Remember that psychology study where they put a bunch of people in a room and let smoke in the room?

Thing is, one person doesn’t know it’s fake. Just one. Everyone else in the room is in on it.

He’s looking around, panic building by the second. “Fire,” he says, but no one listens. “FIRE!” Still no reaction. It’s like he’s a non-entity.

Finally, he just accepts it.

And he doesn’t look comfortable with it, either. Or himself.

This is the kind of following mode that it is easy to fall into. Doing what everyone else is doing but not being totally comfortable it. Checking over your shoulder to make sure you’re still doing the “right” thing.

Now I see it where in some circles you’re a pussy if you can’t lift big weights. The numbers vary, sometimes it’s some multiple of your bodyweight for a key lift like a squat or a deadlift.

But it’s always big weights, and often the size of the weight is tied to the size of your manliness.

These kind of things are asinine. Capability is what matters. Relative strength is more important than absolute.

And really, we’re after self-mastery. The feeling of being in charge of ourselves.

Strong. Capable. Free. That’s what I like to say.

This “gotta be big” thing is burned into many men when their boys, and it’s hard to give up on.

But as an adult male, there are more important things than lifting heavy weights.

Can you:

  • Control your thoughts and refrain from anger (even when being verbally attacked)
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Be cheerful, even under stress

Do people:

  • Look up to you and respect your opinion?
  • Ask for your advice?
  • Listen when you speak, or talk over you?

Are you:

  • Making plans for your future and deciding to achieve them?
  • In control of your emotions?
  • Looking for areas in your life you need to improve and setting about improving them?

Pursuing more weight for the sake of more weight is an empty pursuit—but achieving greater discipline in your form and in your choices is a lasting value.

Some physical measures that are meaningful: the ability to do several chin ups; the capability to do a full squat; the ability to hold yourself in good posture; capacity to walk, jog, and sprint.

But make no mistake, these aren’t tied to your manliness. But they are tied to your freedom to enjoy an active life.

Keep the ability to use your body, but don’t get caught up in lifting for lifting’s sake.

If you’re not interested in liftin’ for lifting’s sake, but more interested in being strong, capable, and free, then check out The Lean, Healthy, Strong System.