That’s ok. We all do at times.
Some of us lack confidence more than others.
Sometimes we lack it for longer periods of time than we’d like to.
So what to do?
Well, there’s some things you can do to boost your confidence.
One of the things I see being recommended often is to simply go to the gym and workout.
Sure doing exercise will give you a boost and you will likely feel better than doing nothing.
But believe me, there’s plenty of guys and ladies who are insecure even after going exercising for months and even years.
You can argue that they would probably be far worse if they didn’t workout.
But what does it take to cause a massive impact in how you see yourself.
That’s a whole different story.
How can you bring about lasting change by training, exercising or working out?
Well that’s something nobody really talks about.
Because building confidence is more than getting six pack abs or having bigger arms and chest.
You can have awesome abs and your confidence can still be pretty be low.
Confidence is not about how you look on the outside.
It can help but it doesn’t necessarily change how you think of yourself.
Bringing about last self-confidence requires challenging yourself.
It requires breaking out of your comfort zone.
Well, in the gym or any time you train you can step out of your comfort zone.
Here are 20 ways you can boost your self-confidence through exercise.
- Build A Solid Foundation: As with anything in life it is important to build a strong foundation before building the rest of what is to come. In order for something to last and meet the challenges that are coming your way it is necessary to start with a great foundation. When it comes to your body this is no different. If you want to have a body that projects confidence and that is strong you have to put all the components in place. Make sure your diet isn’t loaded with junk food. Keep your diet as clean as possible. Drop all the stuff that is toxic. Sleep as best as possible. Use rest days in order to take a step back and give your body a break. And of course have a workout that will help you develop a muscular and athletic physique. If you’re focusing your workouts on doing things like dumbbell curls or you are focusing on ab work then you are cheating yourself from having the best body possible. Have a workout program that is working on major muscle groups and work on your upper body the same amount of time as your lower body. If you can include total body exercises, then by all means do those as well.
- Master the Basic Exercises: If you’re going to build your confidence I don’t care how many triceps pushdowns you do you are not going feel amazing or reach your physical potential. The exercises that will help you build your confidence are those that push you physically by working on your major muscles. There are basically a handful of exercises that you need to focus on, get good at and improve upon. The following exercises should be part of your routine: Bench Press, Pull Ups/ Chin Ups, Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Press. If you don’t use these exercises, then start now. Once you have made them a part of your life make sure you learn how to perform them as flawlessly as possible. The last thing you need is an injury screwing your progress.
- Set A Workout Schedule: I never get tired of saying it but if you want to make training a part of your lifestyle you have to set a schedule and stick to it as close as possible. The best way you’ll stick to your training regimen is by making a commitment to go in and train on specific days and at a specific time. By following a specific schedule you are training your mind to be disciplined. Discipline comes in handy when it is time to build a habit, build a better body and build confidence. I truly believe that by failing to create a schedule you are setting yourself up for failure if you plan on sticking to this long term. Sure it’s easy to tell someone that if they workout they’ll build confidence. But if you want to build long lasting confidence you need to train for the long term. You need to improve your physique and this doesn’t come after one month of training. Transforming your body takes months. Making changes that last a lifetime take a lifetime. The only way to build confidence is by adding one success after another.
- Set A Workout Goal: What do you want out of training? You need to be as specific as possible. Gaining muscle? Lose weight? Get more specific. Building confidence is all about creating a goal and going after it. The end result should be reaching your goal at some point then creating a new goal. Success breeds success. This is why it is important to be specific. So instead of saying you want to lose weight first choose a reasonable goal like losing 10 pounds in 6 months. If you goal is gaining muscle you can add a specific number such as gaining 5 pounds of lean muscle in a year’s time. It doesn’t even have to be strictly based on your appearance. In fact, you can choose a goal such as bench pressing 10 pounds more in 2 months. The type of goal does not matter. Simply aim for something you want to accomplish and go for it. This is how confidence is built.
- Measure Your Results: So how are you going to know if you’re making progress? There’s only one way and that is by measuring your progress and results. As I said earlier, success breeds success. The only way you can build on each gain you make is by keeping track of how far you have come. If you plan on training over months at a time and you don’t track your results you won’t look at your progress as a success. Now when I talk about results I don’t just mean what your arms measure, how many pounds you gained or lost, it could mean that if that is your goal. You can also measure results by tracking how many reps you did today versus two weeks ago, how much weight you’re lifting over weeks and months at a time. You get the picture. It all depends on what your goals are. Over time your confidence in your workouts and yourself will grow as you see how far you have come along.
