Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Lifer Series - Part 5 - I will not care what anyone else can do...

The lifting part of being a lifer is probably the easiest things to define.  You squat, you push, you pull, you do some running and/or banging of some type of thing that gets you breathing heavy.  You do these things over a long period of time, and stay consistent about them, and shit eventually works itself out.  

But the real meat and potatoes of what I think about, when I think about being a lifer, are the lines that run parallel between the chasm that is lifting, and that is life.  

The first law in the chasm parallel is this one -

I will not care what anyone else can do; it affects me not.  

For a long time, I sat and looked at the computer screen at those words, and I thought about what to write.  That I could write about all the years that I spent hating who I was, or better yet, who I wasn't.  I could write about how I never felt like anything that I accomplished never meant anything or that I never measured up to anyone.  I wanted to do something that defined me.  That made people admire me, or at least, admire that thing that I did. 

"Fuck yeah, I need that.  I want that more than anything.  The admiration of my peers and my family.  That will mean I'm worth something.  Something I do that is remarkable, something worth bragging about."

I could write about that.

Or, I could write about how I hated other people who did things that I wanted to be able to do.  That I hated sometimes when they received the adoration of their superiors and peers.  Not all the time, mind you.  Just when it was something I too wanted to be good at.  

"Fuck that asshole.  I hope a dog-man runs out of the god damn woods, full of aids and hate, and bites him in his asshole and tears his kidney out through it!  DIE DIE DIE!!!!" 

Ok so that's not really true.  I know that dog-mans can't have AIDS.

Maybe my hate wasn't really THAT venomous either.  But I do remember feeling awfully shitty about myself, and feeling somewhat jealous towards said individuals for standing in shoes that I so wished to be wearing.

I thought, I could write about all the years that I tried to do so-n-so's routine, because "if I do this assholes routine, I will look like that guy.  Hell yeah.  Champion."  

To my amazement (not really) I never ended up looking like Mr. So-N-So because of his routine.  Nor did I know he had a pharmacist to help him look like that, and of course, I did not.  Little did I know about drugs (little? ok nothing at all), and little did I know about how basic shit does the job.  Not fancy routines or hopes and promised dreams of 30 pounds of muscle from glossy covered muscle rags.

I had not really discovered chalk, blood, callouses, and vomit in regards to training.  Those things were alien to me because I knew not of how important they were.

You can't blaze a trail without knowing the importance of fire.  

I thought I could have written about all the years where I made no progress, and felt very content with myself for no god damn reason at all.  Whether I lost my drive or desire, I have no idea.  However eventually I woke up one day and realized....

"holy shit I've been lifting the same things for years and years now.  I'm not any stronger.  I'm not any better.  Fuck, I'm caught in the weight training version of Groundhog's Day!"

I could have written about that.  I thought better of it.

What I thought I'd write about instead, was how I learned how to grok not caring.

Some people think that's a negative statement, or that it is stained in black, then lacquered in a coat of apathy.


Learning how to not care, eventually gave me all of the things I wanted.  Because it allowed me to let my negative energy dissipate, and made me stop focusing on things that had I had zero control over, and no real meaning in my life.

If some guy deadlifts 850 what does that really have to do with me?


If some other guy looks like a more jacked version of Conan, what did I lose or gain from it?


What?  Motivation to get better?

Motivation is fucking bullshit.

From Strength Life Legacy.............

Motivation is bullshit. Getting better should be something you’re already about. Not
something you need to be goaded into. I’m not saying some things don’t light a bigger fire
under your ass than others, but if you have to seek out reasons to get better, you’re
losing. Meaning, If it requires some outside force to resonate with something inside of you,
you aren’t in possession of what it takes to get better all on your own.
How will you CONSISTENTLY get better if it requires the dangling carrot to do make you do
At some point you have to decide that getting better is just a part of what you are. What
makes you, you. When that happens you won’t need “devices” in order to get better. It will
just be something you do. If you were isolated in a room with your weights for 10 years,
would you get better without the influence of external forces? I hope you can say yes to
that. If not, figure out how to say yes to that. 

Think about that never ending vicious cycle that you go through.

You train on a "routine".....
Shit goes well for a while....
You get injured, sick, injured-sick, sick-injured, fuck too much, get shot, whatever....
Training goes into the shitter....
"Daawwg this routine sucks.  I think Immu bout to do that routine ol what's his name posted up.  He's jacked as hellz.  Shit be tigher than a muh fucka.  Gotta get my swole on now."

This kind of energy burns very hot, and anything that burns very hot, will not last.  Motivation is for people who look to something else because they are driven by external stimuli to help get them better.  So what happens when motivations wanes, or it becomes clear that said goal won't be attainable?

