Earlier this month I wrote a post called “Is it sustainable?”. The topic came up when I had asked a former client what kept him going with barbell strength training after he started training on his own. “It’s sustainable,” he replied. Training didn’t take very long– maybe 60 minutes, twice per week. He got immediate feedback: am I using more weight, doing more reps, etc…? It was predictable. He lifts in the middle of his work day. He knows he won’t be sweaty and drained when he returns to work. In short, it was a sustainable program (Note: the blog post above talks about nutrition, but the principles are the same).
I had a trainee stop through the gym a few weeks ago on her way back to Chicago. She trains with a colleague of mine there. I asked her what it was that she liked about barbell strength training. “It’s satisfying,” she said. You don’t often think about this but it’s important. There’s something satisfying about picking up a heavy weight off of the floor, or putting something heavy overhead, especially when you previously thought it was impossible. (Note: heavy is relative to your abilities in this context). There’s something about seeing the weight increase workout to workout that provides instant gratification. “I’m better today than I was tomorrow, even if it’s just a little bit.”
And this isn’t to say that other forms of exercise aren’t satisfying. My argument is that whatever you do, you should probably enjoy it to some degree. You should derive some meaning or purpose from it. Whether it be the process of adding a little bit of weight each time and seeing the numbers climb, or hitting a new personal best on a 5k run, you should be engaged in the process. It won’t be easy. You won’t always want to do it. But it will be satisfying.