I was at the gym earlier this week and as I was finishing up my last set of squats, I noticed a middle aged guy strutting his way over to the cable machine.

What caught my attention wasn’t the old school Oakley sunglasses he was wearing (indoors), the bright yellow string tank top, or the obnoxiously large headphones he was wearing. It wasn’t even the fact that he was obviously ogling every female in the place.

It was the fact that he pinned the stack to the bottom of the machine and proceeded to use every muscle in his body (incorrectly) to do 4 hideously ugly reps of tricep pushdowns. It was all I could do not to start taking pictures or laugh out loud.

I think he actually worked every muscle except his triceps. This is not uncommon and happens particularly often in my gym (fuck you, Gold’s).

Why Your Ego Rules Your Workout

I get it. As dudes we want to impress people (mainly the opposite sex) by acting cool, looking cool, and lifting heavy things. I have no problems wanting to be on your “A” game and thinking you’re the shit.

Hell, there are times that I stroll through the gym feeling like I’m Superman.

The difference is I check my ego before I do any lifting. And I do this for one reason: so I don’t get hurt. You see, if I get hurt, I can’t train and if I can’t train, I feel like shit. I don’t like feeling like shit.

But inevitably it happens almost every day; I end up standing next to some dude who is lifting/posing twice the weight I am. Even guys much smaller than me.

And guess what?

I could give a fuck.

I realize that while I may not be as strong/buff/studly, etc as the guy to my right, I’m OK with it. I have an ego like any normal dude but I know my limits and I know what works for me. I know how to get stronger, leaner, and how to stay fit. So I really don’t care about the looks I get when I do shoulder flys with 5 lb. weights.

If more guys adopted a similar philosophy, there would be far fewer injuries and more time could be spent on the real reason they’re there; to get fit.

Why? Why? Why?

You joined a gym for a reason, right? At some point you were motivated enough to walk your ass into the gym, endured a cheesy sales pitch and gym tour, and signed up. But Why? What was your motivation?

In my experience, most men want one or more of the following:

The good reasons:

  • To look better
  • To feel better
  • To lose fat/build muscle
  • To get stronger
  • To build confidence
  • To feel a sense of accomplishment
  • For general health
  • To reduce stress

The not-so good reasons are:

  • To impress girls
  • To impress your buddies/gym dudes
  • To be better (or appear to be better) than the guy next to you
  • To look/feel like a bad ass
  • To inflate your already inflated ego
  • To show off your muscles and/or tattoos
  • To troll for chicks and/or socialize

What about you? What was/is your true motivation?

Why It’s Dangerous

lifting with ego

A nasty pec and rotator cuff tear

Being overly cocksure and full of yourself is not inherently dangerous. What is dangerous is what happens when you routinely lift weights far heavier than your current strength level.

I’m not saying you need to walk around like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite , what I am saying is that I want you to try to lift with your brain and not your balls and lift according to your capabilities.

Does that mean don’t push yourself? Of course not. We MUST progressively overload our muscles to get bigger and stronger, but we must work within our limits.

Too many lower backs, rotator cuffs, and hamstrings have been injured due to overdoing it. Personally, I’ve had a few injuries over the years, and not only are they painful, but often times they put you back at square one. All those gains…gone.

And starting over sucks. Badly.

How Do You Know You’re Lifting With Ego?

A lot of guys don’t even realize they’re doing it. Of course, there are those knuckleheads that not only know it, but are damn proud of it. If you are the former, there is hope for you yet.

Here are a few signs that your ego is doing the lifting:

  • You can’t perform the exercise in good form (i.e. swinging, jerking, compensating)
  • You aren’t focused on the movement and are instead focused on others watching you
  • You can only perform partial reps
  • You spend more time bro chatting than lifting
  • You do the same few exercises over and over
  • You only work on your “show” muscles. Yes, that’s chest, arms and shoulders

Drop the weight, control the movements, focus on intensity and time under tension and I promise you will make far greater gains than when you lift with your ego.

And remember, nobody honestly gives a shit how much weight you are lifting. 95% of the people in the gym are so wrapped up in their own stuff that they don’t even notice you.

Are you guilty? Let me know in the comments!

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