Strength sports like weightlifting, powerlifting, and crossfit are coming more into vogue with each passing year. People join the ranks of the horde in search of strength and begin lifting and eating their way through life in order to find it. Some people dedicate their entire lives to the barbell. Others leave. Some at the first sign of hardship. Others after a long battle with self doubt, apprehension, and fear. Why has a simple piece of steel impacted so many people’s lives, bringing us to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows?
Mountains can be climbed, they have a summit. Eventually you will reach the top, barring death or serious injury. All races have a finish line, whether it’s 100 meters or 100 miles. Eventually you will cross the finish line and the suffering will be over. A barbell, however, has an infinite amount of ways to create suffering. It never ends until you quit.
Sure, you can break every state, national, and world record there is, but the barbell can always be heavier. You can destroy the race course, climb to the top of the mountain and back down again, but you will never beat the barbell. It can always be heavier.
Because we can never defeat the barbell, the conflict doesn’t reside between man and steel, but between man and himself. Through the barbell, we are allowed the opportunity to discover self, to tear ourselves down to the basest level to find out who we really are.
Through my perpetual search for strength I’ve not only gotten stronger in body, but most importantly in character. The barbell has taught me to stay in the moment. Lift a heavy barbell thinking about anything other than the lift is a sure way to fail. The barbell taught me to respect and admire little things that would seem insignificant. A single kilo can be the difference between a made lift and a missed one. The barbell taught me to fight for what I believe and have confidence in my self. If I don’t believe I can make a lift, I’ve already missed it. If I am not confident about my morals and willing to defend them, I am liable to wander aimlessly through life a shadow of who I am.
The barbell is the only analogy in sport that mirrors life so perfectly. In life we are destined to lose. Inevitably we all die. Continue to fight. Don’t quit. Never surrender. We all will die anyway. It is not how we end our lives but how we live it. In the iron sports, we will never defeat the barbell. It can always be heavier. So put another kilo on, and do it again.