We Understand If You Don’t Love Lifting

photo: flickr Hebe Aguilera

Two online clients confessed to me the same thing this past week. They both had similar sentiments, beginning with, “I can’t imagine not working with you. I love how my body has transformed and I don’t want to stop training.” Then the expected but happened, “but I don’t like lifting.”

Anyone who wakes with a taste for iron may feel this is an utter strike against all humanity. The benefits of resistance training are numerous and trainers and lifters alike give virtual high-fives to weightlifting whenever possible.

But, it’s not for everyone to enjoy. Neither client said they couldn’t understand nor see the benefits from resistance training. In fact, both showed a great appreciate for how it has improved their lives and physiques, re-assuring me this is not good-bye.

They are just bored out of their skulls from it.

You see memes like this all the time:

cardio run running2

Many lifters will attest that they can’t stand steady-state cardio. They’d rather try to escape a vat of tar than do a long-distance anything. Dull. Mind-numbing. But triathletes and runners couldn’t imagine not spending long bouts on the road/water/treadmill.

As trainers and fellow lifters I think it’s important to step back and really understand why someone who completely gets resistance training from the benefit aspects feels a bit anxious about actually getting out their and pulling heavy iron.

I train at home, so perhaps I can appreciate this a little better. I couldn’t image life without my gym, but it gets a little sad in the garage sometimes. Heck, I don’t even have mirrors. I can’t even watch veins pop out of my forehead while my face turns fifty shades of red as I attempt a new PR. It’s just me and all my thoughts about how badly I need to paint the garage, sweep the floor, and organize the tool chests.

I love lifting, but I can get a little Eeyore-ish at times.

These are a few suggestions that I give to clients who want to lift weights, but also don’t really enjoy it.

Buddy Up. Find a workout partner to keep you company during your sessions. Buddy training is a great motivator because you tend to push your limits much more when you have someone at your side. It’s also a great way to maintain accountability. You may easily let yourself down—skipping a session or cutting out early—but you don’t want to let your workout partner down.

Who to ask: Finding the right workout partner can be tricky. You definitely want someone who is as well versed as you in the activity. You want your partner to enhance your training, and you don’t necessarily want to spend the hour teaching basics.

If you don’t have any friends or neighbors who are at your level in the gym, you can find lots of good resources and support in online communities. Meet-up groups are great, as are fitness sites like Fitocracy where you can form a group in your local area.

Your spouse or significant other is a great option as well. This isn’t always the case, but for the most part spouses work well together in the gym.

Join a sport. Most often what is missed in the weight room is companionship. Another option I always suggest is joining a sport of some kind. Outdoor activities are a great way to meet like-minded fitness enthusiasts. Your local parks and rec, and also sporting goods stores often have classes and group meet-ups posted. Online meet-ups are also available for things such as kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and more.

Team sports are another great way to build comradery and meet new friends. Sometimes when you start that fitness journey your friendships change. It’s nice to have people who enjoy being active as a regular part of your life. Most cities have local recreational teams for any sport you can think of: softball, soccer, baseball, Frisbee, rugby, football, basketball, act.

Take a class. Another thing that is missed along with comradery is intensity. Yes, weight lifting can get pretty intense, but sometimes we just want to sweat it out and get our heart pumping. Or perhaps you miss something more relaxing like yoga.

Again, classes are a great way to meet new friends and also stimulate your mind in a different way.

Switch it up. As a trainer it’s important for me to stay in tune with my clients needs. It’s easier to do so with clients that meet weekly, but for online clients communication is key. Sometimes I don’t realize if they are bored or looking for something new unless they voice up. I do weekly check-ins virtually to make sure things are going well. If I sense they are getting a little antsy, I change things up to make it more interesting.

This is something to be cautious about and should be based on the client’s goals. For the most part I work with clients looking for greater health and a better physique. So generally I will add in something more dynamic or rotate their workouts out more frequently. Other clients love their programs so much they have a hard time parting. It’s important to understand my clients needs, and it’s also important to understand how to make it work when you are designing your own plan.

If you feel after three weeks you go to the gym less and less, you may want to change your program every three weeks. If you have a hard time doing the same workout more than once, perhaps writing workouts that follow the same template but use different exercises will work for you.

The most important thing here is to keep things interesting. If you stick to the same program for three months straight, you may end up feeling like you need a straight jacket.

Hire help. Don’t worry; this isn’t where I sell you something. I honestly think hiring a trainer can greatly benefit your interest in weight lifting. You can learn how to properly structure a program and it’s also really nice to have a plan laid out for you.

With my two clients, I feel that if they weren’t under my guidance they probably would have left the gym a long time ago. I can certain say that working with a trainer in person is more motivating than working with someone online. But both are definitely beneficial—even if you only work with a trainer for three or four months.

Many of the coaches and trainers you follow online also hire colleagues to help them. We appreciate the value a good program can bring and also feel that an outside mind can better see how to reach our goals. Yes, even the best trainer can spin her wheels when it comes to her own programming.

You may also benefit from taking a class on weight lifting. Athletic facilities often offer courses that teach lifting without having to sign on with a personal trainer. Learning how to lift properly greatly enhances your experience in the gym– and you may even land a workout partner while you’re there.

Take a break. If it gets the point where you just want to quit, take a break. I don’t suggest leaving resistance training all together (not for selfish reasons, but because it truly benefits you), but you can certainly scale back a bit. Perhaps a bodyweight at-home program is in order. Something that frees up more time and allows you to focus on other activities.

After that break you may feel more revved than ever to get back in the gym. The burnout factor is nothing to be ignored, but it’s also something you can overcome with a little time away.

Hope these are useful tips for trainers and lifters alike. I think it’s very hard to objectively look at disinterest in something you feel so passionately about. It may be easier to relate if you think about an activity you have very little interest in. For me, it’s video games. I couldn’t care less if they existed, but my entire family loves playing them. So, rather than being the grump on the couch who flips through book pages while they all play, I found a game that I can play with them and still enjoy for a short time.


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  • Hi Kellie, I love your writing and I always read your site. I was introduced to weight lifting in my late 30’s unfortunately, things change when I turned 45. Fibroids (cause pain, cramps & anemia) and hormonal changes made me, re-evalute my training. I have settle for body weight exercise, yoga and speed walking. Weight lifting has its benefits but there are times when you need to listen to your body. Will love to hear your thoughts on body weight exercise?

  • Great alternatives! Checked out the plants vs zombies game. Might have to try out with the kids soon! :)

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