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Why Do I Train? Why Do I Want To Be Strong?

Frank Delventhal, RKC and PCC Instructor
Frank Delventhal standing near the spot in the garden where his father fell, and where Frank was able to easily help, due to his mindful strength training with kettlebells and calisthenics.
Why do you like to train? What is your goal?

Certainly most (younger) males train to look cool and to be attractive to women. Over time, that may change—at least it did for me, training became a way of life. It was fun to explore how far I could push the limits by doing more reps, or increasing the weights. I was sweating "just" to write higher numbers in my training notebook.

Later I just trained to continue "normal" eating (which was still too much). I felt like it was easier for me to exercise more instead of limiting my food intake. As a side note, this approach does not work. ;-)

Then my training changed a lot, and not because I simply changed my mind. Unfortunately, in 2009 I injured my shoulder very badly. Too many reps with too much weight while using not-so-good form killed my right shoulder. I could hardly lift anything, and when I tried to exercise, I had a lot of pain in my shoulder. I fell into a dark hole and had to think about what I was actually doing and why.

Luckily, I read about kettlebells in a German fitness magazine (thanks Pavel) and how they can be great for rehabilitating shoulder issues. So, I swallowed my pride and got a 12kg kettlebell and trained with it for over a year until I was sure that I could safely increase the weight. I earned my HKC certification in 2013 and my RKC and PCC in 2014. I never returned to the barbells and have not regretted that decision.

Exercising is an important part of my life, I will even get in a bad mood when I can not train. I like to use my strength and power in daily life—for moving furniture from point A to B, opening pickle jars, ore playing horse with my daughter, etc.

I discovered that kettlebell training has made me stronger and more mobile than many men who are younger. It is soothing to realize that we do not really have to age, and can stay fit and strong for a very long time. Readers over forty will especially understand what I mean. ;-)

But we might not think that being stronger and more mobile is not really important. Vanity is probably one of the biggest motivations for many people, myself included. But honestly, can we really do something useful with our might?

Recently it all became clear to me when I saw my 83-year-old father lying in the bushes. He had fallen down in his beloved garden, was bleeding and not able to get up again on his own. He was lying there for about 1.5 hours before I found him. I rushed to him, and that big man (he is taller than me) felt so light when I lifted him. The only thing that mattered at that moment was to his get him up on his feet. I was glad that I had the necessary strength for the job. We went into the house and everything turned out to be okay since he was not seriously injured. I wish I had been able to find him earlier, but that could not be changed.
Frank Delventhal Garden
Another view of Frank Delventhal's father's incredible garden.

Later after I calmed down, I came to the conclusion that we do not train for the right reasons. After reflecting, I think we should train to be able to help your loved ones—family, friends and fellow human beings—when they are in need. We live in a society that seems to be civilized and safe, so we are attracted to fitness because of appearances and superficialities. But we should also think about why and for who we really want to be strong.

Your mindset in training can change a lot once you realize that your fitness is not just about looks, appreciative glances, or even for staying active in old age, but that it can also make a difference when saving those you dearly love in an emergency. This realization can really change how you view your training.

I remember when I was training Aikido. I would assume that I would one day be pulled into a fight to protect someone from something really bad. You train differently for these situations, you will be more awake, and will try to absorb everything. Your life might depend on what you learn. This kind of thinking does not make you "harder," but more conscious. But, this extreme awareness cannot be sustained for all your training sessions. After the incident with my father, I had that kind of awareness during my next few kettlebell sessions. This was because I realized this was the strength that helped me carry my father back to the house.

If this consciousness fades over time, it’s ok, that is normal and forgivable. No one can always be in "red alert mode" because you would start to have a "hunted animal" mentality. Just realize from time to time that the strength you can acquire from intelligent, mindful training will give you the edge when it really counts.

The other motivations to work out are not bad, but if you are in a real emergency situation, you will know why you should be strong. Our ability to adapt from our training is an evolutionary advantage. Our ancestors who lacked the ability to adapt would likely have gradually died out. So, the mere fact that you are alive makes you a potential tough bastard. ;-)

To summarize:
  • Enjoy your life.
  • Think about why you train.
  • Train your mind and your body.
  • Joyfully use each day wisely!

Frank Delventhal, RKC and PCC InstructorFrank Delventhal, RKC and PCC Instructor trains students and leads classes at Hamburg Kettlebell Club, he can be contacted through his website, email, or follow Hamburg Kettlebell Club on Facebook.