A few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting at the Kentucky NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) conference. My good friend Kris Freeman was also presenting that day. During his presentation, not only did I learn a ton about Turkish Get-Ups and how to perform them properly, but I was also reminded of something that should be at the forefront of all of our minds when we train, and that is our “training why.”

Why Do You Need a “WHY?”

Kris reminded me how important it is to have a WHY when you train. That WHY gets you out of bed at 6am to run sprints, that WHY is what pushes you through your last 2-3 reps on a really tough set of squats, that WHY convinces you to add another 5 lbs to the bar when you think you’ve reached your limit, that WHY inspires you to keep pulling when you’re straining on a heavy deadlift, that WHY convinces you not to give up when your body is telling you that you can’t do it. Your “WHY” should be at the forefront of your mind anytime you are training.

 

What’s your training WHY?

 

What’s a Good Why?

The result of heavy compound lifts and good nutrition

So what’s a good WHY? Well, that’s a good question… I think it’s different for everyone. For some, it may be as lighthearted as looking good in their favorite jeans while for others it could be as serious as avoiding the heart attack that took their parents from them at a young age.

My WHY is multi-faceted.

As some of you know, I used to be overweight (approximately 34% body fat, but who’s counting?)

Training helped me take control of my body, improve my health, and skyrocket my self confidence.  I have also noticed that I the way I treat myself and the way I let others treat me is very different.  I used to allow some people to treat me like garbage and I wouldn’t do anything about it.  I think I craved their attention and acceptance.

These days I fill my life with people with whom I have healthy and kind relationships.  Gone are the days of letting myself be treated poorly.  It also boosted my self-confidence in terms of what I feel I can accomplish and what limits I set (or don’t set) for myself.  After picking 341 lbs up off the floor, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t tackle!

I also come from a family of over-achievers… doctors, lawyers, authors, honest politicians (<–crazy, right?) Many of them have an opportunity to help people, inspire people, and educate people on a daily basis and it has been ingrained in me since I was very young that those things are so important. Training myself, training my clients, and sharing information about training is MY way of helping, inspiring, and educating others. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the way hard and heavy training makes my body look. The best part? The way my body looks is a direct result of what it can do… and that’s so cool.

What’s Kris’ Why?

So why is having a WHY so important to Kris?  Kris is a Recon Marine (equivalent of Marine Corps Special Forces) and he was blown up by an IED (improvised explosive device) over in Iraq 5 1/2 years ago and suffered devastating injuries. He was supposed to spend 6+ months in a wheelchair but because he was so used to being active, he spent most of that time hopping around on 1 foot creating even more asymmetries and imbalances than he would have had from his initial injuries. He did several months of outpatient PT, he swam, and did whatever he could to stay active.

 

Kris in July 2006 at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital

 

Once he was cleared to work out again, he sought out a personal trainer to help him progress further, but he was disappointed with their lack of knowledge about the body and the way it was supposed to function. You see, he didn’t just want to be “normal.” He wanted to be athletic, strong and agile again. He wanted to run, jump, sprint, throw and lift heavy things without pain. He wanted to reclaim the life he had, and resume the activities he took part in before this tragedy. He also wanted to show gratitude for the second chance he was given, and what better way to do that than to take care of your body and explore the limits of what it can do?

He began doing some kettlebell work in the gym on his own (he had dabbled in it before, but nothing extensive) and really enjoyed it. He then progressed to heavy barbell movements but soon realized he was too asymmetrical and imbalanced to benefit from the barbell stuff just yet. So he went back to his kettlebell work and began to really focus on improving his asymmetries, imbalances and weaknesses using movements likes the Turkish Get-Up, the Goblet Squat and the Swing. He also got assessed by Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman at IFAST and benefited from several months of their programs.

 

Kris doing an 88lbs Get-Up on his “weak” side

 

Another really impressive fact about Kris? He doesn’t use any meds to manage his pain. He manages his pain through daily foam rolling, and mobility work and stretches that he picked up from Mike and Bill of IFAST and also from Kelly Starrett of www.mobilitywod.com. **I should also mention that his beautiful wife Jordan has been by his side the whole time and I know he feels like her support is an integral part of his success!**

 

Strong, Athletic, Healthy…

 

Fast forward a couple of years and Kris is doing awesome! He moves well, he’s strong, he’s athletic and he is helping other people reach their goals and changes their lives as a Trainer and Coach at CrossFit Maximus in Lexington, Ky.

