Muscle & Strength has been providing lots of awesome content to help millions of people around the world achieve their own personal fitness success. I’m honored to have written a few of them myself.
Whether you want to get big and gain muscle, lose fat and improve your definition, or get as strong as you possibly can, M&S has been here to help anyone and everyone learn the ins and outs of training and nutrition.
That being said, there are some lessons in life that you simply have to learn for yourself and that education takes place in the gym itself.
The iron can be a great teacher of many things. These 8 life lessons only scratch the surface of all of the benefits training provide.
1. Every piece of the puzzle is important.
The body is greater as a whole than the sum of its parts. We all want our bodies to be the best they can be for a variety of reasons.
If you compete in bodybuilding, you can’t have a great upper body and lackluster lower body. Contests are also won from the back so just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
Powerlifters, strongmen, and CrossFit athletes all are looking to maximize performance so they need all of the individual parts to be able to work independently and to perform together to achieve the goal of completing lifts.
Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, that means you need to pay attention to all the details. This is true in life as well. If you want the bigger picture to be clear, you need to focus on those smaller things that may not appear to matter. In fact, they matter a lot.
2. You have to believe it to achieve it.
I don’t know of anyone who achieved a major milestone or goal while doubting themselves the entire time. Have you ever heard a lifter legitimately doubt himself or herself when it comes to getting a new personal record? They might joke about failing but if they didn’t think it was possible, why even try?
You have to truly believe you can fulfill your potential or it will never happen for you. This is true in life as well. If you don’t think you’re qualified for a promotion, your boss won’t either. If you don’t believe that you’re good enough to date someone, why should that person believe it?
Let’s be clear, it doesn’t work out every time but you’re certainly doomed for failure if you don’t have the confidence that you can do it.
3. Failure is essential for success.
Speaking of failure, let’s talk about that for a minute. A popular philosophy is that if you want the muscles to grow and become stronger, you must put them in the most stressful situations possible without getting injured. That means you must take those sets to absolute failure.
Whether it’s one set or every set, we’ve all reached that point of failure at one point or another. So in a strange sense, failure when it comes to training is a good thing.
This same theory applies to life as well. No one goes undefeated in life. Yes there are a few fighters who went without a loss in competition but they have failed in other aspects in life which helped them grow and improve.
A fact of life is that part of getting up is getting knocked down. That feeling of failure can drive us to achieve levels of success that we may not have reached had we not failed first. The iron teaches us that every time we go for that 11th or 12th rep and not get it. We hit failure this week but can do better next week.
4. Nothing worth having is going to be easy.
Do you know why so many people aspire to achieve greatness? It’s because so few of us actually get there. To have a great body, it takes years of dedication and refusing to give up. The result is achieving that physique which we desired to have for so long.
If you decide that benching 500 pounds is what you want more than anything else, then you need to prepare for a lot of heavy training and stressful sets for a long time to come.
Outside of the weight room, anything you truly want is going to cost you serious effort too. It might be buying a house, getting that dream car, or finally scoring that big promotion. It means you have to work hard, invest into it, and not give up on a bad day.
There will be plenty of those, but they will pale in comparison to the great day that you’ll have when that goal is finally realized. The journey is part of the reason that thing you wanted was worth having to begin with.
5. Make each day count.
Do you know that one guy who ate clean for a day, had one good workout, and stepped out of the gym looking like he won the Olympia?
Maybe you met that one lady who went on a run and finished up looking like she could win any fitness contest she entered. No? Me neither.
You know why? Because those people don’t exist.
Consistency is key in both training and life. The weights prove that every time someone comes up to challenge them. If you squat 500 pounds for the first time and take a year off, do you really think you’re going to squat 500 again? Spoiler alert, it ain’t gonna happen.
Each day you have to give your best and nothing less. If you want that bachelor’s degree or even your Masters, then every day matters. Same deal with any other endeavor you work in.
6. To be selfless, you must be self-responsible.
We all care about our family and friends and want to be there for them in times of need. That’s natural when it comes to someone you love or care about.
Have you ever met people who give so much of themselves to everyone else that they look like they are risking their own health? Later on, you find out that person is dealing with serious issues but only feels badly because he or she isn’t there for the family or friends.
If you have, then you should’ve taken a mental note immediately. To be at your best for others, you need to make sure you’re at your own best. That means taking responsibility for your own health. Being at your best means you’re in a better position to give your best to whatever obligation or commitment you make.
To do that, you must dedicate yourself to your fitness. It’s that simple.
7. You’re a product of your surroundings.
There was a town I had traveled to that had two gyms. One was a corporate like atmosphere with some business people and a few seniors who talked more than trained. I’m not knocking the place or members but it was what it was.
The other gym was your classic, run down, hardcore, iron resort. This place had lifters who literally set national records and one guy even set a world record in the bench press. Guess where I went. The atmosphere in that second gym was electric and I had to force myself to leave so I could make the conference I was in town for.
There’s an old saying that you’re a product of the five people you spend the most time with. If you hang out with folks who are generally pessimistic and joke about how you can’t do what those other people do, then slowly your mind can adopt that attitude.
Wouldn’t you rather be around people who are more positive, outgoing, and ready to dominate the day?
8. Commitment is a must.
When you begin to adopt the fitness lifestyle and decide you’re going to start lifting, you’re making a commitment that you know is essential to meeting those goals you have.
No champion, physique, or iron athlete won a major title in his or her off time. They commit every training session, meal, supplement, and all forms of recovery to making that aspiration an achievement. This is true for every Mr. Olympia, World’s Strongest Man winner, or any other champion that crosses your mind.
This is also true for CEO’s, managers, and anyone who started a business. It applies to every professor or doctor that went above and beyond a standard education. To be great at anything in life, you must make a great commitment.
Anything less than that and it simply won’t happen for you.