Colleagues and friends ask me all the time why I go to the gym.
Why in the world would I want to do this week in and week out?
I realized why I do what I do. This is what I have come to realize.
I Train To Better Myself
By lifting weights in the gym, I am constantly pushing myself to the next level.
Working out not only benefits my ability to live a healthier life, but it has also had an enormous effect on my mind. It has reignited my drive and directly impacted my cognitive function.
That desire to push through brand new boundaries and to unlock unknown planes will translate to your psychological well being as well. You will find that you do not stress as much nor do you seem to worry about the non-important aspects of life.
It is as if your body and mind begin to work in true tandem so that suddenly not only are you crushing PRs on the bench, but you find yourself looking at problems from different angles and lights.
I Train to Compete (Against Myself)
I played sports all my life. From the time, I was 4 until I was 16 it was soccer in the Spring, followed by baseball in the Summer, then soccer again in the Fall and basketball in the Winter. I was nonstop.
However, I was not some jacked kid either. I was plump. Probably because:
- I played goalie in soccer and my teams were so good the ball rarely made it to my side.
- I sat on the bench in all those other sports mentioned above
- I was lazy as fuck.
I was the laziest kid in the world.
These sports, even with my laziness, still instilled in me a desire for competition. It’s why it’s so hard not to try to win fights with my wife. (hint BAD IDEA, no bueno)
I love competition. It stimulates, what I believe is an ancient feeling of fighting for survival that our species has lost over the years as we became more settled.
The gym and weights, however, afford me one constant competitor: me. Every day I am there I am competing against myself. If I fail, I am not mad at a teammate but myself.
I push myself further. I relish in the glory of triumph. I alone am the person who sets and exceeds, or fails, at my goals. It is my muscles versus my brain. My body versus my doubt.
Now in my life, I am succeeding at crushing my doubt instead of letting it crush me and leave me on the bench.
I Train to Not Die in a Zombie Apocalypse
Not everyone can be this guy….. OR can they?
Do I really need to explain this one?
But Robbie can you shoot a gun?
Yes. I grew up in the South.
I am a pretty good sprinter and I can shoot a gun so that is really all I need. That is if we are fighting Resident Evil 1 zombies and even the Walking Dead type.
I sucked at Left 4 Dead on the Xbox so if they can run I would be screwed.
But hey if one of those half-dead smelly corpses fell on top of me or someone I love, I need to be strong enough to resist their dead weight and push them off, right?
Ha, dead weight. Hmm. If I lift one off a friend does that count as a dead lift?
I Train for My Wife
Yep, not going to lie here my first thoughts are, “you’re damn right I train so she can have a ripped husband with huge muscles she can grab onto in bed.”
Except I have pretty much been told she doesn’t care about my muscles because she loves me for me. Blah blahblah, I can read through your lies woman you want dem GAINZ!
In all truth, I train for my wife for two reasons:
1. I train because I have no idea when strength might be needed to save her life. That sounds kind of chauvinist, I guess, but let’s say we are in a car wreck and there is a car on top of her crushing her to death.
You better damn well believe I am going to pick that car up and throw it away like I am one enraged Bruce Banner.
I have no idea what life will throw at me and to be honest. I train for my wife because she deserves to know that I am strong enough to fight off a bear, lift a car or a tree off of her, or throw four crazed zombies off of her while she looks at me longingly and then jumps in my arms and tells me I am her hero….
Oh god, I might have some kind of complex developing here.
2. I train because she deserves to have me here for the long run. We all know that eating better, and exercise can prolong life so why in the world would I not do it? I said, “till death do us part” and I will be damned if I die from something I could have prevented!
Not taking care of myself kind of a makes me a selfish dick. I made a promise to her that I would be there through thick and thin. That means that I need to make sure I am healthy and stable and in good working condition or, in my opinion, it makes my vow to her as a husband less meaningful.
I Train Because It Makes Me Strong
When I started hitting the gym every day in 2012 my first goal was pretty much vanity.
6 pack. Get jacked. Then all da ladyz will want yo’ body and you will get maaaadddd aaassssss.
Now a few years later, those goals have changed.
