I’ve noticed something in the general “manosphere”/masculine self-improvement communities.
A bunch of people tell you, “Shut up and lift, bro!” but they don’t address – or even seem to acknowledge – that a lot of guys don’t want to lift.
A lot of guys don’t enjoy lifting heavy weights.
A lot of guys don’t enjoy sweating their tits off in the gym.
A lot of guys don’t enjoy the monotony of it; the mind-numbing repetition of doing the same thing over and over again, just with slightly heavier weights each time, or slightly more reps each time.
I get it.
In fact, I’ll tell you a little secret…. I hate the gym.
“But Andy, I’ve heard you talk about how much you love the gym before. What gives?”
Well, I’ve learned to love the gym, by “cheating”. I’ve figured out a way to make it so I actually enjoy lifting weights, enjoy the repetition, and enjoy doing the same thing over and over.
There’s two main tricks I do – the first is gratitude. While I’m in between sets, sitting there waiting to start lifting again, I’ll pull out my phone and message one or two people I’m grateful for, and tell them how much I appreciate what they do for me. Sometimes it’s my mother; other times my girlfriend. Sometimes it’s a mate, sometimes it’s you (my readers/listeners), sometimes I’ll jump on my forums and tell everyone how damn grateful I am to everybody.
It doesn’t matter who you’re grateful towards; it can be anyone, for any reason. Just bang out a quick message in between sets – keep it short and sweet. “I really appreciate you for having my back.” “I’m glad I have you as a mate, you’re fucking awesome.” “I really appreciate you pushing me to be better.” “I’m really grateful to know someone as kickass as you.”
Gratitude is shown to have an extremely positive effect on happiness and longevity; it feels really fucking good. Telling someone you appreciate them and are grateful for what they’ve done for you makes you feel really damn good, and it makes them feel really damn good. There’s also the added bonus that often they’ll reply and tell you how grateful they are towards you too – win/win.
You don’t even have to tell them (though I recommend you do); even just spending that time in between sets thinking of things you’re grateful for fills you with that warm, tingly feeling and makes the time fly by. Hell, even think to yourself, “I’m grateful for this gym. I’m grateful for the weights. I’m grateful I can improve my body, and work towards my dating/women goals. I’m just… grateful.“
The second tip I’ll give you is to meditate.
As you’re lifting, focus intently (as intently as you possibly can) on nothing but your muscles. How they feel, how tight they are, consciously squeeze them as hard as you possibly can. Most bodybuilders do this as a way to make themselves work harder (it’s great for that); I’m telling you to do it as a way to also make lifting fun. Put everything else out of your mind and just focus hard on how your muscles feel, how they’re moving, how they’re tensing and flexing, and count out the reps in your head. Focus on nothing but your muscles, your body and you enter this beautiful, zen state of lifting – it’s like the entire rest of the world disappears and it’s just you and your muscles.
It’s… peaceful. Relaxing. It feels fucking wonderful once you get decent at it (it might take you a few attempts before you can focus 100% on just your muscles and forget about the other distractions around you).
There’s also the added benefit that you’ll lift with better form (because you’re focusing so intently on making sure all your muscles are firing properly and in the right position).
So try gratitude between sets, and meditating during your lifts, and let me know how it goes. These two tricks have been a gamechanger for me; I’ve gone from hating the gym to absolutely loving it and looking forward to my 4 workouts a week. In fact, the last few months I’ve actually been going 5 or 6 days a week, just because gratitude + meditating make it so damn fun.
Now get your ass in the gym (and actually enjoy it).
Cover image by: Nathan Dumlao