We know lifting weights is good for you, both physically and mentally. It help us to maintain muscle mass and strength as we get older, plus maintains our mobility and cardiovascular health. On the mental side, lifting heavy things can help with depression and anxiety, and sharpen our cogntive abilities.
Plus, you can get ripped, or swoll, or whatever your favorite muscle-building term of art happens to be. No judgment from me.
“Getting big” never seemed to help me maintain my training, though. Any time I hit a plateau in progress, I tended to get bored and quit.
Now, that’s changed. I look forward to going to the gym. And whether I move up in strength or not, I’m going back for the next session. It’s become not only something I do for it’s own sake, it’s become an important part of who I am.
Process transforms identity
Over at the New York Times, Brad Stulberg writes about the soulful side of strength training. And whether it’s a good day in the weight room or a mediocre one, over time the results come; and they arrive because it’s not about the results.
The Zen of weight lifting — the joy, fulfillment, hard-earned calluses and growth — lives in the process, in the journey.
Remember, outcomes and benefits are nice, but they’re not the key to significant change. Much more important is process, which is what you do. Even more importantly, process changes who you believe you are, resulting in a new identity.
The Iron never lies
Stick with the process of weight training, and you’ll see meaningful improvements in muscle mass, strength, and mental clarity. But as Henry Rollins concludes his 1994 essay Iron and the Soul, it’s so much more than the obvious outcomes:
I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.
If you’re in your 40s or 50s, you’re too old not to lift weights. But what if the process also provides a sense of personal purpose that is too often missing at midlife? That plus two tickets to the gun show goes a long way.
The Zen of Weight Lifting New York Times