 

Kris in 2007 and 2012 (notice the difference in the right arm)

 

So there you have it. Why you should have a why, my why, Kris’ why… OK that’s probably enough why’s for one sentence. Whatever your why is – identify it, own it, and repeat it to yourself often. You never know…when you are feeling unmotivated, tired, or defeated, it may just be the kick in the pants you need to keep going.

Please take a minute and let me know what you think of the article and what your training why is! I would love to hear what you have to say!

55 Responses to What’s your “WHY?”

  1. Jim Benson says:

    My “WHY” is my passion to teach others fitness. I love teaching people how to move properly, lift properly, and take care of their bodies. In order for me to do this teaching, I push myself in those same three phases. My son, who will be 3 next week, looks up to me in everything I do. If I wish for him to live a healthy life, the best thing I can do is lead by example.

    • molly says:

      Jim, I love it! So many children don’t have their parents to look up to as roles models for a healthy lifestyle. Your son is very lucky that he will get his healthy lifestyle habits from you!

  2. Kat says:

    Good article to start the site off with, for sure. It’s something we should all reflect back on periodically.

    I suppose my training ‘why’ would have a few answers. I train for strength because it gives me confidence I never had before. Things just seem so trivial when you know that you can squat and deadlift your own bodyweight for reps! It makes me feel like I could protect myself if it came down to it, which is really an amazing feeling to have as a female. Knowing that I will not only be self-sufficient, but incredibly strong as I age is a huge motivator.

    Also because I like seeing more plates go on the bar.

    • molly says:

      Haha Kat – I love seeing more plates on the bar too! I totally agree about feeling self sufficient and confident! Physical strength translates into so many other great things!

  3. Rebecca Maconachie says:

    My “WHY” is because I need to be strong. My strength is important to me, and being competent and knowledgeable enough to help others be strong as well. As I recover from an injury as well ( torn MCL) Kris’ story is very inspirational. And even though my injury is not nearly as significant as Kris’, I still feel his thirst to get back on his feet again! I am here to prove , as girls gone strong has done, that women can push harder, lift more, and preform as equal as anyone!

    • molly says:

      Rebecca, how awesome that you have overcome an injury and are working to be even stronger than before? Very inspirational! Girls Gone Strong(her) FTW!

  4. Shanna L. says:

    My “Why?” is to become a healthier version of myself. I’ve been over weight since high school, that’s going on 10 years (I’m 24) and I want to be able to show my children (ages 4 and 1) a healthy lifestyle. The blooming self-confidence isn’t too bad either!! My husband and I work hard to make sure our family get the proper nutrient and that we show our kids the joys of physical activity. My son is going to run his first race, a 1k, with a friend of his and other boy and girls his own age in a few weeks.

    • molly says:

      Shanna, I totally know what you mean! I have battled my weight for a long time and it’s so important to get to a place where you are healthy and happy and love your body!

      That’s so cute about your son! Wish him luck for me!

  5. I definitely agree with starting with WHY. The reason why I train the way I do is because it represents what it means to me to be strong and healthy. Prowler pushes, pulls, squats, reads, kettlebell work… the body was meant to do much more than just running. And we have the equipment to reflect this modern movement.

    I initially thought you started off this post because you read Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With WHY” …(Molly, have you read it yet?)… it is a great book and it definitely helped me define and redefine a lot of my actions. Without understanding WHY we do WHAT we do, then there is often no purpose to these actions. While yes, it is difficult to verbalize WHY we move the way we move (as fitness enthusiasts, Personal Trainers, and coaches), digging deep and allowing yourself to communicate is key to getting your message across to your audience.

    I appreciate this post very much!

    • molly says:

      Miguel, I haven’t read that book but it sounds like I need to! Thanks for the rec!

      And YES! I totally agree that the body is meant to do more than just run (and in fact, I may even argue that most of us were not necessarily designed to run distance at all). We are made to lift, throw, sprint, climb… all that good stuff! Thanks for taking the time to post!

  6. Julia says:

    This was a great post. I ask myself “why” every day. My “why” is because I can. Life is not guaranteed, so I want to make sure I’m the strongest and best me I can be for my husband and 2 daughters. You never know what life is going to toss at you; be prepared for anything.

    • molly says:

      Julia, I could agree more! I unexpectedly lost my Father about 5 weeks ago and it REALLY drove home the concept that nothing is guaranteed. We aren’t guaranteed the next year, the next month, the next week, the next day or even the next minute. Because of this we MUST lives our lives in a way that makes us feel happy and peaceful and fulfilled (and makes our significant other feel this way as well). What a great role model you are!

