When people think of physical fitness, they often think of competitive sports or jogging for miles.
While both are fine and good, both require you to get yourself out there. If you’re a young, skinny guy as many of you are, there’s not much incentive for you to do those kinds of activities. They can be draining for introverts who are wired to handle things a little differently than extroverts. We have limited energy and need to do things that get more done for ourselves with less mental energy wasted.
It is my opinion that weightlifting (strength training) is one of the best physical activities for introverts.
For one, it doesn’t take nearly as long as jogging for 3 miles or having to put yourself around a bunch of random people (especially if you can put together a home gym), and because of this, it’s not overstimulating. Speaking as a regular Joe and non-athlete, when you cut the crap and use a good program, weightlifting is a simple and effective way to get fit and improve your physical health and resilience.
If you already lift weights, don’t stop.
If you aren’t lifting weights already, I’m going to explain why you should start today.
Difference between weightlifting and bodybuilding
Sometimes when people think of weightlifting, they think of high-rep lifters who follow a simple bodybuilding program, training one body part at a time (isolation exercises). They may think of douchey dudes whose biceps are blown up out of proportion to the rest of their body (skipping leg day), or having to perform “circuits” of 20 or so exercise machines at the gym. I know because I used to be one of those people until I started investigating.
The truth is, weightlifting is a very broad category of physical training that just happens to use mainly free weights. Varying reps, weight, intensity and form can yield different results, and is the reason why there are many different programs to use. If you want to get stronger and leaner, there are programs for that. If you want to get huge before you get strong, there’s a bunch of programs for that.
Lastly, there’s no need to get entrenched in bodybuilding or weightlifting culture if you don’t want to, and especially if you know that you don’t have to. The people in it can be awesome and have great advice, but they can also extremely opinionated or are just trying to sell you something. Think about weightlifting as something you do for physical maintenance and self-improvement, and learn how to accept it into your life.
Weightlifting strengthens your mind and your body
We already know that introverts are cerebral as fuck. What some introverts who choose to nourish only their mind may not understand is that there is no “brains versus brawn” dichotomy. A weak body means a weak mind, and many people tend to be disconnected from their bodies these days. There is no benefit to not being strong or fit, and anyone who thinks so is lying to themselves.
Weightlifting is a form of strength or resistance training: You apply resistance to your muscles for a set amount of time and number of repetitions. A true strength training program trains you to lift heavier and heavier free weights; depending on the program you choose and your personal goals, you may or may not become bigger in the process, but the connection between your brain, nerves and muscles increases, consequently increasing your physical strength and power.
Free weights are the key. Machines on the other hand tend to limit your range of motion to a single axis and do not allow your body to recruit various tendons, nerves and muscle tissues. Not that machines are bad, but if you want a well-rounded and strong body, you should focus mainly on free weights instead of mindlessly pumping out reps at the leg extension machine.
Weightlifting (like any challenge) builds character
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.
I prefer to work out alone.
It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.
Weightlifting makes you set goals and challenge yourself
Introverts are highly self-reflective and tend to be their own biggest critics. Because of this, they can also be their own best coaches at the squat rack.
Looking at a linear strength training program like the one found in Starting Strength, Stronglifts 5×5 or Victor Pride’s Body of a Spartan, you can see the kind of expectations and goals you can set for yourself when weightlifting, and what you need to do if you aren’t seeing progress. More specific niche information can be found here at Danger & Play.
Bigger nerds will especially appreciate a book like Starting Strength because it teaches you proper form, the mechanics and minutiae of compound exercises like squats, clean-and-press and deadlifts. Whichever program you use, follow it, and stay true to proper form.
Weightlifting is dead simple
Without getting too bogged down into details, and without getting extremely technical, weightlifting is a very simple physical activity that most able-bodied people can start performing with little preparation compared to other exercise. At its simplest, “pick things up and put them down” is an apt description of weightlifting.
First of all, the equipment is simple. Olympic barbell (if possible), weight plates, squat rack, bench and safety bars all reside in one place. Dumbbells can be incorporated as well. You can acquire these items yourself if you have the money (~$500 to get the basic equipment) or go to a local gym that has all of these. Most gyms that are worthwhile will have a squat rack and plenty of plates.
With just 3 or 4 compound exercises and proper form, you can target all the major muscle groups that will increase your overall strength. Additionally, if your workout is structured properly, an hour or even less may be all you need to get a full workout for the day.
Just remember that when starting out, proper form is king. As explained on the infamous /fit/, if you compromise on form, you’ll taking a trip to Snap City. As long as you’re making progress and not compromising on form, you’ll be fine.
Weightlifting can be a catalyst for other healthy habits
When you’re focusing on meeting and beating goals, you’ll start to learn how other factors influence your lifts: quality of sleep, diet and nutrition, and how long you rest between your lift days. Paying attention to form and how your body feels during a workout teaches you to understand your limits, and to learn whether those limits are just in your head.
Start lifting weights especially if you’re an introvert. Choose a program that works for you, study form on YouTube and in books like Starting Strength, and get in there and start lifting. It’s important to have a strong body to support a mind that wants to move mountains.