Fitness expert Neil Anderson asks: How strong do you have to be to be good enough?
As a trainer and owner of GPP Fitness in Salt Lake City, I try to keep up with the latest and greatest in fitness and health. So I read a lot of books and subscribe to a variety of magazines. When my latest Men’s Fitness subscription came today (the downstairs bathroom has poor wifi reception), emblazoned across the cover are the words “de-wussify your bench press!” or, something super helpful and giving like that. I’m not clear because I didn’t look directly at it. Since entering my 40s I don’t have the energy for self-loathing that I used to. Oh, I still do it. I just don’t have as much energy for it. So, I just swept the front page with my eyes.
The article will undoubtedly be the same constructive stuff we’ve been strafed by for decades. Something about how you really aren’t as strong as you should be. And since you’re not as strong as you should be you’re not really much of a man. By “not much of a man” it means, you’ll never get the respect you deserve of others, you’ll never make as much money as you want, and you’ll never EVER get a girl. Yep, the big three.
If I’d have read the article, I believe (based on experience) the take-home would have been one of these two things:
1. If you had an awesome bench press, you’d be a better human. Or,
2. True happiness in life comes from an awesome bench press.
I get it. Strength is important. There are physiologic and psychological benefits to being strong. Bench pressing adds to this benefit.
I agree, now get out of me about my wussitis.
The question I have (maybe best asked to the average mirror monkey, hissing and flexing down at the local sweat shop) is – how strong to do you have to be?
Seriously, does a 400 lb bench press really make you a better/happier human? Does 300? Does 200?
How Strong Do You Have to be to be Important Enough?
I started making two lists the other day. Lists of people I admire. People who are important to me, and who I think have been historically important.
The first list was of people I admire who I’m fairly sure I can out-bench press. Not that I’m Mr. Bench Press, or anything. Just looking at them, I feel confident that on the right day, all things being equal, with a favorable wind – I could probably out-bench these folks. Here are just a few people on that list (not exhaustive, no ranking order):
14th Dalai Lama
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Leonardo Da Vinci
John D. Rockefeller
Charles M. Schulz
This list was very long …,
The second list is of all the folks I admire who I’m fairly sure can out-bench press me. Here are ALL of the names on that list:
George Washington (from what I’ve heard)
To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed of a couple of the folks I put on my second list. In terms of contribution to my life, to society and juxtaposed to the list above, the comparison seems rather pithy.
The hell of it all is, you can’t even FIND bench press numbers for most of these folks here. Try it. I looked up many of the above (OK, not the girls – my ego would never have withstood seeing MT out-bench me.).
How is this possible? I mean, according to EVERY magazine I’ve ever laid hands on having to do with health and fitness, a huge bench press and massive pecs are the BASE assets of EVERY worthwhile human. At least, the men.
Could it be that maybe this isn’t so? Could it be that there is value to the human condition that lies OUTSIDE of the weight room? Could it be that I could perhaps win the respect of others, make the money I deserve and, maybe, even get a girl without first proving my mettle in the gym?
I dunno. It all seems a little far-fetched don’t you think? There could be no way those magazines would be that far off. After all, they are just trying to help me by offering beneficial instruction and meaningful advice. Besides, what possible good could it do for them to make me feel insecure, or less-than manly?
Then again, those lists are pretty compelling. Maybe it’s time to boost the wifi.
Image Credit Patrick Feller/Flickr