A beginner's guide to lifting, pt. 3: Motivation

Hey, we've ALL done it
A few weeks back, I received a request to lay out a basic training program from the point of view of an experienced lifter with the goal of helping someone make gains quickly, even if he is new to lifting hard and heavy.

It was, of course, my pleasure to oblige, though I gave out several caveats at the time that I will repeat here.

I don't pretend that what I outlined was in any way original. The program that I provided- and I state, again, that it is not mine at all, but Mehdi Hadim's StrongLifts 5x5 approach that is described there- is not fancy or flashy. But it does simply work.

I also don't pretend to be particularly strong. There are other lifters out there with more experience, better technique and greater skill that you should pay attention to- not least because some of them actually have YouTube channels.

Nevertheless, I do think that those years in the gym roaring through clouds of chalk dust while attempting to blow multiple blood vessels, have provided me with a bit of useful perspective. And I'm happy to pass that on to people who are willing to ask the right questions.

I followed this up with a rather detailed post containing some lessons I've learned about technique, often rather painfully, to help beginners avoid my mistakes and follies. I maintain that powerlifting is the fastest and easiest way to get fit and strong- but only if you're safe and careful about it. The longer you lift without getting injured, the stronger you'll be.

So now we come to the third and final part of this series on lifting. Paradoxically, though it is the shortest of the three, it was also the hardest to write. The previous two posts were just brain dumps of wisdom- for certain definitions of the word, I suppose- but this one is much deeper, because it goes to the very core of what it means to be a lifter.

The Iron God

Powerlifting Motivation

There are lots of guys who start a powerlifting program. Many of them drop out over time for various reasons. Most drop out because it's too hard to continue; some find powerlifting to be too "scary" and are intimidated by the iron; others simply get bored with it and start looking for something different. A few, sadly, get injured and have to give it up- many of them regret it for the rest of their lives.

But those who stay with powerlifting do so for reasons that are difficult to articulate, yet easy to understand.

We got started with powerlifting because somewhere, deep within us, we recognised that something was deeply wrong. Our mental images of ourselves didn't match with the physical realities. There are only two ways to handle a disconnect like that: either you ignore it, and allow that disconnect to become greater by the day, or you do something about it, and remove it forever.

Getting into powerlifting is easy. You get a tremendous rush from the rapid gains that you make for the first few months. You find yourself blowing through PRs every few weeks. You find it easy to fix stupid little things about your technique.

You remember what happened the first day you walked into the gym, fat and out of shape, or skinny and weak, and seeing the Captain Upper Body types with their Invisible Lat Syndrome, or the jacked guys with 17-inch arms and toothpick legs who are clearly juiced out of their gourds, smirking down at you.

And you'll never forget the looks on their faces when, maybe four months later, you're squatting way more than your own bodyweight, down to depth, for reps. Or deadlifting with 3 wheels, or more, on either end of the bar.

The gifts of the Iron God are powerful indeed, and awesome to behold when you receive them.

But they come with a truly staggering price. And not everyone can pay it.


Blood is the Price of Glory

Powerlifting Quotes Tumblr Motivation quotes tumblr
The Litany Against Zumba
Eventually, you'll get to the point where you're not making gains anymore.

Where you get pinned under the bar on the bench.

Where your OHP looks like crap because you're practically bent over backwards just to push the bar up.

Where your back goes horseshoe-shaped to crank that deadlift off the ground.

Where you fail to hit depth on a squat, or worse yet, simply fail to get back up.

At this point, you have two choices.

You can give up on further gains and sit contentedly forever at the same weight for months or even years, never pushing yourself, never trying to get better.

Or you can take the risk of injuring yourself, and the cost in time and energy of spending more time in the gym, to improve your lifts, to keep pushing ahead, to keep adding weight or reps.

For true powerlifters, there never really is a choice. It's do or die.


Go Tell the Spartans...

... # powerliftingmotivation # powerlifting # motivation # quote # meme
Literal truth for a lifter
Take a step back for a minute and look at powerlifters from the perspective of some average chump in the gym, or some gym bunny who's just there to socialise or plod on the treadmills.

If you think about things this way, you'd be sorely pressed to understand what is wrong with lunatics like me, who stalk around the gym with expressions on their faces that make them look like axe murderers itching for an excuse to let loose and who make the floor shake every time they slam a deadlift rep home.

You would find yourself wondering if such people are somehow broken inside.

And you would be absolutely right.

The reality is that, deep within every powerlifter who really wants to keep striving and improving is a core of unhappiness. Each of us has his own personal demon, deep within us, that drives us forward, that makes us grind out that extra rep, that forces us to go to the squat rack when we're exhausted and our bodies are in pain.

That demon is what stops us from taking days off when we should, that makes us rationalise our decisions to train through weariness and fatigue, that scourges us for being weak enough to even think about lowering the weight, just for one set.

This force is what stops us from having personal lives. Instead of going out to meet girls or spend time with friends or go to concerts, we spend our lives in the gym, within the crucible of the squat rack, our muscles on fire and our lungs burning.

We do it because we know nothing else. We paid the iron price, and now we are bonded to the Iron God. We are, in a very real sense, enslaved to the steel.

For us, this is who we are, and this is what we do.

And you know what? We wouldn't have it any other way.


Motivation Gets You Started... Habit Keeps You Going

Beast http://visportsnutrition.ca/gallery/

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer, if you think about it. In reality, if you're lifting correctly and you're staying healthy, working out hard, getting strong, and seeing results, then you don't need motivation. You just don't. You simply need habit. And that will come with time and stubborn persistence.

Show up, get into the right mindset, and lift. That's all it takes. Everything else- every other word of advice you'll ever hear from someone like me- is just commentary. All that matters is that you get in, and you lift. Safely, carefully, mindfully, to be sure- but just lift.

Become a savage. Become a beast. Become the best that you can be. And don't let anyone or anything stand in your way.

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