Macho chest beating

I feel I have this interesting mix of emotions when it comes to fitness, if only because I know people tend to be willing to overlook important distinctions. On the one hand, I very much enjoy weight lifting and athletic competition. I want to be as strong as I can be, and I want to always win at whatever I’m playing – I never going into any game willing to lose. I like to discuss form, breathing, technique, and everything else that comes with lifting. And I’m not afraid to ask others what is they bench or squat or whathaveyou, provided I know they also go to a gym. But on the other hand, I hate macho chest beating. I’ve seen it on FTSOS at least twice, and I hear it at the gym from time to time. It’s annoying and immature and it shows a lack of appreciation for what weight lifting is about.

Just today I saw someone on the bench press (monopolizing the friggin’ thing) working out of form – wildly. I saw him pressing 200lbs for his sets and doing fine, but when he went up in weight to 220lbs, he began arching his back higher than I’ve ever seen anyone go. His toes were the only thing touching the ground and he was clearly using his full body – not just the muscles the bench press is meant to target – in order to get through the exercise. He was probably trying to impress his friend, which was ridiculous since his friend never went above 130lbs anyway. Besides that, he did not improve his bench press in any meaningful way.

For another example, just last week I heard two guys making disparaging comments about others in the gym who were under tutelage or doing simply, relatively easy exercises. They kept it to themselves, not directing any comment to any one person, but it was still annoying, and on three levels. First, it was stupid macho chest beating. Second, it was mocking people who were putting forth an honest effort to better themselves – I disapprove of those who are willingly fat and out-of-shape, but there is nothing wrong with being fat while attempting to become healthy. And third, these two guys were acting as though they were the toughest thing that gym had ever seen. They weren’t. Aside from the massively strong – and generally humble – guys I’ve seen around there, I was out-lifting them. And they each out-weighed me by about 30lbs.

And then there’s this example from Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan:

There is an umpire problem in Major League Baseball, and it has nothing to do with blown calls or instant replay. It’s about a distinct lack of respect and baseball players’ cowardice in treating umpires as some subspecies, knowing the worst thing that can fly back at them is a suspension instead of a fist.

Most MLB players are far larger and far stronger than MLB umpires. I doubt they would be afraid to engage one of them in a fight if they could. After all, most teams get into a few brawls on the field every year – and that’s against other baseball players. Ya know, those guys who are professional athletes. It’s ridiculous to not only place false bravado on the players but to also pretend like an umpires fist is a big threat to these guys. It’s Passan who is throwing out the made up bravado, not the players.

So yeah, it bugs me when people try to play up the macho card. It’s worse when it’s done so by those who aren’t actually the strongest in the room – they deserve to be put in their place simply for getting their facts so wildly wrong – but it’s stupid when anyone does it. None of this should take away from a good appreciation for what weight lifting or athletics is about, but I do think it is good to maintain a distinction between being a macho jerk and just being a person who cares about fitness.

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