A Few Words with Henry Rollins
Greg Everett

I've been a big fan of Henry Rollins for many years, from Black Flag to Rollins Band to his books and spoken word shows/CDs/DVDs. He was a very early inspiration to me as a model of self-reliance, motivation and work ethic—a guy who just wanted to put his head down and get things done without ostentation or applause, and who did nothing less than exactly what he was inspired to do.

Rollins has just release his newest in a long string of books, Occupants. Check it out along with his older books.

Over the years Rollins has also been a proponent and practitioner of strength training and has become known widely for various quotes and essays pertaining to training. Performance Menu managing editor Yael Grauer got a chance to do a quick email exchange with him. Here it is:

What role has strength training played in your life with regard to self-esteem? How has that changed as you've gotten older and more established?

Training allowed me to see that I was able to make changes to myself and achieve something. When I started training in high school, it was the first evidence that I could do something for myself. It was a great help for everything else.

What role does strength training still play in your life?

I train about five days a week. I don’t lift very heavy weight. I am fifty and am looking to maintain my joints.

What style of lifting fascinates you the most and why?

Olympic lifting. I have never done it. I like all the coordination that goes into those lifts.

What would you have done different in regards to lifting if you had to do it again?

Probably backed off some lifts after a certain poundage. I think after a certain weight, lifting was hard on my body. It’s hard to back off though, it’s really not the spirit of it to back down.

How would you describe the role of strength training in your own quest to push yourself?

It’s monumental. I can trace all my achievements back to lifting and distance running.

How has your training changed over the years?

I use the treadmill for forty-five minutes to an hour to start and then lift. If I can’t lift it ten times, I don’t lift that weight. I am going for function and longevity at this point.

In your essay Iron and the Soul, you describe your former advisor, Mr. Pepperman, as a pivotal role model in your life. Do you still see him that way?

Sure, he turned me onto weight lifting.

You wrote that pain is not your enemy, it is your call to greatness. Have your views on that evolved at all in the past 17 years, or do you still see it that way?

That maxim has not lost a second of speed with me. One must persevere to get anywhere and as you want to get more out of anything, you will experience pain. It is what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Do you still listen to ballads when you work out?

No. That was best for heavy weight.

Can you give our readers any more details on this quote? “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.”

If you are working out for cosmetic reasons, you are not in the gym to push yourself, you’re putting on make-up but it’s muscle. It’s an entirely different ethic. You see it in city gyms, some of these people train for a social scene. That’s for them to do but it is what it is and it’s not for me. Hell, at least they’re in there.

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Matt Foreman
November 14 2011
This is awesome. I'm also a longtime Rollins fan, read some of his books and listen to plenty of his music. I actually used to wear one of his "Search and Destroy" t-shirts when I competed in meets, the one with that kickass tattoo logo on the back. I e-mailed him once several years ago to share some good words and I told him I was an Olympic lifter. He e-mailed back that he was fascinated by Olympic lifting and that it was "a hell of a thing." Cool guy, thanks for putting this blog post up.
Mike H
November 14 2011
This is badass. I'm on the right team for sure. Thanks for reaching out to HR, he brings much inspiration to me too!
Mike Gray
November 14 2011
Oh man that was awesome!!!

I still wear my Search And Destroy shirt.
November 14 2011
I respect that he still trains (I am a serious follower of Westside training principles myself) but I do not agree with his politics. He's a supporter of ANTIFA, which is a Marxist, anti-racist, anti-White organization. So, do I have respect for him as far as still hitting the iron? Absolutely. But other than that, I have no use for his opinions.
RJ Abella
November 14 2011
I read this last night in one of his articles.

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

sick! lift heavy my friends.
January 2 2012
Did he happen to mention what his max lifts were ??
May 25 2013
Anti-racist is not anti-white. Nice try.