  7. Andrew Denson says:

    Molly I loved this article. It reminded me of “why” I got into the business of personal training and that is to show people the joys and desires of turning dreams into visions and visions into goals and reaching those goals. If you get an opportunity, you need to read the book Starting With Why by Simon Sinek and check out his podcast at TedTalks. I think you will enjoy it and it will resonate with your passion.

    Thanks and God bless,
    Andrew Denson,CSCS

    • molly says:

      Andrew, someone else actually recommended that book to me as well! Great minds think alike! =)

      I love what you said about why you got into training! You seem so passionate about it! Keep spreading your passions and helping others. I have no doubt that you are igniting a fire within your clients as well.

  8. JennyO says:

    Inspirational “why!” I could only hope to have the courage to come back so strong. I hadn’t really thought about it this way, but having a “why” is a great motivator!

    My “WHY” is a personal need to keep myself strong an active. I turned 40 in 2011 and it was an eye opener. I want to be a strong healthy and active G-ma for whenever my kidlet has her kidlets [its a ways off but I gotta be prepared!] , I don’t want to be on meds for ailments that could be averted by healthy eating and exercise. My husband and I enjoy the out of doors, hiking and exploring. I don’t want to be to “tired” to enjoy it. My “why’s” are a lifestyle.

    • molly says:

      Jenny, congrats on the big 4-0! You look amazing and so healthy in your picture! I love that you want to be a healthy Grandma for your Grandbabies! My Grandmother lives to be 96 and she used to walk 10K races until she was 89 and fell and broke her hip. She would still walk, just not 6.2 miles! She even got to carry the Olympic Torch in 1996 as recognition for her community service and healthy lifestyle! =)

      On the other hand, her husband did not take care of himself and he spent 17 years in a nursing home before he passed away. In fact, he actually moved into the nursing home before I was born.

      The contrast of how they lives their lives and what the last couple of decades of their lives looked like gave me such a powerful desire to take care of myself! I am so happy you will be the happy healthy Grandmother (eventually)!

  9. Kelli says:

    My why is simple – “me” – I spent a lot of years in co-dependent, dysfunctional relationships and five years ago I managed to finally escape that cycle and started living for me. Today I wake up 4-5 mornings a week at 4:15am and head to the gym for “me”; to be strong, to lose body fat, to look good naked but most importantly I want to live a very long time because today I truly do love my life. To prove to myself I am stronger mentally and physically every single day is awesome. I have recently started lifting heavy and I LOVE it! My mantra when I want to listen to that little whiny voice is “you are strong, fit, and capable and quitting isn’t an option.” Thanks for the inspiration Molly!

    • molly says:

      Kelli – LOVE that mantra! Might have to steal it sometime! WOW chick… you are clearly strong inside and out! I am so happy that you got out of that awful relationship and started putting yourself and your happiness and well being first. BRAVO! That’s not easy to do. I have never been in an abusive relationship but I have witnessed friends who have and it’s not as easy as it sounds to break that cycle.

      Keep kicking butt and loving life!

  10. Erin says:

    My “why”?

    Because i’m 100% worth it.

    and franky, why not? Lifting heavy has empowered me to be better in every single aspect of my life, and that’s not something i’m willing to give up anymore. For many (many) years, i thought i was good enough, but knew that greatness was inside me. Having seen what i’m capable of in the weight room (pulling 240 for 2 quick singles) after just 9 months of dedicated training has me yearning for more. i fully believe this carries over into many aspects of my life, especially my desire to be the best Audiologist (hearing and balance specialist) i can be which translates into more patients well-served. WIN WIN for all!

    • molly says:

      Yikes girl! 240 after 9 months? You are going to be a BEAST (in the best and most beautiful possible way of course! ;-D)

      And yes…it does translate into every other aspect of your life doesn’t it? I love that you have such a burning desire to be the best! It reminds me of the quote on my home page:

      “The great danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss, it’s that we aim too low and hit” –Michelangelo

      AIM HIGH BABY!