You stop getting better.  

All of this....this whole cycle comes back to being motivated by something external.  Some "external device".  Usually, something that has no bearing on you, your life, what you can become, or what you could be about.

You then spend the next many years in this vicious circle, and you become so dizzy from the round and round of it, that all of that time goes by and you never've never gotten any better.

Why?  Because you cared too much about what others thought.  You cared too much about measuring up to someone else, or something else.

It's possible that you even quit, and became a veteran.  You know, "I used to lift........but"

Everyone who is "lifing" it hates that guy.  Everyone used to be something.  In high school he benched something or squatted something.  Then his training vanishes into the graveyard.  Occupied by the souls of guys who never loved the clanging of plates like they loved their weekend beer, frat parties, and high school prostitutes that were fresh on campus.

That guy didn't care in the wrong way.  He didn't love the iron.  He wasn't a lifer.

When you grok the ability to not care what other people do in the weight room or with their physique, your energy can only go into one place.  WHAT YOU CAN DO.

Now, suddenly all of that energy that you used from "motivation" that burned so hot, cools down.  What replaces it however, is a constant warmth that never goes away.  You're never too up, and never too down.  A bad workout doesn't make you feel like banging yourself in the crotch with a claw hammer.  You understand that the "downs" are there for a reason.

You set realistic goals, because you are now focused on what YOU can do, and what's the best way for you to realize how to make these goals come to fruition.

Confusion dissipates, and it's replaced by steadfastness and an unwavering resolve.  You realize.....

"I'm running a race.  It's not a sprint, but a marathon."

You look around, and you realize, there's no one running it but you.  All the other "competitors" are gone.  There's no one to catch up to.  It's all about you, and your journey.  Those feelings of steadfastness and resolve are now accompanied by peace as well.

"This is really all about me.  I get to run this race at my own pace.  I can set a solid pace, that gets me where I need to be, that's based on my abilities.  I can enjoy this journey.  I can see the end of the race in the distance, but for now, I'm just going concentrate on the road right in front of me, because I know if I do that, I will eventually get there.  Let's do this shit."


  1. Good article. It makes me feel exhausted listening to people talk about other people in the gym. "Did you see * lift that" "Did you see how shit his form is?" "Do you think he's juicing?"

    I don't give a FUCK.

  2. Spot fucking on. I sometimes think about this while playing the PS3 game 'Journey' as well...

  3. Awesome post, the not giving a fuck attitude is one of those lessons that applies to both lifting and life. Like office asshats getting indignant over others rumored salaries or positions instead of focusing on how they can get where they want to be.

  4. Thank you, Paul. I needed this today.

    1. I always love when someone tells me that.

    2. I've often found myself chasing perfection, and comparing myself to others, but your writing is helping me realise that I just need to be the best I can be - and I should do that for myself, not for anyone else.

  5. Amazing read Paul. I'm just now being able to 'grok' this. My training/lifting through high school and college was always motivated by the approval of others, and having it shift to internal motivation has been extremely refreshing. Now when I have a bad workout, I only HALF want to bang myself in the crotch with a claw hammer...

  6. Paul,

    I really, really, really needed this this morning. I had a soul crushing defeat at the hand of a 500lb Deadlift(i misloaded the bar at my house due to random odd shaped 35's and 25's) and then couldn't even pull a small 5lb PR. Immediately my head ran and tried to think of what "routine" to do, even though i am following Strong 15 for at least 2 waves, i ran through 531, texas method and i signed onto here and got a swift verbal kick to the balls like a DI.

    Thanks Paul,


  7. Great article as always. Informative and to the point. I once heard someone said that all it takes to succeed is a blinding flash of the obvious. I think this fits the bill. Last night I was reading through SLL and started researching Dr. Leistner. I was intrigued by his methods and teachings. I have been running a 2 day a week program from 5/3/1 2nd edition for 4months now and have had pretty good success on it. Do you think the programming below would work?

    Day 1:
    Squats 5/3/1 1x12-20+50% chins b/w all sets
    BP 5/3/1 1x8-12 + 50 % chins b/w all sets
    * Incline press 3x10 / back raises 3x10

    Day 2:
    TBDL 5/3/1 1x12-20+50% rows b/w all sets
    OHP 5/3/1 1x8-12 + 50 % rows b/w all sets
    *Dips 3x10 / SLDL's 3x10

    conditioning 4-5 times a week either sprints or prowler

    I did try the day one on Monday and it completely wiped me out on the bench. I managed to get through but it was very tough. I know I would eventually adapt. Thoughts?

