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The Philosophy of Powerlifting

There is no doubt in my mind that powerlifting is one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life.

It’s given me a purpose.

It’s given me a goal while at the same time allowing for limitless growth.

I’ve built my whole life around the sport. I’ve opened the gym for the ultimate goal of getting people to lift heavy. To find out where how strong they can be and then to push past that. I want to put a barbell in the hands of every man, woman and child and say “NOW LIFT!” I’e barely begun to understand how strong I can truly be and no matter how large the number, I know that will dedication and work I can achieve it.

The sport at its very root is simple. You lift a barbell loaded with weights using three techniques; the squat, bench and deadlift. There doesn’t need to be anything further than that if you don’t need to attach philosophical musing to exercise. The technical aspect of training is mostly dry. Doing a certain number of repetitions for a certain number of sets using a certain weight will lead to being stronger. There’s endless variations to be employed but without looking further powerlifting seems like a Sisyphean task. We lift the weights to be better at lifting the weights and there’s always more weights to lift so we try to lift more weight.

Madness? Absolutely, unless you DO happen to look further.

The beginning quote seems pedantic in its simplicity. Of course 200 pounds weighs 200 pounds! What else can it weigh?? But that’s the key. The weight is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care who you are, what you believe, what politics you proscribe to… it’s just inert metal until you give it purpose. That’s the WHY of powerlifting. The goal isn’t defined because the goal is always to shape ourselves. We bring purpose and direction using the iron as a medium.

“What about competitions?!” Yes, we do hold competitions for powerlifting. Most are set up for a minimum of gamesmanship. Unless you reach a highly competitive international or national level, most lifters agree that their goal is usually to outdo themselves from the last competition. This means that meets turn into a formalized bench-marking process. The set rules, standardized judging and public nature of powerlifting meets gives us the opportunity to truly understand where we stand within ourselves. We test our strength to see if we’ve been honest with ourselves. I’ve been to meets where I knew that I hadn’t been putting in the effort and it reflects in your performance. I wasn’t able to shape myself properly and the iron was the equalizer that day.

It’s truly a humbling experience.

The only person your competing against in powerlifting is who you were yesterday. There’s no big sponsorship deals a la the NFL or NBA. There are no Singlet Saturday television programs, no national fame. Even our most famous athletes are generally unknown outside our small community. Kids play basketball or backyard football with always the dream in the back of their minds. There is no such dream for us. We lift because we choose to. Because it satisfies something deep and primal.

We lift for us.

And that lifting shapes us.

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