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603880_512926795386705_1168999863_n“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”

The iron never lies; nor does it tell any truths. Two hundred pounds is never two hundred pounds.

The above quote is a very commonly referenced quote by Henry Rollins, for whom I have a lot of respect. This quote is an extract, the last paragraph of a much longer piece, which I find meaningful for multiple reasons. Yet, the above quote is used constantly in the sphere of bodybuilding. It is seen as a hardcore articulation of one aspect regarding why people lift weights. Rollins’ entire piece certainly has much to say. In remaining with this particular passage, however, I agree with the general idea that ‘the Iron’ is a great reference point and that people find solace in their relationship to the Iron. However, one’s relationship to the Iron is just like that of any other object. The object contains the value that is placed upon it.

We all know the person that performs quarter reps on bench and tells everyone they bench 315. We all know the person that packs on 30 pounds of fat in the ‘off season’ and brags about being 250. Weightlifting is a numbers game, but nothing could be more subjective. If, for example, the person on the bench were to do full repetitions, they would perform noticeably less reps, perhaps even none. This is because that person is not truly benching 350.

There are numerous factors that would alter the efficacy of training with a particular weight: form, rep range, rep angle, rest between sets, previously performed exercises/sets, time of day, amount of sleep, time and amount of food and water, and, of course, the mind-muscle connection. This is just to name a few. Two hundred pounds on a scale may always weigh two hundred pounds, but this is not bodybuilding. Two hundred pounds on a barbell will never feel like the same weight on a dumbbell. We must move this weight.

The weight is meaningless if the exercise is not performed properly. The bodybuilder who continues to progress will leave his/her ego at the door.  The Iron carries the weight that we give it. It is the bodybuilder that defines the Iron. If s/he lies to him/herself then the Iron will be imbued this lie. Numbers are subjective. Two hundred pounds is never two hundred pounds.

I am currently applying for my PhD and have focused my attention on this process for the past few months. I apologize to my readers for this hiatus. Nevertheless, my blog will be lively again very soon. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

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