Arm Yourself: Learn to Love to Lift

One of the biggest problems I see in the fitness field is not with form, or weights used or how to approach a competition. Most people who go to the gym, and most people who will read and use this site, are not going to go to a competition (though I’d love to help change that), or lift super heavy, or set crazy records. They aren’t playing form-Nazi over squat depth (but the Squat Police are real, just ask Quadzilla or any other person who’s ever tagged their squat videos with #squat), or making sure that their reps are at the right speed.

Most people want to feel like a million bucks and look great naked.

I had a sergeant who used to tell me that all the time, back at the beginning of my fitness journey. Back before I even really started hitting the gym super often. He’d bark it out as he played his Five Finger Death Punch, bragged about CrossFit, burped out Paleo and adjusted his Ranger Panties lest they get too loose. Obviously, this man isn’t my role model for fitness today. I eat bread because it’s delicious and I’m married and it’s hard to ignore bread when it’s around. I do still love me some FFDP, but I am no CrossFitter and I will never own a pair of Ranger Panties.

Yes. They are a real thing. And those are an extra large double baggy.
Yes. They are a real thing. And those are an extra large double baggy.

But when he said that, it stuck with me. Not everyone wants to be the next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt or Eddie Hall. Most people just wanna know that when they go home to their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. that they look great naked. And that they don’t feel like a slob walking from the mailbox to their front door or ordering a coke at the movie theater.

So, then, without the pressure of being the next big thing, why is it that so many people have a hard time hitting the gym, have to make resolutions, and still feel bad and look out of shape?

Because it’s work. It’s not fun. At least not at first.

In order to reach your goal, you have to know what you want. Once you know what you want, you have to know how to get there. Once you know how to get there, you have to choose a way of doing it that will keep you going and interested. Much like you would go on a road trip, you choose a location, then you find one or two routes to get there. Do you take the straightforward route and drive through the night to get there and are you that type of person? Is the the goal so important that you can focus for that long with minimal distraction? Or are you the type who likes the journey and takes the road that keeps them entertained the whole time?

The truth is that most people on this planet are the second type, the type that needs the constant entertainment.

When I started my fitness journey a few years ago, at first it was through the Reddit Body Transformation Fitness Challenge. And as compelling as it was to push myself in order to beat others to a finish line, I was still missing something. A love for the gym. Enter Fitocracy. While I haven’t checked my profile in some time, it was the community of people and the ease of access to information that kept me going for two solid years before I even began to slow down a little bit. When the online support and my time to login slowed down, I began to pick up friends in the gym who had shared goals and one of those is even still one of my closest friends to this day (cue Barefoot Dave).

And along the way, I stumbled across many different routines. I tried a variant of CrossFit, I tried a Bruce Lee workout, I tried a Chris Evans workout, I tried swimming, I tried running, I tried a lot of different things. Some of them sucked and some of them were great. And some of the great ones dulled the ever loving soul out of me. Until I found routines that stuck.

This ramble may have seemed pointless, but the narrative had a purpose. Looking back through everything I’ve said, there are simple, easy ways to keep yourself going to the gym even on days where you feel like it’s the same old motions over and over again, too hard, too tiring, too late or too far:

  • Know why you’re going to the gym or running around your neighborhood or swimming at the local pool. If lifting isn’t for you, don’t do it. Play to your strengths and your ambitions.
  • Pick a way of accomplishing your goals that is fun. Don’t use a routine just because it’s a challenge or because someone recommended it. Do what you know will be the most rewarding for you.
  • Share your experience. You never know when posting a status or telling a neighbor or talking to your family about your gym time might lead you to people with similar goals who have advice that you can then check out and do some research on.
  • Be open to people approaching you at the gym, or people from the conversations just mentioned, wanting to join you. They don’t have to be a permanent workout buddy. But having a community can keep you motivated to keep going back. Just like a local bar (but with a lot more work).
  • Don’t set your workouts at night if you know you’re going to be tired. Same for the morning. Set yourself up for success so you’re not spent by the time it comes to executing the workout.

In short, set yourself up to win by treating this like something you actually want to do.

Until Next Time

Jacob Summers (SuperSoldier) is a certified personal trainer, but not a medical expert in the field of nutrition. 

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