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What do you enjoy about lifting weights?

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  • What do you enjoy about lifting weights?

    I am a woman in my 60s and do weightlifting regularly. However, I only do it because it's good for me; same reason I floss my teeth! In contrast to the cardio that I do, which I love, I don't get any intrinsic enjoyment from the process of lifting weights. I can make myself do it, but my focus is on "getting done." I'd like to be able to actually enjoy it in the moment and thought learning about how others experience lifting might help me adjust my own perspective.

    I do experience enjoyment when I am able to lift more than last time (but that is at the very end of a specific exercise and doesn't always happen) and I also like feeling stronger in daily life. But I am trying to find some ways to enjoy the actual process of picking up heavy things over and over. The best I've done is to focus on a particular muscle feeling strong during a particular lift.

    So I thought I would tap into the group experience here and see if there are some other things I could try to focus on to increase my enjoyment of the lifting itself. I know that for many of you, you genuinely enjoy lifting heavy things and always have. Why? What specifically do you enjoy?

    But maybe there are others like me out there who didn't start out loving it, but have learned along the way to get some enjoyment out of lifting weights. I'd like to hear your perspective, too.


  • #2
    Oh, boy, as an (overly) analytical person, I gotta be careful w/ how much I ramble on this one as it can get real deep real quick...

    It would be useful to describe how I arrived here as useful in understanding my perspective on lifting weights. I've been someone all my life that's enjoyed doing stuff and moving my body in a variety of activities and sports. First time I got exposed to a little bit of weights was college and haphazardly through early adulthood. I realized things like squats made me feel good, made me feel more "integrated" or maybe you could say more functional. I had no influences or real exposure until late 30s a decade ago during the early days of CrossFit, we got introduce more formally to lifting weight and Olympic weightlifting movements. I found those fun, because not only was there a scary aspect of flinging weights around, but there was the whole technical aspect to practice.

    What also appealed is that since I do like to engage in a lot of core activities (rock climbing, surfing, triathlons, mountaineering, etc.), I appreciated that being stronger would help with achieving more, having more fun, and keeping away risk of injuries in my main activities. So, you could say that there is an indirect enjoyment of lifting weights because of these primary motivations.

    At the risk of getting too philosophical, I would say that's also why I enjoy flossing. That is, because I know it's good for me and leads to good outcomes. If I were to be brutally honest with myself, I rather sit on the couch eating chips, donuts, and playing on my iPad. Truly. But, since I can't do that as I would feel (and look) like crap... lol I choose a different methodology of how I treat my body in order to keep everything in better balance.

    I only seriously started training consistently with weights about 3 years ago (re)learning what I thought I knew about the movements, this time with a serious coach. I started the typical Starting Strength LP and after several months got into BBM programming. Since I'm heavily goal-oriented, I made the hard work and constant training more motivational and fun by picking numerical goals and looking for constant improvement. After a couple of years, I casually glanced at records and realized that I was now a contender for breaking some. I used that motivation to start competing in 2019. Previous to this, I had close to zero thought of every doing something like that.

    All along, I've seen that my other activities have benefited greatly from my strength training, even "off the couch" and not doing them for many months. It may sound silly, but even around the house and normal life, the new strength came in handy to get things accomplished that would've before required help from someone else. I guess this all a long way of saying that because of these already enjoyed outcomes and hopefully future ones (health & longevity), the "enjoyment" of lifting weights has come through and continually sustained itself.

    If I'm honest, there are times fairly frequently where I dread an upcoming training session. Because, at this point for me, the weights are heavy and somewhat scary. There is a lot of effort involved in my sessions. But, it's a mindset thing. Yes, there is work to be done. But, that's what I'm here to do, work. Entropy and all that, you're either growing constantly or wasting. Sounds a little negative, but I think it's mostly true with all living things. So, just like flossing, I made it through mindset into one of those things that I enjoy greatly. It's hard, it can be scary, and sometimes I get negative thoughts. But, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do this and have a nice functioning body and that changes it and then there is truly a lot of enjoyment to be had when you experience your body doing these amazing functional things with weights.

