Sunday, September 8, 2013


When I was a child, I idolized strength.  The first time I witnessed someone being big and strong, I knew it was what I wanted to be.  I devoured stories about men with great strength, watched movies with strong characters, and was in awe of strong people.  Men like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hulk Hogan were heroes to me, along with the competitors in the World’s Strongest Man and anyone else I could find that had become famous for being big and strong.

As I grew older, I heard whispers of “cheating” from other people.  These guys were all on steroids, had amazing genetics, took all sorts of supplements, etc etc.  What these people had done, us average joes could never hope to accomplish.  We didn’t have the genetics, we didn’t have the drugs, we didn’t have the time, these guys were special, and we weren’t.  The message here was that we should not listen to these people, because what they had accomplished was impossible for us to manage.  We were mere mortals, while these guys were special, and in no way could they give advice that would help us be like them.

If I was made in your image, why don't I have a six pack?

I ask you, if not these people, who should we follow?  Why would it be that we choose not to listen to the most successful people when it comes to following our goals?  We are using their success to justify their inability to succeed.  We say that the only way they succeeded was because of their genetics and drug use, as though they were successful in spite of their efforts rather than as a direct result of them.  It is this idea that those who have reached the elite levels of strength and size were simply too blessed to know what it takes to actually get there.

Who am I to follow then?  The mediocre?  Those who have not succeeded?  Why?  Because of this notion that, because they cannot succeed due to their limitations, they in turn know how to succeed?  In what realm does this make sense?

This guy must know the best way to swim

Or perhaps it is time for us to understand that those who have reached the elite levels of size and strength are competing against those who are equally blessed, both in terms of genetics and drug usage, and in turn it was their hard work and knowledge that saved them.  Yes, when you are walking among mortals as a god, it is easy to become impressive, but once you are battling on Mount Olympus, the standards have changed.

Aside from this though, we are simply demonizing success, and using its presence as an argument for unfair advantages.  We tell people to work hard and push past their limits, but once they do this, we tell them that, because of their success, it is clearly evident that they had natural advantages all along.  Those who succeed were simply blessed, while those who fail to succeed are “real”?  What a grim view of getting stronger we have developed.  If the presence of success is the evidence of unfair advantages, does this mean we are playing a game with no actual chance of winning?

Faster die so you can end all your friendships sooner

I instead wager that this is merely the argument of the weak in spirit.  If you fight for your limitations, you will receive them, whereas if you refuse to accept them, you will bypass them.  I use him in many examples, but Matt Kroczaleski is a great example of this fact.  As a cross country runner and lightweight wrestler in high school and a testicular cancer survivor, the man clearly has poor genetics for getting bigger and stronger, and was told as much when he started training.  Now, as a successful powerlifter and bodybuilder, the internet chatter is that he is a “genetic freak”, and has only been able to succeed because of this fact.  Once again, we use his success as evidence of some sort of unfair advantage, rather than a testament to the fact that he has accomplished exactly what we are in turn setting out to do as well.

When it comes time to decide who knows how to train and succeed, it is ultimately up to you to decide if you will follow those who have found success or those who have not.  I still have my heroes.

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