You obviously know that in lifting you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to get better at it. Progressive overload alone shows that to be true. If you don’t increase range of motion, add volume, or add intensity, you’ll stall, and this is a good thing. If you remain uninjured, these principles will still work, albeit with more complexity in some areas.

As the years slog into decades, you might run into a different type of problem. That extra intensity coupled with added volume might start to break you. Then come the injuries. And then, the stark realization that it might be time to retire your Instagram account that lists your total weight lifted, natty status, and sponsorships, all of which were inextricably tied into your identity, not just as a collective member of a group, but as a person.

This doesn’t just happen with lifting either. On a personal level, I dealt with it twice. The first time was after a nine year stint in a death metal band. The second was when I stopped competing in powerlifting. Both of those moments—though happening at different times in my life—cleft my identity, and it took what seemed like a lifetime to come to grips with those losses.

 

Being a polymath

We have the inherent ability to cultivate a great many skill sets as humans. Maybe it’s a lack of satisfaction, or maybe it’s because in comparison to Tolkien’s elves, we don’t live very long, and in that short life span we find the drive to outwork ourselves and each other.

Paradoxically, we also like to hone in and specialize on something with such intent that we can have a shot at being the best. In my opinion, too much specializing can destroy our gestalt, especially when you can’t embody your specialization. For the lifter, it’s important to know when to go narrow and deep AND when to back off.

I’ve talked about how backing off can be advantageous for your musculoskeletal tissues on here before, but it can also be good for your head to develop other skills. I’ve even laid out sound reasoning to take up hobbies other than lifting too, but being a polymath—or “Renaissance man” as it’s referred to in the general vernacular—can help you beyond your physical tissues.

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