the Physical and Mental benefits of Lifting Weights
For many years, I felt uncomfortable telling people that I lift weights. It wasn’t just the fact that I was a scrawny 6'4" and didn’t look like I lifted, but also because of the images I would conjure in my mind. When I said I lifted weights, I figured people would imagine all of the classic gym-bro stereotypes. Cut-off t-shirts, half-rep bench presses, and mid-workout protein shakes. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that those stereotypes are not true. Most people I meet in the gym are nice, hard-working individuals. I’ve also realized that I’m proud to be a weightlifter.
Lifting weights represents more than being a sweaty bro. It represents a commitment to improvement. It represents a willingness to challenge your mind and body, and push yourself to your limits. You can easily bullshit and meander your way through life, never fully reaching your potential. But step into the gym, and that all changes. It’s just you and the weights, and the weights don’t lie. They will challenge you to be better every single day. You will try, and you will fail. Failure is common when you are truly pushing yourself in the gym. But it allows you to grow. Failed to hit a new PR on squat? Do better next week. There are only two options: do better, or quit.
Of course there is a huge physical benefit of lifting. You’ll look and feel better, and the confidence that comes from this can help you in all aspects of life. But there is also an underrated mental aspect of lifting. Lifting weights is like a form of meditation. You can go to the gym for an hour everyday, and forget all of your problems. Any bullshit that may be going on in your life, the gym doesn’t care. I’ve been through breakups, been passed up for promotions at work, failed huge tests. I’ve been called an asshole, I’ve been told that I’m not good enough. I can go to the gym, and none of that matters. It’s just me and the weights. Sure, it’s tough. Lifting is an uncomfortable experience, and you’ll fail more times than not. But you know that every day you are getting stronger and getting closer to your goals, pound by pound.
Lifting takes discipline and heart. I don’t want to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to hit the gym before work, but I do it anyways. Because I’ve fallen in love with the process. Every pound that I add to my bench or squat represents growth. It means I am better than I was yesterday. I don’t lift to be better than others. I lift to be better than myself. To reach beyond what I am currently capable of, to dare myself to grow. Sometimes I fail. But that is okay. Failure is the precursor to success.
That’s why I lift weights.