Updated: Apr 5, 2020
Why do people lift weights?
Well, there's the obvious answer - to put on muscle, and build strength.
Then there's the less obvious answer, which has started to feature in the mainstream - to lose body fat, improve body composition and even enhance cardiovascular function (not just the job of traditional 'cardio'!). There are other benefits too, like improved bone density, better posture and a decreased chance of physical injury.
But there's also another reason to exercise, entirely separate from the physical benefits. It's the benefit to our mind.
All forms of exercise can have a positive impact on our mental state, but weights training deserves a special mention.
Lifting weights is potent brain training. It teaches your mind to focus, execute complex responses and tackle challenges. If you have the right program, weights training will train your brain to commit to long term goals, overcome self-doubt and trust in your ability to make progress and succeed. Chances are, you won't even realise this is happening.
When you lift weights, you aren't just building your physique. You are also building a stronger mindset that is transferable to all aspects of your life. You will be equipped with the mental clarity you need to attack problems head on. You will have the dedication and drive that is necessary to chase big goals. And you will possess the self-belief to know that you are capable of doing things that you have never done before.
Lifting weights has trained my brain to zero in on something, visualise what I want and concentrate to make it happen. Hypertrophy training is all about mind-muscle connection. It requires deliberate mental attention, not just physical repetitions, to transform weaknesses into strengths.
When you lift weights, you aren't just building your physique. You are also building a stronger mindset that is transferable to all aspects of your life.
Strength training has incredible mental benefits too. If you train to increase the amount of weight that you can lift, you realise that you can do things that you never imagined you could do. Strength training re-wires your brain to confront self-doubt, accept a challenge and commit to it. Before you can lift a heavier weight, you have to believe that you can do it. If you push your body beyond its comfort zone, this tests you both mentally and physically. It forces you to trust in your ability and just go for it. You learn to back yourself.
On top of this, lifting weights is also a fantastic way to zone out from the pressures of day to day life, de-stress and reset.
Take home message
Weights training will build a stronger mind, not just a stronger body. It sharpens mental focus and boosts self-confidence. This will carry across into your daily life and enable you to perform at your best when it counts.