Over the past couple of weeks I had the same conversation with a couple of people about getting back to the love of training.
This may seem strange, as most of us say we love training. We're in the gym clangin' and bangin' multiple times a week, thinking about hitting that next PR, working on our routine or programming, or our diet. We're always focused on trying to get better, bigger, stronger, leaner, etc.
And then without realizing it, we get so caught up in percentages and days per week, and trying to accomplish certain things, that we don't realize we don't "love" training like we used to. Training just becomes a means to an end. It's what we HAVE to do in order to achieve certain things.
We don't go in the gym, hit some weights, get a pump, and recapture those days of when lifting was just something we did to make us feel awesome. We become fixated. We become fixated about weight on the bar, or how we're behind where we think we should be.
We get far more depressed about shitty workouts than we really should. We ruminate far too long on the negatives, and lose sight of we brought us to the gym in the first place, and kept us there for so long. All we can talk about is hitting a certain total or being better than someone else.
It wasn't always like this though.
There was a time when we went to the gym because it was one of the best parts of our day. The environment, the people, the sound of the weights slapping together at the top of a squat. Didn't matter if it was 225 or 315 or 705. We didn't think about what percentage it was of our 1RM. No one talked about dynamic work or max effort work. No one gave a shit. We were just there to train because it was fun. A bad day was a bad day. We shrugged it off. We'd train tomorrow because hey, it was a day that ended in "Y" and we trained on those days. Why? Because it was fun.
We did arms a lot because big fucking arms were cool. We didn't read a million articles on the net telling us as powerlifters we didn't need biceps. We benched a lot because everyone wanted to know how much you benched. And we'd always lie when asked. You knew someone was lying because their answer would always start with "about".
"How much you bench?"
See. That's a lie about to happen.
We didn't talk about "weak points" or shit like that because we were weak everywhere and knew it. So we trained everything, and just wanted to get stronger. "Stronger" being relative of course. If we didn't beat our reps from last week, fuck it. "I'll get your ass next week!" But it wasn't a grudge. It was us against our "friend". Not our enemy. The weights were like a great friend then. One that we were happy to see each day. A friend that challenged us to get better, but never made it easy. Not an enemy that was standing in our way. There was no negative connotation with the weights.
We knew everyone in the gym, and often knew their goals and trained alongside each other. We weren't training "partners". Just peers that shared the same passion. We had friendly competitions, and if we won we gloated and they laughed. If we lost, we did the same, but vowed to win the next one.
We told each other "lookin huge, dude" or "looking ripped" and it was reciprocated when appropriate. Compliments were genuine and no one felt insecure about saying those things because they had been brainwashed by some asshole on the net telling us saying that shit "is gay".
The gym was isolation from the rest of the world, and our brothers in iron shared that feeling. Everything outside of that space didn't exist while we were there. We weren't checking text messages or looking at our phones. Shit, we didn't have any. We weren't worried about our girlfriend being pissed off at us, because that would still be there when we left. We encouraged each other when we started our sets, and people asked if you needed a spot. Even if you weren't female!
We carried a workout diary that had all of our workouts in it, and the numbers we did last time. We'd check it to see what we needed to do to be a little better on this day. Sometimes we did more sets, and sometimes we did less. If we felt awesome we trained until we limped out of the gym. If we felt like shit, we'd do what we could.
We didn't a flying fuck about gluten or paleo or shit like that. We knew how to eat to get big, and how to eat to get leaner. We didn't need a study or some research telling us what worked and what didn't work in a fucking lab. We found those things out because we tried them, and made our own assessments. I see guys today that wouldn't let their girl blow them unless they had a study telling them they would like it.
We didn't always lift with the best form in the world. But you didn't always across the monkey bars one ring at a time or slide down the slide feet first either, did you?
We didn't know what a fucking "deload" was. We just knew when we needed a little time off from the gym and took it. We didn't sweat losing our gains if we wanted to party in Panama City for the week to party with friends. We didn't call around to see if the hotel had a well equipped gym, because life was bigger than that. The gym would be there when we got back.
When you love something like that, things seem far less complicated. When you make it more complicated, you tend to focus less on the love for that thing, and more on the details. And when all the details become the focus, then our passion gets diluted.
Can't the same be said about life? When we love anything the details don't seem to matter as much to us, not because we don't pay attention to them, but because we see something as whole, rather than in parts. When we look at a painting we love, we may not notice the minuscule flaws in it because the whole picture is more important. When we hear a song we love, we don't tear apart every flaw in the vocals or musicianship. Why? Because we just fucking love it.
I'm not saying to cast aside every goal you have, or dismiss things you badly want to achieve. But constantly focusing on those things can eventually tear away the simplistic nature of the love we had for training.
Getting back to that can be just as rewarding and fulfilling. Try to remember to make time just to love training, and have fun with it. Those are the things that probably kept us in it for such a long period of time to begin with. And will keep you there long after you're done chasing dragons.