My Secrets for Making Weight Training Fun

When I strained my back a couple of months ago, I figured I could still work out and just “take it easy.” You know – “back off.” This is actually called denial, because when you’re used to pushing it, it’s very difficult to do something with less intensity. The intensity is the fun part.

My back is better, but it took much longer to heal while continuing weights. And while I’m not advocating continuing to exercise when you have an injury, I’m actually proud of the fact that it’s difficult for me to back off.

You might know what I’m talking about: whether it’s running, cycling, or weight lifting, you look forward to the incredible release of endorphins… depend on the energy that you get from regular exercise… need to beat down stress… or are so intent on your goals that an injury just seems like a slap in the face.

If you won’t weight train, you haven’t found your sweet spot. If you don’t look forward to weight training, you haven’t found a way to make it fun. But you can.

I have sweet spots – I want to be strong and have a sexy body among many others. But they are not what keep me going back week after week. The truth is, I have crazy fun lifting weights. The fun is why I keep lifting and why I never miss a session. The fun of weight lifting is also why I have enjoyed great results.

How does weight lifting become fun for you if it’s not already? Here are a few things that make it fun for me. If none of these work for you, there are many more. Just listen to yourself – and go.

  • Sensing the Movement. My friend Roy over at Contemplative Fitness wrote an incredible piece on not cheating your repetitions. He talks about feeling the contractions, concentrating on the movement, and focusing on technique instead of rushing through reps. I often feel that weight lifting is almost sensual; I’m really feeling my body while I’m pushing it. Feeling your muscles contract take body awareness and patience, but it’s meditative once you tap into it.
  • Feeling Alive. When you do something physically strenuous, you feel alive in this very moment. I’m inspired when I hear the song, “Moment 4 Life” because it’s how I feel when I’m lifting. You’ve heard of the runner’s high; well, there is such a thing as a lifter’s high too. The burn, the challenge, the satisfaction – it adds up to feeling alive in the moment.
  • Enjoying Music. Before I started lifting again a few years ago, listening to thumping beats and dirty lyrics was missing from my life. I came to realize that not only did music motivate me to lift hard, it’s fun as hell to listen to. It elicits a kind of emotion and joy that I don’t find elsewhere. It’s part of what I look forward to when I lift.
  • Finding the Right Environment. I love the gym. I love the culture, the energy, even the sounds. You might hate the gym; maybe it intimidates you or you hate the crowds. Whatever – you need to lift in a place you like. Make it special and make it a place you look forward to going, even if it’s somewhere in your home.
  • Feeling Like a Bad Ass. Lifting weights makes you grunt, wince, and breathe heavy. You feel stronger physically. You got muscles, baby. After awhile, being a bad ass with weights leads to being a bad ass in your head. No one’s going to bring you down. No one’s going to walk on your sunshine. I also call this inner hotness, or rockin self confidence.
  • Doing the Switch-up. There is not one way to approach weight training. You can do it fast and intense, slow and easy, or somewhere in between. You can do full-body sessions or upper/lower body splits. It all depends on what will make it enjoyable for you and fit your goals. Don’t try to fit into someone else’s style, schedule, or philosophy.Also, if an exercise doesn’t feel right or hurts, change it. On many exercises you can change grip, feet position, or equipment. Watch exercise videos and learn correct, safe form. The main thing is to experiment. Don’t let your routine get stale.

So put your game face on, turn on the tunes, and strangle that dumbbell with all your might. You may have not only found the path to your bikini body, but newfound pleasure – and joy – as well.

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Comments

  1. Great article. I never heard it referred to as a lifters high, but that’s a great analogy. I agree about looking forward to lifting. There was a time when I didn’t. I saw it more as hard work rather than something I wanted to do. It’s all about changing things up and making it interesting.
    Matty recently posted..GotchaMy Profile

  2. I was never a big fan of weight lifting until I did it as a last resort when I got injured running. I grew to love it. I loved feeling powerful and strong. I loved seeing the visible changes in my body and finally seeing the scale move in the right direction. Now it’s a huge part of my routine and I’d never give that up!

  3. After next Monday, I will no longer have a personal trainer so I have to count on myself to keep going with strength/weights/core. I have never used music for this since I have always been with the trainer so I’m going to definitely try that. I already like to switch things up when it comes to my other workouts so I’ll look at this the same way.

    Wish me luck! This will definitely take some getting used to and I will need to go in to the gym knowing what the workout will be each day.
    Angie (Losing It and Loving It) recently posted..Birthday Weekend 2011My Profile

    • Matty, thanks so much for saying so and stopping by. You are so right that changing it up can make lifting great fun. Some lifters like to stick with the same basic movements, but I’m with you – I would not as into it without lots of variety.

      Lisa, when are we going to see pictures of your muscles?? You’ve weight training for awhile now and I’m sure you’re seeing results. I am so happy it’s still going well and you love it!

      Angie, wooo to being on your own! As you say, your biggest challenge may be knowing what your plan is going into the gym. I try to spend some time on this every few weeks by looking at Oxygen magazine and online resources. I’ll write out the exercises and bring notes. Otherwise, I refer to my workout journal to know what to do. When you keep track of your reps/sets/weight, you know how much weight to add next time and when it’s time to change it up. I’m super proud of you for sticking with it! Let me know if you need any help :).

