The Life Lessons of Lifting

by Flex Luthor


Going to the gym is good for you. Ceteris paribus, one who works out regularly will be healthier and live longer than one who does not. However, the benefits of regular lifting go beyond physical health. You learn about yourself and life in general through regular and frequent workouts. So what can lifting teach us?

1- Discipline

This one is fairly obvious. It takes discipline to hit the gym four or five times a week. Do I always go: "golly gee, there is literally nothing I'd like doing more than getting off this couch and lifting weights for a while"? Of course not, but (in most cases) I still get up and drag my ass to the gym. Doing something when you're in the mood and it is convenient is easy. Doing it when it's the last thing you want to do, with about a million perceived obstacles? That takes discipline. In most cases, you get a little bonus after a not-in-the-mood workout. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction can be tremendous, and there is a good chance the rest of your day will go a lot better than it would have had you succumbed to laziness or any other obstacle.    

2- Perseverance

The time, effort, and money you put into the your gym membership and workouts are a long-term investment in yourself. This is something most people know but don't actually realize! Every January there is a flood of new subscribers at the gym, ready and determined to start the new year on the right foot. However by March, most of them are nowhere to be seen at the gym.

My guess is that there are two manners in which those people lose their way. In one scenario, they want to lose some of those extra pounds. They start seeing results within the first couple of months and begin to think they can allow themselves to take little breaks because they now have some room to maneuver due to the weight they've lost. Of course once they start doing that, the weight they've lost creep their way back. Once they are back to their new year's eve weight, they feel disheartened and lose the will to workout.

The other scenario pertains to those who want to look more fit, by increasing either muscle mass or definition. Those kinds of results do not mix well with an instant gratification mentality. It will take months of regular and frequent workouts before visible, significant gains start to appear beyond the pump. Of course, many people don't have that kind of patience and quit soon after they start.     

3- Focus

Any gym rat will tell you that lifting is not a project. There is no end to it once you get going. It is a lifestyle choice. However, you can set goals for yourself within that general habit. In fact, those objectives keep things interesting. Once you decide that you want to increase your muscle mass by X lbs by a certain date, or decrease your body fat percentage for a certain event or season, discipline and perseverance will come to you much more naturally.


4- Humility

You are a work of art. No one else comes even close to looking as good and fit as you do, especially when you're by yourself in front of the bathroom mirror!

An overly positive self image can arise once some visible progress is achieved as a result of regular and frequent lifting. However, unless you are completely delusional and narcissistic (or unbelievably  fit!), the bathroom mirror goggles usually come off as soon as you get to the gym. There will always be someone there with better calves or rear delts that have to be seen to be believed. The right way to respond? Use the experience to set goals for yourself. Once you adopt that attitude, our previous three points will fall right into place. Don't you love it when things come together?

  5- Respecting and Using Your Limits

Have you ever injured yourself because you went too heavy or didn't adequately warm up (or both)? If you have, I'm willing to bet you now take your precautions and properly prepare before you get to any serious lifting. Injuries can show you your limits, and those limits can be used to define objectives. After all, pushing your limits is one of the best ways to grow, in every sense of the words. So this is another way to give focus to your workouts, which of course will bring about discipline and perseverance. Knowing your limits adds an extra dimension to creating and pursuing objectives because it prevents you from formulating unattainable goals.  

There is a lot more to lifting than showing off. You get to apply some of the life principles to which some people merely pay lip service. Those of us wise enough will realize that if the five ideas outlined above help in the acquisition and maintenance of gains, there is a good chance they can be applied to other facets of life. For example, few will argue that discipline, perseverance, focus, humility, and being aware of their limits have no relevance in their professional lives.

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