    1. I wouldn't be doing 50% sets on trap bar deadlifts. Do rows or stiff legs there with out it. Just a straight set.

      You could also decide to do a 50% on squats one week, then a straight set on bench, then swap that out the next week.

    2. Thanks for the quick reply. I will make the necessary corrections for day 2 tomorrow.

  8. Paul where do you find al the inspiration for your articles?

  9. "Motivation is bullshit. Getting better should be something you’re already about. Not something you need to be goaded into. I’m not saying some things don’t light a bigger fire under your ass than others, but if you have to seek out reasons to get better, you’re losing. Meaning, If it requires some outside force to resonate with something inside of you, you aren’t in possession of what it takes to get better all on your own. How will you CONSISTENTLY get better if it requires the dangling carrot to do make you do so?
    At some point you have to decide that getting better is just a part of what you are. What makes you, you. When that happens you won’t need “devices” in order to get better. It will just be something you do. I hope you can say yes to that. If not, figure out how to say yes to that."

    Thank you for this. Very poignant. And very true.

    And thank you for SLL.

  10. This is priceless.... having two older brothers tought me at a very young age about not caring what others think (because even if you win the nobel peace prize at age 8, your 10yr old brother will still point out all your flaws and shove you to the ground)

    I am human and have lost sight of putting myself first and tried to live up to others percieved standards... and paid the price.

    One of your past post you refered to some blow hard calling you the biggest idiot on the net... this post shows a very high intellect, if half the worlds population could comprehend half of what you just wrote the world would be a better place but that's what happens living in the ME generation

    1. hahahaha great point about brothers. And thanks for the kind words.

  11. Paul, great post. I just finished SLL yesterday and it's really what I needed. It's that kind of motivation that can re-start something you have deep inside of you.

    I've been slacking of training and diet for almost 2 months now, after going from fat to very fit. I feel awful now, really bad. I can't believe, looking back, I let it come this far. But I will look ahead and realize it's a learning thing, and I will not ever give up on myself. The Lion within me will rise.

    Keep up the good work man.

  12. I know others have already said similar things, but this post seriously affected me. In fact, I don't think anything anyone has ever written on the internet has positively influenced my perspective like this post did.

    Thanks Paul.

  13. "You can't blaze a trail without knowing the importance of fire."

    I need to look at this everyday until it sinks in.

  14. Just bought the book and am really enjoying it Paul, and I'm not even into the training talk yet.

    I'm going through a few of these phases you wrote about myself. I think I realized myself that I've probably had some amount of wheel spinning going on, and its time to get on a proper, strength oriented program and put my nose to the grindstone for the next several years focusing on what I have neglected... Pure, Unadulterated, Raw Strength.

    Really enjoying the no BS approach guys like you, Wendler, and Jamie are writing with. Its resonating with me huge right now.

  15. Hey I'm new to this blog, but after listening to 4 Chaos and Bang podcasts (coming from being a casual CnP reader) I can't wait to check out your ebooks which I'll buy this weekend. Someone should give you guys a fucking Sirius radio show as I find myself laughing like a jackass at work, and I enjoy the training talk plus the debunking of bullshit *coughTNATIONcough* THAT'S PERSONALLY WASTED MY FUCKING TIME when I was younger and ill informed.

    But back to what I was typing you seem like you could write a really fucking good weight training book, so I'm going to trust you with my money.

    1. I hope it lives up to your standards Buschly. I think it will.

  16. It's funny because we live in a very ME oriented generation. Not to mention this is the West which is already heavily tilted towards individuality.

    However, despite all this, the vast majority of us are overly concerned about how we are perceived by others. We constantly use others as a measuring stick. No doubt this is part of our innate biology, but the culture doesn't seem to help either. I think this was an excellent post Paul. A reminder that I needed.

    1. We all need reminders at times man. I usually remind these to remind myself.....

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Great article. I didn't start touching weights till midway through high school and made some decent gains not lifting very serious. Two years ago (now in college) I started lifting serious and made gains I never thought possible and I was only concerned about myself and my progress. Then I eventually stalled out and started comparing myself to others. I look at my results from the past year and can only hang my head. I lift by butt off but program too high to try and impress everyone else. I want to go out in public tomorrow and make people think "damn, he lifts"

    I started your strong-15 routine today with a new mindset in place. Training is a marathon and I need to set my own pace. It's great to have a mentor like you around that stresses basic principles like programming low. Thanks for all you do!

  19. Excellent Share! An exciting dialogue is well worth comment. I think you ought to compose much more on this matter, it may well not be considered a taboo issue but typically individuals usually are not enough to speak on this sort of topics…external lift,