat when your body pleads with you to fold, is a powerful thing that you can carry over to the other endeavors in your life.
Many people work out just to look good, but we’re not talking about working out here. We’re talking about training. Training to better yourself. Yes, training can change the way that your body looks, but it can also teach you lessons about yourself that you won’t find in many other places. It’s a silly exaggeration as there are an incalculable number of experiences that can contribute to the never-ending procedure of self-discovery, but sometimes, I like to say that a person doesn’t really know themselves until they’ve grinded out a heavy deadlift or been at the bottom of a squat with a few hundred pounds on their back. To avoid rambling on and sounding more like a total meathead, I’m just going to say that lifting can really be a positive, life-changing endeavor (in more ways than one).
And if you’re rolling your eyes right now and thinking that something like hitting a 500 pound squat doesn’t seem like a worthy, productive, or important goal in the grand scheme of things, just remember: we are but tiny specs of space dust floating around in a gargantuan universe, and nothing really matters intrinsically (haha?). Who’s to say what “should” be important or worthwhile to you aside from… you?
Whatever has brought you here, I hope that you will be able to learn something useful as I share my experiences and thoughts on what has worked (or not worked) for me and others as well as what the science tells us when it comes to optimally getting stronger and building a powerful physique. Most of all, if exercising is something that you dread but feel that you “should” do (because that’s what all those glamour magazines say), I hope that I will be able to help you find the path to doing it (or not doing it) either for you or just simply For the Love of Lifting (twice in one post? C’mon!).
Thanks for reading! There will be more to come, covering a broad range of topics for both beginners and more intermediate and advanced lifters.
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