Because they are Hard: How JFK can inspire your workout.

We Choose to go to the MoonMy parents recently came for a visit and I was spending time with them so I’ve slacked off with the writing. Now that they left, I am back to the writing content for the site and wanted to write a quick bit about the proper mindset for the gym and starting a program.

Not everything people do in the gym is easy. It’s not supposed to be and that is the point.

There are certain exercises that are not fun to do. For me, that exercise is deadlifts, but burpees and most cardio exercises also come to mind.

There are variations of exercises that make the a lot harder. This brings to mind pause squats and pause bench presses.

There are also accessories that make exercises more difficult like bands, chains and fat gripz.

fat-gripz-pullup-with-chainsI’ve also recently started using Fat Gripz with my clients’ and my own workouts. If you haven’t heard of these, they basically make the bar thicker so it’s harder to grip. This helps to improve your grip strength but makes exercises, especially pulling exercises like rows and pull-ups, a lot harder.

There are many other examples of things that make a workout more challenging and there are many other things outside of the gym that you can do to make things difficult. My point with this is that not everything in the workout or your program will be easy or fun.

This difficulty doesn’t matter as much as the benefit it will provide you.

Sure it would be easy to never use Fat Gripz, avoid all the difficult exercises or to never train with enough intensity, but what good would that do?

When you leave the gym after hitting a new PR (Personal Record) or getting a good burn, you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot more than if you just coast through a workout. It might be harder during the workout, but you’ll feel great mentally afterwards because you’ve actually put work in.

This kind of thinking reminds me of one of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes. I don’t remember when I first heard it but I recently started saying it to my clients who were telling me how much more difficult exercises were with the Fat Gripz.

I think it’s a perfect metaphor for why people do certain things in the gym.

“We don’t go to the moon because it’s easy, we do it because it’s hard” is what I’ve been saying it which is slightly different from JFK’s exact words, but the main point is there.

The Real We Choose to go to the Moon Speech

He delivered this quote during the famous speech at Rice University in Houston, TX on September 12, 1962. He was trying persuade the American people that going to the moon is a good thing.

The most famous part of the speech comes at about 8 minutes in. The actual quote is below:

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

If you use this portion of the speech as an analogy for working out and getting in shape, it really fits quite well.

You can check out the full “we choose to go to the moon” speech in the video below. (It should cue automatically to 8:46, which is where this segment begins.)

This mindset is similar to the “get comfortable being uncomfortable” motto from the US Navy SEALs.

If you look at this mindset another way, if things were easy everyone would have it. They would not be as valuable because they would be common. It wouldn’t be special any more.

When you do things that are hard you should be happy because you are doing things that other people are unwilling to do and that means that you will get things that other people will not get.

This includes doing a hard workout, eating clean, going to bed early, working out when you don’t feel like it, etc.

Doing hard things also makes you stronger. This does not just mean physical strength from exercises in the weight room, this also means mental strength.

It gives you confidence to know that you can rise to the occasion and go beyond what you think is possible. The hard things you do will eventually become easy.

So go out there and look for challenges and conquer them, not because they are easy challenges, but because they are hard ones.

That’s it for this quickie. I’d love to hear from you. What did you do to make something more difficult? Leave me a message on facebook and twitter or just write it in the comments below.

Now get out there and go smash it!