It’s popular nowadays for people to broadcast how hard they’re going in the gym.
When it comes to strength training, however, I find that people aren’t going as hard as they think. What’s funny is, they think their workouts are a scene from 300, when they really look like a scene from The Little Mermaid.
Ever done military presses with 20 pound dumbbells and felt you had several extra reps in reserve?
Ever deadlifted 1.5x your bodyweight and felt like you could bang out 2x your bodyweight with ease?
Ever hip thrusted over 200+ pounds and felt like you could do twice as much?
Look: lifting weights shouldn’t tickle. More often than not, strength lifts should feel like a grind, especially if you’re an athlete in your off-season, or an Average Joe looking to challenge yourself and build a more efficient metabolism.
Strength training, to that end, is a way to optimize your metabolic response, overcome adversity, shape your physique, make your biceps pop out of your shirt, elevate your mental energy, and feel like Superman.
Newsflash: picking up weights is supposed to be hard.
Too, it’s worth mentioning that getting stronger is a process. It will be difficult. It will push your mental resilience. It will get you out of your comfort zone. That’s normal.
Resistance training is so rewarding, so fulfilling, and so satisfying that if you stick with it relentlessly, you’ll see results. Moreover, you’ll see your physique blossom and your mental health flourish. And to expound further, you’ll see activities in your life become easier.
So what specific things can strength training do for you? Let’s dive in:
1. Teach you how to push yourself.
Besides fighting an army of orcs, there’s not much more that will teach you how to push yourself other than weight training.
Carrying iron barbells, plates and dumbbells has its way of pushing your body to adapt to become more resilient.
Bringing the laws of physics into the conversation, the more force applied to bones, muscles, tendons the more they must learn to adapt and grow stronger.
Put simply, progressive overload.
For me, it wasn’t until I did a gradually progressed strength program that I realized how much heavier I could lift. As I decreased reps each week, I continued to push the envelope with the amount of load I was lifting, realizing the toning workouts with 5 pound dumbbells I was googling weren’t going to suffice.
Eventually, I had to move on to bigger and better things, namely, progress and adapt.
While I’m all for using light weights as a starting point, upping the load not only allows your body to get stronger, but it teaches you what you’re capable of.
The human body, to that end, can grow into something tremendously resilient.
With that said, this ain’t Candy Land. Push yourself.
2. Shape your physique.
Taking the concept of progressive overload, it’s necessary to shape your physique and build an efficient metabolism. If you want true body change, you’re going to have to push yourself to some extent.
Now this isn’t to say live a stringent training lifestyle with tilapia and asparagus on the side, but make your workouts more efficient by doing these things:
3. Build your mental resilience.
Strength training is a beautiful metaphor for life: it’s not always smooth sailing.
There will be times you can’t get as many pull-ups as you’d like.
There will be times you can’t catch your power clean.
There will be times you won’t be able to deadlift 2x your bodyweight.
There will be times you’ll have to tip-toe away from the complex lifts and return to the basics. Literally.
Alas, as many times as you fall down, you learn how to pick yourself up, pivot, and take a new, empowered direction.
Failure is natural in the world of weight lifting. And the more you realize it’s ephemeral, the more you’re able to endure it the next time it slaps you across the face. In fact, you’ll be able to laugh at failure and say, “hit me with your best shot.”
4. Teach you how to stick with a consistent program.
Gone are the days of “muscle confusion” and “switching it up.”
Staying on a consistent program that progresses the main lifts will bode well for your strength as well as physique development.
The body positivity movement, however, will say: “you don’t need to always be on a program and follow strict rules to stay fit.”
Yo. I call bs.
You do need a program so you can track your load, progress accordingly, de-load safely, then be prepared to enter full-on beast mode:
Additionally, being meticulous with your programming teaches you how to stay on track and disciplined. And last I looked, this carries over in academics, career and creative pursuits. The more you can focus in on the day-to-day habits, the more you’ll see something magical come into fruition.
Get. With. The. Program.
5. Make you fall in love with movement.
Strength training is movement training. And for those of you who plop on the couch at the end of your work day, or Netflix and chill on the weekends, you’re missing out on a whole lot of movement.
Not only is strength training challenging movement, it’s empowering movement.
Once you start to see physical and mental results from the weight room, you’re going to have an itch to move and become less sedentary. I promise.
6. Improve enjoyment of your hobbies.
Do you like to run marathons? Do you enjoy biking recreationally? Do you want to dominate your co-ed basketball league? Do you want to snowboard 8-hour days without wiping out?
Strength training has not only improved my soccer performance, but it has enhanced my ability to enjoy hobbies outside of my sport.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I was bombing it down the slopes with ease, while the rest of my friends were falling flat on their faces due to muscle fatigue. Snowboarding is an activity that takes skill, but also a tremendous amount of core and leg strength.
With that said, if you want to enjoy life’s activities to the fullest, you can’t go wrong with getting strong.
Even if you’re an avid hiker and you want to explore the beauty of the national parks, strength training will allow you to evade exhaustion. You know, so you can truly soak in the scenery. Don’t believe me? Check out this email from an online client of mine during her hiking trip out West:
This is what it’s all about, folks: being able to live your best life with strength and confidence and ease.
7. Reinforce the importance of dialing in your nutrition.
Here’s the thing: the more you strength train, the more you realize you need to keep your nutrition sharp to elicit the best results and feel at your best.
To that end, being cognizant of your nutrition is critical to optimize any strength training program. Too, you find out that workouts are really freaking crappy if you stuff Chik-Fil-A to the face pre-lift.
Eventually, you’ll move into the habit of fueling your body with whole foods that bring you to life and power you to crush your training sessions.
8. Boost your confidence.
I see this with female athletes all the time: any time someone bangs out their first bodyweight pull-up, their confidence picks up. Even more impressive, any time a girl crushes a weight pull-up, their confidence soars.
Last I looked, being frail and weak ruins confidence.
I don’t need a phD to tell anyone this, either. Don’t argue with me.
9. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to join Soccer Girl Fight Club.
First rule of Soccer Girl Fight Club: don’t get outworked.
Shoot me a message here to apply.
10. Remind you that everything is a process.
Looking back to four years ago, I could barely do a bodyweight pull-up. Working to get my first pull over the bar was a journey of working on grip, core, and upper body strength. Though not always pretty, it was a fun, yet grueling process.
Recently, I wrote my 500th article on the process being the pleasure in anything in life.
That’s where the grit is found. That’s where the magic happens. That’s where you find out what you’re made of. So lean into it. And eventually, you’ll power up to new heights (over a bar, too) ;-O
So that’s that.
I suck at writing concluding paragraphs.
I hope these 10 things strength training can do for you will inspire you to get under the barbell and lift some iron.
Of course, I could list 100 more things, but I’ve capped out at 1300 words in this article. It’s also Saturday night. K thanks. Bye.