Strength is a funny thing. When you think you’re strong, life will throw something your way that will humble you.
When you think you lack strength, an opportunity will arise that proves just how strong you really are.
Training for physical strength has taught me two very important lessons in my 37 years.
#1. Strength is an asset
Firstly, strength is an asset. Holding strength as a skill in my back pocket has built physical backbone. It has given me the capability to push the envelope and use this incredible machine I’ve been given at a moment’s notice – I can handle whatever physical challenge life throws at me.
Imagine you received a Ferrari on your birthday but you kept it in the garage, under a cover to collect dust, never taking the wheel, revving that engine and allowing it to go at full throttle on the open highway? Your gravestone would read “what if”.
I recently climbed Kilimanjaro. Aside from the spiritual and enlightening journey that it was, I was able to climb this mountain at a moment’s notice.
My body was prepared to endure the physical hardship and test of strength and endurance with little more than four weeks of physical preparedness. In fact, I made no change to my existing training regimen. I was strong.
My physical strength empowered me to handle this opportunity at the drop of a hat. My brute force was an asset.
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#2. Physical strength forges mental resilience
Secondly, I learnt that physical strength creates resilience and mental fortitude.
Day in and day out, we build our bodies, we test our physical abilities, and we push that proverbial envelope in our training.
Most of us will go our entire lives without learning what our bodies are truly capable of. What’s worse is that many of us will never experience how tough we really are because we don’t put ourselves in situations that challenge our psychological ability.
When it comes to training goals for most people, strength is just one of those things that’s lumped in with intelligence, love, money or sex – you can never have enough of it – especially if you’re an athlete.
Strong for life
Strength will give you a distinct advantage in any situation in life, even if you’re not an athlete, or if performance is not your focus.
Training for strength delivers many benefits. It obviously makes you healthier. It makes everyday tasks easier. And it improves your mental wellness by building a mind that is able to handle tough emotional situations such as work stress, handling grief, being more confident and assertive in the workplace, and improving overall cognitive function.
In any activity, you need the ability to apply strength over an extended period to reap the full benefit. This strength endurance is the key to keeping your engine revving and achieve whatever we set out to.
Kilimanjaro was unforgettable yet unforgiving. While not a hard or technical climb to any degree, it requires a set of skills that I believe everyone should possess – strength endurance and resilience.
After five days of climbing, a dose of acute mountain sickness and a touch of self-doubt, I had to tackle summit night. That first step in the dark at -20 degrees, it was my physical strength and the mental resolve I had developed through my strength and powerlifting training that got me to the summit.
There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the mental test that a tough physical challenge will impose.
I can tell you right now from this warm comfortable spot on my couch that without mental fortitude, resilience and strength, you are ill-equipped for life.
Whatever you do on a daily basis, however you train your body, make sure that your actions always develop your mind by pushing your “cerebral envelope”. Without a strong mind, your dreams will remain unrealised.
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By Lil Bianchi Kimble, strength and conditioning coach, founder of OTG Athletic, and multiple Powerlifting World Champion
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.