Allison Hagendorf by Allison Hagendorf

The Mental Benefits of Strength Training

There’s no question that strength training has a ton of great physical benefits, but the mental benefits are just as, if not more, important. In this article, I will share my personal experiences of how lifting weights has helped me gain the confidence to push my limits in all aspects of my life. I’ll also share some of the mental benefits of strength training that you can apply to your own lives.

I believe that a woman is most attractive when she is strong, fit, nourished, and is pushing herself past her personal limits. 

While I am fortunate to have been born with the “gym gene,” meaning I actually enjoy physical exercise, I certainly do not feel like hitting the gym every day. Instead, I lead a very active lifestyle where I do something every day that requires me to move, such as a hike, yoga, or a run. Ok, and yes I do hit the gym on most days.

I grew up doing gymnastics and dancing, which was then replaced by contact sports, field hockey and lacrosse in high school and college. As an adult, I was the queen of group fitness classes until I came across a challenge I never imagined I would overcome through CrossFit.

On my first day of CrossFit, my coach suggested I start by squatting my bodyweight. I thought he was insane.  He may as well have said to start with 1,000 pounds. My mind could not even comprehend lifting that weight as a possibility since the most I had ever lifted was about 30 pounds. 

Low and behold, once he taught me the proper form, I was able to squat that 130 pounds like a champ! And just like that, my life changed. Not because I had squatted heavy weight for the first time, but because at that moment, my perspective on life changed in general. What other limits had I been placing on myself up until this point? What else had I not been setting out to do simply because I didn’t think it was in the realm of possibility?

Now everything seemed possible. 

In addition to being an ACE Certified Health Coach, I’m a television host, and up until recently, my hosting career consisted of my landing a job working for someone else’s show as a hired host. Once I gained the confidence to realize it was possible to create my own show to host and produce, I did just that, and I am happy to share that I am currently developing my very own food show.

I currently work out several times a week and focus on getting stronger. Each time I strive to lift heavier, I not only get stronger physically, but I build mental muscle as well. I continue to surpass any limits I had been placing on myself, and have been hitting new personal records each week.

Strength training has become a metaphor for my life. I constantly push my physical limits while training and now apply that same mental fortitude outside the gym as well. I’ve always been ambitious, but now I am more confident, more daring, and more audacious in EVERYTHING I do.

Now it’s YOUR turn.

Here are 10 mental benefits of strength training:

1. Harness Happiness: Strength training releases endorphins during and after you exercise similar to a runner’s high, but much more fierce.

2. Skyrocket Self-Esteem: Strength training helps you achieve the most drastic and measurable results, helping to achieve improved body image, self-perception and sense of accomplishment.  You’ll be proud of your progress AND you’ll impress your friends. Double score!

3. Dedicate Yourself: A strength training lifestyle encourages you to dedicate yourself in many areas, such as nutrition and time-management. This sense of dedication and focus transfers into all aspects of your life, including your personal relationships. Strengthen your body; strengthen your relationships.

4. Free Your Social Butterfly: The only thing more fun than strength training is strength training with a friend or partner. Also, there is such a tight-knit strength training community who will share common values and interests with you. Love your fellow lifters!

5. Be the Energizer Bunny: Strength training leads to more strength, power, and endurance, which equals more energy!

6. Give Yourself A Break From Your Brain: Although strength training requires focus, it gives your brain a break from the incessant intellectual thinking you endure all day.

7. Strengthen Your Sleep: Strength training allows for a better sleep pattern to develop.  It has been documented that those who train can sleep more deeply. Your body will need that quality sleep in order to repair, recover, and reap the benefits of all of your hard work. You earned it!

8. Say Sayonara to Stress: I’ve already mentioned that strength training releases endorphins, which puts anxiety and depression in the doghouse.  It also increases norepinephrine, which can boost your brain’s ability to cope with stress. Feeling stressed? Start squatting!

9. Make Time For YOU: Make uninterrupted “you time” an essential part of your day. Do some cleans to clear your mind. Believe me, everyone will be better for it!

10. Get Balanced: A stronger core means stronger balance, both physically and emotionally. When you are physically stronger to face the day’s natural obstacle course, your mind steps up to the plate. Starting each day with the “I got this” mindset is invaluable. Each day is a gift. Unwrap it, as the strongly balanced, beautiful being you are.

Grab life by the horns, and you may as well grab a really heavy kettlebell by the horns too.  Strengthen your lust for life because strong is sexy indeed. 

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