Back in 2017 Herself and I started working out at Mark Rippetoe’s gym, and — barring illness and/or injury — we’ve been working out regularly there ever since.
It’s not exactly State-of-the-Art: There are barbells, there are the safety racks, and there are the plates; this is how you do the big, compound lifts. Get after it.
The simplicity leads to a certain Zen frame of mind. You put iron plates on the bar, and then you lift the bar. If you lift the set correctly — yay, you! And you add five or ten pounds the next week. If you fail, you back off five or ten pounds, you add an extra set, and you keep going.
The thing is that there will be a point where you’re going to fail. It’s inevitable. As you keep increasing the weight, there will come a time when you just can’t finish that last set of five. That time might be the first week, or the first six months, or the first year, but you’re going to fail.
And the iron isn’t going to listen to your excuses. It’s not going to pat you on the back and fluff up your ego.
It’s going to sit there and dare you to lift it. And when you do, it’ll be heavier the next week. And — sooner, rather than later — you’re going to fail again. And you — just you, no-one else — are going to have to reach down inside yourself and find the stuff to drive through and move that weight, because the iron isn’t going to coax you, or baby you — but it’s not going to lie to you, either.
It’s not going to make noises about “fairness”, or “opportunity”. It’s just going to wait for you to lift it. And if you don’t, it doesn’t care.
In the last three years, we’ve seen a lot of people come and go; and the majority that leave cut sling-load after that first failed lift. You’ll hear it. Usually it’s a strangled grunt, followed by the crash of the bar onto the safety pins, and they’ll leave, never to be seen again.
If you do see them again, at the store or a restaurant, they’ll murmur something about “Strength training just wasn’t right for me” and mention the Plyo-Dance Program, or Radioactive Yoga Conditioning that they’re in, and how “It’s a better fit”.
It’s not the program that’s a “better fit”, it’s the subjective benchmarks, and never failing that’s a “better fit”.
There’s 315 pounds. Deadlift it five times. You either do, or you don’t.
Here’s 265 pounds. Squat it for three sets of five repetitions. You either get all 15 out, or you don’t.
Much like iron, the world doesn’t care about you.
People think it does. Every time you hear talk about “fairness”, or “opportunity”, that’s someone trying to tell you that the world cares, that it’s subjective, when it’s really objective.
Deadlift 405 pounds, or don’t. Get that job, or don’t.
Squat 365 pounds. Or don’t. Earn that salary. Or don’t.
Iron doesn’t care that the guy in the next safety rack is squatting 495 when you can only squat 225. Iron isn’t going to tell you that it isn’t fair; it isn’t going to make itself lighter for your self-esteem; and iron isn’t going to throw a snit-fit when you fail.
Iron isn’t going to lie to you. The world isn’t going to lie to you. It sucks, and you’re going to fail. Readjust, reacquire, and drive through. Or don’t.
People are going to lie to you. You are going to lie to you.
More folks should learn this.
More people should be lifting weights, failing to lift weights, and driving through.
That’s your Melancholy Monday ramble. Back to writing.