Strength and Shadows
Measuring Success: 3 Things You’ll Notice in the First 3 Months of Strength Training
You may have heard that it takes so many months to see results in the gym. But what results are they talking about? Your strength? The weight on the scale going up or down? Scale weight is typically thought to be the true indicator of success. There are better indicators, let me explain.
Realistically, and perhaps optimally, you’ll see weekly fluctuations of 1-2 lbs depending on your goal. That being said, depending on the time of day, the time of month, and your water/food intake your weight can fluctuate 5-10 lbs throughout the day!
If your weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day then having a goal of losing a few lbs isn’t the most effective goal to have. That could turn into an emotional rollercoaster.
Keanu Reeves on an emotional rollercoaster after using the scale to define success.
There’s so much more to gain in the gym than the numbers on a scale.
Stop holding the scale on such a high pedestal. Yes, the scale is beneficial for certain individuals, it can be a source if motivation but in reality, your weight is JUST A NUMBER and it really DOESN’T MATTER.
I’m not saying throw your scale out the window, I’m saying its not the be-all-end-all for measuring success.
It doesn’t tell you how you feel, how much energy you have, it doesn’t tell you if today was the first day in weeks that you felt you had your anxiety under control (yep, you can control that with exercise), and it doesn’t measure your own happiness with your body.
These are the things that matter. When it comes down to it these are the things that are going to add quality to your life.
Depending on your goal in the gym, you may not even notice a fluctuation on the scale in the beginning. When you start a resistance training program your muscles start working more, you start drinking more water, they start storing more energy and getting a little bigger in order to adapt. At the same time that’s all happening you’ll be losing fat tissue.
For the average individual trying to lose a few lbs or those trying look better naked, there are better measurements (e.g. the mirror or how your clothes fit).
Now that we’ve established that the scale isn’t the best baseline (rant over), here are some things you WILL notice in the first few months of your strength training program.
Mental strength AND physical strength.
You WILL notice strength improvements. The physical strength gains you’ll receive in the first couple of months are neuromuscular, meaning that when you consistently fire a muscle your brain creates a stronger circuit and stronger connection with that muscle. It’s like turning a crammed side street in Halifax into a wide open section of the Trans Canada Highway.
Shadows don’t get enough credit. Some night, when you’re least expecting it, you’ll be brushing your teeth under the pristine lighting in the bathroom and notice a shadow just under your shoulder. WOW! Muscles!
From that point on you’ll be in a constant search for optimal lighting in order to check out your newly acquired muscles that YOU worked so hard for. Ok, maybe not a constant search, but you’ll experience a jolt of momentum, confidence, and proudness in yourself. That, is a true measure of success.
Lifting weights and gaining strength gives you a huge boost in confidence. When you make the commitment to a strength training program, you’re already challenging yourself. You’re challenging yourself to hit goals, to follow the program, to be consistent, and perhaps to get out of your comfort zone.
I’ve never seen self-confidence grow more than when someone in the gym accomplishes a new feat and challenges their own comfort zone. When you prove to yourself that you can do it and crush your own self doubts you’ll start to see what you’re truly capable of. You’ll start to feel comfortable being uncomfortable.
*In my last blog I spoke with a friend of mine who recently completed his Masters in Sport Psychology, you can check it out here where we spoke about the importance of becoming comfortable being uncomfortable.
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