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Henry Rollins’ Epic Quote on Lifting Weights

As said many times in the comment threads: developing a love for exercise can be a huge boon to your post-Adderall recovery process. To start off a three-week series on exercise here at Quitting Adderall, here’s an awesome quote from over-the-top sbiancamento denti punk rocker/writer/comedian Henry Rollins.

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be
like you parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of
all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The
humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be
mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow
students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and
my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I
didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was
there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was
pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every
waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some
strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to
talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing
that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes.

Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a
few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the
greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his
head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and
you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school
sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my adviser. He was a powerfully built Vietnam
veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class.
Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to
the blackboard.

Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he
asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told
me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a
hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started
to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the
weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special.
My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought
the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An
attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said
that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on
a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I
wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were
getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or
tell anyone at school what I was doing.

In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than
I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home
that night and started right in. Weeks passed, and every once in a
while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my
books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks
passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense
the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of
nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I
laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home
and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just
the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My
chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can
remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one
could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have
learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I
was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong.
When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing
it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it
wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It
tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to
resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I
had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes
without work and a ceratin amount of pain. When I finish a set that
leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I
know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is
not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the
Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most
injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks
lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not
picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not
prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I
think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself
off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on
someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys
working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the
worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and
insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the
difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and
sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical
and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he
was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a
weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most
romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a
woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was
racing through my body. Everything in me wanted her. So much so that
sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most
intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see
her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the
loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons
that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always
time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had
taught me how to live.

Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes
down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People
have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole. I
see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban
homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly.
And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by
that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the
Iron mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into
a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind
thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind
degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my
mind. The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is
no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and
body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all
kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron
will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference
point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in
the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It
never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two
hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

19 Responses to “Henry Rollins’ Epic Quote on Lifting Weights”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    WOW!! This is soo very powerful and reminds me a bit of my own writing style. I printed it out for my husband last night and it really spoke to us. Henry Rollins is one crazy MOFO (his intensity reminds me a little bit of Busta Rhymes. Are you familiar with “flip mode”? I think it’s a lot like quitting Adderall. LOL) But seriously I think a little instability is necessary in order to have a greater understanding of the world around us. 🙂

    My husband and I are talking about beginning a weight lifting program together, I never wanted to mess with it before- as a chick because I REALLY want to avoid building mass, but my husband played football for years and said that there is a way to use “the iron” without building mass.

    Anyway, I am sure you will be hearing from me again on here. I have read more of this site and I must say that you are awesome. It is obvious that one of your God-given missions in life is to get this message through. Like I said on another post, I should probably be in rehab but there are so many reasons it is not feasable for me. This is my rehab (along with support from friends and family, other self-help books, the show Intervention, caffeine, cigarettes and good old fashioned sleep). God Bless you! AND THANK YOU, thank you, thank you! Oh BTW, still sucessfully on the half dose! Never stepping back up. Never.

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks Elizabeth!

    Henry Rollins is a crazy MOFO. The more of his stuff I read, the more I want to read. His “Solipsist” will probably be my next book.

    Nope, not familiar with flip mode. If it doesn’t have a guitar in it, then it’s probably off my radar — symptom of growing up on my dad’s music collection. But I’m totally with you on the intensity point with HR. Most. Intense. Guy. Ever. So awesome.

    You should get into weight lifting! It’s totally fun. Well, I’m not sure what it’s like for a girl. But I sure do love it. And your husband is right: there are lots of ways to avoid bulk, and being and ex-football guy, he probably knows a lot of them. It’s cool that you’re doing it together; have a knowledgeable workout buddy makes for the most consistently-good workouts.

    lol @ “the show Intervention, caffeine, cigarettes and good old fashioned sleep”. That’s awesome. If they ever do an Adderall episode of Intervention let me know and I’ll see if I can find it post some clips of it for everybody.

