In our Insta-sized world it can sometimes be hard to look past the purely narcissistic advantages of weight training.
It’s certainly the case that most people start lifting weights and eating a little better to change the shape of their bodies, nothing wrong with that, plenty right with that.
However as a pretty nice side effect, for those that stay consistent enough with it, we experience many other benefits to both our mindset and general non-gym related life from spending a few hours a week throwing the iron around.
So here is a quick list of 5 things that Strength Training gave me and many others that’s not strictly linked to our bodyfat percentage.
1. A Social Environment that doesn’t require Drinking or Eating
When I was quite a bit younger my whole world was Golf, I’d play from sunrise to sunset with my mates and we’d see each other many times a week to do so.
However once I quit playing I realised that now I only ever saw my mates if I was either:
A- Downing Pints
B- Eating Dominos
….or C - Both of the Above
This meant I would only see friends based on how healthy my bank balance looked and rarely more than a couple of times a month.
What the gym now gives me is an inexpensive, non-liver damaging and frequent way of seeing my mates multiple times a week doing something that actually BENEFITS my health, something vitally important now my hangovers last at least 3 days.
2. An Appreciation for Sleep
It doesn’t really need me saying that as a nation we are chronically under-recovered on a regular basis.
Spend a few weeks working through a tough training program though and you’ll soon begin to appreciate the wonders of good quality sleep again!
There aren’t many things more difficult than trying to grind your way through 5 sets of heavy Deadlifts on 4 hours sleep, and doing so will soon have you turning off the TV and sinking into that soft-mattress a little earlier than usual.
The Fountain of Youth is sleep, anyone who tells you otherwise is either selling something or doesn’t realise that they are one of the lucky ones who already gets enough without thinking about it.
3. A Reason to Eat Better
A regular scenario I come across is somebody paying very little to attention to what they are eating because they aren’t doing any exercise in the first place.
Now this is a strange paradox, surely if you are doing LESS activity you should be spending MORE time paying attention to what you are eating?!
However as humans we aren’t wired that way, it’s easier to drift away from looking after yourself altogether than treading water and maintaining.
What you need to know is that the wealth of studies in this area now show that Diet alone is infinitely more important to achieving weight loss goals than Exercise alone. Combine the 2 and you’re winning at life!
4. Confidence outside of the Gym
The popularity of Powerlifting in recent years I believe is testament to this effect.
People of all ethnicities, creeds and environments are feeling hugely empowered by the knock-on effect of being able to lift your bodyweight over your head, or Squat double (even triple) it.
Once you know you can do that, giving a presentation in front of your office feels a little less horrifying. I mean it’s still not great but when you are achieving things constantly every time you step in the gym it’s hard not to let that confidence breed success.
Many people have forgotten what it feels like to achieve something, start a training program though and you’ll get to experience that multiple times a week! Do it and tell me that it doesn’t seep into other areas of your life.
5. A Work/Reward Equal Hobby
Now this is a weird one, I’m not even sure the way I’ve termed it makes sense, although I’ll try and explain.
When I was constantly playing golf (as mentioned above). I was CONSTANTLY practicing, playing, having lessons and reading about it.
I got worse!
I’d hit the ball great but my mind and body would leave me on the greens, I suffered the worst yips imaginable (google it) and ended up quitting the game due to the sheer lack of enjoyment I now derived from it.
The Work/Reward Ratio was inverted, More Work = Less Reward.
There are many other sports and hobbies that follow a similar path (don’t be a quitter like I did though #notdedicated).
Strength Training though is not one of them, hit your sessions, pay attention to your Nutrition and Recovery and you WILL get better over time.