What Is Strength

Posted: July 4, 2015 in General Fitness
Tags: , , , ,

I have a whole lot of drafts on this blog- partial posts I started writing and never finished. Trying to go back and actually finish and post some of them, starting with this one.

Awhile back I read: Lifting Weights Doesn’t Make You Badass. This is the second time I’d seen someone post this article but the first time I read the whole thing. The first time I saw it I read just a little ways in and rolled my eyes thinking why should it matter to anyone else if someone feels badass about lifting weights? Whatever motivates you and makes it enjoyable.

But after I got past the beginning of the article, turns out I actually really like the message of it.

Lifting weights doesn’t make you anything if that’s the only thing you care about. It’s what you do for you outside the gym that makes you something.

Ok, so I love this message- lifting is a part of what you do, but it isn’t everything in life. There needs to be balance in our lives. And lifting can be a positive thing and a positive influence on other areas of one’s life.

the really unfortunate thing about this is that it overshadows all the positive aspects that accompany lifting.

While I might have the most fun with specialized movement athletes, by and large, I’ve worked with regular people and I’m proud of the fact. Most human beings want confidence. They want capability. They want to feel strong and empowered.

I consider a truly healthy “training mentality” to be one in which strength is a devotion to the process. I’m not trying to impress upon anyone that lifting weights makes them a badass because it doesn’t. But it can give them the physical and mental fortitude to be stronger and more confident in their life outside the gym, and for 99 percent of people, that’s what keeps them coming back.

My initial reaction to the article was based on the idea that it shouldn’t matter to anyone else if lifting makes you feel badass, and lifting does make me feel a bit badass sometimes- I still think that, and I still think there is nothing wrong with feeling badass about it. I do agree with the author though that is shouldn’t be the only thing in your life that makes you feel strong or feel good about. When I think about my own strengths, and things that make me badass, lifting weights does not come out at the top of the list. I’m a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor and that took strength, to get through, to heal from, to let go of and forgive, and using that experience as motivation to help other people. And fighting depression has taken far more strength that lifting a barbell ever has. I do feel badass when I’m lifting, but I also feel badass when I’m able to help other people and make a real difference in their lives.

What makes you feel strong or badass might be different for you, but in the end I think the biggest take away is this:

In the words of Harry Selkow, “Strong people make other people stronger. They don’t put them down.” But that isn’t what I see on a daily basis. I see the opposite. I see people using lifting weights as a tool to insult people and make up for all the other things they lack in life.

Feel badass about anything you do in life, there is nothing wrong with that (assuming there is nothing harmful about what you are doing), but feeling strong or badass should be about lifting yourself up, and idealing helping lift others up as well- NOT about tearing others down. Not about making yourself out to be better than anyone else.

I feel badass when I hit a PR with the barbell, even though the weight I’m lifting is much less than many other people lift. It’s not about being better than anyone else- it’s about pushing myself.

If feeling badass for you means being better than other people, or needing to prove that you are better than other people, that’s when there is a problem.

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Comments
  1. G says:

    I love this so much! Being strong is about lifting ourselves and others up.

    Unfortunately I think that lifting is so tied up with performing masculinity sometimes that people hang their self-worth on it. Maybe that’s why the women lifters rarely have that kind of abuse in their groups? I think we tend to recognize the badass in others no matter what they’re lifting.

    • ebay313 says:

      “I think that lifting is so tied up with performing masculinity ”
      Yes!

      I’ve seen a little bit of it with some women who lift- it tends to be one of those things were women feel the need to prove themselves as “one of the guys” in a male dominated space.
      But for most women who lift, I think the fact that women lifting are already an outsider group who face a lot of pushback for trying to lift creates more solidarity that is encouraging.

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