I recently ran a poll on Instagram asking people for the top 3 reasons they train. I got some interesting answers and decided to turn in to this blog post.. here we go!
The Opposite Sex
Famous psychotherapist Sigmund Freud believed that most of the things we do are ultimately motivated by sex.
According to Freud, the desire to look attractive, make money, be successful, attain status – we desire these things because we want to attract a mate and reproduce. I have to agree with him.
I once asked a new client why he wanted to start training with me. He told me that due to his weight gain, he hadn’t been with a woman for 2-3 years. No girlfriend, nothing.
To this man, his weight ruined his confidence so much he didn’t even try to get to know a woman, let alone get intimate with one. He completely stopped taking care of his appearance.
This is an extreme case, but it is very common in men, just in more subtle ways. Some guys are afraid to take their shirts off around the opposite sex because of ‘man-boobs’. Some guys stay fully dressed on the beach because they are embarrassed of their physique.
For the most part, these issues are SOLVABLE. If something can be done about it, something should be done about it.
The above situations also hold true for women. I’ve had female clients whose motivation to train was because they wanted to find a partner.
Looks are definitely not everything, but you need to look like you care about yourself. This will make everything that much easier. You don’t have to be a ripped model or hench athlete. Just be in shape. Have a little muscle definition. Have good posture. Fit well in your clothes. Don’t have a gut spilling out of your t-shirt.
Women judge men they don’t know firstly by their appearance. They will disqualify you if you don’t meet some sort of acceptable standard. So why let yourself get DQ’d before they even get to see your personality? The same is true in the reverse situation too.
I don’t care if anyone thinks this is shallow, sexist or whatever the nonsense PC term being bandied around these days is.. you can’t argue with human nature.
The biggest mistake I see men make is to only train their upper body and eat like a pig in an effort to ‘bulk’. They just end up fat with a belly instead. Having a belly is a sign of poor health and is not attractive to the opposite sex.
My advice for men is to at least make sure you don’t have a gut. Train more than just your chest. Train your upper back, glutes, hamstrings and posterior chain just as much as you train your chest, abs, and quads. Otherwise you will look imbalanced and your posture will suck.
Strength was another one high on the list. Strength gives you a sense of confidence that transfers to other areas of your life.
It also helps in real life situations – having to defend yourself in an altercation, having to lift furniture, having to carry stuff for long distances.
Strength is built in the 3-6 rep range, so choose a few big lifts and just get stronger at them over time. Deadlift, squat, and bench press are good places to start, as well as a farmers carry.
Nothing like knowing you can choke someone to death in a self defense situation after all x.
Lots of people described the gym as a fun hobby. The gym is an escape from the humdrum routine of work. You improve your body, improve your health, and even meet new people at the gym.
It’s actually very exciting when you start a new programme or try a new exercise because you start imagining the positive improvements that are going to come from it.
Not everybody sees the gym as fun though – some people are results driven and only care about the outcome (these people usually do 5×5 for their whole lives!).
Some people need more variety to keep their training interesting (I am definitely in this camp).
Try to introduce a new movement every 4 weeks or so – this is enough time for your body to adapt and improve in response to a certain exercise while still giving your muscles and nervous system a chance to practice and respond to the exercise.
The effects of resistance training on sporting performance are very well documented.
Weight training makes you faster, more powerful, and most importantly in my opinion, far more resistant to injury. Everybody who plays a sport should follow a structured weight training programme – not only will you be more durable and capable of training your sport harder, but it will probably improve your performance too.
Athletes should try to do more movement based training (i.e. bodyweight movements like lunges etc), incorporate different directions in their training, as well as include a variety of rep ranges for strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance.
Sense of routine
This was another one that came up often. The gym can provides a sense of structure to your life. You know that on Monday you are training upper body, on Tuesday you’re doing legs etc. Habits and routines like exercise are very important as they spill over into other areas of your life.
When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. “Exercise spills over,” said James Prochaska, a University of Rhode Island researcher. “There’s something about it that makes other good habits easier.”
Follow a STRUCTURED training programme. If you don’t know what to do, get a coach to write you one (hit me up for online training and I will write you a brilliant plan!).
This was a surprisingly common answer.
Working in pharmacy for a long time, the amount of people I saw on antidepressants was truly shocking. Often times, these people were also very out of shape and had many other health conditions along with the depression. Maybe exercise and a better diet would have helped? Instead, the doctors simply prescribed them pills.
The pharmaceutical companies and medical industry are quick to push antidepressants on people as soon as they feel a little bit down, instead of exploring the root causes and other more natural methods of alleviating the problem. Resistance training is the wonder drug, not fluoxetine.
I am definitely prone to depression. After a few days without training I start to feel moody and low, and this is when I must do something physical. Our bodies were made to move. Our brains respond to movement by producing feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Exercise is God’s medicine. So many diseases that afflict us in the West are caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
I know guys my age (31) with high blood pressure and lifestyle-related diabetes. That is not normal. Of course, sometimes genetic factors are responsible, but the numbers don’t lie – diabetes is on the rise in young people.
You don’t even need a gym membership to train – bodyweight works too. You can look more attractive, feel more energetic, and have better health just by dedicating half an hour to physical movement every day. That is a beautiful thing!
I’d much rather suffer the ‘inconvenience’ of having to train every day than to take pills and injections for the rest of my my life. Some of those pills cause side effects that require other pills to manage them, and it becomes a complete cluster-fuck of medicines, side effects, and doctors visits. So use what God and nature gave you. I feel more like a hippy every day when I say this, but it’s so true.
Ok, that about does it.. don’t forget to sign up for my free ebook ‘Staying Lean At 30‘, specifically aimed at men 30 and above.. get it here! Hit me up with any comments you have.