The Journey of Strength and the Obstacle of Comparison

The Journey of Strength and the Obstacle of Comparison

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?

  1. Strength is relative to yourself. 
  2. Get better every day. 
  3. 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.

– Dave 

The Journey of Strength: Lessons from a 7th Grader

The Journey of Strength: Lessons from a 7th Grader

The people who know me: my family, close friends, co-workers, and clients, all know I am not a super emotional person. Yet they also know there are things I am passionate about. In fact, I could probably count all these passions all on one hand. As it pertains to fitness, I am very passionate about strength. Not just making myself stronger, but rather this truth; regardless of who you are you will benefit from getting stronger.

I say this, and yet, for some reason I know a lot of people who don’t pursue strength. Thinking of the most common reasons I’ve heard several things come to mind:

  • Lack of time
  • Confusion
  • Fear

While not all encompassing, these three issues seem to be the overarching reasons people do not embark towards getting stronger. I won’t say they are excuses because excuses tend to be rooted in arrogance. Rather these issues tend to be rooted in a lack of education. 

So don’t worry, I’m not going to inundate you with pictures of people in the special olympics or working out in prosthetics and ask “what’s your excuse?” Quite frankly I think it is unfair to these individuals who have overcome incredible odds. I am also not going to bash you for not pursuing strength, because I understand, the intimidation is real. The truth is, we all have to start somewhere, and even more so, we all have to get started. 

My passion for strength was first planted in me when I was just a scrawny middle schooler who could eat cereal out of my chest, and now it continues to grow to this day. 

Back then, I was scared of barbells because I didn’t want to hurt myself. However, all I wanted to do was stop failing at our schools fitness testing. Side note: if you want to really damage a kid’s psyche make sure they struggle doing physical activities in front of their peers. But what do I know? I’m just some dude writing a blog…

In my parent’s basement was an i-beam, one that I could grip. Nothing fancy, didn’t cost me a gym membership and the best part about this i-beam was that it was in private. No one had to see me grunt and groan like I was constipated as I worked my way to simply doing 1 pull-up. And all I did, every time I walked past that i-beam was whatever I could do to get one pull-up, whether it meant jumping, or standing on a foot stool, I was one persistent little bugger. Later did I realize this technique would be coined, greasing the groove, but that’s beside the point. Before long fitness testing rolled around again, and I did the most pull-ups of any kid in my class. Suffice to say, I was ready to conquer the world. Not to mention, I noticed a couple middle school shawtys noticin’ me.

So what can an acne laden, scrawny, baby fattened kid teach us about strength? Simple, just get started.

Okay, I said it’s simple, I didn’t say it’s easy. Back in the day I was too dumb to let a lack of education get in my way. I was just simply tired of where I was at and wanted to do something about it. 

If you’re reading this, odds are you want to do something about where you are at in life as well. Maybe your curious as to what I have to say. Well first off, I am not going to say anything that hasn’t been said before. Second off, getting stronger will take time, there will be tough lessons along the way, but there are few things more rewarding than being apart of this journey. Finally, the choice to get stronger, to change something about yourself is an emotional decision. It will not be made in logic. Logic may help persuade you, and it may guide you along the way, but if your heart’s not willing your actions will not follow.

I could spend this next series spewing scientific evidence, and talk about hormones, genetics, anatomy, biomechanics, and even nutrition, but there are others in the health industry who talk about all of those subjects with far more eloquence than myself. Rather, I want to distill any fears and confusion that go along with strength training. All I ask is for you to keep an open mind.

For those of you that may enjoy improving their aerobic endurance and flexibility aside from strength I commend you. To you I want you to know I will not say these other forms of fitness are not beneficial. However, they become even more effective when strength training is in the mix. 

So, if you are willing to trust someone, writing a blog, who you may have never met before, you will soon find out how actually getting stronger will improve your life. When I say improve your life, I don’t just mean physically, but your whole being. Once you truly begin the quest for strength, you will be changed. It is scary at first, but the journey itself, not even the destination, is completely worth it. 

Remember the lesson we learned from that 7th grader tired of being embarrassed in front of his peers, and let’s get started. My next post I will discuss what getting stronger means.

– Dave