When we typically think of strength training, the gains we think about usually fall within the physical realm. While that’s definitely not untrue—I for one am a very big fan of having more muscle on my frame—it would be short-sighted to limit ourselves to what we can observe by looking in the mirror, or how that translates in terms poundage on the bar.
Here are two unconventional aspects to which strength training can undeniably contribute, if only we are ready to look at things differently.
STRENGTH TRAINING TEACHES MINDFULNESS
It’s easy to want to dissociate body and mind. I suspect that’s why so many people like to refer to exercise as a moment where they’re free not to think. Maybe it would be better to envision this as an opportunity to avoid overthinking instead.
Let’s face it: trying to handle a heavy load while thinking about something else entirely is a very bad idea. Absent-minded back squats, and distracted kettlebell snatches are a sure-fire way to injury. No one would think to debate that, right?
However, how many would think to naturally link strength training to mindfulness?
When we think mindfulness, we have a stronger tendency (yes, that’s a pun) to conjure up images of yoga or meditation, not the idea of grinding through a bench press.
Yet, to be able to strength train safely and efficiently, we have to cultivate mindfulness, i.e. being focused on the here and the now, entirely dedicated to the task at hand. Any other way predisposes us for failure.
And, speaking of failure…
STRENGTH TRAINING TEACHES RESILIENCE
In strength training, we encounter failure as something natural: we’re constantly testing our limits, and these limits in turn make themselves be known. As we are aiming for progress, we keep working, adjusting our efforts according to the valuable feedback we’ve just received.
How odd would it be if, for every failed lift or crappy rep, we let our self-worth crumble because of our lack of success? It seems pretty silly when you put it this way, right?
Instead, we typically dust ourselves off, figure we’ll probably do better next time, and move on with our life. If disappointing, failure isn’t the end; it’s just more feedback on which to keep building.
Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.
Interestingly, in other areas of our life, we tend to be shattered if failure rears its nasty head. It makes us want to quit altogether. How many times do we hear, from friends, colleagues and acquaintances: “I’ve tried xyz a few years ago, and it didn’t work!” as an excuse not to do something?
Now let’s transpose this to strength training: if someone were to say: “I’ve tried deadlifting 100lbs a few years ago, and it didn’t work!”, would it ever be perceived as a valuable excuse not to work on it? Of course not!
The beauty with resilience is that it translates into other areas!
Strength training isn’t reserved to people of a certain age, size or background—it’s for everyone!
Embarking on a strength training journey can have surprising, joyful repercussions in all areas of our life, way beyond the physical aspect of it!