I started lifting weights in the gym when I was 12 years old. I bought a Arnold Schwarzenegger encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding did my best to build a routine. Recently a friend of mine asked when I began to seriously lift, (which would be my mid teens) being 33 years old now, he pointed out that I have been lifting regularly for more of my life than not. Which got me thinking, what does it take to stick to lifting for 20 years.
It was a wide held belief that if you can stick to anything for more that 8 months, you can keep doing it. For most people wanting to start an exercise program long term, I encourage them to focus on the first 8 months. If you just get past that, you can keep going forever.
But training extremely intensely hard is… well hard. Your body has limits, and I have seen more than my fair share of hardcore lifters stop after time burnt out. It is easy to get caught up in the hardcore “push past your limits” for a few years, but there comes a time when your body might start saying, enough is enough. One of the ways I have come up with to combat this is to go through cycles of lifting. Some years and I am training hard, ready to take on competitions, other years I am just in the gym enjoying some light morning lifts.
I am a firm believer in listening to your body. It can tell you when you need rest, when to eat more, when to push harder. You have to look past the body’s primal need to be lazy and conserve energy. Learn the difference between your body needing recovery, and your body just not wanting to break away from the TV for a while.
When I look at my workout for the morning I tend to ask, will this make my day better? will it make me feel more energetic, healthy, stronger. Will I get that endorphin rush from the exercise and feel less stressed. Even if I really don’t want to lift that day, my answer is almost always yes. However on the off chance that it is a no, than that is a very good sign for me to take a few days, maybe even a week and just do some light cardio. I let my body recover and always when I have done this, I come back to the gym stronger.
The people that tell me that if I am not on the verge of always throwing up from the intensity of my workouts then it’s not worth it, well none of them are still lifting. It has been over 20 years of weights for me. Sometimes I am hardcore in the gym, sometimes I am that guy on the machine checking his phone, but I am always happy to be there and will be doing my best to be lifting thought my lifespan.