Someone once said to me, “your back is where you carry the wood”. At the time, I had NO idea what that individual meant by his words, but over the years as I began to train more frequently and more intensely, I began to make sense of them in my own mind. What I eventually concluded, was that his words were a metaphor for what true work ethic is all about.
Aside from a grueling leg session, back sessions are arguably the most taxing and the LEAST glamorous of all. When you walk into a room, you don’t walk in back first. When you are standing in front of someone carrying on a conversation, it is not your back that makes the first impression. In magazine adds or shirtless movie scenes, no one ever says “OMG, did you see the back on that guy?”. No! It’s… “look at those arms” or “look at those abs” or “look at that chest”. That is why gyms are filled with men doing countless repetitions of bench press and bicep curls. Those are what I like to refer to as the peacock exercises. They are all about physical presentation and to be perfectly honest, they are not very challenging. What is challenging however, is to focus on the things that are less glamorous and that either reinforce your foundation or simply kick you butt. Something like performing an adequate warm-up EVERY single time you train. That is a foundational discipline. Performing the movements that you like the least because they are the ones that push you furthest outside of your comfort zone, that is a great way to maintain balance as well as employ work ethic and discipline. That is what exercise is about for me. Sure, one of the reasons that I enjoy working out is the fact that it makes me feel good. However, I find the most meaningful component of training and exercises to be the opportunity that it provides to practice becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Exercise can show you where your weaknesses lie and presents you with an opportunity to either confront them or two turn a blind eye. Character building and self-improvement, that is the job, the gym is the office, and workouts are the tools of the trade.
“Your back is you carry the wood.”