  4. okay I totally love my pull ups and pushups for that reason. My sweet spot and feeling bad ass. And maybe a little burn after. AHh, love it!
    lindsay recently posted..Sunday’s Soul FoodMy Profile

  5. Exactly!!!!! Bad ass all the way!

  6. Great post!

    Thanks for stopping to say “hi” yesterday. I put that warrior/”poet” part in there for you. 🙂

    My neck hurts, because as I read your post I found myself nodding in agreement the WHOLE time.

    I especially agree with the part about getting a lifting high. I believe Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to it as “the pump”. Blood just starts going to your muscles, and at times it’s like your skin’s going to burst. You feel huge, you feel MASSIVE. Ha ha! You can be 110 lbs and walking around like a beast. :)Who cares! This is your time. Inner hotness? Swagger? It’s coursing through your veins!

    I started lifting because I wanted to look a certain way, or have a certain level of strength. But what keeps me lifting now is the rush I get and the way it makes me feel. Maybe I have an additive personality, I’ve heard fitness freaks often do, but I can certainly think of worse things to be addicted to.

    Keep rocking it!

    -Matt
    Lean Muscle Matt recently posted..POWER Protein Balls RecipeMy Profile

    • Erin your posts on weight training rock!

      Matt, I honestly could not describe the joy of weights ANY better than you have here. I will duly quote your words in my blog, count on that. I recently gained a few pounds of muscle so proudly I’m no longer 110 ;).

      Josie, nice that you realize it’s time to push. Sometimes we can go a loooong time without realizing it though, and that’s why I use a workout journal.

  7. It’s finally time to up my weights, but I still feel like I haven’t pushed myself enough. It’s still too easy. I need to fix that asap! I love me some weights.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Greedy Proof That I Could Have Been Killed This Morning… Or WorseMy Profile

  8. Simply put; when the second weight clanks against the first weight, as I load a bar for the first movement, it sends a signal to my head that I am about to enter a timeless state. At that moment, nothing matters but the lift, the feel, the connection, and the result.

    Babies die. Wars rage on. Bankers corrupt. Congressmen cheat. And crybaby millionaire athletes cry. But when my fingers wrap around the cold metal bar, the natural flow of blood is redirected to muscles in need, and I am in absolute control of the weights as they go up and down, nothing else matters — at least not until the workout is done. That, THAT, is why I keep going back for more.

    It’s not a workout, it’s a prayer….
    Emergefit recently posted..On Normalcy- Bravery- Divorce- And Contrast…My Profile

    • And readers, if that’s not enough to make you read my friend Roy’s blog, then nothing will. Another beautiful comment worthy of its own post. Sharing this passion with all of you is good beyond what I can put into words. Thanks to all of you!

  9. This is such a great post! I love that you love working out and weight training! 🙂

  10. I think that having a realistic goal in mind before you workout is always important, no matter how you exercise. It should come as no surprise that weightlifting is complimentary to my running. But no matter, I always go in the gym with a plan,

    Whether I’m benchpressing (with a bar) or working on my shoulders or arms, i take the time to enjoy feeling the strength and energy return to my legs. I can actually feel myself getting faster and stronger.
    Christian recently posted..Running UnpluggedMy Profile

    • Thanks Rach! I’m so glad you stopped by – now I love your blog!

      Christian, thank you for visiting :). I love the subject of planning… in fact, planning a post about it! You’ve seen great results with your strength training, and coming from a runner, that is a valuable testimonial indeed.

  11. Your passion for your subject matter is admirable and results in engaging writing. Good job!

  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Wow your fitness is impressive and I can’t believe your workouts, I think I’d prob collapse in a heap if I trued 🙂
    vixter2010 recently posted..A little bit of countryMy Profile

  13. There IS something incredibly bad ass about listing weights and feeling strong!

  14. Wait! I’m supposed to enjoy it?! Actually, the way I make it fun is to do it with someone else, either tandem training or a group class:)
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted..How Would Y’all Say ItMy Profile

    • I think so too Karen!
      Karen @WaistingTime, I’ve heard this is a great way to enjoy weights. I used to do weight lifting classes… Now I don’t have to watch all the ppl who are doing better than me though 😉

  15. What a great motivational post! I am kicking myself for not working out last night!!!!
    Sheri recently posted..To Run Or Not To RunMy Profile

  16. I learned my lesson about training with an injury long ago. I injured my shoulder. It was nagging for a couple of years. It wasn’t until it got to the point that I couldn’t lift my arm. Luckily, a month in a sling, and a slow rehab did the trick. When it happened to my wife, she did the same thing. Her’s required a little surgery. It’s been 6 months and she still can’t put much weight on it. Listen to your body.

    I digress. “Feeling Like a Bad Ass” That right there is one of the best reasons, IMO, and why you’ll never see me at one of those fat factories like Planet Fitness.
    Todd recently posted..Get Strong – Stay Strong with 5-3-1My Profile

    • I have heard this so often Todd. You really were lucky… sorry to hear your wife had to have surgery. I had some shoulder pain last year and got it checked out within a few months. It turned out to be mild impingement and now I just have to watch it a bit with bench presses and overhead presses.

      It’s nice to know so many of us enjoy being a bad ass. Who knew?

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