What Squats Have Taught Me 

I love lifting weights. It’s a huge stress reliever for me, and I love getting stronger and feeling more capable. But I’ve had a major problem for a while: I hate squats.

This is a huge issue for anyone who lifts weights  because squatting is probably the most important lift you can do (an argument can be made for deadlifts as well). In the past two or three years, I have taken my deadlift from under 225 to 390, and my bench from probably around 185 to 280. But my squat? Not even close. Why? Because I hate them.

I was going to say that it’s because they are hard, but deadlifts are hard too. To lift that weight clean off the ground is at least 50% pure aggression. No, I have had a mental block with squats. It just always feels too heavy when I unrack the weight. I hate the way my legs feel, I don’t think I can do it, and I get stuck. I bought a power rack with income tax money this year, and while it helps with safety, it has not helped a lot with increasing my squat weight. That is because the problem is not my equipment, it is me. The problem is not just that squats are difficult, it is that I had subconsciously told myself that they are too difficult for me to master.

But you know what? I can move up on them. I can add weight to that bar; slowly, but steadily. A lot of times in life, we just get stuck because things are hard and we don’t think we can do them. We tell ourselves how important they are, but we just aren’t prepared to make the sacrifices that attaining our goals require. We live in a culture that wants to make everything easy for us. And we like that. We get used to that. We adapt to that.

Luke:”I don’t believe it.” (After Yoda uses the Force to lift an X-Wing out of a swamp).

Master Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

But this is not how our Lord wants us to live. Christians are counter-cultural in this way. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23-25 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” In Romans 8, he tells us that we are to put to death the deeds of our own sinful nature by the power of the Spirit. Jesus told us in Matthew 7 that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” We are meant to live a life that resembles Christ’s. That follows Him no matter the cost. That makes all out war on sin in our lives even when we have to cut ourselves off from things we love to win it. That displays one of the best work ethics around our workspaces. That chooses the right thing even when it is hard. The Bible paints a comprehensive picture of a life marked by anything but ease and comfort, and we should not expect those things.

This applies to squats as well. They are hard. I don’t like them. But I have finally accepted that they will always be hard, I will always do them, and I will slowly improve. I’m going to do them twice a week and I’m going to yell and grunt and maybe even start to like them.  And I’m going to do it because it is one of the best things that I can do for my body. Because it makes me stronger and better.
Don’t let the fact that something is hard keep you from doing it. Set your goals, develop a strategy to reach them, and be relentless!

“It always feels heavy. You just get stronger.”— Jordan Feigenbaum channeling Greg LeMond (found on StartingStrength.com)

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