Sprints have become my new obsession.
Not really sure why. I hate running…but I LOVE sprints! Not treadmill sprints either. I’m talking all out, balls-to-the-wall sprints. In the gym, outside, anywhere I can really bust it open.
Maybe its because after dropping 80 lbs, I’m fast now. Okay, faster than I use to be at least. If I was running at the NFL Combine, I’m fairly confident my 40 time would land me better than last place. I think…
Anyway, this article is not about sprints, but rather what happened last Thursday while I was doing sprints.
I had just finished a total body training session and decided to throw in a few sprint circuits to finish off my training day. It was a mix of lateral slides, backpedaling and sprints the length of the court.
After my third round, I was walking back to the start, hands on my head, trying to figure out how I was going to do three more circuits, all while trying not to collapse onto the gym floor.
It was at that time that two seemingly contradictory thoughts simultaneously popped into my head…
“Why the hell am I doing this?!?!”
“I fucking love this!!”
My mind works in mysterious ways. But it did get me thinking…
When I am having an initial consultation with a client, be it online or in-person, the first thing I ask them is “What are your goals?”
Most will say things like, “I want to lose 15lbs.” or “I want to get down two dress sizes.”, “Build muscle.”, or something similar.
The next question I always ask is, “Why?”
“Why do you want to lose 15lbs?”
“Why do you want to go down two dress sizes?”
“Why do you want to build muscle?”
Having goals is important. It gives you direction in your training. As a trainer, it allows me to create a specific program for you. But goals are not the reason we train.
The reason we train is the “why”. The why is what drives you…what focuses you…what pushes you to do that extra rep; go that extra mile.
Like anyone else, I have goals. But having shredded abs, 18-inch arms, or a roadmap back are not what drive me every day to get better. Sure they may be the focus of my training program, but they are not what push me to the next level; to leave the gym feeling like I am ready to drop dead, but also ready t to do it all over again the next day.
What drives me is the “why’.
I train is to look fucking awesome.
Plain and simple.
Shallow? Probably. Vain? Yeah. Do I care? Not really.
I train to look good. Not because I think looking good or having abs makes me a better person. In fact, I’d say a lot of people who have abs are douchebags for that very reason.
But I’d be lying if I said the looks you get from women weren’t a little bit satisfying. Having guys ask what you do for your arms feeds the ego a bit. Everyone needs a little ego boost now and then right?
And ladies come on…you cant tell me you wouldn’t mind looking at your husbands or boyfriends abs every day. Or wrapping you in his big strong arms every night. Sure you may not care that much about those things…but they’re a nice little bonus aren’t they? Maybe make your girlfriends a little jealous?
So yeah, I’ll admit, part of the reason I want to look good is for the head turns and compliments. But that’s just a small part.
I mostly do it to look good for me.
Being overweight most of my life, I expected that my body would always look a certain way. Soft, doughy, round…you get the picture. I never expected that anything would change that. Yeah I figured I could lose some weight, but I never believed that would be drastic enough to make much of a difference.
But what training has shown me is that my body is capable of many things; far more than I ever thought possible. Looking back at my Facebook pictures from my high school and college days, if you didn’t know me, you would think I was a different person. Hell, I almost can’t tell.
And that’s part of the reason.
What I once not that many years ago thought to be impossible and out of my reach, is suddenly right there in front of me. Looking at how far I’ve come has shown me that anything is possible. And it pushes me to go further.
Looking in the mirror, knowing that I accomplished something that no one, not even me, thought I could accomplish fuels me. It drives me to work harder every day. Not just in the gym, but also with clients, writing articles, growing my business…the accomplishment of losing weight just for the sole reason of looking better has spilled over and made me more successful in all facets of my life.
The feeling of knowing you can do anything is a powerful one. More than looking good, or being successful, it’s made me believe in myself. Yeah, the looks are nice. But they are just a bi-product of a process that has given me so much more.
I train for my future family. My wife, children, grandchildren…
Physical strength may not mean as much in the world as it did thousands of years ago. A man is not required to defend his family from wild animal attacks, invasions from rival tribes, or hunt for food every day.
Nowadays we live in cities, are friendly with our neighbors, and drive to the grocery store to get food. If you have the physical strength to carry in the groceries from the car to the house in one trip, you are already considered pretty strong!
But just because the danger isn’t always imminent, doesn’t mean its not there. We never know what life is going to throw at us.
