I have learned many things from strength training. Today, with guidance from my Trainer, I have learned the greatest Truth of the Iron. “When we fix our lifts, we learn how to fix our lives.” (David Yochim)
“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.” (David Yochim)
When I first began heavy weight lifting I was at the physically weakest point of my life. I didn’t know this until I picked up a barbell and could only squat 35 pounds. If I’ve ever been any more embarrassed, I don’t remember it. I don’t usually get embarrassed. What is, is. But, when I squatted with 35 pounds and struggled to stand up, I could have just gone through the floor to escape facing the truth of my physical condition. I daresay that was not a deep squat either. Although I squatted as deeply as I thought I could at the time, now I know that it was nowhere close to proper depth. I have discovered that not hitting depth puts an incredible strain on me because I don’t activate my glutes and hamstrings properly to stand. I was making what was already hard, harder with improper form. We do the same thing in other parts of our lives. We make things harder than they have to be by doing them the wrong way or just allowing ourselves to do less than our best. If we give every nuance of every lift our undivided attention to detail, we will do much better. The same thing applies to other aspects of our lives. I have an extremely difficult, high-stress job. The better I focus, the easier the job is. If I allow myself to lose focus while doing a menial task at home, that task becomes difficult. I have learned this from the Iron. Since my weights are heavier now, focus is not only mandatory for the lift, it’s mandatory for safety. This applies to a road trip. Don’t lose focus on the interstate at 80 mph. It could end badly.
Last night, although I was front squatting a weight that I had not squatted before, I was not pleased with my lift. I wanted to get more reps. As I analyzed what might have been wrong, I thought about my preparation. Last week when I was pleased with this lift, I had gone out of my way prepping. My calories were perfect and I ate them early enough that they were pulsing through my system when I needed them, I had an excellent pre-workout, I had the most adrenaline pumping music in existence blasting in my dungeon. Last night, I struggled through a mandatory continuing education course, stuffed the remaining calories for the day in my mouth at the last minute, skipped the pre-workout and started lifting without music. There was so much wrong with this picture for me because I know what I need to have a good session. I didn’t do it. I was not pleased with the results. How often do we do this in other areas of our lives? I got bit by a rattlesnake in 2016 due to stupidity. I know exactly what I did wrong. We do things like this all the time with that still, small voice screaming instructions in our ears. The Iron will not yield to me unless I approach it prepared. Everything works this way.
Even as I lumbered up the stairs to my bedroom, I began to analyze my lift. Without analysis there is no learning. I combed each moment of my approach, my breathing, my focus. It was in this moment that I began to see the discrepancies between this week’s squat and last week’s squat. Unless we examine ourselves, we will never improve. I was not happy with that lift. I wanted more. Even though lifting is a lifestyle, not an ever increasing exhibition of strength and ego, I still wanted more. I knew that I was off and when I began to analyze my day, a cascade of differences in this week and last week flooded my brain. How often do we encounter difficulty and disappointment in other areas and we just chalk it up as a lesson learned when nothing was actually learned because we did not analyze our behavior? Self examination is necessary for growth and mastery of every area of our lives. I have learned a very practical application of this through the Iron. Unless I analyze my behavior with it, there will be no progress. I must correct myself as I go. Most of the time when we stall out in life it’s because we do not correct ourselves. We’re too busy correcting other people. Regardless of what I do to that Iron, it’s me that must yield and adapt. Only then will my relationship to the Iron be all that I want it to be. This applies to every relationship. Analyze your behavior, adjust, adapt.
I was one of the ones who thought that weight lifting was just picking up heavy stuff and putting it down. That’s because I had never lifted heavy. I had lifted but not heavy. There are so many benefits to exerting my muscles to their limits, pushing as hard as I can, refusing to quit and doing it with proper form. This is true work. I have learned that I can endure and accomplish more than I would have ever believed. The key here is proper form. Do it the right way. I cannot make progress in the number of pounds that I lift over my lifetime, unless I do it the right way. If I do not learn and practice proper form, sooner or later I will fail and most likely get seriously injured. This is true of life. We can haphazardly go about our lives if we want to because it seems easier at the time but we will never accomplish all that we are capable of unless we do it the right way. The right way maximizes our efforts, that’s why it’s the right way. The heavier the weights, the greater the risk and the greater the benefits. This is also true in other areas. Hard jobs with a lot of responsibility and power and influence over other people’s lives are high risk for the employee and the people affected by their performance. The benefits of those jobs are immense for all concerned when they are done right. Great relationships with intelligent, articulate, creative people are wonderful when treated with mutual respect. Everything has to be done with proper form.
And then there are those days… You know… Those days when you prepare and analyze and do it right and apply everything you know and the Iron still won’t cooperate. The people won’t cooperate. The Universe won’t cooperate… Those are the days that my Trainer sums up like this. “It’s heavy.” (David Yochim) Sometimes stuff is just hard. Don’t quit. It’s a lifestyle.