What Makes a Good Lifter?

“I wouldn’t be able to do this shit if I was happy without doing it.”

A friend of mine sent me this pep talk (warning: his mouth is worse than mine) today about who “we” are as lifters, and it ended with me vocalizing my agreement in the middle of my office while I listened. I don’t agree with everything George Leeman said, but knowing that this conversation stemmed from someone who doesn’t train trying to tell him how to be successful…listen, I can pick up what he’s putting down. I thought about what I’ve seen in my teammates and the bigger lifting community recently and what makes people “good,” and I realized a few themes.

Never Be “Okay”

I have two people I train with that have very similar tattoos: Never Settle and Never Satisfied. A few weeks ago, my coach, the other sponsored athlete, and I talking about a deadlift competition. I said I wouldn’t enter it because my deadlift isn’t that impressive. My coach looked at me and said, “WHEN THE HELL WILL IT BE IMPRESSIVE?! AT 450 POUNDS?!” And I was like, “Well yeah, but then I’m pushing for 500 sooo…” I never thought of myself as a “never satisfied” kind of person, but I’ve learned that that’s exactly who I am and what keeps me PRing week after week in the gym.

Sure, my lifts have gotten way bigger in the last 6 months, but they could always be bigger. There are women smaller than me lifting more every god damn day. I can tell myself everyday that I’m my own competition, but that’s only true til I step up to compete against others. Then sure, I’m trying to beat myself, but I’m also trying to crush some dreams. I see this in almost everyone else I train and compete with. They’ll stand in line, waiting to hop in on an event, cheering their faces of for their competition right in front of them followed by a resounding FUCK YEAH when they hop up there and beat what that guy just did. We all do it. None of us are going to be successful by being okay with just okay.

Find Your Joy

This is probably where I most disagree with George Leeman’s speech. That being said, he’s a god damn champion and I’m not yet, so you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I agree that the vast majority of us don’t get into this because it’s rainbows and butterflies and we wanna spread light and love everwhere, but there’s got to be some joy we get out of it. Whether it’s the joy of seeing our bodies pushed to the max, or the joy of beating other people when we compete, we have to find some kind of joy. I firmly believe that without getting some joy out of it, we wouldn’t be doing it. And shit, maybe for some, that “joy” comes in the form of using the gym to release rage…whatever it is, I think we all get something back from this that constitutes joy.

Block Out the Bullshit

Because there will be bullshit. There will be meal plans that make you think, “So help me sweet baby Jesus, if I have to eat one more ounce of boneless skinless chicken, I’m gonna die…” but you eat more. There will be supplements that make you sick to your stomach, There will be pre-workout that makes you feel like you’re going into cardiac arrest. Maybe you dabble in heavier steroids that can do serious, lasting damage, but you’re looking to be the best in this moment. There will be people who only cheer for you so long as you’re doing just a bit worse than they are. But guess what? Fuck it. Fuck it all.

When I go into the gym, I’m happy as hell to see the people I love there, but I’m also there to be better than I was a month ago, a week ago, the workout before. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve walked into the gym and not been able to get a good workout in because of some external shit that was in my way. Whether it’s throwing on some raging music and crushing it or taking the first 15 minutes to bitch it out with a teammate, do what you gotta to do block out the distractions because they’re always gonna be there.

In closing, that speech from George Leeman was exactly what I needed to hear today. As I sit here and tell you to block out the bullshit, I’ve been allowing some shit to permeate my thoughts a lot recently, and I’ll be god damned if I’m going to let that impact my training. If there’s nothing else that makes you better, just know that there’s always someone training to beat you, there’s (very likely) always someone better, and there’s always room for improvement. Keep lifting heavy shit, my friends.

Til next time,


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