You could have heard a pin drop at my new gym hub, a place I have called “The Office De Strong” as everything I could have ever asked for is all under one roof. Barbells. Kettlebells. Olympic rings and TRX. God truly showed up in my life at the most impeccable time, and all things Kettlebells are officially begun in Greensburg, PA!
But this isn’t about my own systems. Today, that eerie silence I remember at the Office De Strong woke me up to the reality of training with a purpose. I have some questions for you today. What are you training for, and more importantly, why?
They stood before me, one man a competitive powerlifter, the other a Pennsylvania state trooper. I don’t know what it is about men at the squat racks, but this seems to be some sort of a designated area to bro out, one-up fellow dudes, and compete to out lift each other. You could hear the testosterone in the room boiling up . No joke!
Powerlifter: “When the hell are you ever going to squat 400 pounds?”
State Trooper: “What purpose does that serve?”
Powerlifter: “Are you kidding me? More badassery! ”
And then came that eerie silence. Midway through my own Powerful Pressing routine, I pause my timer and take a seat on a nearby bench as I watched and listened to the discourse, growing louder and louder after that awkward pause. To be honest, I thought these two were about to duke it out. I wasn’t the only one to stop my own lifting. Everyone did, perhaps in fear that all that testosterone was about to explode. One should be careful to insult a State Trooper, but beyond the growing animosity between Powerlifter and Trooper man, a true training gem was shared when State Cop responded to the belittling comment made towards him.
Sate Trooper: “Tell me how squatting 400 pounds makes me a better State Trooper. ”
State Trooper: “Is there a reason I need to squat 400 pounds to make myself ‘more badass’ by someone else’s standards?”
I bite my lip and hold my breathe. Shit was about to get real!
Powerlifter: “I just don’t see why you hold yourself back when you could be stronger than you are right now.”
State Trooper didn’t like this response (to put it mildly), and some stronger male athletes walked into the room to prepare to break up what seemed to be an inevitable fist fight. Boys boys boys. They are something else! The fight never happened, but what did happen brings to light the very purpose strength training serves for all of us walking through this thing called life. I remember his words verbatim, as graphic as they were.
State Trooper: “Squatting 400 pounds proves nothing to anyone about how strong I am. Do you arrest people for a living? No! You don’t! But I do! I have to arrest people twice my size at times for drug related offenses, domestic abuse, and other assaults. I have to shoot people to defend not just myself, but my team and to protect the lives of innocent people in the line of danger. I know for a fact that I can out run, out fight, and damn sure out fuck anyone in this gym! You are NOT a badass because of how heavy you lift! Try defending the lives of people you don’t even know! And when YOU have a gun pointed to your head, how fast will YOU be able to move, react, defend, and survive?”
Powerlifter heads back to his squat rack for his set of God knows what on 400 pounds. State Trooper gave his final death stare and knocked out a solid few rounds at 250. Who is the stronger one of the bunch?
What a fucking reality check that was! If I could have, I would have video recorded the entire thing.
There is a saying in our lifting community, and that saying is this: “Strength has a greater purpose.” The point our friend State Trooper was making was that it can be easy to think you are a super strong badass for hitting your personal records. True, you are most certainly strong. But the greater purpose your strength serves is how well you adapt to the random life obstacles that may threaten you along the way. Can you raise your family? Can you overcome disease? Can you grow your business after a failure? Can you defend your loved ones if push came to shove? Does your 400 pound squat mean anything when a gun is pointed to your head?
What are you training for, and more importantly, WHY?
Tough talks and much to think about for you all this Monday, but I want to hear from you on this one.
What are you training for?
Let nothing stand in your way.