The Lifter’s Mentality


Jan 18, 2023
Reaction score
Get Shredded!
Look at yourself. Everyday, you wake up and go about your morning routine—brush your teeth, shower, shave; you get ready to take on the day. You may go to work, you may go to school…no matter where you go; your mind is on one thing and one thing only—training. I say all the time because its our hobby, our love…but think about it for a second. What is it that really allows us to possess the love that we have for hitting the weights and putting ourselves through hell?

Fitness breeds a different kind of person. People addicted to training wait for and accept failure only to experience the feeling of triumph. They live to hear the words, “You’re not good enough” only to silence the doubt and reap the benefits of another pound…another set. Let me put it this way…who hasn’t heard the saying, “ugh, I have to go to the gym today” with a negative, dreadful connotation? I know I have, and I look at those people with disbelief. Do you know why? Because they do not possess the mentality…but we do.

When I say the mentality, I mean a combination of multiple mental aspects that push us to our absolute limits. It’s not simply the desire to get stronger or faster; it is the relationship that we develop with the weight room. This is how I see it, and allow me to share it with you.

Enjoying the Pain

Yes, I mean it. It sounds crazy, but when I mentioned before that there are people that negatively use the words, “I have to go to the gym”; those are the people that do not understand what the gym is all about. How many times have you gone through a set and thought about how bad it burns? Next question—did you stop? No…of course not, because the pain is what we live for.

It’s the relationship that we have had since day one with the iron. A mentality has developed to see pain and physical torture as progress and reward. Those who fail to possess it “have” to go to the gym. Those who do, however—those who are reading this article, would kill to go to the gym.

Tunnel Vision

I don’t know about you, but when I go into the gym, I have my eyes set on the iron and nothing else. Problems outside of the weight room—a financial issue, a relationship problem, a bad grade…you name it; it’s tuned out. My goals mean too much to my life and those ninety minutes that I spend under the bar are there for me to get what’s mine. Being in the gym means nothing other than moving heavy weight.

Being the Best You Can Be

The one thing that I love about bodybuilding, powerlifting and just any type of fitness is that your competition is what you see in the mirror. Going into the gym, you know that in order to come out on top victorious, you just have to lift harder, stronger and more intense than you did the day or week before. There is no relying on a teammate, no getting flustered over somebody else’s mistake…you control your own destiny.

When you miss a set, fail on a final rep or just completely end a workout, there is no penalty. Sure, you might digress a little bit from the day before, but the next day’s workout is only 24 hours away. Get after it next time.

Everyday is Game Day

Chalking up the bar, setting your feet with some weight on your back, laying back on the bench…they’re all another attempt at going for it all. What do I mean by that? Think of any other sporting event; there is a week of practice that leads up to a game. When training in the weight room, when is there a competition against the other team? Well, knowing that you, yourself, are the other team, I would say that every single time you set foot in the gym it is game time.

What does this have to do with the mentality? As a high school athlete, I knew what it was like Monday morning—starting a new week, a long road ahead before game day, dreading practice. Tuesday brought about the same feelings of anxiety and at the same time, disappointment that game day was still so far away. Wednesday brought about some change, for it was the last day of full-out practice, and game day was finally in sight.

Thursday and Friday were completely different feelings. Thursday’s walkthrough would always get me so excited, so ready…to go out on that field Friday night and give my 100% effort that when I woke up on Friday morning, the only thing that I could think of, regardless if I had a test, presentation, project due or anything…was walking out under the lights. These feelings are the exact same feelings that I get every single time that I set foot into the weight room. If that doesn’t say enough about what the mentality is all about…


This is easily my overall favorite aspect of training and is always my answer to the question, “Yo man, I eat a lot…I lift everyday…I follow plan XXX…why aren’t I getting any bigger/stronger?” One word, sir…intensity. It is, without question, one of the biggest additions that you can make to your plan. Not many people even know what it means to train with intensity. Let me share with you my thoughts of intense training.

Obviously if you are training with intensity, you are more than likely very tired and sweating by the end of your work…no surprise there. With that said, when it comes to training with high intensity (and I mean weight training), I think of much more than simply going until you can’t. Training with high intensity is more mental than it is physical. Being able to tune out everything except for the weights, really dig into the last reps of a set and grind them out against your own belief…all while mentally telling yourself not to give up and doing everything that you can to obey…THAT, is training with high intensity.

Never Giving Up

I wanted to end this piece with the most important aspect of fitness as a whole. Understand that when I say “Never Giving Up” I don’t just mean falling short of your long-term goal and deciding to put the fitness lifestyle aside. That is the common meaning of giving up and although it is extremely important to mention, I think there is another aspect that must be mentioned in able to truly grasp the lifter’s mentality.

Now, I’m not a huge advocate of going to failure, but since I began to venture into the world of powerlifting, I learned what it truly means to not give up. What I am trying to say is that when you are going for a set of 12, 8, 5 or a 1-rep max, you better believe that you should not stop until that last rep is complete.

A lifter that is not in the correct mindset will more than likely end up one or two reps short and be completely okay with it; they’ll lower the weights down slowly and rack them…walk away proud of their attempt and shake it off. Is it the end of the world? No, but it sure as hell is the end of that set…and lifter’s with the mentality are going to do all that they can to grind that set out. Whether it be taking hard, deep breaths at the top of a rep and getting a short pause or really driving their feet into the ground to get the weight up—no doubt it will cause immense amounts of [good] pain, sweat will certainly pour and breaths will become deeper and deeper…but the mentality will never fail.

Summing Up The Mentality

It may be dumb, it may be something I developed in my own head and am trying to preach to other fitness enthusiasts, but it may be real. People that are in the weight room not looking to progress or make gains—simply to look pretty and say that they go to a gym—are the ones that will not agree with me. However, those who are in the gym to reach goals, grow both mentally and physically and become stronger are the ones that see lifting the way that I see it and possess the mentality.