In the late 1990s I was a street rep for the label Equal Vision Records, mostly because I had a hardon for the straightedge toughguy band Another Victim and Rob Fusco's old band, One King Down. While I was a rep, the label sent me a copy of Bane's best disc. Bane's not generally my style- it's too posi and lacks breakdowns, which are cardinal sins in my book. In looking over some online discussions about lifting, however, I realized Bane's song "Superhero" were pretty appropriate, given the fact that people seem to think that I'm some kind of weightlifting virtuoso forged in the fires of Hades and sent to Earth to destroy records and demean those beneath me. While the latter portion is certainly true, the former isn't- I didn't come out of the gates ripping shit up in the gym- I started out piss weak and chubby. I, however, hated weakness in myself so much that it drove me to where I am now, and even on the level where I currently sit, it still pisses me off when there's something I don't know or a weight I can't lift. Rather than being born into this, I grew into this, fueled far more by contempt and conceit than genetics or an ontological preparation for greatness.
The lyrics to the song, if you couldn't understand them, basically amount to what I've been saying all along- you're not genetically predisposed to being a pile of shit any more than I am. You have the keys in your genes to be fucking badass, if you'll just take five minutes out of your day to stop being such a fucking pussy. To wit, the crux of the song:
Well, there is nothing in me
that you don't have
deep within your fucking self
Yes, the body is weak
but the mind is stronger
it controls the body
you are not a slave.
And I am not a superhero!
You see, the difference between hard and impossible
well, it's a thousand miles wide
but that's not what you want to hear.
don't live a lifetime of regret.
You, hopefully sans weeping.
Lest you think I'm going soft on you motherfuckers, this isn't going to amount to a gentle reminder to stop being a sloppy sack of dogshit- this is me dragging you up off your fucking couch by your lapels and beating this message into your stubborn fucking skull, until you look like Joe Stevenson after BJ Penn beat on him for a few minutes. The bullshit I see in meets and on the internet has to fucking stop. Stop being satisfied with good enough. Stop championing mediocre shit. Stop making fucking excuses and blathering on about what separates you from the people who embarrass you in competition, physical or mental, and sack the fuck up. There's no dignity in defeat and there's no rationalization that will make your poor performance seem like anything but. We've grown so fucking soft was a species we don't even deserve to claim a heritage from Cro-Magnon man- we've devolved hideously since his day, and are reliant on diversions so effete and decadent that a foppish 18th Century English dandy would seem like he was plate fucking steel compared to the best of us.
Harder Than You Crew, c. 1890.
If you're already hitting your goals, sweet. Go watch some porn and sling one out, as this shit will likely rehash shit you already know. If not, it's time to put on your big boy pants and accept the fact taht you're likely mentally weak if you're physically weak. I realize this flies in the face of dogma and is causing you to whine like a rich bitch on one of those Housewives show when anything whatsoever happens, but it's the sad fucking truth. Mental toughness can be learned, though it comes as second nature to some people. According to psychologist Robin Rosenberg, mental toughness has four components. They are:
- "Control: a sense of control of yourself and what happens to you; that is, a sense of being able to shape your destiny rather than passively accepting events as fated." (Rosenberg Toughness)
- "Commitment: a strong sense of being committed to yourself and your work. That is, being fully involved in something, giving it your best shot."(Ibid.)
- "Challenge: a tendency to see life's downs and obstacles and challenges to be met rather than as threats." (Ibid.)
- "Confidence: A belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals." (Ibid.)
If brains looked like this, I would be a master of trephination and my cock would currently be covered in cerebral cortex.