    I don't know if that was at all what you wanted to hear, but hopefully the ramblings were somewhat useful...
    Last edited by Shawn Shafai; 07-15-2020, 07:32 PM.


    • #3
      Is a a lifestyle choice for me. Its a net positive like few other activities I can think of. You have to use whatever motivates you to train until it becomes a habit, competition, aesthetics, crushing yard work, whatever, and cultivate a mindset where not training becomes unthinkable. I like being strong, I like looking strong, I like the positive example it sets for my kids. The hard work, discipline and the analytical approach you take to get the desired result is a great metaphor for life in general I think.


      • #4
        I was a band kid in high school and an engineer in college. During my studies I got married, had a kid and gained 40lbs when a friend invited me to come to CrossFit — it was the first hour of my life where my body had forgotten how to breathe and I had an awakening, realizing that I was in my mid twenties and my body was totally neglected and abused by my lifestyle and habits. I didn’t change over night, and I’ve relapsed several times since then, but I am motivated by a desire to have a body that isn’t held back my own lack of effort.

        I think you can view your body as a corvette. We all have the chance for incredible physical experiences as we challenge our bodies, or conversely we can slash our own tires and key the paint job.

        I also discovered a couple YouTube channels where people posted resistance training videos where they at least looked like they were having fun. It hadn’t occurred to me previously that there were people other than the west side bruisers that used barbells and didn’t go to prison. It was then that lifting heavy things became something I could see myself doing and merge into my identity as opposed to having to choose between lifestyles.


        • #5
          These questions come to mind as someone who went from total gym avoidance to loving lifting:
          • What does your programming look like? What exercises do you do? What variations?
          • Where do you lift? What does the space look like? Do you use the space for anything else?
          • What place does lifting have in your life? Do any of your friends or family lift? You're on here, do you consume other media relating to lifting?


          • #6
            Things I enjoy about lifting weights:
            • Problem solving
            • Displaying physical strength makes me feel powerful
            • Competetive outlet
            • Reassuring that I'm doing something that will maintain my guality of life
            • Occasionally it makes me feel high (similar to a runners high)
            • I have become so familiar with training that it gives me a sense of comfort (I feel 'at home' when training)


            • #7
              Originally posted by Acland View Post
              These questions come to mind as someone who went from total gym avoidance to loving lifting:
              • What does your programming look like? What exercises do you do? What variations? BBM's Beginner's Template, phase 2. I have ROM issues from past surgery and radiation that limit some of my choices, but can find choices that I can do and have the equipment for. When I can get a safety bar, I will have a few more choices. Prior to BBM, I started with no programming. Then, my son got into SS and I followed that protocol for a while. But it was discouraging if I couldn't "add 5." Using RPE has cleared a lot of the mental obstacles away.
              • Where do you lift? What does the space look like? Do you use the space for anything else? Right now, I'm temporarily staying with my son to help with my new grandbaby. His rack and equipment is in the garage. I talked him into a window A/C unit. (Didn't take much talking!) At home, I have a rack on our closed-in side porch that also houses my husband's woodworking stuff, but we've arranged it so it's workable.
              • What place does lifting have in your life? Do any of your friends or family lift? You're on here, do you consume other media relating to lifting? Lifting is in my life for health reasons.

                In the Before Times (precovid), my neighbor would come up and lift with me. That was nice. However, it took a long time because I have a rack not a cage and the space is limited. Here, too, my adult son and I can't lift at the same time.

                I'm a voracious media consumer. I've watched a lot of Allan Thrall (I know he's affiliated here) and I listen to the Stronger by Science podcasts and read their material on their website. I like to watch short segments from competitions.

                I have had a hard time finding women who lift to follow. I think I've watched anything with Leah that is on Youtube, and some Stefi Cohen stuff. But I've not come across a lot in the way of female weight lifting on a regular channel that is not of the "Get a big booty" variety. <eyeroll> Or a guy using a woman to demonstrate something he is teaching, which I find off-putting. There are a fair number of very short clips of older adults (women and men) who lift weights and who started at a later age. I watch them for inspiration. I also sometimes watch Daisy Riddle's workouts for motivation when I'm not wanting to start a workout. (I am a huge fan of her character in Star Wars and was really fascinated by the fact that she trained herself for the physical demands of the role. Don't want to start a controversy about whether the last 3 movies were up to expectations or not! Haha.)
              Those were great questions. Thanks!