- Plan Your Workouts: Along with creating a workout schedule you also need to plan your workouts. One of the worst things you can do is to go in with a “whatever goes” mentality. I see this all the time. Guys show up and start to workout on chest because they feel like it. Not good. Ideally you want to incorporate discipline in all areas. Training is no different. Write down your workouts, which exercises are you going to do for chest, back, lower body, etc. Once you have the exercises you’re going to use the next step is to write down the number of sets and reps along with rest periods. It sounds like tedious work but once you have a plan set the rest comes easy. Results are soon to follow. Your body will respond and transform.
- Have A Purpose: This goes hand in hand with planning your workouts. Don’t go in aimlessly. Don’t waste your time. Get in and get out. Don’t do unnecessary sets or exercises. Set a specific time limit on how long you will stay in the gym. When you have a purpose you can look back with a sense of accomplishment knowing you have kicked ass. What better way to feel like you’re on top of the world than by knowing you are kicking butt?
- Focus Prior to Starting A Workout (Breathing Techniques): Now this is going to sound a bit weird, maybe hippie-ish, maybe you’ll stop reading at this point but trust me on this. Look at the most confident guy at the gym. Look at the guy who looks like he is awesome at the bench press. Ever notice he gets in the zone and takes a deep breath in before taking on the weight? He’s focusing by breathing. If you learn to focus and breath prior to any challenge or stressor you will be better prepared to perform well. You will do the task with confidence in yourself. You don’t need to meditate for a long period of time. Let me tell you what I do now prior to a workout. At home before I go off to workout, or at the gym I stand still, look straight ahead, breath in making sure air goes down to the point below my belly button and then exhale. I do this anywhere between three and five breaths. That’s it. I actually do this a couple of times in the day. Why? It helps you stay centered. You become focused real fast. Once you get better at this you’ll notice feeling confident and less distracted. When I do this before a workout I get in a zone. You won’t get pumped up but rather you’ll feel a cool, quiet strength like nothing will throw you off. Comes in handy before every workout.
- Throw Out Negative Self Talk: This is a hard for so many of us. That voice and chatter in our mind sometimes seems to pop in at the wrong times. How many times have you been lifting a weight or been doing a cardio and the moment you don’t do as well as expected you put yourself down? Man, I’ve heard some people at the gym actually mutter the negative self-talk out loud. Or you’ll see them nod in disgust as they fail to complete the last rep. Why? That’s the quickest way to build self-defeating behavior. Chances are if you do it in the gym you are also doing it outside of the gym. So anytime you don’t do as well as you wanted or expected replace any negative self-talk with a reassuring and positive thought. You can also congratulate yourself for how far you’ve come or maybe the first couple of sets were pretty good. Focus on those things instead. Believe me, you can’t beat yourself up if you’re going to succeed in life. You have to be your best cheerleader.
- Do Exercises That Challenge You: If all you spend time on is the same 3 or 4 or 5 exercises then it’s time to get adventurous and add one or two new exercises to your repertoire. Step out of your comfort zone. If you are keeping yourself locked up in a self-imposed box you won’t grow. This applies to any area in life. In fitness it is no different. Challenge yourself with some burpees to work on your conditioning or try using landmine exercises so you can take your training to a level your body is not used to. As you challenge yourself and your training you will begin to take on tougher exercises in the gym. The effects will spill over into your everyday life and you will look better along the way.
- Embrace The Exercise Nobody Is Doing: front lever hold, power clean, hang clean, box jumps: The pull up bar is the loneliest piece of equipment in any gym. I really don’t get it. Most guys have mastered the chest and biceps exercises. Why not master the pull up for example? Or when was the last time you saw someone do a Power Clean, a Hang Clean or a Front Lever Hold? Maybe there’s one guy who does any one of these exercises. Maybe nobody else does them. Who cares? Be the first. Do what nobody else is doing. Believe me, you’ll get a nice surge of confidence over time as you get good at an exercise. Watch as others become interested in what you’re doing. Maybe it will inspire others to do the same. That’s not a bad thing. Now you’ll be a leader. The world needs more leaders. Your gym needs more leaders.
- Break A Plateau: When you hit a wall in life it can get a bit discouraging. You get worried because things aren’t getting better or things have stayed the same for too long. In the gym it can be the same way. If you are already measuring your results and keeping track of each session then it can be easier to break a plateau. You can add 5 pounds more to your squat. Do one extra rep at the same weight you have been struggling with. Or take a week off entirely in case you are burning out. Chances are you will be stronger after taking some time off from lifting. Once you break a plateau, even a small one, you’ll feel like a new man.
