I recently stumbled across a question on ask/TRP:
"Why do we lift?"
The responses were a bit of a mishmash, mostly that women find it attractive, build strength, people think you're a bad ass. The majority of the answers centered on an improved perception of you from another persons perspective, and for a sub centered on this philosophy seemed to miss the point entirely.
None of those answers were wrong per se, however, the benefit for me is the change an individual sees in themselves over their lifting journey. The way you view yourself in relation to the world is where the true value lies.
There's not much to answer that question on the sidebar, and as one of the core concepts of TRP I feel it's worth expanding on. So my reply has become a post.
Here's the journey:
Over the course of 7 years I went from: An ironing board 6ft1 67kg 8% bf to a fairly beefy peak of 87kg 5-6% bf.
The physical changes are obvious but the mental changes are far more important, and therein lies the answer to "Why we lift?"
I started out about as far down the spectrum as you can. I was athletic, but skinny. Abs on skinny guy is like tits on a fat chick, In clothes it meant nothing. If you looked at me from a side view you might have missed me entirely. I got by fine like this in high school but stepping out into the wilderness, beside men, I was aware my timid appearance needed an upgrade.
At first you feel like a bit of a tool at the gym, feeling your way through equipment, being one of the smaller guys there next to these seasoned gorillas. Watching guys pump out heavy sets of 50kg dumbbell chest presses was all the motivation I needed. I immediately respected these guys, in this environment, they were the Alphas and I wanted to get there. The first 6 weeks is the hardest in terms of dragging yourself there. Building your gym routine into your life. Once you get that out the way, going to the gym becomes second nature, after a while it was so core to my everyday life I couldn't think of going without it.
In the beginning the gains are quick. You put on a decent amount of size in a pretty short amount of time. You notice the differences and the scale agrees too. Other people notice too, friends and family comment on your gains. The validation feels good, it leaves you wanting more.
At this point you're sleeping better due to increased work load during the day. Your moods are better with increased serotonin and endorphin output. You've got a solid outlet for all the stresses in you life. Your testosterone levels are increased and your libido steadily rises. Physically and mentally your body starts feeling a whole lot better.
This was a few months into my lifting career. I had made steady gains but diet started to become much more of a feature. I started eating cleaner foods. Cut out all processed goods and stuck to whole proteins and whole veg. 90% of my diet was strict and 10% was a little leeway to pig out and enjoy a meal. The combination of exercise and a clean healthy diet made me far more energized. I had more mental clarity than I had experienced in years. A previous smoker, my breathing was clearer than ever too.
Now that I had the foundations waxed I started adding supplementation into the mix. As a hard gainer I got a carb heavy protein shake and started drinking it daily, supplementing my diet. I added in Creatine, BCAA's and L-Glutamine. I picked up weight fairly quickly, most of it muscle some of it fat.
My strength gains were gaining momentum. My lifts were increasing slowly but surely week on week. From where I had started I had doubled a lot of my lifts. This spilled out into all aspects of my life. When you get stronger you feel stronger. The feeling of being strong is far more important than being strong. You back yourself more. Your internal strength starts to express itself outwardly. You're more confident in interactions. The sub conscious primal nature of increased strength is projected outwards into interactions.
By this point in my Iron journey I had made leaps and bounds. I was much stronger and much bigger.
I had been to the doctor before I got into this to see how I would compare further down the line. Upon my follow up appointment the results were nothing but positive. My blood pressure had come down. My Lung capacity had gone up. My resting heart rate was at it's lowest point ever. Overall I was sleeping well, felt energized, moods were positive. Then due to these factors there's also the long term benefits of increased life span and reduced risk of cancer.
My skinny face had filled out. My body had filled out too. Pecs, Biceps, quads were all noticeably bigger. Even in clothes it was evident that i lifted. Instead of swimming in my jeans and shirts like i used to, normal shirts were tight, jeans were tight, I had to replace my entire wardrobe to accommodate my new size. My body fitted clothes so much better. Fit is half the job when it comes to fashion.
By this point I had noticed that I was getting far more attention from women. As I package I looked a lot more attractive. When I would go out, walk the street or go to the beach I would get a ton of looks. Woman would sneak a peak out the corner of her eye. I'd also get approached by woman quite often, commenting on my physique. Once again the validation feels good, it builds your confidence. With increased IOI's from woman you feel far more calm and confident going into encounters with them. Physical prominence also puts you on the front foot. A woman feels more timid encountering a bigger guy. I noticed they would submit far quicker than before. See u/Heathcliffs's post on woman wanting to feel small.
At this point I was pretty jacked. I stood out in a crowd. I was one of the bigger guys at the gym and in most situations the biggest guy in the room(in terms of muscle mass)
Both men and woman have a completely different level of respect for you. Men would be somewhat intimidated by my appearance. Fairly cocky guys I knew previously would be so tame speaking to me, often looking down to avoid eye contact. In business meetings the tone I was approached with was very different, polite and respectful. When I spoke people listened. From women, where I would get the occasional bitchy rejection before, was almost non existent now. They were mostly giggly and even if it wasn't a positive outcome, they would be sweet, cute and shy in the way they dealt with the interaction.
Through hard work and tireless dedication you've built something that you carry with you everywhere. Dieting, constant lifting, supplementation, getting enough sleep. You've made sacrifices in terms of lifestyle in order to achieve this. It's a project that takes day in, day out commitment over a very long period of time in order to achieve what you want. The value of this lesson could not be quantified. It ingrained in me a work ethic that spills out into all aspects of my life. In bodybuilding results don't come easy and more often than not they don't come easy in life either. You learn to push yourself. There's many days you don't want to lift, there's many times you want to cheat on your diet, there's times you just want to let loose and have a party. Resisting temptation and pushing yourself to do the boring and monotonous tasks well for long term gain is often what separates success from failure. Patience and trusting the process. These lessons can be applied to any goal worth achieving.
Despite being the most advanced beings on this earth and having advanced exceptionally fast, Our biological evolution doesn't quite happen as fast. We still have our cave brain biology. And our cave brains still register the biggest, strongest guy as a good potential mate. If she were to select a prime mate to pass on her genetic material, the biggest and the strongest would be a great option as her offspring would obtain these big strong genes to survive in the wild.
He would also be the best protector during her vulnerable state of pregnancy. From other predators or other tribes. After birth while she has to care for and nurture her young, a big strong Alpha would be able to look after her and his child and provide food and shelter for them.
In today's terms a female brain still sub consciously registers these factors when she sees a big, strong, well built man.
The above factors are a profound catalyst for the change in the way you view yourself especially with regards to how you interact with other people. You feel strong and powerful going into any interaction. Your size commands a presence. People notice you when you walk in a room. When you talk to people, your physical dominance leads to emotional dominance of the interaction. I used to be skinny. walking into interactions I always felt I was on the back foot talking to bigger guys, almost like a boy speaking to a man. With increased size and strength I felt confident. I felt like I had the upper hand in the power play.
Talking to women you know you have a physique they find desirable. They automatically respect you. They notice you first. Opening and conversing with them on the front foot lubes the interaction more than you could know. Your abundance mentality is internalized by the vast amount of increased attention you get from women. You feel more sure of yourself. You feel more energized. Your moods are better. You sleep better. These factor have a profound impact on your interactions with other people.
Progress is slow, it's steady, but it's certainly worth it. If there's one piece of advice on here that you shouldn't skimp on, its LIFT.