My first true attempts to get stronger didn’t really begin until the end of my sophomore year of college. Before then I was working out, but I was intimidated by the barbell. I needed to check my ego at the door and let go of my fears in order to begin getting stronger.
Being blatantly honest I was inundated with images of these huge guys doing barbell exercises and it intimidated me. I would think, “well I’m nowhere near as big as those guys so I don’t belong underneath the barbell”. As a result I simply stuck to dumbbells.
To this day I look back and think of how I let comparison rob me of progress. In fact I recognize this as the case for many of us. We are driven by a competitive culture. To quote Ricky Bobby, “If you’re not first you’re last”. Yet these words, tend to do more harm then good.
We see people who are fitter, bigger, or stronger than us, and many of us start to think, “what’s the point?”
The problem is we all know not to compare ourselves to others. We’ve all been told there will always be someone better than us. Yet we still fall into this trap.
I don’t think the solution is tell you to stop comparing yourself to others. If you’re like me it’s probably already been told to you a million times. If I had a nickel for every time I was told to stop comparing myself I could pay off my student loans. However we can channel our propensity to compare into other avenues.
This is why I recommend keeping a training journal. In fact a training journal is absolute necessity. Rather than compare yourself to others a training journal will enable you to compare yourself to yourself.
How do you keep a training journal? Buy a notebook and In the simplest way possible just keep track of the exercise, weight, sets and reps you do for each exercise every day.
If you perform five exercises a day then each day you will strive to either do more weight, more sets, or more reps for just one of those exercises. If you do this you will get better than who you were the previous day. Even 1 pound, 1 rep, or 1 set on just 1 exercise is an improvement.
When I compared myself to those muscle bound dudes throwing around a bunch of weight I made the mistake many of us make in our journey to get stronger. We think of strength as a destination, when its actually a journey.
Sure, having long term goals help, but having short term goals are just as helpful as they will keep you more involved in the process. In my experience the people who focus on the process are the ones who have the most personal success.
What does this mean for you?
- Strength is relative to yourself.
- Get better every day.
- Focus on the process not the outcome.
Once you get started, and start seeking to get better every day then you will find yourself better embracing the process of strength.