Lifting weights is a way to develop mindset. Men have been lifting weights since the dawn of recorded history.
There is ample biblical record of warriors and men who were renowned for their physical strength. There are historical records as far as back the ancient Mesopotamia, of warrior classes who trained and drilled for combat and battle. These men’s training was not that different than soldiers of today; calisthenics, drills with weights and implements, marching and running (cardio) to improve endurance. The ancient Greeks, the Spartans, the Egyptians, and every great civilization that ever thrived and won at war, men trained.
In Ancient Greece, physical exercise was promoted as Medicine. Hippocrates advised that walking and physical exertion were the keys to success. Plato believed the methodical exercise was crucial to building strong children and citizens. Aristotle cited health as the most important quality to cultivate in the body.
The very concept of a gym comes from the Greek gymnasium. Over 2,500 years ago, in an era with no running water, electricity, or anything resembling modern convenience, the foundational society of Western Civilization built gyms where people could WORKOUT because they considered it that important to a thriving city and state.
In the modern era, we are largely divorced from the harsher physical realities that our ancestors faced. We have vehicles, we have climate controlled homes, and skilled labor jobs and farming have become more automated due to machinery and technology.
Despite the increased ease of living, the biological imperative for “strength” remains. Men instinctively are impressed by athletic prowess, by feats of strength, by other men who are well built. No amount of far left “genderless” irrationality and denial of science can counteract the reality of biology. The historical record of Western Civilization promotes physical health as a necessity to a thriving culture. The Strong is what Survives, and strength as a quality is one that every mammalian species needs to thrive and reproduce.
Lifting weights can be viewed through a short-sighted as narcissism, but the larger reality is that physical body and the function of the mind are so intricately tied that separating the two is almost impossible. Physical training has profound and far-reaching mental benefits, that even after 100 years of research, medical science still does not fully understand the power or extent of them.
The benefits of Lifting Weights are many then
1) The Ability to Focus
-well executed strength training requires you to direct your energy, to give it your full attention, to exist within the moment and not let the mind wander. A lack of focus is a lack of energy and concentration. Learning to center and express your efforts through the movement of the body has transference to any other task that requires mental acuity
2) Mental Toughness
-Lifting weights does not make you a billy badass, don’t get it twisted, but it does at minimum make you accustomed to dealing with physical discomfort, fatigue, and pain. There is a reason every organized military force in history has put its soldiers through “bootcamps”; your mentality is expressed with your physicality. If you cannot handle physical discomfort, how can you be expected to handle mental stress? Lifting is a way to build your “robustness” and practice perseverance through adversity.
3) Self Discipline
-Building muscle takes TIME. And not just aesthetically, but also athletically. There is a reason professional athletes take years to reach their peak. Even for an average person, building “optimum” health can be a decade’s long endeavor, and maintaining it is lifelong. Dedication and consistency are mandatory then. At a certain point, working out becomes a part of identity
4) Stronger Mental Identity
-When your body is strong, your mind is more likely to follow. Exceptions aside, when your physical health is poor, your ability to apply yourself to anything is limited, as is your ability to handle stress. Having your efforts fail because your body failed you and you got sick is a horrible thing to go through. Lifting develops a stronger identity
-This is undeniable. When you feel good, and you look good, you do good. The science behind “attraction” is rock solid; women prefer fit men, and fit men are more likely to lead, be promoted, and be viewed favorably by their peers. The internal and external benefits of physical strength and confidence manifest themselves in a million different ways.
-movement fosters creativity. It is no coincidence how many philosophers, tycoons, athletes, and magnates throughout time were very fond of going for long walks. The parts of the brain that are responsible for creative thinking and problem solving are equally stimulated by physical exercise and lifting. Per the words of one of my clients, “I always have my best ideas come to me in between sets”.
7) Competitive Spirit
-When you begin lifting, begin to see changes, and learn the relationship between input and outcome, that fosters a desire to continuously improve. Most people are not competitive athletes, but if you view life a process of constant improvement, then your physicality becomes something that can always be taken to the next level. Competing against oneself is a way to stay both mentally and physically fresh and not stagnate.
-Something that is lost for us as we age, we don’t have fun. Training can be disciplined, it can be intense, but it also can be purely enjoyable. Not everything in the gym needs to be deadly serious. Playing around with workouts, with exercises, with routines, with trying different physical outlets just because, fun and play are well proven to support mental health. Fun aside, even if you never learn to find enjoyment in something, your likelihood to maintain it is very low
-Not something most would think, but lifting weights absolutely improves short and long term retention. Learning the names of movements, of muscles, their functions, recording your training, keeping a log book, learning the motor coordination patterns, all these becomes part of a continuum. Exercise is preventative medicine against dementia and Alzheimer’s, and when one considers how much MEMORY exercising takes, its not hard to understand why.
-This last one is perhaps the most powerful. Visualization is mental dialogue, its self-talk. When you visualize “success” in the gym, whether it be finishing reps, completing a PR, or bring a new physique in being, you are practicing changing your frame of thinking into an abundant and positive one.
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