What’s My Motivation For Lifting Weights?

On my Facebook wall, Tony asked me what my motivation was. It was a follow-up to a conversation we had on the weekend about lifting weights. I mentioned to him that one day I would like to dead lift 500 lbs to which he said “good for you” followed quickly with “why?” He made the accurate claim that there was no practical reason for me to ever need to lift 500 lbs.

Sure it helps my cycling – the stronger I am, the faster I will be able to climb hills. Being strong now is also going to help me age more gracefully – provided I do no harm to my body. I like that lifting weights burns calories so I stay lean, and I also like the muscle development that it promotes. These are all good reasons and if I lifted for just one of these, I think I’d have my motivation.

My primary reasons now are about personal integrity and optics.

I coach athletes of different ages and levels now and it is no longer enough to simply know what I’m talking about. I need to LOOK like I know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen the fat personal trainer, the skinny strength coach, the gym at the gym with internally rotated shoulders who’s telling everyone what they are doing wrong – basically the people who consider themselves experts in something that they don’t look anything like – they may know what are talking about, they just look like they don’t follow their own advice so it’s tough to take them seriously. Given that I work with a lot of young people who couldn’t possible know if I’m knowledgeable, I strive to LOOK like I am knowledgeable. That’s the optics component, I try to make the visual impression that says to those who do not know that I do know.

The personal integrity component is more critical from my point of view. As much as I love coaching I need to be a sales man – if I can’t sell my services I’ll have no one to coach. I also need to sell my clients on my advice / programs. I know from my past experience that I have extreme difficultly selling things I do not believe in. Being an extremely passionate person, I can be very convincing. However, using this passion to convince someone to comply with a suggestion I know nothing about leaves me feeling kind of greasy, so greasy in fact that I have a tough time letting go of the interaction later. Basically, I’m blessed with the ability to convince others of things but feel good about myself only when I believe in what I’ve convinced them to do. This pairing means that I’m not going to be selling cars, sofas or cell phones.

Experience separates wisdom from knowledge. This is what is critical for me. Until I actually dead lifted twice my body weight, I had no idea what it was like. Once I did, I realized a lot of things about myself, the movement and the potential for injury and progress. Having had these lessons, I’m in a much better position to coach others on how they should lift very heavy weight. I’m also in a position to speak with authority about the carryover benefits of lifting heavy – you’ll be faster, your other lifts will go up, you’ll enjoy going to the gym more, life will be a little easier than it was before.

It is only through doing that I can honestly coach other people on how to and why they should. Coaching from a place of no experience isn’t doing a service to your athletes, clients or yourself, so get out there and practice what you preach!