Why you need to lift: The key to achieving greatness

Sweat drips down your forehead as you stand there, nearly out of breath. You take tiny little steps until your feet are perfectly in place. Shoulder width apart, toes pointing out and slightly outwards.

Your legs are feeling heavy, your body tired. But your waist is locked and you’re abs are tight, even if someone punched you in the gut right now, you wouldn’t feel a thing, they’re ready to embrace more stress. Your arms are bent while your hands are helping support the immense weight that rests on your shoulders. The bar is digging into your traps and it’s already starting to hurt.

But you continue to stand there, like a solid oak tree ready to take on a storm. You imagine the sheer stress you’re about to put yourself under. You imagine every single detail of what you’re about to do. You’re strong, mentally. You’re focused. Nothing else crosses your mind right now.

Then, you take one final breath. You exhale quickly and take one deep breath in. You hold. You re-brace your abs and glutes, you tense every single muscle in your body. You’re about to start bending at your knees. You’re about to do one more squat.

Why you need to be lifting weights

Lifting (weights) is one of the best things I came across in my life. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and continued to do. It’s one of the best things you can do in your life. So. If you don’t know already, you should be lifting weights – heavy weights. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, or a man, or anyone in between.

If you don’t know this already, then realise this: Lifting helps build mental stamina, it helps build tenacity, it helps build patience. Lifting helps you face your demons, it helps build frame. See, lifting helps you face the pain, again, and again. Lifting helps you get stronger. Mentally stronger.

So you thought weight lifting was about becoming a meat head? It’s about becoming big and muscly?

No, you don’t start to grow large muscles that just pop out of your shirt and you definitely do not instantly become Mr Universe. No,that takes months, if not, years of hardcore lifting combined with supplements and an out of the world diet. But for us regular folks, what we do get is the possibility of an awesome, lean physique – one that commands respect. One that shows that you are willing to put the work in.

But lifting is more than a physical game. It’s a mental game. So unless you’re strong mentally, you’ll never succeed at lifting weights.

For me, my gym is my temple. It’s simple. I can either meditate while I sit, isolated, in a quit place. Or I can go into my little fortress of weights where I can go and lift some heavy shit. I find the same peace either way.

It takes sheer stress, pain, agony to truly gain in the gym. It takes patience, determination, grit. You have to connect the mind and the body so that they are one. It takes immense focus.¬† You have to willingly go and challenge your body to endure all this stress, knowing that it’s going to hurt, knowing that it’s so difficult.


The side effect of lifting weights

Ok, so lifting doesn’t come without it’s side effects. Sure there is a strong chance of injury – especially if you don’t know what you’re doing, or you let your ego get in the way. Sure you need to spend time actually lifting heavy weights that take you to failure. Sure it hurts (mentally) before you do it, it hurts when you lift, and even hurts after you lift. But the side effects I want to talk about are the good effects. What I’m taking about is your ability to endure pain, you ability to take on stress, your ability to persist.

Lifting helps you develop ‘frame’. Frame is so important to you and how you operate socially. It’s your personal emotional bodyguard that helps you control your emotions in the face of any circumstance.

Lifting helps you develop focus. It’s something we do not have anymore. With phones, tablets, TV, and gadgets that keep us busy. Combined with work environments where we’re constantly multi-tasking and taking on multiple responsibilities. To top that off we face a barrage of conflicting priorities. This focus is much needed. Your ability to focus and stay present in any situation is heightened through lifting. If you think you can stand holding a barbell that’s loaded with six heavy plates, and not have to focus, think again!

Lifting helps you with process. Although we go into the gym wanting results, we know that the only way to get results is to endure the process. You have to get to know your body, how much it can tolerate, and the limits that you can push yourself to. Success in life is all about process, not instant results. The grit, perseverance, the journey; these are all about the process. And nothing comes remotely close that will make you understand the importance of process than lifting does.

Lifting weights is more than getting big or getting muscles

So what about cardio? Should I not do cardio?

To clarify there’s ‘two’ categories of ‘cardio’ I want to point out. Aerobic (long, slow cardio) and Anaerobic exercise (high intensity cardio would fall into this category).

If you enjoy it – do it. If you hate doing long, drawn out aerobic or cardio sessions then stop! So when should you do cardio?

  • you want to increase your long distance endurance
  • you like doing it and find joy in it!

On the other hand if you want to lose fat, or you want to develop a good physique then you don’t need aerobic exercises. You need to do these things instead:

  1. Lift heavy weights
  2. High intensity interval training
  3. Follow an appropriate diet protocol (another article)

High intensity interval training is any exercise that you perform over a very short period of time which needs you to apply immense power, force, or stress. This can include weighted or non-weighted training (lifting, running, swimming, cycling, etc)

For example doing ten by 100 meter sprints at 60-90% exertion rate, you rest for 10-60 seconds, and your repeat anywhere from 5-15 times. That’s it. Done. Then you continue with other important areas of your life- such as lifting weights.


But I don’t want to get all big and muscly!

If you could easily become a beast, we wouldn’t have bodybuilding competitions. Getting gains where you just look ultra big and muscly is extremely hard. You will not even get remotely close to being ‘big‘ unless you dedicate hours and hours to the gym.

Lifting as an average person who’s not going to compete¬† in any bodybuilding or lifting competitions, will not see you gain an exorbitant amount of muscle.


I don’t have time to lift or go to the gym

I see people spending countless hours at the gym. First they’ll do 20-30 minutes of cardio. Then they’ll jump to the weights and spend an hour or more doing weight lifting. Depending on what they do within that time-frame they’ll start to hit their goals.

But you don’t need to spend that much time in the gym. You actually only need a few hours total in a week! All you need is 3 to 4 sessions which are 30-40 minutes each! It’s not about how much you do, but it’s how you do it. Like anything in life, people forget that it’s all about quality and not quantity!

I’ve probably averaged 3 sessions per week. If I’ve been trying to lose weight I’ll combine that with a few high intensity training sessions. That’s it.


In conclusion

You need to lift weights. Lifting weights is more about building character than it is about building a physique. Skyrocketing your confidence, giving you the ability to persevere, develop frame, build mental tenacity, build patience, build frame, and develop grit. These are just some of the benefits you get from lifting.

Yes, you do gain strength, you do gain muscle, you do lose fat, and overall you have the potential to achieve a super god status. But even if you don’t want to be a super god, at least you can develop an awesome physique!

Finally some tips for the new guys:

  • Start light but quickly ramp up so you’re lifting heavy weights in a few weeks
  • Your ego doesn’t belong near the weights
    • Yeah, don’t get excited. Don’t show off. Lift only what you can lift with proper form
    • Being injured is not fun- especially when you got injured because your ego got in the way
  • Never compromise form over anything
    • Never compromise on form. Never!
    • It’s not worth it man!
  • You must include compound lifts
    • Compound lifts include lifts such as Bench Press, Squat, and Dead-lifts
  • Lift with free weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells etc)
  • Put enough emphasis in recovering as much as you do with lifting
    • It can be exciting lifting and you may want to do it more than your body can handle
    • But remember, the body needs to repair it self so you can get stronger and develop a better physique
    • Rest is crucial to your body
  • Combine weight lifting with high intensity cardio as a highly effective fat loss or maintenance strategy
  • You’ll get much more out of it by combining with a highly nutritious diet

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