Zach Evan-Esh wrote a nice blog entry a couple of weeks ago. At the end of the blog, he asked an interesting question: how do you use strength and the iron to make things better? There's more to training than just making your body strong (or at least there should be). It should also be a practice in high-powered meditation and self-discovery. If anyone ever asks or talks about training on a "higher level," this is the stuff that statement is made of.
I've certainly learned one thing about strength training that's helped me immensely in life: things are only going to be so easy. Any attempt to make it easier only makes it harder. There's no denying that strength training is just flat-out difficult and painful. When it gets easy, you have to adjust and make it harder again. It's the art and science of dishing out metered doses of suffering, even torture, in order to make your body more durable.
Naturally, a lot of people shy away from such an arduous endevour. They try to make their lives easier. They get weak and fat, eventually. We all know what comes after that. At the very least, their bodies descent into a long, painful physical decline marked by the mental anguish of looking back on what they used to be able to do. At the worst, the diseases and disorders crop up along the way, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
Actually, cancer is interesting in relation to this topic of discussion. Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute have completed studies that show men who weight train at least twice per week, for 30 minutes, are up to 40% less likely to develop cancers. I just finished reading this article on T-Nation. Alwyn Cosgrove is one of those rare guys: an highly-tuned athlete who battled cancer. He had some interesting things to say about the ordeal:
"As far as after cancer — I've been an elite athlete and a cancer patient. That's about as extreme as you can get... And, I learned that Lance Armstrong is amazing; cancer is way tougher than anyone can imagine. To come back from that and just look normal is fucking amazing — never mind winning seven tours and being the best in the world"
I remember a great line in the movie "Platoon" that Tom Berenger where he hushed up a wounded, screaming soldier by telling the poor guy, "Shut up and take the pain! TAKE THE PAIN!!" That's the best advice I could leave you with if you want to complain about how hard strength training is. Sure, it's harsh but the bottom line is that you'll take the pain somewhere in life. You basically have two options: you can take it smaller, measured doses where it will strengthen your body to the point where your physical decline will be much smoother and more compressed. Or,you can procrastinate, be lazy, and you'll take it in the form of degenerative disease and painful physical breakdown.