Thursday, January 14, 2016

The "Plate-for-Brains" Syndrome - Steve Holman (1988)

The Plate-for-Brains Syndrome
by Steve Holman (1988)

 God, I love the gym! The smell of oxidizing steel, the sound of the big iron roaring and rumbling on the Olympic bars, the great bodies parading around in all their glory . . . it's almost an obsession, and it can blossom into a real problem.

"Did he say problem?"

I sure did. You see, this obsession can get way, way out of hand. We can get so engrossed in bodybuilding and lifting that we become incapable of functioning in real world situations -- shallow, one-dimensional gym hermits with one-track minds.

Test yourself. Do you find yourself wondering how you can get another quarter inch on your arms? When you check yourself out in a clothing store mirror are you more concerned with how your V-taper looks in your new shirt than if it actually fits? Do you spend time fretting over how sharp your abs are? Beat yourself up over your bench press numbers? Suffer the discomforts of unrelenting self-castigation after bombing a squat. I'll stop.

Now, before you get worried about all your "yes" answers to these questions and make an appointment with the local shrink, calm down -- you're not over the edge yet. All lifters do stuff like this. But it can get worse.

The real problems arise when we start weighing the worth of a person by their physique or numbers. Of when we have trouble carrying on a conversation about things other then lifting. It's rather sad to close out everything but the gym and lose touch with reality because once a lifter does lose touch, the problem can snowball. He can lose much more . . . like a spouse or a great job or good friends that are sick of his muscleheaded babbling. It just ain't worth it!

We, as lifters, should attempt to broaden our horizons while striving for the best physique and lifts possible. Balance is the key. Don't put all of your plates on the bodybuilding end of the bar or there will be a crash and something could get crushed -- like your potential as a person. Believe me, you can participate in numerous activities other than lifting, keep your job, friends and spouse and not miss a single workout. And your physique and lifts can still be up there with the best of them. Look at Mr. Schwarzenegger.

Arnold trains six days a week, one hour per day, has a movie career, plays tennis and skis (boy, does he ski) and he has a wonderful relationship. Where does he find the time? He makes time for the things that he loves, which is all of the above. And by the way, he still has a great physique. Also, in order to keep himself well-rounded, he stays abreast of what's happening with world affairs and politics.

Another example -- Shawn Ray. He's in the midst of attaining a college degree, and he helps out with charity events often. On top of these things, he never misses a single workout in his quest for top titles. It's all a balancing act. He understands the importance of his workouts, but he continues to broaden his scope as a person through social interaction and higher education. It's important not to put all your eggs in one basket.

So now that we know what the plate-for-brains syndrome isn't, maybe we should discuss what it really is. Ready to test yourself again?

These types can't cope with social situations outside the gym, they talk about nothing but lifting (even to people who could care less), and they nonchalantly flex in public (even in restaurants and shopping malls). And, of course, most have the goal of becoming a professional bodybuilder or lifter, therefore college is unimportant.

The plate-for-brains syndrome is a deep hole to fall into. Believe me, I've taken the plunge, and I'll bet most of you reading this have taken it as well, or you're poised on the diving board right now. Please, don't take the big dive! Strive for a more fulfilling life and keep your lifting as a primary influence, not a mind-narrowing disease. Here are some suggestions:

1) Pick a physical sport other than lifting and do it at least once a week (tennis, biking, basketball, swimming, etc.)

2) Read the muscle mags and books, sure, but also read newspapers and books, books on all subjects and not just lifting or lifting-related books.

3) Make friends outside the realm of lifting. Do things with them, sharpen your social skills and for God's sake talk about things other than muscles and your lifting goals.

4) Don't neglect your education. If you love lifting that much, you can always get a degree in nutrition, physical education, physiotherapy or kinesiology. Become a chiropractor, a massage therapist, or go to medical school and specialize in sports medicine.

5) View working out as a big part of your life, but not your whole life. You can be passionate about lifting and many other interests simultaneously. Obsession is necessary, but don't let it get out of hand. Grow in many different directions.

Vegetating plate-for-brains, or articulate lifter -
it's up to you to decide.     

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