Have you noticed that after a great lifting session, everything rocks — YOU in particular? You feel confident, strong, steady and in control. I’ve certainly noticed this.
I’ve also noticed that when I sit in the ol’ office chair all day, I feel flabby. Mentally. Emotionally. Willpower-ly. You want to overcharge me on my phone bill? Sure. Whatever.
Yet it seems that even just a few minutes of strength training can fuel confidence in a way no jaunt on the elliptical can.
Or maybe it’s all in our minds. Rick Hanson wrote in The Buddha’s Brain that making a certain muscle movement can create a feeling in our brain — making a facial expression will really heighten the emotion, he says, and making muscle movements of strength will give us a sense of strength.
Whatever it is, it seems undeniable that strength training makes us feel like a BOSS! These have become some of my favorite confidence-boosting workouts:
Short and intense. A sissy strength training session isn’t going to make you feel unstoppable. Pick up a weight or pair of weights (or barbell or kettlebell) that you can do no more than 12-15 reps with. After a couple sets of deadlifts, wood chops or overhead presses, your arms will feel weak — but your mind will be strong. If you really need to get mean, go for a heavier weight that you can only comfortably do 6-8 reps with — they call this “power lifting” for a reason.
Compound movements. Need to get pumped for a big presentation? Drop and do 10! Planks and side-planks, pushups and burpees get all your muscles in on the strength-boosting action (yes, girls can do pushups). Even a couple of reps will have your whole body engaged, and you can do them anywhere. Pull-ups and chin-ups are great total body strength activators, too — just make sure your boss doesn’t see you hanging from the door jamb.
Get out your pistol. No, not your gun! The pistol, or one-legged squat, is the newest addition to my strength arsenal — and it comes in handy when gearing up for a confrontation, because it requires balance too: you can channel fierceness and calmness at the same time. (Here’s a tutorial if you haven’t tried it.)
If you’ve wanted to tackle a tough project, ask for a raise, stand up to a bully or haggle over your phone bill, roll out your weights! Stash one in your glove compartment, slip one into your giant purse and pound one right down onto your desk at work. Even just looking at it might make you feel stronger. Or, stick with bodyweight exercises so you can do them on the fly. Best of all, this counts as your mandatory midday workout.
Want 12 weeks of free workouts, plus motivation and accountability? Click the link below to get in on our FREE 12-week Shape Up Challenge! Then grab some inspiration from the tough peeps in our #MyIdeal profile series.
By Chelsea Ratcliff