The 4 Most Important Questions Before Starting to Strength Train

The 4 Most Important Questions Before Starting to Strength Train

Applying a shotgun approach to your workout program is setting yourself up for shortcomings with your health and wellness goals. 

Strength training isn’t rocket science, but it does require a little bit of strategy. In fact, any endeavor that you do in life will require attention to critical tasks before embarking upon that goal.

Strength training can pay immediate dividends in your life, but only if you appropriately schedule the work to be done in accordance to your specific lifestyle.

Here are the four most important questions before starting to strength train. These questions will improve your chances of successfully creating a body you love while living a lifestyle that you love.

1.What do I want?

Whether it’s a business goal, relationship, creative endeavor, and especially your fitness—if you don’t take the time to decide what it is that you exactly want, you’ll be given the leftovers.

Start with your end goal?

An end goal allows you to define an outcome that you’re unwilling to compromise on. Sometimes we’ll get blocked on our path or become tempted onto a path that doesn’t fit our end goal but may provide short term gratification.

Start the process by asking yourself “what does healthy and fit look like to me—not what I think it’s supposed to look like?”

This first step is crucial because this allows you to flesh out what you truly want out of health and fitness. Often times, we set goals that are not ours but instead are versions of others goals or what I like to call “expectation goals”—goals that we think we’re supposed to accomplish or want, even if it isn’t what we exactly want.

Common examples of these types of goals are wanting to have a white picket fence with a family, wanting to retire early, thinking college is the only way to become successful, thinking a 100k salary equates to happiness, and so forth.

Maybe healthy and being fit isn’t six-pack abs, bulging biceps, super toned legs, or herculean strength. But instead, healthy and fit is merely something that helps improve your general lifestyle factors (blood pressure & other metrics), helps you run around with your kids, helps you fit into your favorite dress or outfit, provides you with the confidence to give that presentation or ask that dream girl out.

Having this end goal in mind allows you to stay on the road and not be tempted down the road of short-term immediate gratification.

2.Why do I want it?

I can easily admit that the majority of times, I don’t feel like working out.

A myriad of excuses pop up in my head such as “I don’t have time to go to the gym”, “I have a deadline with this article that I need to finish”, and “I’m too tired” to name a few.

If I relied on motivation and willpower to get me to the gym, I would be a poor advocate for health and wellness. If I don’t rely on motivation, then how can I stay consistent with my strength training?

Easy.

I know why I want it.

It’s not that I want strength training, it’s that what I want is achieved through strength training. For me, I want improved creativity, great mental health, to lead others by example, improve my longevity while justifying my weekly nourishment of tacos, tamales, and empanadas.

This all happens because I have a why to what I’m doing. 

Just as superheroes have a why to their mission and artists create for a deep intrinsic reason—it’s imperative that you develop a deeply rooted why to help you get to the gym on a consistent basis.

the-trinity
Think like a superhero when it comes to your “why”.

 

A why is powerful. It’s the engine that keeps you going. It’s the tool that helps you when motivation or temptation is there tapping you on the shoulder encouraging you to take an off day.

Getting to your why gives you purpose for doing something instead of just doing it “just because”.

I’m attempting to learn Spanish, not “just because”, but because I plan to live in a Spanish speaking country and want to communicate in the native language (and I kinda just like learning).

I’m not just learning how to salsa dance “just because”, salsa dancing is a social activity which is an area of focus for me to improve upon. Therefore this serves as a beneficial tool towards that underlying goal.

To get to your why when it comes to making strength training mission based—pretend you’re a child and delve into your curiosity. Just as a child would ask “why” until they get to the root of the issue—you need to keep asking why until you feel a strong resonance to your goal.

When you’re strength training with a purpose, you dramatically increase your chances of succeeding with your goals.

3.Does this actually fit into my desired lifestyle?

The most optimal workout plan backed by gurus, experts, and all your co-workers means little if that particular plan doesn’t fit into your preferred lifestyle.

