I walked into the gym feeling confident, which for me is huge. After my rest day, my body had recovered well and I was feeling strong. For a lifter looking to make some gains, confidence is huge. It gives you that extra boost you need to push yourself through obstacles, challenges and setbacks to achieve what you have set out to achieve. But the reality is that for all things in life, confidence is huge. There have been stages in my life where my self-confidence is real low, and this affects you outside the gym, but since this is a fitness blog, I’ll stick to talking on confidence within the sanctuary of iron.
There was a time in my life where I was a bigger guy, and I’m not talking about muscle. During the college days, I skipped the freshmen fifteen and put on the freshmen thirty. I was considered overweight, had no confidence in my body, and just kept to myself most of the time. My lowest point was when I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 210 pounds (for reference I’m 160 now). The feeling I had in that moment of just wanting to break down and cry and hating everything about my body is something I won’t forget. I would try to go to the gym to workout but that’s where I saw what having no self-confidence can do to you at the gym.
During the periods when I had no confidence in myself, I felt like everyone was watching me. I thought everyone was looking at me and thinking “he’ so weak for his weight” or “man he’s out of shape.” I was afraid to work out around other people for fear of judgement, and these were people I didn’t even know. I would show up to the gym and leave within thirty minutes because I would get anxiety from thinking everyone was watching me in the mirrors. It kept me from the gym for weeks at a time and it was a tough cycle that kept going for months.
What changed things around for me was when I got a job working nightshift. I would work out before I went in at midnight, or after work when I got off at 3am depending on the shifts I had. At this time, the gym is a ghost town, just me and the weights. This is where I built a foundation of muscle and confidence in my lifting. I could practice form with low weight without the fear of embarrassing myself around others. I gained a little strength and saw a little change in my body and the effect that had was astounding.
Eventually I started working out during the day and even thou my confidence was still low, I put my headphones in, put my head down and focused on the work at hand. This grinding mentality is something that stuck with, and it’s all thanks to the gym. I had to realize that every guy in that gym started somewhere too, and that through consistency, I could make positive changes, but only if I stuck with it.
Now, it’s easy for me to spot someone at the gym who has no confidence in themselves. They try to do workouts but don’t know how. They try to lift weights they think they can lift, but they can’t do it. They show up and leave shortly after, and when they leave they have a look of defeat on their face. This is why encouragement in the gym is something that we need more of. If I ever see someone struggling, or fail on a lift and I can see they are struggling with confidence, a pat on the back can go a long way. Telling them “you’ll get it next time” or “keep at it, it will come” can make a huge difference for that person. How do I know? Because I’ve been where they are. I had guy’s show me technique when I was struggling, I’ve had guys motivate me by encouragement. Guys I didn’t even know, but they encouraged me instead of judging me, and that little nudge they gave me pushed me through the tough times.
At the end of the day, the only person you’re competing with at the gym is the one you see in the mirror. So, if you’re reading this, next time you’re in the gym I challenge you to drop the ego and judgement and create a positive community that other can feed off of.
- Stair climber for 5 minutes
- Hamstring stretches
- Shoulder stretches
- Deadlifts (pyramid up and down): 135 for 12, 155 for 12, 185 for 10 for 3 sets, 205 for 10, 225 for 6 for 2 sets, 245 for 4 for 2 sets, 265 for 2, 285 for 1 for 2 sets, 155 for 6, 135 for 10
- Lat Pull Down: 115 for 10 for 2 sets, 130 for 6 for 2 sets
- V Bar Pull Down: 115 for 8 for 3 sets
- Lat Pull Machine (drop sets to 40 after till failure): 50 for 12, 60 for 8, 70 for 8, 80 for 4 for 3 sets
- Bent over row (barbell) 65 for 15, 85 for 12, 105 for 8, 125 for 4, 105 for 6, 85 for 10, 65 for 10
- Aussie Pullups: 15, 15, 15, 15
- Lower Back Extension Machine: 205 for 12 for 4 sets
- Superman: 3 sets of 10
- Shoulder shrugs: 45’s for 15, 55’s for 12 for 3 sets
Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”