“Strength and Honor.”
Young or old, big or small, being strong is the best attribute you can give yourself. Just as Maximus Decimus Meridius tells his army in the movie, Gladiator, there’s a true sense of honor that comes with being strong.
Back in high school, when I was cut from the basketball team – mostly because I sucked, but also because I was weak – I signed up for a gym membership to get strong. Maximus taught me there was honor in strength, and I wanted it.
Thus began my torrid love affair with strength training. Here I am, twelve years later, more enamored with being strong than ever before.
Whether you’ve never done a push up or you live to deadlift, you plan on running a marathon, or you simply want to be a better parent to your kids, being strong is the best gift you can give yourself.
It needs to be part of your existence as a nerd, and I am going to tell you why.
Strength lets you take back control
“I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect.” – Henry Rollins.
As Nerd Fitness began, a friend shared an article with me by the musician and fitness fanatic Henry Rollins. I think I read it three times straight, and have re-read it monthly ever since.
“Iron and the Soul” is one of the best, most amazing things I have ever read when it comes to fitness, and I highly encourage you to take 5 minutes now to drop what you’re doing and read it.
I’ll wait 🙂
Done? GREAT. Although strength training is the best tool we have that can help us transform physically, it’s the mental challenges and changes that come along with strength training that truly make it an absolute staple for human existence.
Strength training teaches us about ourselves. What we’re capable of. Where our weaknesses are. What we can overcome with persistence, practice, and patience.
If life is great, or if it sucks, it’s easy for us to blame it on anything and everything – and most people do. Strength training teaches us that obstacles and set backs are merely things to be overcome.
And let’s be honest – we’re all nerds – we’re were the ones that got pushed around at school, on the playground…and maybe even still today in the office! We don’t really fit in, and although we’re taught as children to think for ourselves, why does it feel like being ourselves is frowned upon once we grow up?
Welp, you know who else is weird?
Thor. That’s right. THOR.
You know who doesn’t fit in?
Katniss Freaking Everdeen.
You know who feels like he probably doesn’t belong?
Captain EFFIN America.
Yup, these people are weirdos who don’t belong among regular folks. They’re also badasses and super strong. They’re also in charge of their own destiny, and I know that goes hand in hand with being strong.
Strength training teaches us that we alone are in charge of the results we expect to get out of life. Nobody can lift the weight for us; there’s nobody to blame if we don’t get that job, and there’s no excuse that can change what’s happened.
Once we understand that our transformation is 100% in our hands, we can get to work picking ourselves up by our bootstraps and being better.
It’s easy to feel like the deck is stacked against us – that everything is going wrong – that we have lost control and things are falling apart. My best advice for you is: Get strong.
Everything that has gone wrong might not be your fault, but it is your responsibility – so focus on fixing one thing in your life that you have 100% control over.
Strength Changes YOU and your outlook on life
In every success story we’ve ever shared on Nerd Fitness, there’s something amazing that happens when the person gets strong.
As they developed strength, they started to build confidence.
And once they proved to themselves that they could transform their physical situation, they started looking at other areas in their life that they wanted to fix. Full of confidence and a sense of personal responsibility, they get to work on fixing other parts of their life or attacking challenges they never thought they’d be able to:
- Saint got in shape for his wedding, then changed jobs and built his own app company – designing our entire Paleo Central app!
- Staci got in shape and got strong, and now works full time for Nerd Fitness.
- Anthony dropped 200 pounds, and then moved cross country, took his dream job and started dating after years of lacking the confidence to try.
- Bronwyn lost a ton of weight, and now competes in freaking powerlifting meets!
In every situation, a Nerd Fitness Rebel focused on fixing one thing: getting stronger and eating right. As a result, they built momentum and then asked themselves “What’s next?” Strength training become a part of who you are – not a 90 day plan, but a LIFE plan. So, it’s no surprise it was easy for them to adopt and apply those same principles to any other obstacle in their life.
“I got a little bit stronger and more confident each day; why don’t I try that same tactic with [aspect of my life that I want to improve]?”
Strength training will change you at the most fundamental level. Just as it changes how your cells deal with energy (“use to build strength” vs. “store as fat”), so too will it change how your brain attacks obstacles.
Get strong, and old roadblocks start looking like mere speedbumps.
Strength Makes Life Easier
A strong nerd is a healthy nerd.
No matter what activity you are trying to accomplish today, be it strenuous or mundane, being strong will make it easier, guaranteed. Strength training improves how our muscles, joints, tendons, and bones all operate more efficiently with each other.
- Carrying groceries in from the car and up a flight of stairs? Do it in one trip.
