The Rough Patch

Before you read any further, I just want to say that I’m not a well-known lifter at all. I don’t even have any friends who lift. I’ve never set any records and I doubt I ever will. I’m just a guy who likes to pick up heavy things.

It seems that when most folk are going through a rough patch in life, lifting gets them through it, the consistency of it, the goals we all want to reach, the therapy of training. But what happens when you’re in that rough patch and you have a disc injury in your back? You can’t pick up anything. Well, I’ll tell you from experience. You think about lifting is what you do. You trawl the internet for videos, routines, blogs, and equipment. You start stockpiling supplements for when you ‘get back on it.’ Or that’s what I’m doing anyway. I have two, 20-kilogram kettlebells and they're the biggest thing I’ve moved for about seven months. It's soul destroying.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel though, and my mind is constantly on lifting. It has me thinking about why I enjoy it so much. It isn't a social thing. I train alone, and I don't have any friends who lift like me. It’s an expensive hobby, and like most other folks, I'm poor. I’m the gangliest thing you ever did see, so even my genetics don’t want me to lift. But f--k genetics. There’s something about the feeling of moving that much iron. To look around at everyday objects like motorbikes and just think, "Yup, I could haul that b--ch about all day."

Before I even go to the gym and I’m packing my bag, checking that I have enough chalk, making sure I have all my supplements ready for before and after my lift, making sure I have my towel, wraps, and all my kit, I'm running through the exercises I'm going to do, the weight I think I'm going to be able to manage. Heading to the gym, I'm thinking about how much food I’ve had and whether or not that will affect my performance. Most of the gyms I've gone to have been lousy. Even the more hardcore, independent ones that I frequented were all based around bodybuilding. So when I only do three or four reps, they just don’t get it. They look at me like I have no idea what I’m doing. But they look even more when I keep loading the bar with more and more weight, more than they can lift anyway.

Training Alone

It’s hard to train alone, to get yourself in the right mindset to try for a PR, especially on the bench. It really is do or die, to have the confidence to know—not think—but f--king know you can move that weight. Before I started strength training, I just trained for physique, to look good in my underwear, but I only ever dieted down once. I hated it. It was then that I realized I actually enjoyed training heavy, far more than living off chicken breasts and apples. And the feeling I get every time I hit a PR shits all over having low body fat.

Heavy weightlifting isn't a huge sport. Even Strongman, which is the most televised out of them all (by ‘them,’ I mean Strongman, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting), is tiny in the amount of participants. So even though I train alone, I still feel part of something, a small band of people all with the same mindset, and I know I’m not suffering alone. Every time I read something about someone coming back off an injury it gives me hope.

My Goal

I used to tell myself that I’d work any lousy job as long as I could still train outside of work, but my ultimate goal is to own and run a strength training facility. I want my own gym full of people like me with proper music playing, a haze of chalk dust floating around in the air, and an acceptance for the guy in the corner doing his own thing, just striving to reach that goal. As I said before, there is light at the end of the tunnel. My back is healing, and I'm in the running for a job managing a sports facility. When I first hurt my back, I thought that was it. Game over. The end. But it seems now that it was just the beginning.