Can't Gain Muscle

Does Lifting Weights Increase Self-esteem?

Can lifting weights help to improve self-esteem? This week the topic of confidence and self-esteem popped up a lot with emails.

  • “I wanted to change the ways people saw me”
  • “I wanted to overcome my insecurities by looking better”
  • “I wanted to gain weight healthily and feel good in my body”
  • “wanted more confidence for everyday life”

So does lifting weights help with self-esteem and confidence, or not?

Lifting & Confidence—My Story

When I was dangerously underweight, 6’0 and 130 pounds, I was in a couple of amateur metalcore bands. We weren’t the best, but playing music was enough for me to lock my confidence onto.

But it wasn’t until after I bulked up that I clued into how *other* people were seeing my underweight frame. Here I am at 23, putting on 27 pounds of lean mass in four months:

People Saw Me Differently After I Began Lifting

After becoming a “normal” weight, suddenly, friends started asking me to help them move. At family events, someone would say, “Hey, give me a hand with this,” and we’d move something heavy.

One day, my 90-year-old neighbour was selling his place. For the open house, the real estate agent removed this man’s old, monstrous, and most favourite chair from the home and put it out of sight in the garage. At nine o clock, the older man came over and knocked on my door, asking for help to move his chair back into his home.

Things like these never happened to me before. I realized that when I was skinnier, other people must have (correctly) seen me as weak and unable to help.

Physical Strength Made Me Like Physical Hobbies

Interestingly, after I gained muscle, I started liking physical things more. I began to like hiking. Challenging things like snowboarding didn’t leave me in a wreck the next day. And my father-in-law has been showing me how to use my hands to build outdoor furniture.

Becoming strong has helped me enjoy the physical world more than the digital world.

All this to say is that I didn’t even know I was missing something.

What would you call it? Physical confidence? For me, it wasn’t so much an internal worry but a lack of physical *ability.*

But for those with internal worry, does that physical ability bring benefits to the internal world?

2019 Review: Lifting Weights & Self-Esteem

There’s some cool research out there. A 2019 review titled The Effect of Resistance Training Interventions on ‘The Self’ in Youth: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis found that lifting weights helped with “the self,” such as self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-perceptions.

Why does lifting weights help with self-esteem and confidence?

Researchers believe part of the reasons could be explained by:

  • developing muscularity (the stronger you are, the more confident you become)
  • developing competence at the skill of lifting (getting good at something feels good)
  • pyschosocial reasons such as doing something social (lifting) or that lifting brings mood benefits such as stress relief
  • This reason was less validated by research but could play a role: attractiveness seen by the opposite sex

These findings are found in both men and women.

For example, in a 2015 study on women, lifting weights improved body image, quality of life, satisfaction, and comfort.

2018 Review: Lifting Weights & Depression

And aside from confidence, a 2018 review of 33 studies found that lifting weights brought a huge drop in depression.

Dr Brad Schoenfeld tweeted about this review. Lifting weights brings a huge upside and no side effects when it comes to depression. (Plus you get strong!)

Resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of resistance exercise training, or significant improvements in strength.”

All this to say is that if you want more self-esteem, if you want more physical confidence in the physical world, why not improve your physical capacity?

Learn the skill of lifting weights. Then learn how to get more muscular by doing a lot of work (volume). Then learn how to get stronger and lift heavier weights. You’ll be changed through the process.

After that, it’s fun to learn how to push your fitness to the next level. I’m partial to sprinting or doing short, fast runs around the block (and using the assault bike in the winter).

Being able to run fast, no stretching or warm-up beforehand, heart-pounding—that kind of thing gives you confidence in your body for many unpredictable situations. You get the same confidence boost when you can do pull-ups with ease and can move your body like it’s nothing.

Testimonials About Boosting Self-Confidence By lifting weights when doing one of Our Programs

Many people struggle with the confidence to hit the beach, too and being strong, lean, and fit can help. For example, here’s what one client said about one of our programs:

My mind’s default setting was to think, “I’m too skinny to do that” or “I’m too skinny to go there”. I spent more than a decade in this state of mind, it became second nature to me. I accepted that I would always be skinny and that people would always perceive me as weak. It wasn’t until about 4 years later when my discouragement and self-doubt started to hit critical mass.

For me, it was about enjoying life and what I was missing out. I wear shorts and t-shirts now, I can shop for clothes that fit me, I’ve been to the pool, I feel confident for the first time ever. Recently I did something I never thought I could do, a Spartan Race. I no longer question where I can go or what I can do.

Here’s another story about self-esteem and lifting from one of our members:

As a sales professional, I was looking to have a confident presence and positive body language. So I decided to develop those qualities while leaving the slouching, skinny me behind. This program has had all the resources I need and I am very pleased to have found it and made the investment.

And one more:

After finishing the program I noticed some unexpected benefits. Besides being happy with my physique for the first time in my adult life and receiving compliments from friends and family that “I look great!” the best thing is filling out my clothes. Pants are no longer a saggy mess around my stick legs and my non-existent butt. Now my legs fill out my pants, my wife loves my ass, and my shoulders and chest finally fill out t-shirts. I no longer hate clothes shopping because things finally fit right on my frame!

Burn Stubborn Fat, Gain Muscle

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