Nothing gets the juices flowing like being 4 inches away from living the rest of my life with 9.5 fingers or getting a screw permanently lodged in my abdomen. Every time I hold a power tool in my hand I feel like I could take on an army of Nazi zombies single-handedly. But seriously, using tools makes you a man. Whenever you saw a board in half you grow four curly chest hairs. Whenever you drive home a screw your voice lowers ever so slightly. And whenever you chainsaw a tree into oblivion your testicles grow in diameter by 6.5%. And ladies, using power tools does not actually make you a man. But using power tools will make me attracted to you. If that's what you're after.
Master carpenter and a lover of meat. "You had me at meat tornado." -Ron SwansonUsing tools and building stuff also ups your utility factor. People that are useful are good. People that are useless for no other reason other than that they are lazy are bad and should be shuttled off to a deserted island and left to their own useless devices. That way they can all be useless together and die because everyone is too lazy to microwave a goddam burrito. I think I just learned something about myself.
7. Thinking About Things You Hate
Thinking about things you hate makes you angry. Right now you're saying, "No shit, Troy. What's your point?" My point is that properly directed, that anger can really help you in the gym and out on the field, court, road, ocean, whatever. When we get angry we experience a rise in heart rate and blood pressure. There is also and increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. I.e. the hormone that makes you angry increases and the hormone that prevents you from dealing with said anger decreases.
Why? Our bodies evolved to handle stress. And that stress usually came as a saber tooth tiger staring us down and wanting to make us dinner. That early hunter's body is doing the exact same thing as a modern day man's body that is experiencing road rage. The only difference was that the hunter wasn't going to sit down with the tiger and talk about feelings, and why he wanted to eat him, and let's just all coexist and blah blah blah. That hunter high tailed it out of there. Or stayed and fought, and won, and had Kitten Surprise for dinner.
Same thing happens in the gym. Think about how shitty traffic was that day or the old guy at the bank who took forever because he wanted a two dollar bill because it's his grandson's birthday you know and he's got to send him a card with that oh so rare bill from the U.S. Treasury. Is your urge to kill rising? Good, go lift some weights or run a race or kill some wild game. It'll be good for you.
8. Caffeine and Other Stimulants
I'm not really sure where I would be without caffeine. Nope, check that. I know where I'd be. Probably in a gutter somewhere crying myself to sleep. Or just asleep. Caffeine is by far the most used drug in America. It's also by far the most used drug by me. Caffeine's effects on the body are numerous. When ingested it blocks the release of adenosine which is a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect on the body. This in turn causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. We all know what adrenaline does. With enough of that stuff in your veins you can lift turned-over cars off of (or on to, whatever, I don't judge) newborn babies.
The only downside to caffeine is that once a tolerance is built up it no longer has the same effects. So instead of one cup of coffee to get me going I now need the whole damn pot. And a few huffs of ammonia. But that's another post all together.
Another stimulant that I've enjoyed recently is ephedra. Or ephedrine. Whichever one is still available. Ephedrine's effects are much like caffeine. Increased alertness, increased heart rate, all that jazz. The good part is that it's like taking caffeine for the first time every time. I'm wired, amped and ready to go go gadget BEAST MODE.
If you do a bit of googleing on either of these supplements you'll find that in a lot of studies they don't actually increase performance over a placebo. But the subjects do report increased alertness. Hmm. Maybe the authors of said study are looking at the wrong kinds of things. I know that caffeine and ephedrine aren't going to increase my maximal leg extension. Nor will it let me go further past exhaustion on my 80% 1RM lat pull down test. I don't lift (and I'm guessing no one does) like I'm in a study. I lift to get bigger and stronger. I do what I want, when I want, however I want. And stimulants are the prod that gets me out of the chair and into the gym.
9. Doing Things You Hate
Some things I hate to do: getting up early, drive long distances alone, soft tissue work, help people move, cook, and clean. I'm sure that there are things that you hate to do in the gym or in practice for your sport. More likely than not it's in the doing of said thing that will make you better. I'm not a huge fan of doing high rep sets but I know they are great for building muscle and strength endurance, so I do them. I'm not a fan of conditioning work but I do enough to stay in moderately good shape.
Anyone can do the things they like to do. When we do things we hate or are afraid of mental toughness is built. If you can say, "Fuck it, I hate squatting but I'm going to take that bar to pound town." once, you can do it again. And again. And soon enough you may still hate to squat but you won't think twice about doing it because you know that squatting makes you strong, rich, smart, resistant to edge weapons and irresistible to the opposite sex.
They say a true competitor is someone who hates to lose more than they like to win. Very true. If someone challenges me to something I have to beat them. It's why I grew my beard for five months in college. It's why I call out a seven year-old's nonsense rules when playing catch with a roll out ball. And it's why I'll push that seven year-old to the ground if they even think about beating me in a foot race.
Let me ask you a question. What's got two thumbs and dominated Twister at the 2011 Circle of Friends Winter Trip?
Were most of the competitors under 12? Yes. Were most of them female? Yes. Did they like the fact that I was dominating the game due to my size, strength, reaction time, and strategic advantage? Probably not. Should they get better for next time? Yes. It's simple as that.
"You don't like it? Get better." -Jeff Voris, my college football coach to us after we got our asses handed to us.
I once read a story about Brian Cox, who played middle linebacker for the Jets, Bears, and Dolphins, who when challenged by his kids to race to the top of the stairs would push them down and run up the stairs leaving them in a crying mess at the bottom. I'm sure he didn't take much pleasure in it, he just had to win. That's a true competitor. To steal a page from Charlie Sheen, "Winning!"