02 Jan 3 Short Lessons From a Journey in a Weight Room, And From Finally Going Outside
3 Short Lessons From a Journey in a Weight Room, And From Finally Going Outside
This post is, in a sense, a continuation of my last post — Evolution of a Meathead being that I’ll be sharing the lessons learned from my journey and shift in my training.
Think of this as kind of an end of the year/beginning of the year article although I’m definitely not going to call it a “What I Learned in 2013 article.” Partly because I read in some business book one time to be different from everyone else in your industry and partly because I believe that life is a continual narrative and I believe in continual self-development not just end of the year reflection over a modern calendar measure of time.
Obsession, For a Season, Can be Enlightening
Breaking through physical barriers and achieving goals that build grit can be enlightening by teaching you that you have the power to shape your world.
Being totally devoted to powerlifting, and more specifically the pursuit of strength, taught me lessons on the pursuit of mastery. Very few people will ever devote themselves to truly mastering a craft. I essentially sacrificed my body for a season to understand the science, art, and complexity in programming for and building a strength that most people wouldn’t understand.
Focusing on a singular physical goal, task, whatever, can teach you one-minded, higher-level focus that can bleed to other areas of personal development. I learned perseverance and focus through that journey in a way that I really don’t feel like I could otherwise.
It had to end for me to develop further as a person but it taught me an invaluable lesson.
It Takes Balls to Get As Big As I did
When I worked as a young personal trainer in college, some bro came up to me while I was shamelessly eating behind the welcome desk and asked what I was eating. It was during one of my bulking vision quests, so I was eating some crap like 4 cans of tuna and who knows how many pounds of rice.
He asked if I was eating dinner and I told him, very snootily I might add, that it was only meal three out of six. My douchebagness aside, he told me something that gave me perspective.
He said, “Oh, I thought I was doing good to build muscle by eating two cans of tuna a day.”
To this day, I tell this story to whiny little boys who tell me they can’t gain weight, just to see their reaction.
The problem, as I see it, isn’t that these guys can’t gain weight but that they don’t have the balls to lose their precious “ab definition” for a short time to build some serious muscle.
Do I condone a dirty bulk or doing what I did? Hell no, but you can’t get your panties in a bunch if you wake up one morning and your bottom two abs aren’t as pronounced anymore and go on an immediate crash diet resembling something a rabbit would eat.
A ton of muscle can be gained with a clean bulk without too much bodyfat, but you still have to eat, and eat a lot if you’re trying to gain weight. Understand though that you may go through a time where you may not look as good as you did.
If body composition and being at your aesthetic best all the time is your thing than, that’s fine. Just don’t try to build greater levels of dense muscle. But don’t whine about it if you’re not willing to do what’s necessary. You may know a guy like this, you may be this guy.
I’m talking to you and I won’t sugarcoat it.
When I got as big as I did, I got looks and I heard comments constantly. I’d try to explain I was a powerlifter, but the normal folk wouldn’t understand how I could call myself a strength and conditioning, human performance coach and look like a fat guy with some muscle.
Truth is, I built a greater amount of muscle on my 5’11” frame than most people will ever do and when I did cut down I was learner and looked better at 230 pounds than most guys at 190 pounds who are afraid of eating anything but chicken breasts.
Just Call it Living
To reiterate my last post, I have the deepest respect for those who dedicate their lives to a craft. Powerlifters, strongmen, Olympic lifters, bodybuilders and the like who compete on the highest level of their sport sacrifice their lives in the gym. This is for their art and they haverealized their deepest desire which they follow to give their greatest gift to the rest of the world.
This, however, is not what the guy who wastes his life in the gym but gives nothing back. He makes everything else, including the people in his life, revolve around his obsession. He may love to lift, for sure, but he doesn’t do it to compete against others and test his resolve or to add to the craft. He does it purely for ego and hides behind his façade. If this was stripped away, he’d have nothing to identify himself with because there is nothing authentic or real about him.
He’s strong in one setting but if he’s removed from his comfortable domain, he cannot adapt and his strength and toughness wanes.
I’m glad to have experienced the art of strength and powerlifting in its fullest, if only for a season, but I have other, deeper passions, and I’m more interested in living my life as me than anything else.
When I started going outside to workout, with new things like trail running, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, I felt more energized and more in touch with what this exercise thing is.
Truthfully, I’ve grown to dislike the term fitness. It’s become this activity, this religion, this industry, that is separate from simply living.
By going outside, I realized that I didn’t just want to experience exercise or working out, I wanted it to be a part of my life just as it was to man once in our history. Going outside and experiencing physical challenges became about seeking to challenge physical thresholds and push beyond them.
Lifting weights just became another facet in this, not the only one. I still train in an organized, smart, matter in the weight room as well but now it is one part of a whole.
Just some things to consider as you start this 2014 year.
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