deadlift

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I’ve just heard the term ‘powerlifting’ from Cuong lately when I ask him why he seems to focus more on weight-lifting than other ‘gym’ things. He explains quickly that powerlifting is a sport involving attempts a maximal weight load on a single lift and consists three kinds of lifting: squat, deadlift and benchpress.

Powerlifting has originated since the ancient times, probably Greek or Roman ages. It looks similar to humanbeings’ casual lifting of things, which is called ‘funtional movement’. Far from what we of think of ‘gym’, powerlifting is not about having a nice body but overcoming the weight challenge. Therefore, the powerlifting athletes often try to bulk up their muscles to handle the weight. I used to look at them as monster-like guys with odd hobbies, skin full of acnes and aggressive personality. However, I have seen something else now.

First, to my surprise it is an individual sport but the training is a team-work. The guys alternately lift the same barbell. They will help change the weight for the next guy if necessarily. This partly dues to the small space of the gym, but it gets more efficient because the guys  encourage each other and watch each other’s back.

Second, these guys are more gentle than they may seem. I find some of them can be very aggressive for a moment then they quickly calm down. Probably heavy lifting is a strong kind of self-control that is beneficial in daily life not just in sport.

I hear them swearing or yelling or at each other or themselves but that is part of the training, tricks for increasing mental and physical strength. Cuong even beats his own chest before doing the deadlift, which makes him look like the Hulk. However, there is hidden gentleness among these bulky men. The manager, also the big brother of the team, talks to me very politely. He may sit at a far corner of the gym but still pay attention to every of his ‘bro’s movement. He unexpectedly reminds Cuong to change to a more appropriate training accessory or occasionally offer the young guy a meal. Somebody will quietly stand behind Cuong back and help him sit down and breathe right after a hard effort. I also love to see these men talk to women around them, or play with the pets in the gym.

Lastly, I think powerlifting guys and girls are sexy in their own way. Those big muscles do not grow from brainless repeated movements but a combination of knowledge and extra ordinary physical effort and lots of teamwork behind. They don’t really care how they would look but how hard they work, though I agree with the ladies to put some makeup on (they look pretty!). On casual circumstances, isn’t it a bonus if your guy can help you carry heavy things?

Meeting new people and learning new things is always worth a try. I am inspired now more about physical training for myself. For a moment, I even want to join the ‘Old School’ team (but no, forget it). Most importanly, I understand the true benefit of the sport and of those simple movements of deadlift, squat, and bench press.

Thank Cuong and the manager of ‘Old School’ gym again for letting me photograph their training session.

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