If you hadn't already noticed, these are key points that I've obliquely covered over the course of the blog, and I agree completely with her assessment. The first point is one I've tried to drive home like I'm Nick Manning and your brain is Alektra Blue- you're in control of your own destiny, not your genetics. there's nothing wrong with your genetics unless you were born with fucking flippers and your head is on backwards. What's missing is a weighty ball sack and a burning desire to destroy shit. The second point is also fairly important, as I see a lot of shit about myself on the internet about how I can only do the things I do because I devote an inordinate amount of time to my craft. While that's likely true, I've specifically structured my life in such a way as to allow that. I'm fucking committed to dominating strength sports. For those who remark that I've nothing in my life but work and lifting, that's not entirely true- I spend a couple of hours a day inciting a revolution on the internet. As such, I'm wedging training in between two jobs that come out to about 80 hours a week. I don't want to hear about your kids and your sick grandma and your syphilis- those are naught but excuses. If you want to be awesome, figure out a fucking way to the get to the top of the mountain, by hook or crook, and schedule your life accordingly. The third point, then, is extremely important, as you're bound to get waylaid by road agents, encounter rock slides, get swept up in tornadoes, and fall off the occasional metaphorical cliff. that shit comes with the territory. As such, the key is to treat that shit as a boon- they're just new tools to aid you in figuring out how best to keep moving forward. Every setback is a blessing from the gods, as they've given you the opportunity to prove to yourself and the world exactly how fucking hard you really are. Finally, you need to have the confidence to pull the whole lot off. "With a high sense of self-belief and an unshakeable faith that they control their own destiny, [confident] individuals can remain relatively unaffected by competition or adversity."(Rosenberg Toughness)
So, the key is getting to the point where you feel like you're going to piss excellence every morning when you roll out of bed. If you're not already supremely confident, don't fucking worry about it- I've got you covered. Studies have recently shown that you can definitely fake it til you make it, just by standing or sitting in certain positions for a couple of minutes a day. "High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications."(Carney) This is pretty fucking awesome, and the effects are actually cumulative. "Over time and in aggregate, these minimal postural changes and their outcomes potentially could improve a person’s general health and well-being. This potential benefit is particularly important when considering people who are or who feel chronically powerless because of lack of resources, low hierarchical
rank in an organization, or membership in a low-power social group."(Carney)
High power poses take up a lot of space. Hands on hips. legs, spread, arms loose at your sides, etc.
We've all seen this in action- the broads who look like they've got a mini-black hole embedded into their chest because they appear to be collapsing into themselves, the fat motherfucker with the slumped shoulders trudging through the gym like his fucking back is broken, and the bigger gyms who walk with their chins up, meeting the eyes of everyone they pass. I'm not saying you need to bow up on motherfuckers in the gym or develop a critical case of inflated lat syndrome, but just to start walking with a straight back and your chin up. there's reason why th military insists on it- it fucking works. When you act powerful, you feel powerful. When you act like a bitch, you feel like one. Thus, if you're the bitch of the bunch in the gym, just standing with your hands on your hips, rather than trying to curl into the fetal position while standing is going to bring your squat up out of the region of "fatal embarrassment" into "somewhat passable." This isn't just because your test levels are raised and you're feeling more confident, etiher- you'll be able to grind harder on big lifts because people who adopt "dominant poses displayed higher pain thresholds than those who adopted submissive or neutral poses."(Bohns)
A message to the ladies- you know how you like to twist yourself into a fucking pretzel in awkward situations? FUCKING STOP IT. You're killing your squat and your libido at the same goddamn time.
I'm far from done, lest you worry. More to come on this shit in the coming weeks. In the meantime- be the victor or be a fucking victim. the choice is yours. Whatever you do, stop being such a flaming pussy on the internet.
Bohns VK, Wiltermuth SS.It hurts when I do this (or you do that): Posture and pain tolerance. J of Exp Soc Psychol 2012 (48):1 341-345.
Carney DR, Cuddy AJC, Yap AJ. Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance. Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8. Epub 2010 Sep 20. http://www.people.hbs.edu/acuddy/in%20press,%20carney,%20cuddy,%20&%20yap,%20psych%20science.pdf
Rosenberg, Robin. Forging Steel. Part 2: Soldiers, Superheroes, and Resilience. The Superheroes. Psychology Today. 10/22/11. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superheroes/201110/forging-steel-part-2-soldiers-superheroes-and-resilience
Rosenberg, Robin. On Mental Toughness. The Superheroes. Psychology Today. 09/01/11. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superheroes/201009/mental-toughness
Rosenberg, Robin. Superhero Stance. The Superheroes. Psychology Today. 7/13/2011. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superheroes/201107/superhero-stance
Troy AS, Mauss IB. Resilience in the face of stress: emotion regulation as a protective factor. Chapter appeared in S. Southwick, D. Charney, M. Friedman, & B. Litz (Eds.), Resilience to stress. Cambridge University Press. Published online. http://www.du.edu/psychology/erl/troy%20mauss_resilience.pdf