It’s not you, it’s the workout plan.

Sure it may work for a couple of weeks due to you forcing the plan into your life, but as soon as the slightest curve ball is thrown your way, your plan is going to take a nosedive.

Forcing a training style that isn’t conducive to your lifestyle is going to lead to a battle between exercising and your desired lifestyle.

call-the-soldiers-in-for-war — most important questions before starting to strength train
No need to call the soldiers in & start a war between your fitness and desired lifestyle.

 

You’ll most likely choose your lifestyle and will resent fitness or even worse, create excuses as to why fitness isn’t just for you. If I tried to learn Spanish for four hours a day along with salsa dancing for three hours a day—this plan would fail because it doesn’t fit my preferred daily routine.

Before undergoing a strength training routine that isn’t a good match for you, assess your lifestyle and be realistic with your commitments.

Start by looking at your workday. How many hours do you work and what are those hours? Next, move on to your hobbies that are important to you. Also, assess your time with friends and family.

After laying out these factors into a weekly schedule, you can properly ask yourself how much can I realistically commit to exercising? 

4.Who do I need to become to get it?

This is where you reverse engineer your goals down into actionable steps. 

What will it take to make that big goal a reality? When setting goals, you want them to be reasonable and easily actionable so you can steadily build up your confidence.

Here’s an example I set for myself: I want to learn how to salsa dance. 

A couple of potential issues were my shyness and  confidence. I needed to set these goals up in a way that progressed me but still left me feeling good after each encounter and wasn’t too overwhelming for me.

With that said, I went to my first group salsa class and my only objective was to drive to the venue and walk in for five minutes. If I did that, then excellent—mission accomplished. 

The next time, I bumped the time up to 15 minutes and steadily increased from there until 60 minutes (the normal time frame for classes) was the goal.

So why the random spill about my salsa adventures?

Because I want you to approach your strength training this way—especially if you’re new.

It’s tempting to feel extremely motivated for the first few workouts but I don’t want you to risk motivational burnout.

Gradually build yourself up and your goals along the process. 

If you’re new, not as confident, or coming off a long layoff with lifting weights—make your daily mission ridiculously easy. Make it a goal to put your gym clothes on and arrive at the gym to exercise for 15 minutes (this can be a 5 minute warm up and then one–two exercises).

You do this, congratulations, you’re heading on the right path and just started an exercise streak—keep it going!

8 Under Appreciated Reasons Why Strength Training Can Immediately Level Up Your Life

under-appreciated-reasons-to-strength-train

There aren’t many other forms of exercising that can mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally morph you into a better individual than strength training.

Not too long ago, strength training was relegated to bodybuilders and meatheads. However and thankfully, those days are long and gone. Today at many gyms, you’ll see soccer moms, busy professionals, bros, entrepreneurs, dancers, and many others conjugated under one roof lifting weights and making themselves better.

Strength training is mostly known as a way to train our musculoskeletal system. Our musculoskeletal system is comprised of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and connective tissues that help bind your tissues and organs together.

There are many strength training articles in existence that state the obvious reasons for why you should lift weights which include building muscle, losing fat, and leading to an overall change in body composition.

Those are definitely major factors to strength training but strength training is much more than that. Strength training is an excellent tool for helping you learn more about who you are and what your capabilities are.

Since we already know the obvious reasons for why strength training is beneficial, here are eight underappreciated reasons why strength training can level up your life (starting today).

1.Helps with longevity

Living a longer life involves a multitude of things, but one of the biggest factors is maintaining a solid level of strength.

As we get older, we naturally get weaker and start to break down. Two of the biggest reasons for this occurrence is the degradation of our mitochondria and our decrease in telomerase.

The degradation of our mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells) leads to weaker cells and muscle fibers; thus leads to a decrease in strength. Our telomerase is an enzyme that repairs and maintains the little caps on the end of our chromosomes. When you don’t produce enough, our cellular division starts to become affected.