  11. Billy says:

    My “y”: I want to know what I’m made of. I want to dig down and find out what is inside of me. #selfExploration

    • molly says:

      Krish! LOVE hearing that! It gives me so much confidence that you will follow my program and be committed to getting results. Dig deep girl. You will be amazed at what’s inside when you do…

  12. Jasmin Khaira says:

    My “Why” is I want to lead a healthy lifestyle ,I want to be strong and also I want to look good and sexy but most of all I want to be a role model to my kids . I used to be petrified of lifting heavy right now I see it as challenge and I enjoy and love these challenges .Not only do I get stronger physically but also mentally.Ever since I have embarked on this journey honestly I have never loved myself more and it has increased my confidence and positivity level.Strength to Strength.

  13. Amy "almost" Statom says:

    My “WHY” ….. Well it has evolved and Kris has been with me every step of the way! At first my WHY was because I was escaping my reality. At the time a dear friend had just taken her life. I was overtraining to deal with the anxiety and because I was looking for clarity in mass chaos. You know the clarity you get in the last few minutes of a ball busting training session when the world seems to slow down and it’s just you finishing the task. When the last swing or snach seems impossible but you do it anyway! So Kris helped me build my strength from the outside in… Today I am no longer living out of my woundedness as my WHY is far more about protecting and strengthening my single largest gift of a healthy body & spirit. I could have turned to a lot of other thins for my Outlet to explain “WHY” back then. Thank you my sweet friend for helping me pick myself up and might I add my GetUp is not so shabby. XO my brother from another mother!!!;)

    • molly says:

      Amy – I didn’t know that about you my love! Wow! I am so happy you chose the outlet that you did to manage your stress and pain. Otherwise… we may never have crossed paths. I am grateful for you my dear. Keep kicking butt and let’s train SOON!

  14. Hugo says:

    I’m a 25 year old guy from the other side of the world, and it’s the people like you (amongst many that share their fitness endavours online) that remind me I am not the only one fighting the right fight.

    Honestly, though, I train for “sanity and vanity”. It gets me awake at 6AM, it gives me energy, I feel better, think better, act better, am more positive and I LOOK like that.

    Besides all that, I truly believe humans are simply not made to sit on an office chair 8+ hours a day. We are made to walk, use our bodies. Putting your body to work feels good and that is for a reason. Maybe it’s more extraordinary to NOT workout regularly.. reason enough :)

    Looking forward to more posts, just bookmarked your log.

    • molly says:

      Hugo, so glad you liked it and THANK YOU for bookmarking my blog! =)

      I totally agree! We are made to MOVE! I love that Socrates quote:

      “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” – Socrates

  15. Phillip Humphrey says:

    Terrific article. My why is because it’s something that I enjoy doing and talking about every day. I compete in Kettlebell Sport and in practicing my technique, going to seminars and competitions, I have met the most amazing people who I proudly call my friends. It keeps me focused and driven. Thanks for the great article, Molly. Nice website!

    • molly says:

      Thank you! And yes, if you find that you love training and love talking about training and it’s good for the mind, body and soul… why not do it every day?

      And yes! Some of the greatest people I have ever known in my life I have met through fitness!

  16. Steve says:

    Awesome site and stellar article Molly! My training WHY is to maintain peak health and to prove to myself daily that I can keep getting stronger both mentally and physically. This summer it will be for the abz :)

    • molly says:

      Steve, I love it! Like I mentioned above, it translates over into so many aspects of my life! My work, my relationship, my public speaking, my confidence, my financial management skills. It teaches you hard work, discipline, sacrifice… all good things.

      And yes, hawt abz FTW!

  17. Monica says:

    My why used to be because I enjoyed seeing how far I could push my body and what it could/would give in return. Now, as I approach 54, my why is that I want the rest of my life to be full. I don’t want to sit around and wonder what might have been different if I had push myself harder. Thanks for making me think about this. It truly is motivating. You’re an awesome chick!

    • molly says:

      So glad you liked it Monica! And yes, I just posted it a second ago but it applies to you too! I LOVE this quote:

      “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” – Socrates

  18. Neal J Putt says:

    I continue to workout hard so I can be like Molly and the other young strength enthusiasts who continue to inspire me. This especially holds true for the female lifters, because they did not exist when I was younger and I marvel at their accomplishments. I also have this internal drive that I cannot control and as I get older it has been proven to have its benefits (low blood pressure, healthy heart, etc.) My methods have changed as I have advanced in my years (55) to accommodate the injuries which I sustained in my young, foolhardy years. More mobility, flexibility, and body weight movements and metabolic resistance workouts do wonders. Not much real heavy stuff, anymore. I was tempted to try Bret’s sexy challenge, but talked myself out of it. It was quite a debate. Thanks for the great article, Molly. Very inspirational!

