I have a secret I need to get off my chest.
Alright, this is a men’s blog and men are supposed to be alpha jocks who own a room just by their sheer presence. If you’re on this site you’re here because you want to be more awesome. I sure as hell know that’s why I’m here.
But I can’t lie. Fake it until you make it has some merit but sooner or later the truth comes out and it’s time for me to admit it:
I hate weightlifting.
I do. I fucking hate it. It’s awful. It hurts. It makes me feel stupid, inadequate and puny.
Now I will admit that part of the problem is that I’m a skinny man. I’ve always been skinny. Even when I was fat I was still skinny. Recently I decided to get myself some abs which was awesome but left me thinner than I’ve been since high-school. Granted, it’s cool to have a six-pack but it also sucks to have people constantly asking if you’re on drugs.
There are basically no social advantages to being a slender man. I have never once heard of a girl who was drawn to a guy because he was thin. Muscles beat no muscles every day of the week. Life requires strength. Moving. Lifting. Building. Repairing. Fighting for your life. Protecting your family. Destroying things. Pretty much everything is easier if you’re stronger.
Hell, there’s even a horror character called The Slender Man! I checked but no, there’s no serial killer called The Muscular Man. Sadly.
I will admit that I’ve always been pretty healthy. Mostly because of the good habits I learned as a kid (Thanks Dad!) I’ve done some form of exercise since I was five years old. But healthly doesn’t mean strong. As a teen I quickly found out I was one of the weakest guys in High School and I accepted the sad belief that I would always be skinny and pathetic.
I held onto that limiting belief (and many others like it) for a long time. Thankfully, as I got older I started to realize that some of the things I thought were absolute truth as a kid were actually complete bullshit. For example:
Love doesn’t always last forever. Sex before marriage makes a lot of sense. Not every Star Wars movie is awesome. Drinking alcohol doesn’t make you an alcoholic. And – one of the biggies – you can change your own life if you work hard enough.
Eventually I started thinking maybe I could get strong after all. So Matt and I signed up for the 2013 Tough Mudder and I started lifting some weights. I ate crazy amounts of food, gained a little muscle and felt pretty good about myself.
Then I actually did the Tough Mudder and it was a disaster. I fell in the water attempting the monkey bars. I couldn’t climb the ropes. I repeatedly failed to jump over a hanging log and ended up cracking several ribs. Afterwards, every part of my body hurt, breathing was painful for several weeks and I wondered if maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was just destined to be wimpy.
Thankfully I’m stubborn. In spite of decades of failure, I still occasionally attempted to do some form of weight-lifting. Unfortunately I always seemed to end up hurting myself. Either it would be my shoulders or my wrists. Or my lower back. Or my upper back. Or my knees. Or some combination of all of them. Plus I didn’t know what I was doing. My pattern would go something like this:
- Get motivated again (finally)
- Hit the gym
- Start increasing weights
- Feel great
- Increase my weights further
- Get hurt
- Get confused and angry
- Stop working out for a month (or six)
It sucked. Worse, every time I got hurt I would hear all those doubts from way back in high-school: “You’re always going to be weak” “You don’t have the right bone structure” “Not everyone can do everything” “Just go do your cardio and be happy you’re not obese” “Maybe you should just go to the library instead?”
I was close to giving up permanently when the Superior Men group turned things around. At the beginning of 2017 we all decided to set six-month fitness goals and with the group’s help I was able to lose over thirty pounds. The weight loss itself was awesome but what changed me forever was the realization that if I could get a six-pack – something I never had, not even as a teenager – then maybe I could accomplish a bunch of other things I had previously believed were impossible.
Enter Stronglifts 5×5.
The program was super simple. You do three exercises, three times a week. You do five sets of five reps (5×5) for each exercise. You start with the lowest amount of weight possible (the bar) and then each time you go back to the gym you lift a little more weight.
I started Stronglifts on November 1st, 2017. My numbers were as follows:
Bench Press: 45lbs
Bent Over Barbell Row: 45lbs
Overhead Barbell Press: 45lbs
Two months and twenty workouts later, these are my numbers from January 3, 2018:
Bench Press: 90lbs
Bent Over Barbell Row: 90lbs
Overhead Barbell Press: 90lbs
In just two months I’ve doubled the weight on every single exercise except for my squats; For my squats I tripled the weight.
Even more importantly, I haven’t gotten injured. I will admit I’ve been sore after some workouts and very sore a couple of times. I also admit that I haven’t done three workouts every single week. If I had followed the program religiously, I would have completed 24 workouts by now. At this point I could care less if I did 20 workouts or 24. Hell, I’d be happy finishing 16 workouts without hurting myself.
I have no idea how strong I’m going to be when this is all over. I have no idea whether or not I can keep lifting without injury. I don’t know anything except this:
At forty-one years of age I’m stronger than I have ever been. And I’m getting stronger. Even better than that, I have a system that I trust.
If you’re interested, I highly recommend heading to www.stronglifts.com and downloading the app. The app itself is free but if you want warmup sets, a plate calculator and the chance to support the developer it will cost you $10. If you’re serious about getting stronger I literally cannot think of a better cost/benefit ratio.
More than two million other people have successfully downloaded and used Stronglifts 5×5. It’s also the highest rated strength-training app on Google Play (4.9/5.0). But hey, don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. And if it works, let me know. I’d love to hear your success stories.
At the end of the day, I’m here to squeeze more juice out of life. I accept that some things suck. I may never like weight lifting. I may never be muscular. But I’m not giving up.
Secretly, I think I might actually be a closet gym rat.
I’ll keep you posted.
Until then, I exhort you: Be Superior! Life’s too short to settle for anything less.
Full Disclosure: We Are Superior Men does not receive compensation in any way for our support of Stronglifts 5×5. We just love it.