No, I'm not weight lifting and I'm not planning on doing it in the near future for already-stated reasons. Still, there are people who use weights for strength training that I listen to intently. There is a core truth(s) to all strength training that everyone can benefit from, even if you don't follow all of the protocols that the teacher does. So, in no particular order, these are the weight lifters that I've learned some very valuable lessons from:
1. George Jowett. He might be my favorite physical culture writer. You would be hard-pressed to find a better author. He was an amazing writer and had a stunningly good grip on how the body works, even by today's standards and he was born 110 years ago! His teachings were based on some sound facts and a healthy dose of common sense that you can't find very often.
He was also very aware of the importance and the ability to strengthen the muscles through intense concentration of the mind. Much of his training consisted of using light weights while consciously contracting his muscles. He used the weight as a way to focus the contraction, not to provide the contraction itself. His anvil lift is a stunning testament to his training methods. What's also interesting was the respect that he garnered from his peers. His insistance on proper focus on the exercise in oder to build the muscles is as relevant to lifting weights as it is for doing push-ups.
2. Mike Boyle. As far as many (most?) strength trainers are concerned, the body is nothing more than muscles. They fail to realize that there are bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. I think that this is who so many injure themselves. There are things that you can do for your muscles that will injure these structures. There's more to your body than just your muscles. Mike Boyle doesn't forget this. As a trainer to professional athletes, it's his job to make sure that they are strong and injury-free. He takes joint health, tendons, ligaments, etc into consideration when he trains someone. Strength is more than meat. It's also interesting to note that he considers push-ups to be superior health and strength builders to the bench press.
3. Vince Gironda. I would have had a much harder time gaining the 23 lbs of muscle on my body had I not found some of Vince Gironda's writings. When you read his ideas, it's easy to see that he had a keen understanding of nutrition and its importance in gaining lean body mass. I would have thought that the amount of steak and eggs he ate was insane but the truth is that you need fat in your diet if you're going to get bigger. Sure, you build muscle out of protein but your body doesn't get the signal to do anything with it until hormones get released telling the body to do so. Hormones are fat-based compounds. This is the key to gaining muscle that you don't hear very much. It's what I used to gain my muscles.
It just goes to show that you can learn something from anything or anyone. I'll continue to look even to weight-based strength trainers for some sound advice on how to get strong and healthy. Sometimes they don't have anything to offer. Other times, they have that one exercise or piece of advice that will take me to the next level.