- Do Exercises That Are Athletic: This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about challenging yourself. If you are sticking to simple exercises like crunches, bicep curls, or triceps extensions then you are missing out on so much. The best way you are going to transform your body and yourself is by training in a way that forces you to work on as many muscle groups simultaneously. It’s okay to do curls or tricep extensions but the bulk of your workouts have to come from athletic multi joint movements like Power Cleans, Bench Presses, Squats, Military Press, Pull Ups/ Chin Ups, and for more adventurous folks Overhead Squats and Clean and Jerks. These exercises over time will build confidence as your body is pushed beyond its comfort zone and is forced to perform at a level that you may not be used to and few even try.
- Keep Rest Periods Short: When the sweat starts coming out and you start breathing a bit heavier than you are used to it is tempting to take long breaks between sets. Well, I would argue that keeping your rest periods short and no longer than a minute is a better option. Look at an athlete on the field or on the court. How long do they rest for? Maybe a few seconds between plays and they have to get back and perform at their peak. When you are training for athleticism, performance, muscle and conditioning you have to keep your rest periods short. By training your body to perform at a peak level you will find it easier to do every day activities and you will build the confidence to take on new challenges, especially those that are physical.
- Be Seen, Don’t Shy Away: So we already talked about how you need to step out of your comfort zone. Well, the best way to really do this is by doing something that is very visible. You have to something regardless of what others may think. Luckily you don’t have to do anything silly or embarrassing to stand out. There are plenty of exercises you can incorporate into your training that nobody else often because they are intimidated and don’t want to bring any attention to themselves. A couple of exercises that will get you some attention are exercises like Box Jumps, Hurdles, Power Clean, Clean and Jerk and Landmine Exercises. I first started incorporating box jumps after seeing athletes in various sports use them as part of their athletic training. I figured, why not do the same. Every time decide to do box jumps the predictable happens. A few people at the gym stand around and look especially as my jumps increase in height. Sure the first few times you do this it will be intimidating but you quickly learn to focus and putting all your energy and attention on your workout. After a while you learn to accept and appreciate the attention that comes with doing what others are too intimidated to try. If this doesn’t get you out of your comfort zone, then I don’t know what will.
- Dress Comfortably For the Gym: I know some of us don’t look super lean or like the finest specimen that has walked the face of the local gym so not everyone can get away with showing a bit of skin. But every time I look around at other gym members I can’t help but wonder why some use 20 layers of clothing. There is no way anyone could feel comfortable bundled up like they are experiencing the worst winter storm of the decade while sweating their butt off. If you don’t feel comfortable dressing this way when you are at home then why would you dress in such an uncomfortable manner outside of the gym? Peel away some layers. Don’t be afraid to show some skin or wear something that feels a bit snug on your body. Now I’m not asking you to wear biker shorts either. In fact, I’m begging you not to wear biker shorts. But begin to wear tank tops a bit. Appreciate the fact that you look decent. As you learn to love and appreciate the person working out in front of all those mirrors then you will begin to love and appreciate your body on an everyday basis outside of the gym as well.
17. Lift Objects Over Your Head (weights): If you are heading into a gym or doing any real training then you will be lifting some heavy weight. That is a given. But if you aren’t lifting weight over your head then you are missing out on the benefits of not only gaining confidence but also getting some awesome shoulder development. There is a sense of satisfaction knowing you are lifting weight over your head especially as it gets progressively heavier. It’s fine if you are doing exercises like Seated Shoulder Presses but why not push yourself by doing challenging exercises like a Snatch, Overhead Squats, Clean and Press. These exercises will help you build not only your shoulders but also the lower body and even your core.
18. Jump More: Building a better physique isn’t just about lifting weight. You also need to take advantage of exercises that boost your explosiveness and athleticism. Don’t be afraid to do exercises that have you training like a kid in a playground. Whether you do box jumps or hurdles or ladders, simply try doing exercises that are going to work on your lower body explosiveness along with conditioning.
19. Do Bodyweight Exercises: Okay, lifting heavy weight is important but sometimes a more challenging skill is lifting your own bodyweight. Whether you are doing pull ups, chin ups, bodyweight shoulder press, muscle ups there is a great sense of satisfaction knowing you are challenging your body.
20. Inspire Others: In order to build confidence you can’t just focus on your goals and your results. It is also important to inspire others and help them reach their potential. Next time you see someone going a bit heavy on a squat or a pressing movement offer to spot them. If you see them struggling with the weight give them some assistance and pump them up with words of encouragement. Find the time to motivate, inspire and give back to others. The rewards that come from helping others achieve their potential will be rewarded.
There you have it.
Those are many ways you can start to bring about lasting self-confidence.
You don’t need to practice all twenty at the same time.
You don’t even need to do half of these every single time.
Simply choose two or three to start.
Over the span of several weeks start adding one or two more strategies I’ve outlined.
I can assure you that if you stay consistent over time you will notice a change in how you see yourself.