When people think about lifting weights, they naturally focus on the physical side of it.
What people fail to consider often times are the benefits that lifting weights can provide outside of just looking good.
There are a lot of life lessons to take from lifting weights and bodybuilding that I don’t see discussed elsewhere.
Lessons that will help make you a better person and have a higher quality life outside of the gym than you would’ve had otherwise.
Since most of us will never be Mr. Olympia, the gym will likely be a place where we develop our souls more than our muscles over the years.
It’s a place that we can always go to and work on ourselves.
A place without distractions where we can be with our own mind and body while getting after it.
I’m going to give you the ten life lessons I’ve learned from lifting weights for over twenty years that have helped me to grow as a person and live a strong life.
# 1- Growth comes from pain and struggle
To grow and improve at anything on earth is painful.
If you want to grow bigger muscles in the gym, you must go through a lot of pain.
What separates people that build great physiques from those who build mediocre ones is their ability to deal with the pain they encounter.
Just like lifting weights, those who are able to deal with the pain in their life and keep moving forward are those that go furthest.
Failing at a goal or not getting that promotion time and time again is painful. There’s nothing more in the world that you’d rather do than give up.
If, you give up however, you will never become the person you want to be.
You have to learn to go through the pain and struggle and never give up no matter what.
# 2- You can always do more than you think you can
There’s a phenomenal quote by Navy SEAL David Goggins where he discusses how you are only at 40 % of your capability at the point when you think that you’re done.
Our limits are for more mental than physical. Any top athlete on earth will tell you that.
If it was just a matter of training hard, there would be far more people being able to do things like run a 100-mile race through the desert.
There have been so many times in the gym when I felt that I was truly done. My muscles were burning, and I was exhausted.
I realized that it was mostly mental at these times as something as simple as a new song coming on would instantly fire me back up and help me to keep going.
I know that you too have had this experience in the gym.
Outside of the gym, you can do more than you think you can as well.
All day long your mind is telling you do quit. To take it easy.
You know deep inside of yourself that you are capable of doing and being more.
# 3-The body will listen to the mind
There have been so many days over the years when I wanted to do anything else but go to the gym and lift.
You know what happened when I went to the gym anyways? I usually had my best workouts.
After going through it so many times, it’s become normal to me.
On days when I really don’t want to go to the gym, I usually go anyways. I may feel tired and lazy when I first get there, but after a few sets I get going.
I start talking to myself in my head. Telling myself that I feel great and that I’m ready to crush a workout.
It’s amazing how quickly positive self-talk can get you going again.
I’ve found this same principle to be applicable outside of the gym as well.
When I don’t want to do something like work on this blog for example, I force myself to do it anyways.
Once my mind starts thinking, my body falls right into line and starts typing.
Never forget that the mind is the leader, not the body.
# 4- Worry only about what you’re doing
When you’re in the gym, it’s so easy to get absorbed in what other people are doing.
When you see someone in better shape, you might start feeling bad or jealous about it and before you know it, you’ve lost your momentum.
The same thing happens in life. You see people on social media or YouTube doing better or making more money and you start feeling bad about it.
How do you feel after that? You feel like you just want to go lay on the couch and watch TV.
In and out of the gym, it’s important to worry only about what you’re doing. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing.
When you get caught up in what other people are doing, you’re not playing your game. You can never be like them and they can never be like you.
You will do your best when you focus on what you can do and the task in front of you.
# 5- What works for someone else might not work for you
We are all unique.
Just because I see someone in the gym blowing their arms up by doing cable curls doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for me.
Sure, I can try them and see if they work, but if they don’t, there’s no point dwelling on it.
I can find 5 other exercises that I can focus on that will work better for me.
Just because you see someone else starting a certain business or doing something in a certain way doesn’t mean you should do it the same way.
A lot of people in the supplement space do well on YouTube. I personally feel that I am 100 times better at writing than speaking so I choose to blog.
Not the end of the world.
We all have different ways of doing things and there is very rarely one right way to do something.
Find your game and play it.
# 6- Consistency is key to progress
If I go in the gym tomorrow and have a killer workout, then take a few weeks off, I’ve wasted my time.
Even if I was taking massive amounts of steroids, working out once a month would do nothing for me.
Anything worth doing is worth doing often.
If you want to pack on muscle, you need to train often.
If you want to get better at writing, you need to write often.
If you want to get better at public speaking, you need to practice speaking often.
Whatever it is that you want to do, you need to spend as much time doing it as possible in order to make progress with it.
# 7- What you track, you pay attention to and therefore improve
When I was obsessed with building a big bench press, I recorded my workouts religiously. I would write down the exact weight and number of reps I did with each workout.
I did that for years and got great results which included winning a state championship in the bench press at 17 years old.
Anything you want to improve, you need to track.
Whether it’s your calories to lose weight or your finances to get out of debt, anything you track you pay attention to, and therefore improve.
If there is any specific area of your life that you want to improve, figure out a way to track it.
I guarantee that you will see noticeable results in a short period.
# 8- You usually have to break the rules and listen to your intuition
There are a ton of rules with lifting weights and bodybuilding.
Which exercises you are supposed to do and which rep schemes etc.
There are a ton of rules that many people follow religiously. The people I’ve seen follow all the common bodybuilding rules to the utmost degree typically struggled to get results.
Our bodies are different and therefore no one method will work for everyone.
If you listen or watch any professional bodybuilders, you will see that they do a lot of weird things. Ronnie Coleman used to eat most of his meals at a restaurant for example. That’s usually a big no go for bodybuilders.
There will be many times in life where you will need to break the rules and listen to your intuition.
You should always listen to that voice deep inside of yourself before you look outside for someone else’s voice.
Your intuition knows where you want to go. If you learn to listen to it, it will usually lead you in the right direction and will tell you to break a few rules.
# 9- Don’t rely on others for a spot in the gym or in life.
The sad truth is that many people throughout your life will let you down. Friends, family members, co-workers. All of them.
The quicker you realize this and expect it, the better adapted you will be when it happens.
Nobody is perfect and you will let people down as well during your life. It happens. Life happens.
When you learn to constantly rely on people, you are going to have some issues. When that person doesn’t come through, what are you going to do then?
If you rely on a partner and the gym and they don’t show up, what are you going to do? You (hopefully) won’t just throw in the towel and go home. You’ll stick it out and work out alone.
We all depend on people for certain things but learn to be independent.
If someone comes through for you then great, but don’t let it ruin your day or life if they don’t.
Just accept it will happen and keep moving forward.
# 10- You can lay down and rest, but you better get up.
There will be times when you lift until you puke or need to lay down for a bit in the gym.
I’ve nearly passed out many times over the years.
You can sit down for a few minutes until you feel better, but you better not give up and go home.
Sometimes in life you are going to get knocked down.
Things will not go your way.
When something doesn’t go your way, you can’t just give up.
You can take a break and regroup, but you better get back in there and keep going.
What separates losers from winners is the ability to keep going. Losers quit, but winners always find a way to keep going.
Remember this. It’s never truly over until you quit. As long as you can get back up, there’s still a chance. A good one.
Lessons from the iron
This is one of my favorite posts of all time.
These are lessons that I had to learn through years of sweat, pain and torture.
It took me until I got a little older to realize how powerful lifting weights can be and how many lessons it has to teach.
I feel truly sorry for people that have no interest in it or can’t stick with it.
They are missing out on so many opportunities to grow as a person.
P.S. What life lessons have you learned from lifting weights and working out? I’d love to hear your answers below!