- Wrestling with your kids in the back yard? Give them piggy back rides without worry.
- Playing ultimate frisbee? Jump higher, run faster, stay injury free.
- Is it “business time“? Leave your socks on, and go for longer.
- Running a marathon? Strength training will help you stay injury free, improve your time, and give you an extra boost on ‘heartbreak hill.’
As we pointed out in our article about becoming antifragile (my favorite concept of 2014), our bodies work with a “use it or lose it” system. When we don’t strength train and push our muscles and bodies beyond the comfort zone, they get complacent and actually atrophy.
When we use our bodies and muscles regularly in increasingly challenging ways, previous exercises that used to tax us are suddenly no challenge:
- If you’re used to deadlifting 250 pounds, then helping a friend move a couch will be a cakewalk (sorry for mentioning cake).
- If you regularly do pull ups, then hanging from the jungle gym with your kids will make you look like super mom.
- Hike regularly with a backpack up mountains and hills? Going for a walk with kids in a stroller will be a walk in the park (especially if you are walking through a park).
Seriously, almost everything we do suddenly becomes more enjoyable, and less strenuous as a result of strength training. Strength training improves fundamental human movements, like sitting down in a chair and getting up (squats), or bending down and picking something up (deadlifting). It’s everywhere!
The only bad part? Your friends will now be 100 times more likely to ask you for help when they need to move.
Strength Will Transform Your Appearance
“Appearance is a consequence of fitness.”
As I formulated the idea for what would become Nerd Fitness years ago, the movie 300 took over the internet and everybody wanted to know how the actors got in such great shape for their roles. It turns out they trained as if they WERE warriors, focusing on intense strength training with a disciplined diet.
The man who trained them, Mark Twight, said what has forever shaped how we view health and physique here on Nerd Fitness: “appearance is a consequence of fitness.”
From that moment forth, how Nerd Fitness helped people get healthy was built around this foundation:
A strong body is a body to feel confident in.
We care about helping people get strong, because we know what happens to bodies that become strong – they transform, Optimus Prime style, into something that helps build self-confidence, momentum, and pride.
The best part about strength training? It teaches your cells how to deal with calories differently. If you just eat less, your body will start to pull from muscle along with fat to fuel itself. When you strength train, your body uses extra calories to rebuild those muscles, encouraging them to stay strong.
On top of that, strength training can help fix your posture! Pull those shoulders back, stand tall, look people in the eye. It’s amazing what this can do for how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.
Strength training is the reason why these NF rebels altered their appearance (Click on their pictures for their stories):
Yes, beauty is on the inside. However, strength training can help transform you both inside and out. Not only that, but it can freaking make you smarter too.
Strength keeps you younger, longer
Age is only a number.
We all assume that as we get older, our cells deteriorate and thus we feel older. However, there’s plenty of science out there that suggests our cells deteriorate from lack of use, and thus we ‘get older.’
If for no other reason, strength training needs to be part of your future because it will keep you younger, healthier, more alert, longer.
Strength training can help negate the effects of OsteoArthritis.
Strength training helps with older folks with dementia.
Strength training helps keep you healthy by preventing falls, accidents, and other common issues as you age.
Do you think Willie Murphy feels 77-years old as a powerlifting grandma?
Do you think Gandalf feels like a 2,000+ year old wizard as he’s twirling his staff and kicking the crap out of orcs? hell no!
Age is only a number, and you are only as old as you feel:
we are designed to be strong
There’s a lot of great things that have come with the advancement of society – however, now that our survival is no longer tied to our strength, it’s no longer something ‘required’ of us.
But we are genetically designed to move. To be active. To be strong. It is IN our DNA, and it needs to be awoken if you want to become the healthiest, happiest, strongest version of yourself.
Plus, it’s in our nerd-DNA. Did you know strength training makes us smarter nerds? Memory benefits. Less anxiety and improved cognition. Improved test scores.
I don’t care if you start with just a few push ups and squats getting up from your couch. The sooner you start strength training, the sooner you can reap the benefits and retake control of your future.
I strength train because I want to find out what I’m capable of. I want to know how strong I can become. I want to set an example for all other Nerd Fitness Rebels. I want to prove to myself that with enough time and focus, anything is possible.
I strength train because I believe it’s my responsibility to become the best version of myself. Anything less than that is unused potential and a missed opportunity, and I have no desire to look back upon an existence unlived and say “what if?”
I plan on living a long time, and I know that the best way to live a long healthy, happy life, is to be strong, and push myself to become stronger. I can’t wait until my next workout.
Your turn. Why do you strength train? Leave your comment below and share it with the community!
photos source: James Jordan: Superman
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