I went to the gym today even though I didn’t feel like it. That’s a win. I pushed myself to lift heavier weights and for a few more reps than I really cared to; yet another win. I struggled through pain and fought my mind when it told me to quit, when it tried to convince me that this wasn’t that big of a deal, that it’s okay to save myself for another day. Win.
The battles we face in the weight room aren’t physical, they’re mental, and they’re far more immediate and explicit than the battles we face in our daily lives. There’s one thing we’re doing in the gym: lifting heavy weights. At work we could be talking with clients, selling, writing, emailing, writing and emailing, Facebooking and filming and writing and emailing. It’s endless. The gym is our refuge from the madness of “the real world”; it’s our Colosseum where we can face an enemy, look him in the eye, and fight.
There’s no question who that enemy is, it’s the guy wanting to quit and cower and flee; that weaker version of ourselves that we must defeat if we’re going to grow stronger. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t see the gym only as a place to develop the aesthetic. In doing so you’re missing the whole point of training and working out.
10 Ways the Gym Makes You a Better Man
1. You are forced to learn that success is never immediate.
I started this business thinking that success would come quick. I was wrong. I should’ve thought about my time in the gym, the 8 years of working out that led me to nearly no physical change (video). I should have thought about the boxing gym and the hours spent training, honing my skills, only to lose my first fight. I should have thought, but I’m not as wily as you are. I thought this business thing would be a breeze, but nothing ever is; nothing of value at least. It’s those things that matter most in life that we have to work the hardest for. The gym has already taught us that, we just have to listen, and if we listen we’ll become better men.
2. You learn that success isn’t a straight path.
Success is never a straight line. You’re not born realizing how to live a successful life. It’s through a lifetime of trial and error that you hopefully figure it out. You can learn this in the gym if you’re aware of the lesson being taught. In your training you’ll have great spurts followed by times where things don’t go so well, followed again again by spurts of great growth. When you reach those plateaus you have to shift, you have to do things differently to trick your body into growing once again.
In life when you reach an inevitable stalemate you have to do the same. You have to step back and look at your life from a different angle or attack the problem with a different solution. It’s never a straight path this life thing, it’s always filled with peaks and valleys and traps, you just have to keep moving forward, pushing onward, a man can never quit.
It’s the man who figures this out that will succeed in life and become a better man.
3. You’ll learn to love pain.
Pain in the muscle leads to growth in the muscle. It’s a simple way of putting how a muscle is developed, repaired, and made bigger and stronger, but it’ll fit. The same is true for life, it’s only through pain and struggle that you grow into a better man. You’ll learn this in life but you can also learn it in the gym.
Pain should be every man’s best friend because it’s in pain and the uncomfortable that we’re given our best chance to improve, grow, and evolve. Your evolution starts the day you were born, let it continue in the gym.
4. You befriend discipline.
You can’t get results in the gym without discipline. You can’t create success in any other aspect of life without discipline either. Simple. Develop discipline in the gym if you haven’t already in another area of life because boy you’re going to need it.
5. You develop grit, if you choose to do so.
Grit is the most important characteristic a human can develop. It’s toughness and willpower and persistence all wrapped up into one badass word that sounds like John Wayne had to make it up. Grit is developed by persistence; though not only persistence but persistence through pain and obstacles and through times when things don’t go right and no end is in sight.
Grit is incurred when most others would have packed up their bags and gone home. That’s why so few have grit, but the gym, that dull dungeon dug into the depths and the darkness where only those willing to push through pain can thrive, gives you a chance to develop grit.
So in those battles that happen every minute when you workout, when you’re thinking of quitting or stopping short of failure or not pushing for one more rep, this is your chance to develop grit. When you’ve hit a plateau and you can’t quite seem to get the results you want, this is your opportunity to develop grit. Just make sure you transfer this grit to every other area of your life.
6. You’ll learn what a plateau is and hopefully how to break through it.
Plateaus aren’t relegated to the gym, but it’s in the gym and in our training that we can easily identify them. It’s simpler in the gym. If you stop gaining muscle, you’ve reached a plateau. If your fat loss is cruising along at a brisk pace but all of a sudden halts, you’ve reached a plateau. It’s up to you or your program or your trainer to fix this rut in the road and get you back making progress.
Plateaus in the real world are harder to recognize and often harder to overcome, but they’re still there, and the method to breaking through them is very similar to the method used to break through your training plateaus; what you need is a shift. You can’t do the same thing and get away with it. At some point an obstacle or some resistance will come your way and you’re going to have to adjust the way you work or the way you do business or relationships or whatever. The gym has given you a vague roadmap, now put it to use.
7. You’ll learn to focus.
Focus is incredibly important in training. If you’ve ever worked out for an extended period of time you’ll know how a single glance at a TV can draw you in to a 5 minute rest that completely ruins your workout, deflating your muscles and destroying your pump. You have to fight the urges that pull you in every sort of direction but the one you should be focused on, the iron, the barbell glaring back at you daring you to destroy it. If you want to get good at lifting weights, focus will be on your list of skills to develop and said focus will help you in every other area of life as well.
8. You’ll become strong, more athletic, and more powerful.
A man is a warrior, he’s an adventurer and a protector. To be at your best you have to be at your best physically, mentally, and spiritually. And it’s your duty to be at your best in every area, it isn’t optional. The man who understands the importance of training a body that enables him to fight harder, work better, and protect those around him is a better man than the guy who sits on his arse wasting away in front of the TV – at least in one area.
You don’t need 6 pack abs, but you do need to make the most of the body you’ve been given; as a man you need to make the best of the body you’ve been given.
9. You’ll learn how to eat healthy.
Eating healthy and like a man – ahem, the Man Diet - will help you live a better life. You’ll have more energy and you’ll likely live longer. You’ll have a healthier brain, better sex, and you’ll be able to do things that other people can’t simply because you’ll figure out what the right foods are, and when you should eat them.
10. If you let it, the gym can make you a tougher man.
If you let it…
Gyms are filled with douchebag idiots who spend more time in a tanning bed than they do in front of a book. But that’s not you. That’s not who this article is for. This article is for the guy who wants to become a better man, nay, the best damn man they can be; and if you let it the gym will aid you in this quest.
Toughness is an incredibly important quality to have, as is grit. To be a tough man is to be a persistent one, a man who doesn’t give up, a man who gets up after he’s knocked down. The failures you’re going to experience in the gym, along with the pain and struggle, can help you become a tougher man if you keep pushing and see the transferability this toughness to other areas of your life. Use the gym for more than just a place to make muscles but a place to develop the grit that will guide you to greatness.