I have my headphones in and I’m listening to “Beast” from the South Paw soundtrack. The music is blaring but I’m hardly hearing it, I’m hardly registering anything for that matter. I find myself sitting on a stack of plates in the corner of the gym staring into nothing, thinking about nothing and everything at the same time.

“I’m a motherfucking beast!”

My breathing becomes more controlled as I begin to focus my thoughts on the task at hand. The bar has over 500 pounds on it and I’m supposed to pick it up off the ground. How do I do it? I start to visualize a perfect starting position and seeing myself standing at the top with the weights in my hands for the 100th time in 24 hours. Weeks of training have gone into making this pull.

“… ain’t no signs of peace, so fuck a peace sign, we ride…”

The song fades back out as I start to think about all the people who told me I would never do this or I’m wasting my time. I bring my worst memories to the front of my mind until I feel my heart beating out of my chest. All of the days issues don’t matter now, the fight with my girlfriend earlier that day is gone, that failed test is gone, my to do list is gone. It’s me and that fucking weight that represents everything wrong with my life and it won’t beat me.

“…All of my grief, it has made me unleash on a bum all opponents will cease, so I’m yelling to the north and the south and the east ‘I’m a motherfucking beast’…

I put my belt on and chalk up my hands, everything wrong with life that I’ve kept pent up is just below the surface. Fighting back angry tears I walk up to the bar, set up and everything goes quiet. No music, no sound from the rest of the gym, no problems. I start pulling on the bar with everything I have and it breaks the floor. It gets up to my knees and I feel every muscle in my body contracting at full force, I think this bar is breaking me. Fuck this bar and fuck this weight, I force my hips through and lock out the weight.

“I’m a motherfucking beast!”

I put the weight back on the ground completely emotionally drained. During this whole process I never made a sound besides a couple grunts durint the lift, I didn’t talk to anyone. No one around me knew my problems or how big of a deal this deadlift was to me. This is the void, and it’s where all lifters belong.

Some of you may not understand or appreciate what the void means to those of us who are serious lifters and that’s fine. I don’t expect you to because lifters are a rare breed. There’s a certain level of insanity and stupidity that goes into getting mad at a piece of iron, and it won’t make sense to 95% of people. It doesn’t make sense to my parents, they just think I’m competitive and like doing dumb shit. It doesn’t make sense to my friends because I could be drinking beer and having fun. It doesn’t make sense to my roommate who just saw me barely make it up the stairs to the apartment. There is a certain level of insanity that makes someone want to pick up heavy stuff as therapy. This is my drug, it’s my passion and I don’t care if you don’t understand or approve of it.

This is my time to blow off steam so I don’t punch that jackass at work in the face. It’s my time to be angry for no apparent reason and for once I don’t have to explain it to anyone. I can use my emotions for something constructive instead of destructive. I can’t bring this crap home to my family, my roommate or my girlfriend because it’s not their fight. I leave it at the gym in sweat and it makes me much easier to deal with. It give me a goal and direction for my body and mind.

This is why I don’t understand the motivation issues that certain people have. “How do I stay motivated to go to the gym?” I honestly don’t have an answer to this because I’ve never struggled with it. If you have to ask this question then you’re training for a reason besides yourself, which is fine. Maybe your doctor told you to workout or maybe you want to lose weight for a wedding. All of these are great reasons to train but they aren’t long-term motivations. There is something that lies within each of us that wants to be loosed, there’s a wild animal that needs to raise hell for no other reason than it can. I truly believe that you have this in you as much as in you as I have it in me. Your motivation might not be lifting and that’s fine, but you need to find out what it is and attack it with tenacity. Work hard at what you love and find out what success means to you.