    Congrats on sticking to a half dose! That’s great! Besides all the crappy stuff, are you seeing any changes that you like so far? Sense of humor is usually the first thing to come back with lower doses.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Yah, I am definitely less of a robot. More “chill” is the word I am thinking of. Less focused, hungrier, but more relaxed and I am doing less of the compulsive stuff like touching my hair a lot. I want to do something with writing because I truly have a gift for it- and all of these great ideas have been flowing into my head for a long time- the great news is I see the “filter widening” on a half dose and it is a good thing- still nothing conclusive enough to submit for publishment, but I will give it some time- its only been a week. The truth is that the Adderall has not helped my ADD in ages- I think I have more of an eating disorder that makes me dependant on the appetite suppressing qualites of the drug- so I “pretended” like it was still helping my ADD when it was actually worse than ever.

    Flip mode is basically “switching it up”. My understanding is that it is basically just a commited attitude to changing your life/perspective in a way that will benefit yourself- I want to take it further and also benefit everyone around me.

    I don’t know of an Adderall Intervention, but I know for a fact that a beauty queen was on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (although she was a snotty “you know what” IMO- but I am sure the Adderall withdrawl added to her snottiness- think maybe her name is Carrie Prejean or something- not sure) ANyway, I am a huge Dr. Drew fan- and he told her that when someone is on Adderall they have to quit it before any other addiction can be treated- or something along those lines.

    BTW, I called myself an “Adderalic” last night and noticed how well that word flows.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Her name is Kari Ann Peniche – not Carrie Prejean. Very easy on the eyes, this girl- but not so nice. She made me decide that I would rather be the 6,7 or 8 that I am with a 10 for a heart- than a 9 or 10 with a 2 for a heart like her. Hopefully I am wrong about her because it is sad for anyone to live that way..

  5. Mike says:

    Nice! That filter widening is key for the writing, I think. I don’t know about you, but I could never write well on Adderall. Too many tangents.

    I hear that appetite suppressant point a lot. You’re new weight lifting adventure should make that moot pretty quick. Also, fwiw, I had a friend who put on like 15-20 pounds right after quitting, and then lost it all a couple months later without much effort. Like she ballooned and then settled back down.

    Hadn’t heard of that definition of “flip mode” before. That’s awesome. I Googled it and just found Busta Rhymes stuff, so I thought it was just a rap song you were talking about. heh.

    I looked up that Kari Ann Peniche. Jebus. I think I’ll stray away from featuring her anywhere.

    FYI: I may steal that “Adderalic” from you and start using it. Maybe whenever I say it I’ll trademark it and link it to your comment like “Yeah dude, you’re definitely an Adderallic.”

  6. Brian says:

    I first read this about 6 years ago when I started working out. My Mom passed away and within a few years my stepmom, and my grandfather also. I was assigned executor of estate to his property in the small town where I was raised. Friends had graduated, working the dream job that they worked for in college, some were married and having kids. This blog spoke to me BIG TIME!!! I was working out but just doing simple stuff. I wanted more and I got it. I became certified as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise and now live in San Diego, CA. A long way from home and this is where Rollins views on the “Iron” work for me. I can’t change the past. I can’t bring my Mom back, my friends, former loves, nothing. But 200 lbs is still 200 lbs. And that satisfys me.

  7. Wtfever says:

    Henry Lawrence Garfield (Rollins) takes steroids. All of that b.s., tear jerking, heart string pulling story is another of his tall tales.
    Trust me…I’m on the internet.

  8. dan worth says:

    Hi Henry,
    I am laying down snivelling cause I don’t have a Mr. P to help me
    I am weak and over 40….

    There is a lot of help out there it’s just a matter of making the decision to
    accept the help.

    I am ashamed that the people who have helped me I somehow let down.
    Thanks I am not going to let that Guy wipe his bugger on me anymore.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    He looked better before he started bodybuilding.

  11. Ftw says:

    That is one of the greatest things I have read

  12. EPIC does not even touch this! I gotta start lifting again!!! Thank you Henry Rollins, and thank you “Quitting Adderall!”

  13. abLANkblog says:

    […] The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all
 kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron
 will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference
point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in
 the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It
 never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two 
hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” – Henry Rollins […]

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