    • molly says:

      Neal, so glad you liked it! I bet it is very cool and different for you to see so many women into lifting heavy these days! Girls Gone Strong baby! =)

      You are so smart to modify your lifting to fit your needs as you mature… I see many guys still trying to hit it as hard at they did 30 years ago, but they haven’t done the mobility, flexibility, stability, and recovery work they needed to do to “earn the right” to keep lifting that way. Thanks for reading Neal!

  19. My why is because of the peace and strength injected into my spirit and the neuronal growth, neuroplasticity, pathway strengthening and hormonal balance restored to my brain. This is a wonderful article Molly and excellent progression of program design that restored high performance movement ability. Can’t say enough about the sacrifice and character of our military personnel. Kris is a Warrior – Athlete that exemplifies the higher power of human spirit. How rewarding for both of you to have undergone this journey together.
    Am certain you have read the following book as it has the motivational potential to get and keep anyone started and interested in benefits of fitness.
    Thanks for inspirational article and congratulations to both during the road home of “The Heroes Journey.”
    http://amzn.to/zY8u48

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  24. thunder says:

    Helpful info. Lucky me I discovered your web site accidentally, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

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  28. ExamsKing says:

    Thank you for putting it. I am certainly going to look for a copy.

  29. The people who access it these days are the people who wake up and look for circumstances they desire, of course, if they cannot locate them, make them.

  30. i was usually intersted i this topic and still ‘m, thanks for placing it up

  31. Arianna says:

    I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

  32. Amazing post! It’s always inspiring to see what motivates others. Here are my “why’s”:

    I want to be strong and healthy for a long, fulfilling life. I want to be active and energetic for one day raising healthy, well-adjusted children who value health and fitness as I do. I want to sleep well, feel great, have lots of energy, challenge myself, have fun, and look smokin’ hot. Working out is meditative, clears my mind, and eases stress. Eating right (for me that’s 100% vegan and mostly whole foods) keeps my energy high, my muscles fed, my skin and hair healthy, and my abs ripped.

    I want to say a big, fat, F*** YOU to the life-threatening allergic condition I have (food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis), my serious seasonal allergies, and my asthma.

    I don’t want to die early. And I don’t want to experience the horrors of diseases like cancer or heart disease.

    But most of all, I want to be an example for others who need help with their journeys to health.

  33. Jim says:

    Great way to start off.

    My why…
    I was born with no right hip or hip socket, due to my dad’s tour in Vietnam with the Australian army, and his exposure to Agent Orange. My mum also got exposure from it as the Australian Government sold it to farmers to get rid of weeds. Then at 13, I developed Schuermann’s Kyphosis, this is an aggressive form of “hunch back” which as it curves it fuses. Throw in there a removal of the duodenum, and a hip replacement at 33, I was still always athletic in school.

    As I got into my late 20′s I wanted to take care of myself again, as I had just got out of a bad marriage, hit depression, drank a bit and just hated myself. I made sure I let myself crash to below rock bottom, so that when I started again, I would be even stronger.

    Well fastforward to 38 years of age, I get told I look like I am in my late 20′s, even though I still have the kyphosis, it has actually become straighter and I am 10cm taller than I was 1 year ago. I now weigh in at 76 or 77kg. I can deadlift (which kyphosis patients generally shouldn’t do) 120kg’s as of yesterday, or 264lbs, and am proud to wear my tight shirts again!

    My other why I do this, is because I want to end up training a good section of disabled people to get off their dependancy of medication and sitting on their butts watching tv, and get them active. By working myself out 4 – 5 times a week, reading my arse off, and looking at doing strength conditioning and coaching degree next year as well as sports coaching, I want to revolutionize the way we “crips” think of ourselves, and in turn, the way you “normals” think of us. We have a lot of disabled athletes, we just need disabled trainers in the gym, to bring it down to the grassroots level.

    Oh and Molly, please tell me you are not related to John Kenneth Galbraith! His works gave me huge headaches in high school.. very horrible, nightmare like headaches!

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  37. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post!
    It’s the little changes that will make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  38. Carole says:

    I’m not always sure what my “WHY” is…. reading this article makes me realize that putting a little time and focus into defining my “whys” would probably be good motivation — instead of just staying stuck and frustrated that I can’t quite get what I want. Thanks for the blog Molly!

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