I love training. Always have, always will. There is a lot of debating you will find on the internet — people arguing over set-rep schemes, powerlifting vs. Olympic lifting, periodization methods, and the list goes on and on.

But the one thing no one can debate is the incredible lessons that training alone can teach you.

When someone walks into my training facility I will know more about that person in one hour than I would in a year of hearing that person bullshit. There is no safeguard in the gym. No shit talk about how hard you work or how tough you are. You are completely exposed and you will know the truth about yourself faster than you’ve thought possible.

That’s part of the beauty of training. Throw away the science and textbooks. There are more valuable lessons to be taught through brutally hard, consistent work than any other way.

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It teaches you your limits and how to push through them. It teaches you that results and goals are accomplished only by putting in the hard work, on the good days and the bad. It teaches you the value in busting your ass when you just don’t feel like it. It teaches you that, like results, respect is earned through putting that bar on your back and going to fucking battle.

I have made some of my closest friends through training together. Working hard together and pushing each other to be better than we were before we walked through the doors. That builds trust. That builds leadership and demands respect.

belt ron

There are a lot of people out there who criticize others, who will try to blow out others candles, only to make theirs seem a little brighter. Those people have never been pushed beyond their limits or earned anything worth having. Toxic people like that serve no place in a true training facility. They would never be accepted because they would never put in the work and effort needed to come together and go to battle. So ignore those people. Trust me, once in a while you will come across them.

Henry Rollins said, “I learned that nothing comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout. I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness.”

My call to greatness. Truer words have never been spoken. If you are looking to become great at anything— sports, business, relationships, whatever—you need to go through some degree of pain. That’s why so many people settle for mediocrity. They fight that pain. They fear it, because it’s hard and takes effort. People that train hard don’t settle. We are taught that under the bar. We push for excellence with every rep, every time we walk into the gym. We go outside our comfort zones to become better.

Even when you work harder than every naysayer out there, they will still try to criticize you. They will try to diminish your efforts and your rewards. To make themselves feel better.

Never let that break you. Stay humble and greet those people with a smile. It will burn them up that much more. These people know they are afraid to work as hard as you, so they will try to justify that to themselves through criticism. Fuck ‘em.

Look at guys like The Rock, Arnold, and Sylvester Stallone. These guys have all accomplished great things. They worked their asses off, and what do they all have in common?

The iron.

And you know as well as I do that some asshole will always try to criticize them.

“Well if I had to make movies I’d be in shape, too.”

No, you wouldn’t.

“It was easy for The Rock, his dad was a pro wrestler. If my dad was a wrestler I would be where he is too.”

No, you wouldn’t.

Weak minded, lazy people like to make excuses for themselves as to why they can’t do something great. The truth is, they’re lazy and don’t want to put in the work.

ron back row

Of course some people are in much worse positions than others. Some are extremely poor, some orphaned, some face debilitating health issues. But there have been cases time and time again that highly successful people have gone up against the odds and made it to where they wanted to be. Just look at the three people I just named. Google their stories. It wasn’t easy for them, by any means.

But the life lessons of the iron were a huge part of their triumphant success. That’s the power it has. It can make a good man great through consistent hard work and effort.

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Like Ray Lewis said, “Effort is between you and you. Nobody can judge effort.”

Nobody can ever judge your effort to become great because only you know the truth. Only you know what you’re capable of. Only you know what it takes to do something great. Because you’re doing it. You are moving that bar and know what it takes to do that. You are pushing that sled when your body is shaking and all you want to do is throw in the towel. But you don’t. You push through. Because you have an iron mind. An iron will. And iron strengthens iron.

So keep putting in the work and pay no attention to the doubters. Ignore the hatred. Hard times don’t last but they will make you better if you respond correctly, if you keep going. As you keep getting better and moving on with your life, those same doubters will still be there, still hating — on you and every other successful person around them. As you continue to improve your life through strength, they will still be smoking, drinking, and eating McDonald’s.

These people will never know the true value of hard work. They will never know what it’s like to work HARD, day after day to get better. They will never know what it’s like to work so hard you vomit, just to get that bar on your back again for one last set.

The lessons that one set will teach you is more valuable than a lifetime of hating on people. And they will never know that.

But you do. You’ve already learned that, through the life lessons of the iron.

Chris Tutela is a strength and conditioning coach in Clark, New Jersey. He is the owner and operator of Tutela Training Systems, where he trains mainly athletes and some regular people. He has multiple years experience as a strength coach at the high school level as well a professionally in the private sector.