Would you like to be more confident? Are you highly sceptical about the benefits of pick-up technique books like “the game” or of self-help books that say they will turn you into an Alpha? Do you even want to be an Alpha? They always sound like jerks! The answer is lifting weights.
Okay maybe lifting weights won’t affect serious anxiety, nor does it have an effect on depression (but more on that later).
Having a killer body won’t necessarily help you get the girl/guy of your dreams either. But let’s be real here, being stronger and more athletic WILL have a positive effect on your confidence.
That’s because rightly or wrongly a large part of being confident is having a positive self image.
That doesn’t mean that you can get a six pack and become confident at public speaking, nor does being more athletic mean that you have to look more athletic.
A very overweight person who can deadlift 300kg will have more confidence in their body than an overweight person who struggles to walk 100m down the road.
Hell an overweight person who can deadlift 30kg would also have more confidence.
This isn’t about fat shaming, nor is it about glorifying a certain body shape. All we’re saying is that being stronger than you were 6 months ago will improve your confidence.
Two types of confidence
When we talk about lifting weights as a way to build confidence we are talking about two very different types of confidence.
The first type is gym-confidence, when you first walk into a gym it can be a nerve-racking experience.
It’s a bit like your first day at school or at work, there are a load of new faces and you feel as if everyone is staring at you. What’s worse is that to your eyes everyone looks like they know what they are doing whilst you don’t have a clue.
Incidentally this is why most gyms insist on a free induction session so that you can learn first-hand how to do everything.
During those first few weeks you’ll find coordination difficult as this is the first time that you have attempted these specific movement patterns.
Your bench press will be very light, and you may find yourself sticking to the resistance machines as they are easier to perform correctly. This is actually a sensible move, once your nervous system gets used to pressing movements, pulling movements etc then you will begin to find free weight exercises less challenging.
As you get used to the gym you’ll realise that most people aren’t staring at you and that if they are they won’t be judging you.
Slowly your confidence will increase as you begin to recognise the same people week in week out. You might even get on first name terms with some of the friendlier members.
Your strength will be increasing at the same time, meaning that you will be more confident in your current technique and you’ll be prepared to take a few more calculated risks.
Attempting a new 1 rep max on the bench press or trying to barbell squat instead of leg pressing. Once you have accomplished these challenges your confidence will increase again, soon you won’t be feeling like the new guy you’ll be a regular.
The second type of confidence is the self-confidence that you will get outside of the gym.
A lot of people who don’t exercise or eat healthily dismiss this as not something that affects them. But talk to people who have lost significant amounts of weight and they will tell you about the confidence that they gained.
Little things that they wouldn’t have noticed beforehand, but were actually affecting them on a daily basis.
Some people make the gym sound so unappealing and say that they want to lose weight before going to avoid being judged.
This is down to a lack of self-confidence, but anyone who has been to a gym will tell you that it is filled with people of all different shapes and sizes, and that the majority of members are overweight.
Also, 90% of people who see a very overweight person walking on a treadmill are inspired (the other 10% are basically the worst people you can encounter so stop worrying about their opinions anyway).
Having slightly bigger muscles due to training, and wearing a smaller size pair of jeans will improve your confidence even if only you can tell the difference. Even if you are still classified as obese. Because you have consciously made a difference to your physique and you know that if you keep it up you will get more and more results like this.
A lot of people have looked at the effect of exercise on depression, and whilst it will not eradicate depression, it can reduce some of the symptoms. Even just a temporary endorphin rush can help contribute.
So if you are low on confidence, and have low self-esteem don’t expect exercise to magically cure you. But it can definitely help.