As a young lad still in high school (year 10 I believe), my friends and I began to take interest as most 16 years olds males do, in the idea of training and muscle building. At that age, there was nothing more impressive than moving yourself into the upper echelon of status by displaying physical strength and visible musculature. I remember coming back from summer holidays one year and seeing two or three of my peers turn up to school with their sleeves rolled up to display what looked to be hugely developed biceps and triceps. Immediately, I respected these guys more and thought, "wow, they look awesome and strong!". Of course, this helped them garner the attention of any young ladies at the time also.
From time to time I fantasise extreme situations occurring in my day to day life and what I would do if that situation were to arise. Some of it is quite morbid, but it can be a healthy mental rehearsal of an extreme that may very well happen one day, and it only takes one event to significantly impact your life. Sometimes it’s ‘what would I do if a light aircraft ditched in this field and I was the only person who could save the lives of the passengers?’, or ‘what if terrorists armed with knives stormed this shop, would I take action to defend the lives of others and protect my family’, or ‘what if this guy walking towards me tried to mug me or steal my pregnant wife’s bag, would I cower or would I dominate and obliterate?’. I think many men have these ‘fantasy’s’, but one thing that plays into all these scenarios is that it would pay to have the added benefit of strength on your side.
So, why exactly should every man be strong?
I was already athletic but not very ‘built’. So my friend and I decided we’d hit the gym, and we began our journey at the densely packed University of New South Wales gym every Friday afternoon. I saw a guy doing reverse chin ups on a bar, and he had great development and looked powerful. If it wasn’t already decided, it was then that I committed to working out and being strong, physically.
Many years, and a successful stint in natural bodybuilding later, I have come to the conclusion that strength training is an integral part in a mans life. We are so committed to schooling and training our minds, but we mustn’t neglect the vehicle that takes us through this life. We need to look after it.
"The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character." - Arnold Schwarzenegger
In the traditional family role and the role of men, we are seen as the protectors. It was our duty to protect those ‘weaker’ than us (from a physiological standpoint), such as women and children. If there was or is a threat in a family, we automatically look to the male head of the family to offer defence and counter strike. We can be as sexually equal as we want but the fact is, men have a greater physical capability than women when it comes to strength and violence, in general terms (adult males have about 7 or 8 times as much testosterone than adult women).
Power to the Body and Mind
It’s a fact. Developing muscle will strengthen yourself physically as well as mentally. I can tell you from personal experience of competing in bodybuilding competitions, that the mental development and discipline involved far out weighs the physical. Your mind gets as much of a workout, pushing through gruelling sets of endless repetitions, mentally prepping yourself to leg press half a tonne, and so on. Also, of course, being overweight is very detrimental to your health, and thus you should exercise to prevent that. Use it or lose it.
Let’s face it. In general terms, a physically strong and athletic man is (generally) more attractive to others. Apart from the aesthetic appeal, studies have shown particularly during ovulation, women are (perhaps subconsciously) far more attracted to stronger and more built men, as they are seen as more able to defend and protect them and their offspring.
Fight or Flight
When the proverbial sh*t goes down, who is going to take action? Whether it be a car accident scene that needs the immediate help of someone strong enough to rescue a trapped driver, during a violent confrontation when one must step in to protect an innocent victim, the list goes on. Being strong means that you can visually deter aggressors with your size, and if push comes to shove, you have the tools to say "hey, step aside, I got this”.
Mind, Body and Soul
The negative correlation between strength/muscle building and mentally vacant meatheads is all too common. There is a false link between a lot of people, thinking muscle bound individuals are generally dumb. However a look back in history at the great men that were, there was no notice of this link, and in fact the idea of building your mind, body and soul was pushed. Much like you can’t build a strong torso on weak legs, the three compliment one another, and to reach your full potential, proper attention must be devoted to all three facets of life.
It’s in Our Genes
In ancient times, it was the strong that survive and procreate. Whether it be fighting to the death an animal for dinner, another man for honour, or nature for mere survival, the men of that day relied purely on their strength and wits to live, mate, and conquer.
Don’t disrespect what is in your genes. We, as men, were built to be strong gladiators of Earth. Not fat sloppy office dwellers. Put down that cupcake and go and uproot a tree!
It's not just men that should strengthen their bodies!