Under The Bar: 50 Shades of Iron

TAGS: 50 shades of grey, iron, under the bar, powerlifting, dave tate

Author Note: This article is written as humor and is to be taken as such. While there is some truth in the statements we do not support or endorse the use of any of the products for any reason outside of what they are made for.

The News

I rarely watch the news or read the newspaper. Any reading I do is either business or strength and conditioning related. This keeps me out of the loop on many things. Last week I had to go out of town and found myself among others who were watching the news. I discovered a train derailed and caught fire in Columbus on the same line that runs behind our warehouses, that Penn State is in one hell of a mess and we have someone to run against Obama for the 2012 election. There were many other stories that I already forgot, but I couldn't forget the conversation about the best selling book The Fifty Shades of Grey. This began with my Mom giving me the gist of the book and then my sister-in-law stating she couldn't believe my Mom was reading it because it was basically porn…


...my Mom is reading porn?

Messed Up

I had to see for myself what this was all about. Within minutes I had this book downloaded on my Kindle, and throughout the week, I read bits and pieces. While I will debate the porn aspect (because I've read much worse), this book was intriguing – or I should say, has been intriguing? I have not read it all, and to be honest, I may never finish it, but I did take away some aspects I could relate to. Christian Grey is a very successful young entrepreneur who had a tough upbringing (then adapted by a well-to-do family) and in is his own words is, "50 shades of fucked up." He also has issues with intimacy and opts for his red room of toys and likes to keep his relationship under contract as dominant and submissive.

Without getting more into the book, I began to see similarities in myself and many strength athletes I know.

First off, we are all a bit messed up – this is a given and not a secret to anyone. We basically live by the motto, "We who are not as others, and do so with pride." We also share many of the same implements used in the book (and others that could be used in the red room.)

Some examples include:

I better stop there because I'm sure I will piss off more than a few vendors...not to mention, readers. I WILL NOT explain my choices except to say that you better attach some type of string to the grenade balls.

Fifty Shades

Knowing that we share the same equipment needs (but might differ in the uses) what really stuck with me was the statement by Christian that he was 50 shades of fucked up. This really got me thinkin,g and the more I thought about it, the more true this statement became. This inspired me to compile a list of The Fifty Shades of Iron. This list was created with the hardcore lifter in mind – not for the everyday fitness geek. The people this list is tailored after are the one who live and train in underground hell holes in their pursuit of getting bigger and stronger. I will use "we" for these statements because there is no doubt in my mind that completely fit and exceed anything that could be placed on this list.

