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Lifting for the Love of It!
Over the last couple of years I have taken a number of layoffs, for a variety of different reasons. Many times I wonder why I lift at all. The prevailing belief is that lifting must be one's top priority if one is to be the best at it. That may be true and that is one of the biggest problems I have had. Lifting is not my top priority, it is more like fourth after God, family, and work. Actually work is only ahead of lifting because I need it to support my family, otherwise it would be further down the list. So given the fact that lifting is not everything to me, why do I do it?
I guess what makes this a complicating situation is that I love lifting. I love competing against myself and others in everything. That's why I have done so many different kinds of competitions. I have done 3 strongman contests, 2 highland games, and numerous powerlifting contests.
A perfect illustration of this competitive nature of mine was the exhibition that Bill Kazmaier put on in Spokane, Washington in July 2001. I hadn't been lifting for a couple of months and didn't plan on doing it anytime soon. But I heard about Kazmaier doing a show in the park and I thought it would be cool to watch him. When I got there, I met him and he invited me to do some dumbbell presses with him. When my turn came, I pressed the 100's 14 times overhead. I had done more than that in the past, and so instead of being thrilled about lifting with Kazmaier, I was mad at myself for not preparing better (even though I had not planned on being there). I also felt that I could do much better and I was just chomping at the bit to try something else and redeem myself.
A little bit later Bill brought out an 11/16" steel bar and asked if anyone wanted to try to bend it. I jumped at it and did it without a problem. When Kazmaier brought out a ¾" bar and said that nobody had bent that size of bar before, I wanted to try it. Not because nobody had bent it before, or because so many people were watching, but because my adrenalin was pumping and I felt like I could do anything at that moment. I didn't care if I failed. I would have tried it alone in my garage. That is what I am talking about. It wasn't about winning an award or having a place in history. It was about being the best on that day and conquering the challenge before me. By the way, I did bend the bar.
I am 6'3" and my weight varies between 295 and 335, so it's not surprising that I might do well at the activities listed above. Now get this. I like to play basketball and I like to play it well. I don't post up or play underneath the basket like everyone expects me to. I won't accept the idea that someone my size is slow and can't jump. I like to drive to the hoop, taking people off the dribble. I like to shoot 3-pointers and pass the ball. Just like everything else, I want to excel all the time. When I play basketball I get frustrated with myself for allowing myself to get so heavy and out of shape. You see, playing basketball and lifting in the Super heavyweight class do not go hand in hand. Why don't I give up one and work on the other? Because I love them both!
So to clarify myself to anyone who hasn't yet figured out what I am talking about, I want to know why I can't have it all. I don't want to be limited by other people. Maybe I can't be the strongest man in the world without becoming obsessed with that goal. But since when is obsession a good thing? Last year I took 10 weeks and worked out with a well-known lifter. I wanted to see how the best train, and what sets them apart from the rest of us. We lifted 3 days a week for 2+ hours per workout. This lifter was in constant pain and talked of the day when he could retire from competitive lifting. Needless to say, I was surprised. I did get stronger in those 10 weeks than I had ever been, but I quit after that. It wasn't that the workouts were too hard for me. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed them and the opportunity they provided me to compete against a top lifter. What I didn't like was missing time with my family. At first I was excited and thought about lifting all the time and what great heights I would reach. After a while I was tired of focusing on only one thing at the expense of everything else. I am not writing this to point fingers at those whose priorities are different than mine, but rather to encourage those lifters who feel like I do. I know now that I do not want success in powerlifting at the expense of everything else, but I am not going to quit. I am going to lift the way that I want to lift. The way that will make me happy. I want to use the act of lifting weights to benefit me rather than becoming a slave to that act.
How many times have lifters been told that if you don't do something, you won't succeed? If you don't use steroids, or buy this equipment, you won't be the best. If you don't do a certain exercise you will not be a truly strong person. If you don't train like a madman you'll never make it. Well, I know one thing for sure. I am going to do it my way from now on. I will weigh whatever I feel like weighing no matter how it affects my strength. I will not give up family activities or other important things in my life so I can win a contest or make it on the top 100 list.
Don't get me wrong. I want to be strong and I love to win. But true happiness comes from a well-rounded life. Family, friends, success in all areas instead of one. This may not sound appealing to everyone, but to those who feel like I do, don't let others limit the way you do things. You don't have to sacrifice everything to lift. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.
I hope that this benefits somebody, but either way, I know I will be happier lifting this way than I was before.
Aaron Anderton competes in both Powerlifting and Strongman and has won several titles. He won the Superheavyweight class at the 2001 Washington State Powerlifting Championships. He won the 2004 Washington's Strongest Man Contest, and placed 9th out of 43 at the 2004 National Strongman Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. Aaron and his brother Sam own No Limits Physique, which is dedicated to providing effective training information and supplements to everyone. The website address is http://www.nlpbodybuilding.com
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