My vision was tinged with red as I walked up to the loaded bar.
Rob Zombie’s Dragula screamed in my ears, and my hackles began to rise. I was ready. The Rogue bar sat silent and unyielding, covered in chalk and sweat.
I stared it down as I prepared myself for war. There was something viscerally satisfying about locking eyes with the rough metal. This challenge, at least, I could face head on.
The anger pulsed through my body as I viciously tore the bar off the floor. It felt conspicuously light as I easily pulled my 8 rep set, letting the bar crash to the ground with a deep grunt.
I spent the next hour and a half at the gym taking my anger out on the weights. As usual, the iron didn’t give a shit. The bar didn’t bend any differently. The 45s still weighed 45 pounds. Nothing was different for that hour and a half, even though my world was in turmoil.
I left the gym that night exhausted, both mentally and physically. The anger had been replaced with a begrudging acceptance of what was. At the time, I didn’t think there was much I could control in my world, other than the weight on the bar.
I had created a 5-6 day a week strength program focused heavy compound exercises supplemented by weighted movements like dips, pullups, pushups and levers.
I still train on a variation of the same system nearly 4 years later. It’s been a game changer.
This particular workout still stands out to me after all this time because it represented a turning point, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Stepping into the gym that night was my first act of defiance.
My heart had been broken, but I was not broken.
It was my first workout back in the gym after spending a week suffering through the sheer agony of my first breakup. It was also the first step in rebuilding a new me. I’ve talked about how lifting helped me rebuild my confidence, but that was only scratching the surface. The truth is much deeper and more spiritual than I could reasonably hope to get into in that post.
Today though, we’re going to dive head first into the addiction that has claimed the last 6 years of my life.
The obvious thing: getting ripped skyrockets your confidence
This one should be painfully obvious.
Check my before and after.
Taking my fitness seriously paid dividends for my confidence.
Of course, this is the most obvious result. You get ripped, and suddenly others start paying more attention when you walk into the room.
I was able to get these results even though I have a naturally thin frame where packing on mass has always been difficult for me. You can get far better results than I can with average genetics, a good diet, and a great workout plan.
All that considered, I still had several women admit they had touched themselves while looking at some of my pictures.
If that doesn’t shoot your confidence through the roof, I don’t know what will.
My physique improvement also allowed me to date hotter women than before. It’s also allowed me to bounce back from subsequent breakups with the confidence that I would easily be able to get a high quality woman.
Get broken up with, get ripped, and get someone better. While that’s a gross oversimplification, it’s no less true.
And you can do it.
Hitting the gym builds post-breakup discipline
The first couple of weeks after a breakup is your chance to decide where your path will take you.
Breakups rob you of normalcy, and whatever structure you decide to implement afterwards becomes much easier to stick to. For my part, I knew it was time to that this shit to the next level. And I did.
My 6 day a week workout routine became my singular focus – and the gains I began to reap were massive.
But they weren’t limited to my physique.
Getting your ass into the gym builds routine, which you need. Routine will keep you from falling into depressive habits including compulsive masturbation or drug/alcohol use. It’ll also keep you from being stupid and getting into a relationship immediately after your breakup.
The discipline you’ll build by getting into the gym will carry over into other areas in your life. It will make no contact easier. It’ll make staying consistent with the girls in your rotation easier.
Going to the gym frequently gets you into a positive groove which will shake you out of the post-breakup funk you’re in.
Hell, it’s great for shaking up any funk. For my part, whenever I’m feeling directionless in life, I’ve almost always been slacking on fitness. As soon as I ramp up my training again, the pieces all fall back into place as I retrain my discipline muscles.
But that’s not all the gym can do, oh no.
Lifting goes far deeper than that.
The gym forces you to live in the moment
I knelt on the light blue yoga mat and drew several deep breaths. It was time. One of my ex-girlfriends had just reached out to me, begging me to get back together with her.
I had been strong, and resisted the urge to text her back even though my heart was screaming at me to do it. My entire body hummed with nervous energy that begged for release.
Texting her back would have been so easy.
At this point though, I was committed to no-contact. I knew that she was only reaching out because something had gone south with the guy she was seeing, and I didn’t want to be sucked back into her orbit.
I had a simple plan – do 1000 pushups as quickly as possible. Several of my lifting buddies had reccomended the challenge even though they had failed halfway through.
What the hell, I thought. No better time to give it a shot.
I was shooting for under an hour. Even though I was in great shape, I had no idea if I was capable of such a feat.
With AC/DC roaring in the background I began my labor. The first 300 were easy, and I crushed them in sets of 25.
By 400, I was tired. I began to feel fatigue in my triceps, but I persisted.
As I approached the 700s, my mind had shut off. There was only the present moment, and the next set of pushups calling to me. I was in a trance of pain and focus. My muscles screamed in agony with each set, but I had come too far to quit now.
By 750 pushups I was too fatigued to do 25 pushups per set, and I dropped each set to 10. Those last sets were some of the hardest sets I’ve ever had to do.
Finally, I hit pushup 1000 and I collapsed on my yoga mat. I had done it.
I missed my goal of 1 hour by 5 minutes and 23 seconds.
While I may have failed one goal, I accomplished another. I was able to shut my brain off, which kept me from texting my ex-girlfriend back. After I had cooled off, my brain had calmed and I was able to delete her text and move on with my life.
This entire process was a reminder of how much focus exercise requires. Hitting it hard takes your mind off of the past and the future and forces you to focus on what’s going on around you right now.
You bet your ass I wasn’t thinking about my ex while I was cranking out those push ups.
The same is true when you’re in the gym. While you’re stacking on the plates and pushing hard for that one rep max, you’ll only be thinking about one thing: moving that fucking weight.
Nothing else will matter.
It’s you versus the weight in that moment, and nothing else matters.
You’ll make new friends
Spend enough time in the gym and you’ll progress beyond bro nods with your fellow gym rats.
It’s a progression as natural as increasing the weight on the bar.
It happened gradually for me. It went from spotting, to chatting before lifts, to lifting together. My lifting tribe grew as I did. Before long, I was regularly working out with two of them, who I’m still blessed to call friends today, years later.
While you can make friends doing anything, there’s something particularly rewarding about making friends with people as committed to progress as you are. They’ll drive you to better yourself, which is exactly what you need after a breakup.
You need to be focused on progress, and what better way to stay focused than to spend time with positive people who are also focused?
It’s a pretty good deal in my opinion.
Going to the gym exposes you to people from all walks of life who have an unimaginable wealth of experience. Being around these new people will help keep your mind engaged and off of your ex.
You’ll realize the ultimate truth about what masculine improvement really is
Self improvement is something you do for yourself, not for the external validation of others.
There is no greater truth, or more freeing realization after a breakup.
Everything you’re doing is for you, and no one else. Doing something pleasing externally to seek attention is the feminine imperative.
The masculine imperative can be simply defined as “do”.
The friends you make, and the gains you take are yours alone. As you hit PRs and watch yourself grow you will eventually come to this realization. The gym stops becoming an instrument to get you laid, and instead becomes hall of personal growth.
You’ll stop training just to look good, and instead start training for strength. That strength is equal parts emotional and physical. It’s the strength to keep pushing even when you want to quit. It’s the strength to refuse to be defined by others.
This strength will keep you going when things look dark. It lives within you, and it feeds on the pain from a breakup so that you can grow stronger.
The cure to the pain you’re feeling awaits in the squat rack. So get out there, load some weight on the bar and get ready to feel like the man you were always destined to be.