As an early-stage venture investor and someone who actively advises other entrepreneurs, I can say from firsthand experience that this work is a grind. It takes grit and a whole lot of hustle, and unless you’re careful, you can burn yourself out on it pretty quickly.
In an effort to figure out how to best fuel a seemingly nonstop working style, while also somehow finding a mental balance, I’ve attempted a variety of different working styles and wellness programs, tools, tracking devices—you name it. And while I hold a good night of sleep in super high regard, I’ve found that there’s something else that gives me a boost every time I make it happen: strength training.
I know that may sound counterintuitive. After an off-the-hook pressured-filled day, will continuing to grind at the gym help? Well, believe it or not, it does. In fact, strength training is a great way to not only destress but also improve performance outside of the gym. Here are four powerful results you can expect from adding strength training to your weekly (or daily) routine.
#1. Improved Focus
Most people don’t realize that weight lifting also helps to train the mind, and there is scientific evidence to support this. In most weight lifting sessions, there is a period of intense focus followed by rest. That focus-rest pattern helps to train your mind to work optimally in business situations, too. For instance, you find yourself in an intense meeting that commands full attention, and before heading into the next meeting, you subconsciously give yourself a brief mental break to help rest and refocus your attention.
#2. Meaningful Recovery
Let’s also consider how stress affects the body. In weight lifting, muscles are stressed, fibers break down, and the key point is recovery. A period of rest allows the muscles to heal and grow stronger, whereas if you never allow your muscles to recover, you’ll do more harm than good. Similarly, in the business world, stress takes a toll, and many professionals fail to recover. By learning to rest after strenuous projects, meetings, or workdays, you’ll better be able to recover and push your business to the next level.
#3. More Ideas
Not only does exercising help both short- and long-term memory, getting to the gym can also help to clear your mind and make for the prime setting to come up with your next big idea.
#4. Better Overall Health
Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time sitting, eating whatever is quick and easy, and not sleeping enough. In other words, their picture of good health is not so pretty. By working out different muscles, strength training helps to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. It also forces you to burn more energy and as a result make eating a healthy, hearty meal afterward a priority. Also because of that energy burn, it can cause the kind of tiredness that results in a deeper sleep, allowing for a more refreshed, ready-to-take-on-the-day morning.
How to Maximize Your Results
Starting to lift weights doesn’t mean you have to become a bodybuilder. It’s simply meant to improve your performance as an entrepreneur, professional, or weekend warrior. I am living proof that strength training makes for better performance in and out of the gym, not to mention it also improves functional flexibility and energy levels.
Here’s what I recommend to help maximize results.
Make It Time Efficient
Entrepreneurs, just like collegiate and professional athletes, have busy schedules. Training sessions need to be very efficient, staying under an hour at all times.
A “standard” workout protocol is lengthy, low intensity, and high volume. Whereas, high “efficient” workout protocol—such as practiced at LIFT and other boutique gyms—time is maximized by increasing intensity to produce the same results.
This 30-minute model uses shorter rest periods to tax the muscular and cardiovascular system simultaneously. By doing so, you are able to do more quality reps in 30 mins than someone would be able to do on their own in a full hour. And, when it comes to strength training, quality is always better than quantity.
Focus on Mental and Physical Benefits
Strength training and training, in general, helps to improve physical and mental health. Similar to running, exercise-triggered endorphins play a role, but strength training also provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment; which in turn increases mental resilience. Strength training has been shown to help decrease stress, and increase cognitive function.
With strength training, especially at high intensities, we see an increase in blood, oxygen, and nutrient delivery to the brain, as well as muscle mass. Over time, this increase in muscle mass will help decrease fat production and storage at the superficial and visceral (deep, near organs) levels, which has a significant role in increasing the chances of disease and even cancer.
Keep It Safe
You want safe, low risk, non-ballistic exercises with controlled reps. While the intensity in the session should be elevated, you should pay close attention to form on each repetition. This way, you stay safe, perform the exercise correctly, and get more results.
Separately, the risk, or fear, of becoming bulky from lifting weights is common but is untrue. Developing bulky muscles requires a very specialized and intense training and nutrition regimen. The strength regime that I’m outlining focuses on lean muscles versus big muscles.
The benefits of strength training will give you the mental and physical edge you want, so shake up your routine and move some weights.