Lessons from the Barbell

I can honestly say that a barbell changed my life and I'm fully aware of how eye-roll worthy that statement is.

I firmly believe you can learn a lot from simple everyday activities if you pay attention. Life isn't about simply existing, it's about getting the most out being alive so we can share that with others around us to hopefully improve their lives.

Here are 3 lessons I've learned from a barbell.

Facing your fears daily is a healthy practice

Who among us wants to admit that we're afraid? Not many, but we all are. We are afraid of different things large and small.

  • Asking for a raise
  • Quitting a job and starting over
  • Becoming a parent
  • Buying a home
  • Making new friends
  • This list goes on and on...

It takes courage to face these fears and for most of us that doesn't come naturally. But on the other side of each of those fears is a potentially better situation, a better life.

Training with a barbell is also a little scary. To make progress, to get better, you have to constantly push yourself to lift a little more weight and at times you're unsure if you can do it. Without trying you won't make progress. Facing that fear each and every day develops a mindset that will help you face the other fears in your life easier.

Things earned through really hard work are the most satisfying

Training with a barbell starts out relatively easy but as strength and skill increase the work required to make progress increases. Sure the easy gains at the beginning are fun but they are achieved without the context of how hard it is to get really strong. After a few years of constantly pushing yourself to lift loads that cause you to pause with fear (see above), you appreciate all the mental and physical work put into increasing a lift 10 lbs and it feels amazing!

I've seen a similar pattern play out in other areas of my life and there is a direct correlation between the amount of work put in and the amount of fulfillment I receive.

  • My marriage
  • Being a father
  • Owning a business
  • Leading others

Focus on the fundamentals

When training with a barbell there are correct ways and incorrect ways to lift. If the fundamentals are glossed over and you pursue lifting heavy weights before you're ready it will actually take you longer to get the benefits of lifting. You'll be lifting at a mechanical disadvantage which will put a lower ceiling on your abilities and you'll be plagued by injuries and other setbacks. Having to go back and learn the fundamentals after bad habits have been developed is a whole lot harder.

The parallels to life are quite obvious. The basics of being a decent human being are the most important and if you ignore those you'll have a hard time getting anywhere in life.

This is a more recent lesson for me. There was one area in my life that I was ignoring the importance of building relationships. I didn't see how it would impact my ability to get things accomplished or how it would shape how people perceived me. 5 years later I can't get any serious work done because everyone thinks I'm mean and grumpy. If you know me at all that is not how I am. For some reason, I forgot some of my fundamental beliefs.

  • Life is better in relationship with others.
  • Treat people with unconditional positive regard.
  • Every person has value and I can learn something from them.

This is just one example of how forgetting the fundamentals limited my progress. There are many many more. Being in a hurry doesn't mean faster progress. Who has been speeding to get somewhere and ended up even later because you got a speeding ticket?

The lessons that can be learned by training with a barbell are almost endless and it's something that we believe everyone could benefit from. It's sometimes even hard to describe how my life has changed and you really need to experience it for yourself.

Now go live better.