Why I Love to Lift


Given that I'm a personal trainer, it's no secret that I love to pick up heavy things and put them down.  In fact, I'd be lying if I said my dream the other night didn't involve some sort of push-up competition.

But, don't get me wrong.  There's more to this meathead than meets the eye.  For example, if you prick me, do I not bleed all the way back to the squat rack?

Ok, maybe that was a wee bit melodramatic.  However, in all my ramblings on this site, I have yet to really explain why I love to train and lift as much as I do.  Below are four key reasons that I keep praying at the church of iron, and I hope you enjoy them. (Hint: getting strong in the gym will translate to getting strong in life.)

Lifting is Linear

There are times in life where everything just doesn't add up.  You may work really hard on a project and do a terrific job....only to get passed over for the next promotion.  Conversely, times when you do nothing other than sit on your hands, you can be given a new job or opportunity on a silver platter.  There's a randomness to life that is simply unpredictable.

Perhaps that's the reason I love to lift and get stronger.  You can always draw a clear correlation whether a program or technique actually worked for you.  On the flip side, if you're not getting stronger than something is amiss.  Hitting a plateau is never fun, and usually it's because you're doing something wrong.  Sure, there's the chance that you are actually hitting your genetic wall....but for about 99% of people out there, that's probably not the case.  Either your form, technique, program (or all three) needs some readjustment.

I don't usually quote Miley Cyrus....key word: usually.

I don't usually quote Miley Cyrus....key word: usually.

That said, there's something to be said about taking small steps through the journey of getting stronger.  Small steps can be as little as 2 1/2 more pounds on a big lift, or simply an extra rep.  If you make it a priority to be at least one rep better than your last session, you will not be disappointed.  Whether it takes you a month or a year to reach your goal, it really doesn't matter.  Perhaps Miley Cyrus said it best in one her songs: "it ain't about how fast I get there, it's the climb."

Physically Strong Means Mentally Strong

A few years ago, if you would have told me I'd be close to deadlifting 400 pounds (and we're talking conventional deadlifts!), I'd say you were crazy.  For years I always resisted lifting HEAVY out of the fear of getting hurt.  What changed? 

I've decided that in order to get strong, I needed to master the basics.  This meant swallowing my pride and taking a hefty step back in a few of my lifts.  After all, what's better?  A heavy, awful looking deadlift OR a great, heavy deadlift performed with mastery and grace?  I know my answer.

Never be afraid of mastering a movement and taking a step back.  Rather than quitting and moving on, you'll be rewarded by taking many more steps forward.

Learning Hard Work

There are plenty of days where I'm tired from training my clients and could make excuses not to train.  Instead of making those excuses, I simply try to follow my plan to reach my goal.  After all, if I can't follow the plan in the gym, how am I going to be able to stick to the plan in anything else that I do?

Let's be real: around 20% of the time you're going to absolutely crush it in the gym, and around 20% of the time you're going to have a pretty rotten time.  Those are the facts, and it applies to everyone.  However, it's what you do the other 60% of the time that makes up who you are.  Dan John has always preached the importance of "punch the clock" workouts where you get your work in, punch the clock, leave, and fight again another day.  There's something to be said about the importance of punching the clock, and be OK with that.

Time to Think

Lifting can be a release, but I also think one of the greatest benefits is the alone time it can yield.  There are times to surround yourself in a great atmosphere that will get you the results you want, and there are times when it's great just to be alone.  In our current, fast-paced, over-caffeinated world, we don't really set aside time just to think.  I can't even count how many times I've solved a work problem, relationship problem (and, ok, probably a few lifting problems), just by lifting.  Time to yourself is precious, and that's why I always claim that the busier someone is, the more important it is to set aside time to train.

Have you learned any lessons from your workouts?  If so, what are they?