For now, all I want is to get stronger and stronger. I want to push more weight from my chest and pull more weight with my back and crush cans with my head…wait, what??
I train because I like the feeling of strength. When I was young, I could not do one pull up. I had no upper body strength whatsoever. I was essentially Steve Rodgers pre-Super Solider Serum. I had lots of heart and passion, but that doesn’t translate to raw force.
Getting stronger has directly correlated to influencing my confidence. I walk taller. I feel better and damn if my ass doesn’t look amazing in a pair of jeans or naked.
I Train Because I Am Not Mediocre
This one sort of fits in with competing against myself, but I believe it also applies to something different. Self-progression.
I once had a teacher who told me, “never strive for mediocrity.” Over the years, I have rebelled against that wisdom and many times mediocrity is all I gave. In those times, that voice came back into my head to tell me I was being mediocre.
Now when I am in the gym this feeling comes in on those days where I have a case of “meh I’ll just go through the motions”. Those days are few and far between, but I have them. 90% of the time, however, on every lift or every rep I am telling myself do not be average.
You are not mediocre.
I am not mediocre. My lifts will not be mediocre. I will not be a mediocre husband or friend or son. I will not strive to just “be.” I will be what I am meant to be and will push myself towards more, constantly.
I Train Because It Allows Me Freedom
You can quit when you’re dead.
What? I like Braveheart and sometimes when I lift and push through that last set in my mind, I yell this.
Training allows me to eat more food.
Yes, I said it. EAT MORE FOOD.
For muscle to exist it needs food for energy.
FOOD IS ENERGY.
I will not go into too much detail here but will save that for another time. Again, training allows me the ability to eat more. And I love food.
And Ben and Jerrys, lots of Ben and Jerrys.
Training gives my body more freedom. My blood circulates better. My joints and bones do not ache because my frame is carrying too much-unneeded weight. My mind can focus and deals better with stress. My body moves more freely through the world and with that, freedom, comes a confidence that is hard to describe.
I Train Because I Like It
This might be the most straight forward reason as to why I train. I like it.
I like how I feel after training. I like the endorphins. I like the challenge. I enjoy the grinding and the daily rewards and challenges. Getting in shape and setting and achieving goals just feels good. And I like to feel good.
So, I train.
I Train Because It Gives Me Meaning
That may seem odd to say that training in the gym with barbells gives me meaning, but it does. I have a pretty boring desk job like many Americans out there. It is not glorious. It doesn’t give me any satisfaction besides the paycheck and in no way whatsoever is it giving back to anyone in a positive manner.
I watch our society. I watch my friends and those in the world around me. Something that sticks out to me about our current situation in the world, really you could argue it has always been this way, is that we seem to constantly be looking for meaning.
I have this thought that since we settled down from our nomadic, hunter/gather lifestyle thousands of years ago humanity has been plagued by one thing: meaning.
No, change that. Purpose.
We have been looking for a reason, a justification for what our purpose is as a species. Our ancient Paleo ancestors had one purpose, survival. That’s it. Get through the day, dodge this predator, kill this prey, find a soft safe place to sleep and then get up and do it all over again.
We as a species have become the top of the food chain. Our brains developed to make us more intelligent and far more cunning than any predator we faced. So we settled into towns and enclaves and tribes. We became complacent.
We settled along rivers, which provided water and food. We developed agriculture and built cities. We built walls to protect us from outside fears. In that complacency, we forgot what TRUE survival meant.
Over time, we were tested with plagues and natural disasters but we as a species continued to push on and expand, and we created new meanings and stories to give us a sense of purpose. Always inside of us, still churning in our DNA was this need to feel as if we were surviving, as if we were triumphing over nature itself.
That is what training provides for me. I am pushing myself to survive from whatever comes my way. It could come from anywhere at anytime, and I should be prepared to react in a way that guarantees or at least provides a fighting change for survival.
With our modern fast-paced interconnected world, our survival instincts are changing. We do not have to fight for it any longer. It can be delivered to us. It can be served to us. It can be provided to us cheap, efficient, and with no real detriment to our animal survival.
For me training taps into that ancient DNA and allows me to feel as if I am fighting against nature itself. I am fighting and struggling and telling the world that I will survive, so come at me bro!