Are You Strong Enough?

A man is often judged by his strength.  A physically weak man is often judged as being less of a man.  A physically strong man is judged as being more of a man.  This is a simple fact and isn’t really open for discussion.

Whether this is right or wrong is irrelevant.  It is what it is, and as men, it behooves us to understand just why that’s the case.

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It goes back to the days when physical strength was an essential skill.  You needed it to carry more firewood or more of an animal’s carcass.  Even today, we still valued strength because a strong man is always more useful than a weak one.  After all, a strong man can still pick flowers, but a weak man can’t pick up his end of a massive log.

So that begs a question.  Are you strong enough?

Probably not.

You see, there’s always someone stronger than you, and there’s always something too heavy for you to lift.  Don’t believe me?  Hafthor Bjornsson broke a thousand-year-old strength record, but do you really think he can lift just anything?

Of course not.  He’s strong.  He’s not a god.

As men, it’s in our best interests to get stronger and stronger.  Of course, in our modern world, this lends itself to interesting situations.

I’ve known some rather intelligent and articulate men who were treated like idiots because they have largish muscles.  A stereotype exists that men who are muscled are morons, and it’s unfair.  Especially if you understand how hard it is to actually build muscle.

Since we all know that muscle is a useful proxy for judging strength, this means that if you get stronger, there will be people who judge you as unintelligent…until you prove otherwise.

This is where men need to step up and work together.  We, as a sex, need to pull together and bust this stereotype, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Now, we simply need to understand that we are not strong enough.  None of us. Hafthor Bjornsson works hard day in, day out.  Why?  Because he wants to get stronger.  He broke a record that had stood for a millennium, but it’s not enough.  He wants to break his own record.

World-class powerlifters, some of the strongest people you or I will ever interact with, are the same way.  They’re never satisfied with how strong they are.

Some may try to link this to some insecurity, but that’s not the issue.  Instead, it’s simply a matter of recognizing that their competition is working just as hard, and if they fail to train sufficiently, they’ll lose.

The thing is, in our day to day life, we are unlikely to have to do bench presses, squats, and deadlifts…but that’s not to say we don’t need strength ourselves.

I remember the first time I had to tote a box of copier paper.  That stuff was heavy!

But I also remember the time I was struggling with a box of the stuff and a coworker of mine offered to help, so he grabbed two boxes and walked with me, chatting the whole way like it was nothing.

It was humiliating, but also motivating in a way.  I saw how weak I was, but I also saw how strong I could become.

This goes back to my earlier point about strength being a net benefit.  We were both equally as useful with a single ream of paper, but I wasn’t nearly as useful moving whole cases of the stuff.  The stronger man can do the tasks not requiring strength, but the weaker man can’t do the tasks that do.

So no, you’re not strong enough.  There’s always going to be some task you’re unable to do.  I don’t know that I can lift a car that falls on my neighbor, after all, so I train to get stronger.  Not because I will have to do such a thing, but because I might.

There’s always going to be something you’re inferior to do, but that’s no reason to not minimize the list of things you’re too weak to do as much as possible, now is it?

Then, imagine you find yourself in a situation where strength is essential.  Will you have time to get stronger?  Do you really want to risk it?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been dealing with some illness.  It’s kept me from working out like I need to, but I’m better now.  Monday morning, I’ll be outside, training my butt off.  I urge you to do the same thing.

Train like your life matters.  It does.



Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.