Weightlifting doesn’t hurt that much.
I hear a lot of people talk about how hard they train and how difficult it is. I don’t perceive weightlifting as hard. When you walk into the gym, the work expected of you and the level of pain is quite predictable, and it can only be “so bad” in terms of load or volume. Compared to the martial arts study I underwent, weightlifting is like retirement. Consider walking into your school every day, knowing full well today might be the day you endure the worst pain of your life. Some days you’re the recipient of no pain, just movement and breathing. At other times you’re enduring protracted periods of sheer agony, and then some more for good measure. Most of the time, it’s somewhere in the middle, tending towards the pain end. I remember once I took two weeks off. After the first night back in training, I wasn’t able to lift my knife and fork at the dinner table. This wasn’t even a tough session. Weightlifting is good graft but it doesn’t hurt so bad.
Fixed length lifespan
A friend died recently. She was given 10 years max to live following a kidney transplant operation. She outlived this expectation by a fair amount. Being over 60 meant she was one of the outliers in terms of lifespan - so good that she was being studied by scientist in her final months. Imagine how having a fixed expiry date (which was accurate) alters your decision making process.
Imagine you’re in some Gattaca-inspired universe where everyone expires at a known time, regardless of how you live. What would your day look like? What life choices would you make? Would you still spend your time the way you currently do? Guess what! At the moment, unless you’re an outlier that date is somewhere around your 80th birthday - if you’re very lucky. Call it 100 if you’re an optimist but I think that’s pushing it given Jack LaLanne didn’t make it. A shiny fifty pence piece says your lifestyle isn’t as optimal as his was. If you’re making poor decisions, you’re likely trimming that number down.
Cam recently wrote an excellent piece on choosing success metrics and you should go read that. I filter most of mine through “is this likely to affect my lifespan adversely?” and whilst I’m guessing same as the rest of us, it does inform a great deal of my decisions.
You can pay the price, but will you?
Shifting that focus back to weightlifting, you could argue that at some point the benefit of heaving large amounts of weight is going to be outweighed by the cumulative damage. Phooey to that, I’ve made my choice and I will pay the price. My belief is that I will continue to gain far more than I lose in the long run, and if there’s a hit on lifespan I’ll pay that piper. I temper myself through movement education to reduce (but not eliminate) the cost. Recently I’ve been plagued with hip injuries and some days I wonder if it’s time to start backing off. Then I take explore the movement deeply, realise I’m an idiot and get right back under the bar, taking care to steer clear of anything that causes pain.
I read a piece from Leo on judgement and judging others. I’m not quite in that frame of mind. Judgement is natural and I use it as a filter for deciding who I deal with. I was enjoying some fairly well made meals from a company specialising in nutrition for fitness enthusiasts. At least, I was until I got to understand the character of the business owner. I decided that I’d rather go elsewhere even if it’s to my detriment - you won’t catch me lining the pockets of someone who has lost my respect. One huge and recurring theme in the book Musashi is about public opinion and saving face - a big part of Japanese culture. The best answer Musashi could come up with is to not do anything that he would later be ashamed of. I think that’s good advice and I extend the filter to those around me. If you consistently carry on in a way that I find shameful, you can be damn sure you’re getting some judgement from me. Who am I to judge? No one, really, but I’ll let my evaluation of character serve as a guide to where I spend my coin.
One thing that’s really starting to grind my gears, especially in the fitness industry (because that’s where I like to roll) is the active pursuit of fame. Yes, there’s spreading the word and getting the message out there, but if I get an inkling that you’re doing it because you enjoy the personal recognition, my character evaluation of you just went right out the window. I’m developing my own “philosophy of life” at the moment (and by developing I mean practicing the advice of smarter people than me, not inventing my own) and one thing that’s really shown up in my studies how much I dislike the fame-grabbers in search of personal renown.
A word to weightlifters with nihilistic tendencies: if it’s all futile, you might as well lift the weight anyway. I had a minor epiphany in the gym on Saturday and it relates to goal setting and internalising goals. I was missing a fair amount - I would say half the prescribed snatches for the day. Thought I was trying my darndest not to miss, I realised that I didn’t care in the slightest when I did. My goal wasn’t to lift that weight. My goal was to be good at lifting weights. That subtle shift opens up my goal far beyond any number of missed reps. Over the long term, you can expect that I will be better at lifting heavier weights through sustained practice.