The ego is ones belief system; your unique understanding of yourself, your personality and your talents. Your reality needn’t be either arrogant or humble, however the state of your ego will get to work in altering that reality and placing your personality someone within that spectrum.
It’s important for everyone to be confident in all pursuits, with low confidence and lacking self-worth you’d struggle to get out of bed in the morning. But there are certain scenarios in life when if the ego and the reality of your talents and abilities aren’t congruent, then you’ll likely cause a lot of harm to yourself and others. ‘Ego-lifting in one of those scenarios.
Ego in the gym
The gym is a fairly unique setting where your talents within the case of strength can be measured by the naked eye; raw data on display showcasing the entire room who is the strongest and weakest etc.
Most level headed individuals will not even notice this, they’ll progress through their workout, understanding their own unique ability and get through a workout largely unscathed.
On the flip-side if the ego is leading your session and you fail to remain objective about your session and progress it will inevitably lead to an injury. The sudden urge to forget your strength capabilities and training pedigree and get to work trying to keep up with the strongest guy in the gym is a sure way to trouble.
It’s important to remember that you can never fake strength, so there’s no point trying. Exposing your muscles, tendons and ligaments to weights that exceed your strength development will almost always lead to compromised technique and injury.
Injuries are a fantastic teacher, but it’s better to learn these lessons before learning the painful way! So what can be done to combat Ego Lifting?
The ego-lifters antidote: The log book
There’s a popular saying that floats around popular gym pages online that’s as cheesy as it is accurate:
‘it’s you vs you’.
Comparing yourself to others – in any context in or out of the gym – is a fast-track to a psychological hang-up. It’s always sage advice to steer people to use themselves as a point of reference for success or failings in their life. The gym environment and training are certainly no different and it’s almost even more crucial in the context of training than any other to prevent damaging your body.
One of the best things about weight training is that there is no ambiguity with the whole process. The weights you lift and your progress both in strength and physical stature can all be easily measured and this is something that you must do to fully determine your own progress. By understanding what you’ve lifted in previous sessions; the set and rep ranges, you can then ensure you’re always operating within your own, unique domain of competence, whilst continuing to push your body to develop.
Having and utilising a training log-book will help you remain driven with your fitness goals, whilst keep you on a safe path. It’s invaluable feedback.
Depending on your starting point and ambitions within fitness, it’s common that a goal can sometimes take a matter of years, making training longevity a crucial variable in your quest to success. So guarding the muscles and joints from injury and the body and mind from over-training is something that consciously needs to be addressed.
A great way to ensure training longevity is met – asides from avoiding silly injuries – is by setting yourself some smaller goals along the way, i.e. 1 month strength goals that will allow you to meet your yearly strength target.
Read more about Goal Setting.
Speaking from experienced, it’s easy to get side tracked with your unique goals and ambitions, especially with a world that is so well connected through social media, perfectly demonstrating the irrelevant talents of others within the context f your own progress.
That persons journey to that image or video they just posted is unseen, you only see the end result, unaware of their ‘supplementation’ regime or years of hard work they’ve dedicated to reach that point. You just don’t know!
Ultimately time spent trying to replicate and compete with others is not smart. Sure, let it inspire you to achieve great things, but be intelligent with how you get from your own A > B. If possible, work closely with people more experienced than you to draw out their insight, and allow them to technically guide you through your lifts and training.