Now the mental benefits, because you should all know by now that training encompasses so much more than a 20 minute AMRAP to get you sweaty!
Set more rewarding goals
Weight training gives us the opportunity to set positive, performance-based goals instead of negative, aesthetics-based targets (“I want to gain speed by getting an 8 minute 2k row, gain strength by adding 10 kg to my back squat, improve my fitness by being able to complete Murph as Rx” as opposed to “I want to lose 5 kg, drop an inch around my waist, fit into those size 10 shorts”).
Whereas training for an arbitrary aesthetic goal can be demotivating, training for a physical, tangible goal is much more rewarding and more exciting to follow through.
Develop confidence in overcoming a challenge
You know that little internal monologue you have before you approach a heavy bar? “I got this, the last set felt easy, I’m feeling strong today”. That’s called confidence and the bar is your challenge. Think that that confidence leaves you as soon as you walk out of the gym? Think again. The confidence you develop in your training will transfer directly over to any challenges you face outside of the box. You’ll find an increased sense of confidence overcoming any obstacle you face, regardless of if it is measured in kilos or in a presentation at work.
Learn to deal with failure and character building
I can’t sugar coat everything. There will be days when your lifts won’t go as planned. Or a goal you set for yourself might take longer to achieve than anticipated. Strength training is a great exercise in building character, in learning to deal with failure, in picking yourself back up and trying again when you fail, in sticking with it when you can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just like your improved confidence, these skills from your training will transfer over and help in the way you deal with problems in your every day life.
Become a positive role model
Although I questioned if there was such a thing as too muscular (determined by one’s personal taste and preference), I’m certain there is such a thing as too skinny, which comes down to health and wellness. In a world dominated by unattainable notions of beauty, why not be the woman that shows younger girls not what they should look like, but what they can do.
Let’s refer back to those women I mentioned before when I was ranting about what ‘too bulky’ actually means. I selected their photos because I know that we all look up to them. We are awe-struck when we see them on television, we well up with patriotic pride when they stand on the podium, and if we saw them in the street, you better believe we’d stop them for their photo. However, I bet you that we don’t do this because of the way these women look in their Instagram selfies or the way they rock a bikini. These women are empowering to other people (both women and men) not for how they look, but for how they perform. Their bodies have a purpose and they are doing everything in their power to fulfil that purpose. That is inspiring.
Regardless of your training background, your goals, what you want your body to look like, or what other people think about you, know that you can be strong, you can be athletic and you can move well. Focus on these positives in your training, instead of focusing on how you should look, and in addition to being strong and healthy, you might also possess that one thing that makes you more attractive than anything else... Happiness :)
* I would like to give credit and thanks to one of our members (who shall remain anonymous, but is known by all as an incredibly strong, gifted athlete and a beautiful person) who was kind enough to share their own experiences with body image and weight training with me and whose feedback helped to shape this blog.