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How World of Warcraft Prepared Me for Weightlifting
Urban Primalist

How World of Warcraft Prepared Me for Weightlifting

Terror of the Horde

I was a magical gnome once.  Lieutenant Commander Gnugnug von Obskurhosen was my name.

For nearly four years I lived the life of an arcane mage, striving to master World of Warcraft with every fiber of my being.  I farmed every instance from Molten Core to Ulduar on Cenarion Circle-RP as a raider, raid leader, and guildmaster.  And I brought flaming death to countless opponents in the arena.  Let me tell you, those were the days.  I don’t regret for an instant the hours I poured into that game.  It was the most fun I’ve ever had, ever.

Until I discovered weightlifting.

And I found, to my delight, that WoW had prepared me to excel.  These are the lessons I learned.

1.        Nothing matters except as it relates to other people.

I’ve finished a lot of games in my life.  Yet at the end, no matter how epic, I always felt like it had been a bit of a waste of time.  But in WoW, I was helping an entire community achieve their goals too, and in the process I forged friendships as strong as those in real life.  Who cares if you’ve got a full T4 raiding set if you’ve got nobody to share it with?

So it is with lifting.  I don’t lift just to be strong for myself.  I lift so that I will be the most awesome and capable husband, father, and ultimately ancestor possible.  And I lift so that I can inspire my friends and everybody around me to develop their skills too.

2.       Set arbitrary goals and pursue them with frothing devotion.

Who cares if I was Lt. Cmdr. Gnugnug or just Sgt. Gnugnug?  Damn few people.  Even fewer care how close I came to full-on Cmdr.  Those titles don’t even do anything in game.  But rarely have I ever exerted myself more than in pursuing them.  It meant everything to me and I’m still damn proud of what I achieved.

Likewise, nobody cares if I can deadlift twice my bodyweight or just 1.8x.  However, I care like you wouldn’t believe.  And when I hit 2x, I will instantly start chasing the next milestone.  My devotion to catching that mechanical rabbit, if you will, brings me a bonanza of unintended, even unimagined benefits.

3.       Grind with eternal patience.

It took days, months, even years to achieve certain of my goals in WoW.  I spent endless amounts of time doing the same thing over and over with essentially no reward.

Now that I’m lifting, I don’t care if I hit a plateau for five months, as I did twice on the bench press.  I am still going to come back and hit it just as hard, if not harder, every week.  The grind itself is a reward and I’m just as enthusiastic about the 10,000th rep as I am about the first or the last.

4.       Every human being should be utterly ripped.

Not gnomes, of course.  Gnomes are pasty, neotonous little pervs.  But every human, from warriors to priests, must be cartoonishly muscular.  Anything less is quite unthinkable.

5.       The closest friendships are forged in the fires of shared suffering and triumph.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss my raiding buddies.  We shared a camaraderie that could not possibly be outdone even by the most grizzled foxhole veterans of real, honest-to-goodness wars.  If you ever fought alongside Gnugnug in any capacity… please write me, my dear, dear friend.

The parallel with lifting is a little less exact, because I don’t have a lifting buddy, but those who have fasted with me and recomped with me, and those I have trained, are especially close to my heart.

6.       Online communities are stupendously motivating.

I would have walked through fire for my guildmates, even though I rarely knew them in person.  They were like family to me.

Real life is such a letdown in terms of community.  Homo Sapiens is genetically programmed to cleave to the same couple hundred people, tops, from birth to death.  Yet I can’t even remember, let alone count, how many friends I’ve made and lost over the years just as surely as if they had died.  We humans crave tribal belonging.  So thank goodness for Fitocracy, which provides the same kind of community that I found on Cenarion Circle.  I’ve never met any of my friends on there, but I’ll do just about anything to motivate and entertain them.

7.       Eat magic food.

Raiding in WoW would hardly be possible without consumables.  Pots, flasks, cinnamon rolls; they all matter decisively in giving a raider a crucial edge.

Even moreso in life.  Consumables are everything!  And be sure you meet the prerequisites.  I had to get to primal level 60 before I could handle raw liver.  Short-duration stuff matters too.  Heaven forbid I go into my workout without the maximum caffeine high.

8.       Pursuit of epic shoulders, chest, hands, feet, and legs is mandatory.

And putting them all together leads to incredible set bonuses.  I won’t stop pressing until my delts are glowing blue. 

9.       Never miss a raid unless it’s a bona fide emergency.

I didn’t get to be guildmaster by showing up whenever I felt like it.  I attended three raids a week like clockwork, and the only time I missed them was when I was unavoidably out of town or suffering a medical emergency. 

Likewise, I have been lifting for almost a year without missing a single session.  I have never been so sick, tired, or distracted that I couldn’t get under the bar.

10.   Your spouse will make or break you.

I could never have reached the pinnacles of WoW excellence had it not been for my incredibly indulgent wife.  There is no way I can ever repay her for supporting me in my hobby, even though it seemed utterly insane to her.  But I do try.

Same with lifting.  Also like WoW, I’ll never stop trying to get her to join me however long she puts me off.  Only difference is this time, I think she’s gonna crack.

11.   If you want to excel you have to absolutely love what you’re doing.

As I said, I never had more fun than when I was playing WoW.  I thought about it constantly, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  I remember getting up with trembling hands at 4am with the excitement of a six-year-old on Christmas Day just to farm undisturbed.

So it is with lifting.  My favorite thoughts concern my next workout, visualizing everything I will do.  When I step through the gym doors I feel that same excitement and sense of possibility.  And when I step out I immediately begin planning my next session.

That’s how World of Warcraft prepared me for barbells.  I don’t care that I’ve just exposed myself as a gargantuan nerd, because that’s what I am.  Just a little less gargantuan than when I was sitting on my butt all day.

But not for long.

Terror of the rack

All text copyright © 2010-2013 Timothy Williams