by Stephen Brindle
Nobody really cares how much you can lift. Well, maybe a few close friends or your spouse actually care. But the reality is that most people just don’t care how much you can squat or deadlift or how many pull-ups you can do. You may think I’m being pessimistic but it’s the truth.
This is something I’ve learned by doing several powerlifting meets. I normally tell people in advance when I have an upcoming meet. I’ll text and call some friends and announce it on Facebook. Normally only a few people will show up though. Seeing you succeed at something is not at the top of their priority list. They’ll be quick to go to a NFL game or playoff baseball game if you gave them free tickets. They’ll check out the latest gossip about Kim Kardashian in a heartbeat. But going to see you PR at a powerlifting meet? Nope.
The average person doesn’t know anything about lifting! Here is a typical conversation that takes place:
Joe Smoe: You look kinda strong; How much do you lift?
Me: What lift are you talking about?
Joe Smoe: You know like they do in the Olympics (then they try to imitate lifting a bar over their head, having no clue which lift they are asking about)
Me: Ok, so you are asking about the clean and jerk. I’m not an Olympic lifter but I used to do them sometimes. It’s not a lift I get tested in at my powerlifting meets though.
Joe Smoe: Oh ok. So what’s your best lift?
Me: Well, I deadlifted 567 at my last meet.
Joe Smoe: Wow..that’s like three of me! That’s crazy!! When I move out of my apartment this summer you can help me move!!??
It does feel nice when other people acknowledge your strength or see the effects of your training but if I told someone I deadlifted 500 or 600 makes NO difference to them whatsoever. But it is a big deal to me. I want to deadlift 600. It’s a goal of mine and I’m determined to do it. The countless hours in the gym; the soreness; seeing the white spots at the end of a tough rep- it will all be worth it. The perseverance, persistence, and toughness that are learned along the way in reaching a goal are all valuable characteristics that make us lifters more complete individuals.
That is why you need to have internal motivation. You have to want to get stronger because it is what you want. Dig deep and find out why you want to reach your goal. If it’s for the accolades or superficial stuff you’re going to be disappointed. Nobody really cares how much you can lift. But do YOU care?
Stephen Brindle is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at the University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached for training consultations or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.