I find it funny when people ask me or others what they are training for or why I workout so much. Are you training for a fitness competition? For sports? For physique competitions? My answer always is, “I’m training for life.”
As cheesy as it sounds, I’m training to be better at life. To look better and to function better. Most of the things that we do in the gym translate to movements in everyday life.
For example, it’s currently winter here in the Inland Northwest and we’ve been getting hit by snow storms. Imagine you’re walking to your car and you almost trip and fall on some ice. I’ve almost fallen at least two dozen times in the last three months, but I’d like to attribute strength and balance training as to why I actually didn’t fall down. Or maybe you’re at work moving boxes around or stocking shelves, etc. Strength training is going to make you better at all of the above.
Strength training doesn’t just stop at the physical benefits either. There are a ton of internal and mental benefits as well. Don’t believe me? Read my “EDSO” article on the chemical reactions that take place while we workout or in day-to-day life and why humans do what we do in general. We seek out things that make us feel good. Exercise is one of those things and I know some people don’t like exercise or working out. But, I think we can learn to love it by the way that it makes us feel. It’s an acquired taste, just like that beer or wine or whiskey that you drink.
Alright, enough background story, on to the list of eight ways that strength training will make you better at life:
1. Discovering functional strength. The word, functional, gets tossed around a lot, and it can be tough to know what it really means. People who do hard work or manual labor outside the gym have always known, it’s the ability to do what needs to be done. Get stronger and sure, it’ll be easier to carry the groceries upstairs, mow the lawn, shovel snow, keep up with the kids, etc, but some of the best benefits of lifting will appear when you least expect them.
Hence a few of my examples above about slipping on ice and whatnot. What you do in the gym will kick in when you least expect it in your daily life and your brain will go, “Wow! I could have gotten seriously hurt there and I saved myself from injury,” or “I could never do that before,” or “I’m usually out of breath while running around with the kids and now I’m full of energy.”
2. Excelling in sports. When you’re a young athlete at school, you train and compete. Once you’re out in the “real world,” they both become choices, neither is mandatory. Guess which one gets dropped first? The training, of course. I’m guilty of it and wish I would have trained harder when I was “in my prime.” People typically get stuck in a fixed and false idea of their ability level on the field, the court, etc. Also known as recreational league sports. You will find one or two on every team.
Get serious about lifting at any age and you’ll almost definitely also see a boost in your sport of choice.
3. Developing patience. Physical training is hard, because it’s honest. I think that’s why I love the gym is, because it’s a very humbling place. However, there are egos no matter where you go, that’s just life. However, no matter what your goal is, you WILL NOT see results overnight! You need to dedicate time and effort every day to see success. You’d better believe this is a good life lesson. Good things come to those who work for it.
4. Stress-relief. Plenty of people go to the gym the first time for physical reasons, but by the 500th time, many people are there just as much for the mental and emotional benefits. Working out is similar to therapy and helps you keep a level head in life.
I’ve personally battled depression, anger, etc. and the gym has helped me stay out of the “funk,” as I call it. Every now and then I fall back in or get run down, but I’m always excited to get back into the gym and get my mind right. You can always count on the gym too. It’s always there and never lets you down. People will, that’s just life.
Some how, physically exhausting yourself gives you more energy and putting stress on your body, relieves stress. It’s an awesome cycle! The gift that keeps on giving.
5. Appreciate life more. In the weight room, you make the choice to struggle, feel pain, and push yourself to new limits. And for many, this ritual leaves them feeling grateful simply to be alive and able to experience something so real and intense.
Push your limits regularly, and you’ll appreciate not only all you can do, but all you could do. Few activities can offer something so profound while also helping you look and feel your best.
6. Improve work ethic. Serious training isn’t just a hobby; it’s a skill that demands consistency, determination, and the willingness to put your ego aside. And it’s no wonder that these also happen to be characteristics of great employees, students, and friends. It’s not a stretch to say, “Lift more, achieve more.”
I think we all have “skated by” in life at some point. But, when you really start to tap into your determination, motivation, commitment, etc. it’s amazing what you can accomplish. This will carry over into your career, your relationships and the list could go on forever.
7. Confidence. That barbell with weights on it is more than just a heavy object; it’s a challenge you can choose to walk up to or run away from. Sure, you might fail, but then again, you might not. Only one way to find out, right?
It’s kind of like having the guts to go up to that guy or girl and ask them on a date, to apply for that job that you never thought you would get or do whatever it is that you thought you would never do, because it’s too risky. Strength training gives you confidence; confidence that you never had before, because you start to push your abilities and start to look better and feel better. I personally used to hate myself and my physique. Now I’m to the point in life where I’m happy with where I’m at, but want to keep improving every day. I have confidence that I never used to have thanks to the gym.
8. Inspiring & helping those around you. This is my favorite part and why I chose to make fitness a career. Too often, strength and fitness be viewed as “selfish” and “shallow.” It definitely appears to be this way on social media and especially on Instagram.
However, this point-of-view sadly underestimates the impact your physical practice can have on those around you; from your friends, to family members, to coworkers and those that you inspire on social media. Make no mistake: Your strength sends a message to those around you. It tells them they have a choice. They’re not stuck with who they are right now.
No matter your background, age, or goals, you can grow, surprise yourself, and build a better life. A better you, because nobody is going to take care of you, except for YOU.