Perhaps you know someone in your gym who seems really, really strong because he or she can move a ton of weight. You tell yourself that you want to be just as strong, but according to Greg Nuckols, that will hold you back. When you cast a narrow gaze, you limit how strong you can become. Image by Muffet.
Nuckols, founder of the strength and weight training resource Strengtheory, plays off the metaphor of a fish pond: If you're the strongest person in your gym, you're a big fish in a small pond. If you really want to know "strong", you need to swim over to the biggest pond there is. Or look to the strongest lifters in the world.
Of course, this is a harsh dose of reality — that you're not as "good" or as "strong" as you thought — but it is also deeply motivating and humbling.
I agree with Nuckols' sentiments here because lifting weights to get stronger and stronger is largely a mental game. Once you're past the newbie gains — those quick gains in strength and muscle during the beginning — you have to work even harder to continue making progress. And to do that, you must push past mental barriers and throw away the idea that you're already very strong.
You limit yourself by having low expectations. To bring this full circle and to tie it back into the original metaphor: Throw yourself into the biggest ocean there is. You may never become the biggest fish, but only by venturing there do you find out just how large of a fish you can become.
In fitness, it's easy to fall into complacency and mindlessly move through the motions. But when you aim high, knowing there's a possibility of eventually getting close to your goal, you're able to push yourself in your workouts for many years to come.
"Strong" Is Determined By the Size of Your Pond [Strengtheory]