  1. We TRAIN. We don't workout.
  2. PRs are earned. They're not some BS number based on a new grip, movement or rep count. A PR actually means something BIG – not just another good day in the gym.
  3. We have broken teeth straining to make a lift.
  4. We had our noses bleed to make a lift.
  5. We know injuries will come and are part of the game.
  6. We attack weights with pursuit, confidence, and aggression.
  7. We don't miss sessions.
  8. We study and learn how to get better.
  9. We HATE to be out-trained by anyone!
  10. We know when to focus and when to go though the motions.
  11. We know what getting tight means.
  12. We sit back into the squat even though the bar feels like a zillion pounds on our back; understanding that just because it feels heavy, doesn't mean you can't lift it.
  13. We treat light weight like they are heavy and heavy weight like they are light.
  14. We do ALL the work. We don't cut the session short because we don't like the last couple movements.
  15. We do those things we don't like to do because we know they will make us better.
  16. We strive to find and train with people who are stronger and know more than we do.
  17. Seeing stars after a lift is not a big deal, but an accomplishment.
  18. We get side cramps - not from laughing or running but from squatting.
  19. Something always hurts.
  20. We will drink the nastiest shit if we think it will make us bigger or stronger.
  21. We use our tax returns to buy more equipment and gear.
  22. Our trunk, car or pick-up is full of belts, straps, wraps, shirts and suits.
  23. We love the feel of sharp knurling in our hands and on our backs.
  24. We will purposely put our sleeves in positions where we are not sure we can do the set or not. Then try with all we have to find out.
  25. When our bodies say quit, our minds keep going.
  26. Heavy is an irrelevant term that means nothing.
  27. Our training times are put on the calendar before everything else.
  28. Training is more than lifting weights – it's a form of therapy.
  29. We deal with our stress by putting our bodies through complete hell and carnage.
  30. We will pull heavy in the gym, but be damned if we are asked to carry the laundry basket upstairs in fear that we might strain a disc four days before squat day.
  31. When your hand falls asleep, it doesn't mean you are having a heart attack, it means you are growing (Note: this is humor...NOT medical advice. The fact that I even have to write this is insane to me).
  32. We would NEVER think of using any of the above items as sexual toys because we NEED them for the gym. However, we can always buy duplicate items for "extra workouts."
  33. We don't want to train in public and would rather train in small groups or alone.
  34. At the end of the year when the world is attacked by Aliens, Giant Spiders, gets Nuked, or everyone evaporates, we will be chalking up for a heavy set of deadlifts.
  35. We DON'T do overhead movements with a baby strapped to our chest. While we are many shades of fucked up, we are not STUPID!
  36. We accomplish what we set out to do. Regardless of the roadblock, or pitfalls, we find out way
  37. The only nut swinging we do is try to free them up from being crushed in a deadlift suit.
  38. The smell of blue heat, chalk, sweat and wet, humid, mildew iron is…awesome!
  39. Lying on the floor exhausted, covered in sweat, chalk, snot and blood is the reward for a job well done.
  40. We find our minds slipping out to the next training session at least 10 times per day.

From Facebook

The best way I felt to complete this list was to ask a question on Facebook to see what type of answers I would get. When I made the post, I had no idea there would be 219 comments within 90 minutes. This alone supports my entire point of writing this article.

Here are some of their better ones…

41. "Because I'm a sick son of a bitch and I want to go out there and throw all that anger on the weights and then feel the adrenaline rush." - Daniel
42. "Being strong kicks ass. Looking good kicks ass. Kicking ass doesn't suck. Thus, I train because I don't like to suck." - Rafe
43. "I have a lot of rage inside of me." - Eric
44. "Training controls my PTSD better than booze ever did. Also, I want to be the strongest, baddest mofo in the room." - Wayne
45. "Training is the only thing that separates me from killing all of you." - Steve
46. "I'm kind of masochistic when it comes to being sore as hell the next day. I love it!" - Ian
47. "So I can have hemorrhoids shoot out my ass." - Matt
48. "Because I can't be normal, my normal isn't worth being." - Fletcher
49. " I do it because I work around people that all they want to do after work is drink or play golf. I don't mind a beer or 20, but golf just isn't me. I have the side in me that I have to have while at work, then the wild man that wants to not be normal comes out after work." - Jay
50. "One pain masks another." - Philip

Take Away

The take away for me was this: maybe we are not as messed up as we think. True, we are not like others, but is this bad? I don't think so. I would rather be 50 shades of fucked up than a non-thinking robot on a treadmill, or a group of thimbles being played by somebody else's hand.

I know for a fact that I do many stupid things in the gym. There are times I push WAY too hard and WAY too, far but there is a place I go…no that's not the right phrasing, there is something that happens during these max sets – albeit a PR single or an extreme work set of high reps, strips sets, etc. The time from a few seconds before these sets begin to the point where it's over and I gave everything I had to give there is a void. This void is the only time in my life where I'm truly free. This is why I do what I do. This time of freedom renews my strength to deal with all the adversity life throws my way.

The Question

I would like to take a moment to thank those people who answered my question on Facebook. The answers were intriguing, interesting and inspiring. I would love to see how the readers of elitefts™ would answer the same question, so here it goes.

Why do you really train? Don't give us the standard answers we get all the time. What are some of the F--ked up reasons why you train?

Please answer this question in the comment below.

Stay tuned…

Part two of this article will go into the contract between Anastasia Steel and Christian Grey.




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