28 Jan Why Do We Do This?
One question I get consistently asked in some form or another is, ‘why do you train?’
If I’m prepping for a bodybuilding show, it’ll be ‘why do you put yourself through this?’
If I’m laying up on the physio’s table for the third time in three months, it’ll be ‘why do you keep doing this?’
My answer is usually along the lines of ‘I just love it’ or ‘it’s fun’.
It’s been almost ten years now since I first picked up a weight. So while I’m no ‘Iron veteran’, I’m also far beyond the newbie stage.
During this time, I’ve never really sat down and thought about why I still train.
I know why I started though.
I was a 17-year-old skinny fat kid weighing only 58kg with moobs and a pot belly. Not a good look.
My initial reasons were purely aesthetic. I wanted to look better, fill out my T-shirts and increase my confidence.
But everyone has these goals. Most of my clients, peers and friends all started for the same reason.
So is this why we train?
Do we train just to look better?
As a competitive bodybuilder who’s judged on size, symmetry and condition, you might think so.
But throughout the years of training, I’ve been through periods of looking awesome, to times where I’ve been embarrassed to be topless. Yet, I’ve always trained.
I don’t think it’s to look good. Sure, it’s a bonus. But that’s too simplistic.
You’d have to be a really self-absorbed person to use aesthetics as the only reason to keep training after all these years.
So is it the training itself?
Is it the strain under load?
Is it the void of nothing that your mind enters into when you’re pushing yourself to all out failure?
Is it the stress relief?
Maybe. There’s nothing like training to help make you feel better after a hard day’s work. Or to release some anger into if you’ve got stress to deal with.
But what if you’re going through a great patch in life. Isn’t your training often even better during this time?
Maybe it’s the feeling of setting a PR?
The feeling of accomplishing something you’ve never done before.
The metaphor for life.
Getting a little better everyday.
Maybe this is it.
Like anyone else, I strive to get better everyday. Maybe I train to keep myself grounded, control my ego, and have an objective measure of progress on an aspect of my life.
But what if I could never set a PR again in my life? Would I still train?
You’re damn right I would.
Even if I was told I’d never be able to make a single ounce of progress again, I’d still train.
I experienced this for 18 months between 2014 and 2015.
I was getting injured constantly, my diet was terrible, I was losing muscle mass, and I looked like a bigger version of the skinny fat kid that started all those years ago.
But guess what, I still trained throughout. I found some way to train. Even though I was weaker and set zero PRs, I still trained.
Maybe it’s the addiction to the pump.
Like Arnold said, there’s no better feeling in the world than the pump.
Perhaps I still train just to get my fix. Maybe I’m an addict. Maybe.
Or really, it could it be everything wrapped up into one.
No one specific thing or moment.
All of it. The whole process. I’m in love with it all and this is why I still do it.
I remember reading a great article by Dave Tate years ago called ‘The Big Woof – Could This Be It?’
I read it in my early years of training, and was far too inexperienced to understand his point.
We don’t do it for any specific reason. We do it because it’s just what we do.
It’s hard to describe, which is why it’s best to just laugh it off when the next person asks, and just say ‘it’s fun’.