Weightlifting and Life Lessons
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Physical health benefits of strength training are often promoted. Lifting weights strengthens your bones, allows your body to burn more calories at rest—making fat loss easier, creates a “toned” look, improves energy levels, and encourages better sleep. Less discussed are the impressive mental improvements shaped by weight lifting.
Strength training teaches mental toughness. People who lift weights learn to face difficult challenges, to be patient, to adopt discipline. Resiliency is built in the process of failing and coming back to try again. Determination is cultivated. Strength training improves confidence levels—you learn to be proud of the body you have worked so hard to build. Each lesson molds those who strength train into stronger and more capable people. Weight lifting, especially in the sports of Olympic weightlifting and Powerlifting, is a tool which can be used to sharpen one’s life skills.
Learning how to lift weights properly, gaining strength, and building muscle size each take an incredible amount of patience, dedication, and perseverance. A person is not good at lifting weights until they spend a large amount of time honing their movements. Strength and size do not come easy. If a person is not patient, they will get hurt. A lack of discipline with training consistently, eating well, and getting adequate sleep will stall the process of building muscle. After newbie strength gains are realized, intermediate and advanced levels of strength come slowly and only with smartly progressed, HARD work, over a lot of time.
To get bigger and stronger, a person literally has to push through training sessions until they cannot physically lift anything more. To make changes in the body, the goal is to be struggling through the last few reps of a set. In a movement such as a barbell squat, a person is literally struggling against a weight that is pushing them down. They must repeatedly fight against and overcome the weight.
There are many days when you fail and have to dust yourself off and try again—either that day or the next time you train. This process is just like life in that everybody struggles against problems which weigh them down. We all must learn how to be brave in the face of adversity and to fight through our struggles. Doing so day after day in the gym gives people the confidence that they can face anything tough that life throws their way.
Speaking of confidence, working so hard to build a body that is capable and strong is empowering! Particularly for women, who often grow up thinking they should be less than, are told to be quieter and to take up less space—it’s an amazing feeling to work for a body that is powerful and skilled. To hang with (and oftentimes be better than!) the guys and prove to yourself that you can achieve strength feats you never thought you’d be capable of.
You learn to fuel your body with foods that will allow it to perform better and stop worrying so much about trying to shrink it to be as small as possible. Having muscle creates a beautiful body to be proud of, not only because it looks good, but because you know you worked your ass off for it. Bodies on social media, on TV, and in magazines have been built over YEARS of difficult work and dedication with nutrition, sleep, and other lifestyle factors.
These lessons were only magnified for myself once I transitioned into the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Add mastering the intricacies of the movements in the snatch and clean and jerk and a competitive atmosphere, and I personally will never be the same person. I am obsessed with becoming the best lifter I can be, and this work ethic has transferred into all other aspects of my life.
Weight lifting is absolutely one of THE best activities people can participate in. As long as I am able, I will scream from the rooftops about how awesome strength training is, to anyone who will listen! If you’re brand new to lifting and so far, have only felt like it’s a pain in the butt, I urge you to HANG IN THERE. If you haven’t ever tried lifting at all and therefore haven’t experienced its benefits, find someone who is experienced and can teach you how to lift properly. As cheesy as it sounds, let the iron teach you. Give this amazing pursuit a chance to change your life. Because if you let it, I promise you, it will.
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