              I have strategies for increasing my sense of reward while lifting (like saving my favorite patterns of socks for weightlifting days; using rest periods to read stuff I'm interested in, etc.) What prompted this post was I heard Austin answer a Q from a seminar about how he stays consistent with lifting and his basic answer was that he really likes it, so that it's not something he has to force himself to do. I mean if you want to lift while you have the flu, you really like it!

              So that got me thinking. And I wondered what people actually enjoy while they are lifting something @ 9 with a back up set or two to come, for instance.

              For comparison, wrt what I enjoy about aerobics: there is usually some other immediate point (not longterm) in the exertion rather than exertion for exertion's sake. For instance: I was an athlete in high school and college. I always said then that I hated running (still do) unless I was chasing a ball or trying to get a ball away from someone else. The game itself was fun, and the exertion was needed for the game. With walking/jogging in my neighborhood, I am within a nice moderate range and I try to divert myself by looking at what is new : flowers blooming, leaves changing colors, etc. Hiking? I will hike a strenuous trail because I want to see a waterfall or the view from the top. With Zumba, when I am working at a really elevated heart rate, the fun of the dance distracts me from a level of exertion that I would otherwise dislike/avoid. Cross-country skiing? It's gorgeous. And quiet. Swimming: I love the sensation of moving through the water. Stationary bike: I put bike trails from Youtube on so I can bike through the valleys of the Alps or Rocky Mountains, etc. I am biking for the scenery.

              Whereas with lifting weights, the point for me is longterm: increasing and maintaining strength--unless I can find a way to enjoy immediate moment more. (I'll still do it whether I enjoy it or not because of the strength of my motivation to maintain health as someone in my 60s who is also a cancer survivor.) So I have what I need in terms of motivation to keep going , but I'm just curious about whether I could learn to enjoy the actual sensation/experience/work of lifting @ RPE 9. Or doing deadlifts x 8 @8 or 9. (I've gotten some good ideas on this thread!)

              I am generally good with the x4 sets because I can tell myself "You only have to do 4." haha. (I do like testing out 1RM's b/c of the competition of it, because it's only 1 rep at a time working up to it, longish rest periods, and I can stop when I can't do it.)

              I appreciate everyone's responses. They've definitely given me some other things to ponder!


              • #8
                I can second a lot of the reasons that have been stated here (benefits for long-term health, enjoy being strong, satisfaction from improving, tackling a complex problem). One thing that has definitely increased my enjoyment has been having actual competitions as goals. Working towards increasing your strength and then successfully displaying it at a meet was very rewarding. It closed the loop on a cycle and was a concrete, successful, ending to an achievable goal.

                One rather odd reason I enjoy heavy barbell training is that I enjoy the pain. I had a rather unusual childhood with lots of tough manual labor. I'm now completely white-collar and work in a professional setting behind a desk. There's something about the strain and unforgiving metal implements that reminds me of getting real work done. I'm rather enamored by the stoic Hemmingway character who faces physical adversity with cool resignation. Working hard (physically) reminds me of the "real" men and women I admired and worked with when I was young.
                Last edited by sjalbrec; 07-19-2020, 05:34 AM.


                • #9
                  can find choices that I can do and have the equipment for. When I can get a safety bar, I will have a few more choices.
                  it was discouraging if I couldn't "add 5." Using RPE has cleared a lot of the mental obstacles away.
                  I talked him into a window A/C unit.
                  Sounds like you've done some good problem-solving here. Nice work!
                  I have had a hard time finding women who lift to follow.
                  Sounds like you've also identified something that might be lacking. I personally find enjoyment in a sense of accomplishment that I was strong enough to lift the big heavy thing. I don't have any particular desire to be "manly", but I can see how gender may have shaped my experiences here. Is there another way you can think of to find this kind of inspiration?