I have been involved in weightlifting for the past 22 years in one form or another, always evolving with the increase in education and exposure to those around me. When I began training, I was 14 years old in my parent’s basement with a green set of metal plates from York Barbell. They came in the mail, and probably took about nine weeks to arrive! I also had a plate stack universal that I trained on religiously, fueled and motivated by the images of the comic book characters that filled my closet. In those days I only sought one thing and one thing alone; to get as big and as powerful as possible so that I would look like a guy that you wouldn’t take lightly in the local pub. I wanted to be the guy that had forearms that looked like bowling pins from the elbow to the wrist and hands thick and calloused to show all the old timers in town that I was not afraid of work, even if that work was with the weights and not a wrench or a saw. In the beginning, it was all about strength and power, developing a body that would impress was purely a side effect of hard, heavy training. “Train like a man to look like a man!” Was the mentality that I had as a beginner and that thinking appears to be missing in the industry that I have spent half a lifetime as a part of.
In my humble opinion, it seems to me that we have drifted into a marketing controlled world of exercise that has lost focus on looking strong and powerful, and moved towards an existence of toned and attainable. It’s easier to drop your body fat levels and carry minimal muscle mass then it is not only to be strong but also fit. Developing Strength takes time and work. It takes a lot of hard, focused work, utilizing movements that require a lot of attention to detail and correct execution. You just cannot perform the same ADHD training program four times a week and see the results that you desire. “Being strong is a sign to the world around you that you are dependable and steadfast.” You have the ability to take a task and see it through to its completion. Being strong is a sign that you will weather the storm for not days but weeks, working to see the outcome of your dedication. Strength is the characteristic of great men, and it’s this trait that we need in the world of fitness training and exercise. It’s in our DNA to want these things even if the social programming that we are blasted with daily works to blunt this belief. If you think that this isn’t that case just look at the natural reaction to the things that we see. Take the “Twilight” movie; it was the belief that the main characters were two eternal lovers. The emotional girl and the aloof unattached male that cloaks his masculinity in mystery, but then comes the young character to the scene that plays a protective wolf. When the actor removes his shirt for the first time during the film, the women in the theater gasped and cheered. No longer was there a mystery; there was a man that would take His shirt from his back to save the damsel in distress. The action in doing so, revealed a body cut from stone, a physical representation of dependability and strength for all those in the audience to identify with, proving that it is an instinctual response, not just a psychological one to be attracted to power.
We cannot lose strength in the migration of social norms and standards. Strength must maintain its importance in the fabric of society. We must retain the importance of strength in our community, not allowing the devolution of the natural progression of man.