FOR THE FIRST 20 YEARS OF MY LIFE, LIFTING WEIGHTS WASN’T SOMETHING I DID.
I remember screwing around in high school weights class, doing everything I could to not lift weights every day I was there.
For the past 10 years, however, lifting weights has been one of my most consistent habits, and is one of the top habits I think everyone should be doing consistently. But not for the reasons you might think…
For example, I don’t think that better abs and biceps is the main benefit of weightlifting.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love building muscle and looking more ripped as much as the next guy, but there is more to weightlifting than just these things.
When I think about the time I’ve spent in the gym, here are the most valuable benefits I’ve discovered that extend beyond the typical “be better than the guy next to you” and “get more women” stuff you hear so often…
Pushing yourself physically tells you what you’re made of
In job interviews, people often ask questions that attempt to gauge the character of the person being interviewed. There are a bunch of different questions used for this, but you know what I’d ask?
I’d ask, “When you’re on the last set of bench presses and you’re 8 reps deep with 3 to go and your muscles are burning like hell and your mind is begging you to drop the weight and give in – do you quit or finish 3 more reps?
Your answer to that question will likely tell you everything you need to know about the kind of man you are. And I’m not talking about some sadistic embrace of pain. But pushing through tough reps and fighting that momentary discomfort is great practice of self-discipline.
Every Time you step up to the bar, you’ve got a choice: will you win or be defeated?
Will you push yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do, or shy away in fear?
How you respond to that situation will likely be how you respond to every uncomfortable situation in life.
Pushing yourself in the gym is “practice” for becoming better at pushing yourself outside of the gym to be a better husband, friend, father, and worker.
Transforming your body can be the lead domino that ignites change in other areas of your life
Despite being a piss-poor student (I maybe did 5 hours of homework throughout my entire four years in high school and rarely showed up to class in college), I had two things going for me: I loved learning about health and fitness, and I enjoyed writing and sharing my ideas with others.
After I walked away from basketball my junior year in college, I hit an all-time low.
All at once, I realized: I have no idea where I’m going in life. I don’t like the person I’m becoming, I have zero confidence in my abilities to succeed, and I have no idea what the next step is to get back on the right track.
Then I stepped into the gym and learned that through hard work and dedication, I could change my body. Slowly, I saw my skinny, soft body change into the muscular, athletic body I’d always wanted.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this transformation changed the trajectory of my life.
Taking control of your health and fitness can change your life, too. The skills you develop, the habits you adopt, the confidence you build will bleed into every other aspect of your life.
Instead of feeling “stuck”—feeling like a failure—you’ll think, “If I can change my body… what other kinds of positive changes can I make happen in my life?”
That’s what transforming my body did for me.
And I’ve seen it happen over and over again in the lives of others over the past 10 years.
Being physically and mentally strong makes you better at life
My kids are refusing to go to sleep again.
They’ve hollered for me from his room every 10 minutes for the past half-hour.
They’ve got good reasons: he’s not feeling well, his stomach hurts—and to top it all off he’s too young to fully express any of this clearly.
I want to stay planted on the couch and rest for a minute without the demands of kids and work and life. I want to go in there and yell at them. Tell them I’ve been up since zero-dark-thirty and I’ve put in a full day’s work.
That’s what I want to do…
But what do I actually do?
I calmly get up, and go down to their rooms. I ask them what’s wrong. I comfort them, tuck them in, and calmly exit the room.
(Okay, okay—that’s what I do most of the time. Admittedly, like any other human, there are times when I fail. I take the easy way out.)
Any parent knows that’s mental and physical strength.
And it’s not something I’m naturally gifted with. Left to my own devices I’m an impatient, irrational, impulse-driven human just like anybody else.
But the mental and physical strength I’ve learned from lifting weights has spilled over into all of these other areas of my life, making me a stronger, more patient, more durable version of my previous self.
I see it at play every day in my relationships with my wife, kids, friends, and others.
I see it when I want to zone out to ESPN.com instead of doing work.
I see it when I’m tempted to be “half-there” while spending time with people I care about, but instead put down the phone and focus on the reality right in front of me.
This may sound crazy to you. You may be thinking I’m making this up.
But I’m telling you… this is how discipline works.
Do you struggle with any of these things?
- staying focused at work
- finding yourself getting irritated at your wife/kids often
- having trouble fighting impulses
- setting goals and actually following through with them
…. Lifting weights can make you better at all of those things.
Sure, this is something often glossed over when it’s much easier to get people on board with six packs and 300-pound deadlifts… but I’d argue that the other stuff, the “better-at-life” stuff will have a bigger impact on your happiness, health, and general attitude towards life.
Get the benefits of lifting weights and become a better, stronger YOU
Here’s something I didn’t even mention above: You don’t have to become one of those “fitness people” who constantly talks and thinks about exercise in order to reap these benefits.
You can approach this like a “part time” gig.
But you do have to be consistent.
Skip the “get ripped quick” fixes, ditch the “insane muscle gains in 6 weeks” garbage, and find a sustainable approach that delivers the benefits (aesthetics and the stuff we talked about today) while integrating into your lifestyle as seamlessly as possible.
At Muscle That Matters, our mission is different than most in the fitness industry.
We don’t just want to look better so we can post more selfies on Instagram or spend all of our free time in the gym so that we can say we lift a little more weight than the guy on the bench press next to us.
You’re here because you want to do stuff that matters while still being there for your family.
You want to be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day and be happy with the person looking back at you.
You want to make a difference.
Every time you step foot in the gym and push yourself past your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do something you haven’t done before, you get better.
And you don’t just get better at lifting weights; the grit, determination, and fortitude you learn in the gym spills over into every other area of your life.