Once upon a time, I was a relatively strong dude. I bench pressed and chin-upped over 300lbs, front squatted over 400lbs and deadlifted over 500lbs – life was good (and here’s some proof because this is the internet after all):
These feats all occured while I was lifting at Cressey Performance for the majority of my training sessions, and while the programming was fantastic, I really attribute getting this strong to the amazing training environment that they foster there. When lifts like these are the norm among staff and clients, you quickly find yourself trying to keep up. These were Joneses of my lifting career and I constantly worked to keep up with them, loving every minute of it.
Then I got hired at a local gym and started lifting alone; I got weaker, much weaker – and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Nowadays, my front squat is about 70lbs less, my deadlift is about 50lbs less, and I’m committing internet suicide by confessing that my 1 rep max bench press isn’t much higher than 225lbs.
I can only speak from my experience, but I feel that this will resonate with a lot of people: the goals that I was working towards weren’t my own, and I wasn’t having any fun pursuing them.
I’ll use someone I spoke with the other day as an example. This man has been in the iron game for a long time – longer than I’ve been alive, and he is a bench press junkie. If it were legally acceptable to marry it, I think that he would. Over the last few years though, he’s experienced a sharp decline in his strength and he’s constantly in pain. After hearing him talk about how much it hurts to bench, I asked him if he even liked doing.
His answer? Nope. Too painful.
Yet he persists, despite it not being in his best interest.
If he doesn’t like doing it AND it causes him pain, why does he do it?
This makes me wonder how many people out there are doing exercises that they hate and are chasing goals that they don’t even remotely want to accomplish, in some cases just to impress others or keep up with the Joneses. I’ll be brutally honest and say that before this epiphany, the only reason I wanted to be super strong was so that I could be a part of the cool club, and so that I could boast a high number if anyone asked how much I lifted it.
After getting away from the crowd and examining my own reasons and motivations for lifting, I was able to discover what my true goals in the gym were. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a simple man with simple needs. I want to be healthy, pain free, look good naked, and be able to accomplish some cool stuff in the gym – that’s it. Bench pressing 350lbs? That’s cool to watch, but I don’t care to work towards that, because it isn’t necessary for my goals. Hell, for the next year of my training I’m abandoning the barbell completely in the pursuit of other tools and pursuits.
If I like it, I do it. If I don’t, I won’t – this is the mantra that I live by.
This whole working out and training thing is ideally something that you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, so you had better like what you’re doing to a certain degree. Doing something just because some guru says that it’s absolutely necessary, even if you hate it, won’t do you a lick of good in the long run. This doesn’t apply to just lifting, but life as well.
You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.
– Chris Rock
Life is too short to fill it with things that don’t bring you joy. Follow the Joneses for too long and one day you might find yourself at the end of a road only to realize that it lead you to a place that you don’t want to be at all. That’s how some end up working a job that they hate to pay for the expensive gadgets and luxuries that help distract them from the fact that their life isn’t what they want it to be.
The great thing about goals is that no matter how goofy,wild or against the grain they may same to others, they are uniquely yours and yours alone, and no one can take them away from you – PURSUE THEM!
I challenge you all to look at the road you’re on and ask yourself some questions: Are your goals your goals? Is this where you want to go? Regardless if the answer is yes or no, I’d love it if you’d share your story & thoughts in the comment section below. If it’s too private and you want to keep it private or bounce ideas off someone, shoot me an e-mail and I’d be more than happy to be that dude: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: Allan Sanders