I often wonder how those around me view my obsession with Strength Training. And I do mean obsession. Ever since I was a boy any time I took on a hobby it became the number one thing on my mind. Bats, the weather, computers, these were all obsessions at one point in time. Strength training is just the next one in line. I think most see it as a strange hobby. My parents just hope I won’t get injured. My girlfriend supports me (because she’s wonderful). Most people just don’t understand it. But that’s okay, because I do it for myself.
My earliest memory of weight training was when my dad got a bowflex and put it in the basement. We would spend nights and afternoons lifting. I remember improving pretty fast, up to a 200 combined pounds chest press. Who knows what that equates to on a barbell. I do remember enjoying that fact that I had slightly more muscle than my peers.
In college I messed around with machine lifting in spurts until I finally settled on a routine which would leave an unbroken consistent weight training schedule to this day. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I did manage to add some muscle despite my naïveté. It wasn’t until I started following the Paleo scene that I got turned on to barbells.
I had read that somehow barbells were more “functional” or less likely to injure you. Ironically, I paid almost no mind to form initially. At this point training was all about staying healthy. I soon discovered leangains and did a bastardized version of that program as well as some barbell training. Now training was about looking good.
So I got lean but I also got bit by the insidious Iron Bug. Now I wanted to get big and strong. I picked up a copy of Starting Strength and soon realized how weak I was. So I started training for strength and that leads to the present day.
Why I train
My goals have changed over the years but one thing has remained constant: training is about improvement. Here are the reasons why I train:
1. I want to see what my body and genes are capable of My parents gave me this body. I want to find out if it is world class material and how far it will go when pushed. I’ve already learned a lot about how I react to stress and physical hardships, namely that I can put up with a lot of physical misery to achieve something.
2. Incremental, easily identifiable progress Unlike many hobbies progress is easily quantifiable. You either put more weight on the bar or you don’t. This where the drive to improve comes in. Setting PRs (personal records) is addicting. There’s always one more pound to lift.
3. It’s competitive Powerlifting is a sport with two types of competition: competition with others and competition with the self. You can choose to do one or the other, or both.
4. It’s healthy Barring any accidents I like to think that strength training will keep me healthy and afford me a greater quality of life than if I were to not train. I want to be the jacked 70 year old.
So those are the reasons I train. Hopefully that wasn’t too sentimental. Why do YOU train?