The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build strong character. – Arnold Schwartzenegger
Three: Embrace Hard Physical Training
In my 10 years’ experience as a personal trainer and strength coach, I’ve observed that nothing boosts confidence as quickly or as effectively as getting physically fitter and stronger.
For some, it’s simply because they’ve felt physically weak all their life.
For others, it’s a means to remedy something they were teased about when they were younger.
Others still find that the postural improvements that come with a properly designed strength and mobility program work from the outside-in, kind of like power-posing.
But mostly, it’s because day in and day out, I ask and require people to accomplish things they thought weren’t possible, to push through things they don’t want to do, and to do the things that scare them.
Here’s what I mean. The following are real client stories:
They Discovered Their Potential Through Fitness
The first time Andy realized his form on the deadlift was actually really good and his back was safe, he gripped-and-ripped the bar and pulled a 20-lb personal record for 6 reps. He told me afterward that doing that made him realize he’s capable of a lot more than he thought.
John felt amazing after crushing his physical test for joining a large municipal police force. He beat his old score by 15 points after only a few months of training and couldn’t believe his improvement. Now he sets much loftier goals for himself, like joining the emergency response team.
When Eric realized he didn’t have to live with shoulder and back pain for the rest of his life but could feel free to do what he wanted again, it totally changed his outlook. Now he trains even harder, knowing his new-found strength builds the resilience he needs to keep enjoying daily activities.
Nate described his shock and amazement at keeping up with much younger, fitter hikers on his journey up Camelback Mountain. Now he and his wife actively plan more hiking into their regular getaways, because they can. In his words, he “can’t believe what [he] can do now.”
Don found more than just extra strength and a longer golf drive through physical training: He found time for himself. The stress relief he discovered in working out allowed him to manage the demands of his company better and get better sleep at night. As a result, he’s more confident in his control of his time and energy. He happens to life, not the other way around.
Need I say more? Becoming physically fit(ter) will prove to you very quickly that you’re capable of more than you thought!
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Developing Grit Through Strength Training
This point’s pretty simple:
Strength training toughens you up, not just physically, but mentally as well.
I used to work with a football team whose locker room boasted an awesome mural with “Embrace the grind” emblazoned across the wall.
There’s wisdom in that mantra.
Since grit is proven to be more important to success than just about any innate ability, it’s easy to see how learning to do something as difficult as squatting or deadlifting – especially when you’re tired and beaten down – rep after rep, set after set, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, can build the character required to succeed in other areas of life.
There’s a reason Travis Mash, world-class powerlifter, weightlifting coach, and successful business owner, has a podcast called “The Barbell Life”:
Time spent under a bar teaches you a work ethic like few things can.
If that doesn’t make you more confident in your day-to-day life and performance, I don’t know what will.
But it’s really about more than just confidence.
Becoming Courageous Through Strength Training
A client once said to me:
‘This develops more than confidence. It develops courage.
“Confidence is knowing you have the ability. Courage is doing it even though it’s painful.
“When I approach a big lift that I know will be a grind, it’s scary. Working myself up to do it anyway – that teaches me to go after what’s outside the borders of my comfort zone.”
Receiving wisdom like that from my clients on an almost daily basis is a big part of why I do what I do.
Strength training develops more than confidence. It develops courage.
Another client of mine who owns his own small business likes to remind me that 90% of success is showing up. Even when you’ve built the confidence that you’ve got the skills you need, you still need the courage to use those skills.
Proving to yourself daily in the gym that stepping up and getting after something isn’t all that bad is a great way to develop that kind of courage.
Wrapping it Up
So there you have it.
Forget your self-doubt. Whatever your goal, whether related to fitness, sports, family, or career, you have the capacity to get out there and get after it.
Don’t base your confidence on fluffy affirmations you know deep down aren’t true. Instead:
- Figure out what’s required for solid performance, what areas you need to work on (whether maximizing your strengths or minimizing your weaknesses) and practice, practice, practice.
- Remind yourself of your skills and accomplishments at the beginning, middle, and end of each day.
- Discover the power of strength training – a morally neutral thing that’s probably unrelated to your area of self-doubt – to build self-belief, grit, and courage.
Then, get out there and get after that thing that scares you!
Know that this is a process and success isn’t likely to happen overnight.
Maintain a growth mindset that reminds you that while you’re not there yet, you’re also not where you were – and that itself is reason enough to be confident![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]