Maybe it’s a bit chauvinistic, maybe its outdated, maybe it’s a bit sexist…but as a man, I expect myself to be able to protect my family from anything. God forbid I would ever find myself in that situation, but it happens somewhere every single day.
Being strong enough to protect your loved ones is more than just about being able to carry someone out of a burning building, or fighting off a mugger. It’s about having the mental fortitude to face those situations head on; not back down, and keep the people you love safe.
Training gives me this. Not just the physical strength, but the mental strength as well. Knowing what I am able to accomplish in the gym, how far I am able to push myself, and the hurdles I can overcome tells me that when faced with a potentially dangerous situation, I have what it takes to man up and do what needs to be done.
That, and I always want my kids to be able to win a “Whose dad is stronger” argument.
I train for life.
Whenever someone asks me why I train, this is usually my first answer. Like I said above, you never know what life is going to throw at you, so be prepared.
More specifically though, I train to live a healthy life. I look around at friends who are 20, 30, 40+ years older than me, and see the health issues some struggle with on a daily basis. Trouble moving, disease, the list goes on and on.
I’m not saying I’m going to live forever. Father Time is the ultimate killer. He gets us all in the end. But I train to keep him at bay as long as possible. He’s going to take me eventually, but I’m not going down without a fight.
It’s hard when you’re young to ever imagine yourself getting old. You think you will be invincible forever. You eat what you want, drink what you want, stay up late, watch Netflix instead of hitting the gym…It’s easy to believe nothing will every slow you down.
But time marches on; you get older, your body breaks down, you lose muscle, injuries take longer to heal, and before you know it you can’t get off the couch without pain.
I train so I can fight this off as long as possible. Studies have repeatedly shown that strength training not only makes you stronger (duh!), but increases bone density, reduce blood pressure, preserve lean muscle tissue, improve cholesterol levels, increase joint strength and stability, improve coordination, and slow or even help prevent diseases and conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and back pain.
What do all these things have in common? They are all issues that are exacerbated by age. If you don’t take care of your body the likelihood of encountering one or more of these conditions increases dramatically.
I train so that when I am in my 30’s and 40’s, I can still run around and play with my kids.
I train so that when I am in my 50’s and 60’s I can chase my grandkids around. So I can exercise without pain.
I train so that when I am in my 70’s and 80’s I can still do the activities that I love, and so that I am not confined to a chair most of the day.
I train so that as I get older, I can still be intimate with my wife and make her happy in the bedroom (or wherever she wants!). Like everything else, sex drive and libido decreases with age. Training increases testosterone production. Testosterone increases sex drive.
BOOM! Sex math!
Ultimately though, I train so I can feel good. I train so that my life will get better with age, not worse. Just because my time on this earth decreases with each day, doesn’t mean my quality of life has to as well.
I train for me above everything else.
I train because I like it. I train because of the way it makes me feel about myself.
The way it makes me feel is unlike anything else in my life. There are a lot of things in life that make me feel good…that make me happy. But none of them compare to training.
For an hour or two out of the day, I can put my headphones on, crank up my favorite music (country…yeah, weird I know), and block everything else out. I can forget any stress I may have about work, a fight with a girlfriend or family member, and for that time I can just focus on me. Training de-stresses me. It makes me happy. If I’m having a bad day or a bad week, training makes me forget about it.
I train because of what it has done for me. At the lowest point in my life, training gave me something to hang on to; something to look forward to each and every day.
The best thing training has given me isn’t a double bodyweight squat or any type of physical strength. The best thing training has given me is mental strength. Its given me confidence. Confidence in my abilities…in my life…in myself.
Ask most people who train and they will likely tell you the same thing. The confidence boost that is associated with strength training far outweighs the physical gains you get.
Training has given me more confidence in every aspect of my life, not just the gym. It has helped me become more outgoing, which has helped in my business…my personal relationships…with ze ladyz…
The point is, training is not all about the physical. What stops you from accomplishing your goals more often than not is you. More specifically, your confidence in yourself, your abilities, and how you approach life.
Training has given me a lot…but nothing I value more than the confidence to know I can do anything I want.
Most people look at training and working out (yes they are two different things) as a means to an end. Something they have to do in order to lose weight or reach their goal, whatever that may be.
But it is so much more than that.
If you only take one thing away from this article I want it to be this: Strength breeds strength. Bettering yourself in one way causes ripple effects that extend to many other aspects of your life.
We all train for different reasons. We all have different “whys”. What’s important is that these “whys” increase our quality of life and make us happy. Because in the end, that is what its really about.
So, why do you train?