I have been actively involved in bodybuilding for about 3 years now. I trained off and on from age 17 to 22, but have only been serious for the last 3 years, as I am now 25. By serious I mean I haven’t missed a session for that entire time. Going consistently 5-7 days per week. The immediate results of this regime is obvious. My body has grown quite a substantial amount since then. But this is just an intended side-effect of the training. The most insightful lessons I have learnt don’t involve the physical aspects of bodybuilding. It is much deeper than that.
Everything worth achieving in life involves commitment.
What bodybuilding has taught me, is that nothing in life happens quickly. Achieving any feat of great value to your personal goals, takes time and consistent commitment.
Real growth is slow.
If you have ever been involved in building a muscular physique naturally, you will understand that physical growth happens slow. Sure, there are the immediate quick gains for the beginner, but that plateau’s very quickly. This has also proven true for my mental and spiritual growth.
Any activity can be one of creativity.
When I first started bodybuilding I would have never associated it with being creative. Yet as I have been on this journey, it has revealed itself as a creative outlet for me. From the muscles I choose to focus on, to the tempo of my repetitions, to my body positioning and connection of mind to muscle, enhancing and practicing moving blood accurately into my focus area. I have experienced this in more mundane tasks such as making a coffee, doing my washing or maintaining my minimalist bedroom. It is all about how well you can experience the present moment, to unleash the hidden creative energy.
Being comfortable with being un-comfortable/Fail to grow.
When you are trying to grow muscle, you need to train in a way that is going to promote growth. This involves pain. The level of consistent growth you get, depends on how far you are able to consistently push the pain barrier. You need to push the muscle to failure to grow. This translates into all areas of life. The more comfortable you are with challenging your current ideals, (pushing the boundaries of your mental, spiritual and financial life) the more progress you are going to experience. And don’t be afraid to fail 🙂
Striving for great health.
There is one facet that goes hand in hand with building a body that is unavoidable. Nutrition and health. Bodybuilding has sent me on a great journey, and along the way I have learnt a great deal about nutritional health. Things that I would have never discovered otherwise, and a lifestyle that will see me through to the end of my life. It has challenged my mind almost more than anything else. I am only now getting to a point where everything I consume is clean and contributing to my health. (Thousands of failures here)
Creating a strong and disciplined mind.
To be a successful bodybuilder you need to develop a very strong and disciplined mind. You need to be able to consistently challenge your bodies physical limits, day in and day out. There is no half hearted gym session. There is no skipping workouts. To do this your mind needs to be strong. Your mind will determine what your physical limits are, not your body. This also maps across to my daily life. A strong mind keeps me interacting with life all day everyday. When I feel like I just want to sit and watch some TV after a big day, I am able to draw the strength to go and read, or create music, or write instead.
Real success requires a holistic philosophy.
You can’t build a great body by just training arms. Or chest. You need to address every muscle group for it to be a balanced and aesthetic product. Everyday life is no different. You can’t just focus on eating healthy food to be healthy. You also need to address your relationships, spiritual practice, exercise habits, mental health, your passions etc. Once all of these are addressed, you will experience balance, and a wholistic level of health. A much more fulfilling and deeper level of happiness. This is the groundwork for a successful life.
Short-term sacrifice for Long-term gain.
Bodybuilding is all about sacrifice. Well, if you love it like I do, then it is not really sacrifice at all, but a joyful expression of my soul. But fundamentally you are sacrificing your immediate comfort and impulses, to create a vision you will realise in the future. Very similar to finances, in the sense that to create financial independence, you also need to sacrifice the short-term pleasures, for long-term security and peace.
As you can see I have learnt a lot from this practice. It is one that keeps me deeply fulfilled everyday and I love it to pieces. It has taught me about myself. I have learnt to self-observe and tweak my beliefs as new evidence reveals itself. Consistently taking my mind and body to the next level.
What passionate activity have you pursued that has taught you more than expected?