Resistance training adds years to your life while benefitting your emotional and mental well-being. It’s been estimated that exercising adds an extra six – seven years to your lifespan, but this could be more than that.

While reading all of these facts may lead you to initially think this requires a major commitment, strength training for as little as two times a week is beneficial to your longevity.

2.Helps prevents injuries while increasing the quality of your life

Sports scientists have linked weight training as being an integral factor to remaining injury free (or at least a major reduction—can’t avoid everything).

Living a long life in the number of years is one thing, but living a long life without the quality of life plummeting is an entirely different story. Besides preventing injuries, another concern is maintaining a strong overall structure throughout our lives.

Weight trying builds up your bone mass and bone density; thus helps decrease the chances for osteoporosis (a higher occurrence in women). By strength training, you’re also going to build stronger ligaments (connective tissues that connect bone to bone) and tendons (connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone).

Developing stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments are going to lead to fewer tears and other everyday injuries.

why strength training can level up your life
In addition to lifting, stretching will help (also I just liked this picture)

3.Helps fight against cancer and other diseases

Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide that sadly takes many of our loved ones away too soon. While it’s not completely preventable, we can take measures to decrease our chances of cancer.

Besides nutrition and simple lifestyle habits, one of the easiest ways to help ourselves is to consistently strength train. Lifting weights three times a week for six months led to a reduction in our oxidative stress levels which consequently can decrease our chances of cancer.

Besides cancer, another prevalent issue in our world is heart disease. Maintaining a consistent lifting regimen has helped against the fight with heart disease.

4.Helps slow down aging

We all will experience aging and this leads to possible scenarios such as muscle weakness, lower energy, physical appearance changes, and a decrease in the functioning of our brain becoming an issue.

While it’s not the fountain of youth, strength training can help slow down aging and keep your youthful looks a little longer than those who don’t exercise.

Strength training is going to help you from a molecular, hormonal, enzymatic, and chemical level. By strength training, you’re going to slow down many diseases and typical aging characteristics that sedentary individuals will experience.

5.Helps with your professional life

There are many life hacks and tactics on how to become smarter and productive.

Reading books are an excellent tool to give your brain a workout, but exercising is also an excellent method for improving your brain health while improving your cognitive capabilities.

While this article is focusing on strength training, simply walking and other various forms of movement can lower your stress levels. Exercising has been shown to increase your productivity and focus during your workdays.

cool-kids-at-work — why strength training can level up your life
These cool kids most likely strength train and their ideas are better for it—just go with it:)

6.Helps with your mental health

Mental illnesses are a silent epidemic happening in our world. There’s unfortunately still a stigma surrounding mental illnesses. An estimated 350 million people are suffering from depression (I’ve been one of them).

While not a cure for the most severe of cases, the effects of the positive endorphins from exercising may help against mild forms of depression, anxiety, and when you generally just feel down.

7.Helps all facets of your bedroom life

Sleep is something that’s so elementary at first glance but easily can become a convoluted mess. While sleep rituals are critical to establishing consistent and quality sleep, exercising is also an excellent tool to improve  your sleep.

Exercising serves as a great stress relief and helps unwind from the day along with reducing the risk for various sleep disorders.

Besides sleeping, the bedroom has one other use and that is to have sex. With the numerous hormonal, mental, and social benefits that sex provides, making sure that stamina and performance are up to par is important.

While weightlifting doesn’t make you better at the act of sex directly, it does help you build an overall stronger body which leads to improved stamina and energy—thus a better experience for everyone.

8.Helps with your self-esteem and confidence

As you embark upon your fitness goals, your confidence is going to skyrocket after achieving the goals you set forth.  From seeing the weight on the bar slowly climb up to increasing your performance on chin ups—strength training will provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Accomplishing fitness goals often times leads people to experience breakthroughs in other facets of their lives.

This happens because changing our body and habits is often times personal and has many invisible scripts attached along with negative associations. If someone breaks through those barriers, it’s as if a huge anchor has been lifted off their shoulders.