We all know that exercise is one of the best things that we can do for our bodies. It can lead to fantastic physical changes (through reductions in fat mass and increases in muscle mass), while also resulting in significant increases in health (including reduced risk of metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease).
Hell, exercise has even been shown to lead to large improvements in mental health.
But one factor that is rarely considered is the impact that exercise can increase your confidence.
You see, the act of exercising in itself can cause a huge rush of endorphins into the bloodstream. This can lead to improved mental clarity, reduced feelings of stress, and increased sensations of happiness and content – all of which can greatly increase our sense of confidence in the short term
Moreover, the process of improving our own body through hard work and dedication is incredibly rewarding – and in doing so we can greatly improve both our confidence and self-belief.
Within this, our exercise selection can actually play an important role in how we feel both during and after exercise – some of which are much more beneficial than others.
This leads us nicely into the topic of today’s post! In this article I will outline seven key exercises that you can use to boost your confidence!
Whether you choose the humble goblet squat, or the more demanding barbell back squat, it really doesn’t matter – the squat is a fantastic exercise that allows us to build strength and power throughout the entire body (with special mention to the core and the legs), and subsequently requires both a huge amount of energy to complete, along with a whole lot of effort.
Due to the demand the squat places on the body, it causes a huge increase in hormone secretion, which can leave us feeling good and full of confidence.
And even more so, what’s more confidence-boosting than standing up tall and strong with a huge amount of weight on your back (hint: not much).
In a similar fashion to the squat, the deadlift effectively trains muscles throughout the entire body, creating both a huge metabolic demand and a massive energy expenditure. This has the capacity to cause large improvements in body composition (increasing muscle mass and reducing fat mass), leading to improved confidence and self-esteem in the long term.
Moreover, the deadlift is an extremely challenging lift.
It essentially requires us to lift some heavy-ass weight from a dead stop all the way up to waist height. This action in itself is incredibly satisfying.
And breaking a Deadlift PR?
Talk about confidence-boosting!
Pressing movements are often saved for both powerlifters and Olympic lifters – which is a shame because to complete an overhead press successfully you require high levels of neuromuscular coordination in combination with some serious core strength.
With this in mind, training the overhead press can lead to well-developed abdominal musculature, and well-defined arms and shoulders – not to mention that the act of throwing a heavyweight over your head is incredibly satisfying in itself.
This movement demonstrates total body strength like no other, and by increasing your competence at the overhead press you will see improved confidence in your own physical capacity and training ability.
Ah the humble chin-up, oh how do I love you…
The chin-up is an extremely impressive movement (that is often butchered on the regular) that requires total control over one’s body. It requires a strong core to stabilize the spine (eliminating any excessive movement through the trunk), while also demanding strength and control throughout the entire upper body.
It can take some people months of training to master a single chin-up (when done with perfect form) – and it is because of this reason that chin-ups are so satisfying.
Because the completion of a single chin-up is a clear demonstration of the hard work you have put into your training over a number of months, they are incredibly satisfying. This satisfaction and demonstration of pure upper body strength is incredibly rewarding and confidence-boosting.
While the power clean is often reserved for athletes and Olympic lifters, it does not mean it should be avoided.
The power clean as a movement is quite complex – which requires the integration of both the upper and lower body musculature. With this in mind, the power clean is a fantastic way to develop whole-body strength and explosive power, while also promoting the muscular development of the entire body.
The movement itself requires one to move a loaded barbell from the floor all the way up onto their shoulders, in one strong, and fluid, movement.
As such, the successful completion of this movement builds confidence in one’s ability – and by mastering the movement – well-achieving confidence is almost an understatement.
Dumbbell Push Press
The dumbbell push press is an incredible exercise that requires explosive power of the hips, a high level of trunk stability, and overhead pressing strength – all packaged into one extremely demanding movement.
Mastering this movement requires a huge amount of coordination, and the explosive power necessary to complete the movement makes it one the really boosts confidence and self-belief.
Just keep your ego at the door with this one because it is a challenge!
Sprinting, one of my favorite ways to flame fat off and vaporize some calories. People tend to consider sprinting a sport when it is in fact (in my opinion) actually an exercise. The act of sprinting requires a huge amount of work to be performed by every single muscle in the entire body.
It also demonstrates muscle strength, muscle power, motor coordination, and complete mastery over the body. As such, it is a fantastic exercise to boost confidence and develop your physical capacity in its entirety.
Simply performing five 50 yard sprints at the start of your workout is a great way to improve athletic strength and power, while also getting the endorphins flowing freely through your body, preparing you both mentally and physically for the coming workout.
Sprinting is incredibly rewarding when it comes to confidence. Flying past people who are ‘just jogging’ is a reward itself. Let alone all the calories and fat that you burn while doing so.
I love to catch my breath after I ran 100 meters as fast as I could while the sweat drips from my body. It makes you feel like you gave it your all, which in sport, is the biggest reward you can get.
This feeling of being on the edge and giving your all itself can increase your confidence massively.
Example Confidence Boosting Full Body Workout
Taking all these movements into consideration, we can build a serious workout that will not only help build strength and power, but it will also promote the development of new muscle tissue, strip fat from your body, and have you leaving the gym feeling on top of the world!
Self-Directed Warm-up: 10 minutes
Exercise 1: 50 Yard Sprints (build up gradually) 5 sprints
Exercise 2: Power Clean 4 x 6
Exercise 3: Barbell Back Squat 3×8
Exercise 4: Chin Ups (Band assisted if need be) 3×10
Exercise 5: Deadlift 3×6
Exercise 6: Overhead press 3×12
Exercise 7: Dumbbell Push Press 4×10
With this example, ‘A’ exercises and ‘B’ exercises are performed in a superset to save time and increase the amount of work done per session. So try to do these
And a word for the wise – prepare to WORK during this workout – it will not be easy, but it will be rewarding!
Exercise has the capacity to not only improve health and wellbeing, it can also play a huge role in improving confidence. In conjunction with the physical changes associated with exercise, certain exercises themselves can positively impact confidence and self-esteem in a very big way.
The seven exercises in this article represent the echelon of confidence-boosting exercises, due to both their unique and demanding stimuli.
Try them out today and reap the rewards.
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Callaghan, Patrick. “Exercise: a neglected intervention in mental health care?.” Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing 11.4 (2004): 476-483. Viewed at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2004.00751.x/full
Fox, Kenneth R. “Self-esteem, self-perceptions and exercise.” International journal of sport psychology (2000). Viewed at: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2000-16136-006
McCaulley, Grant O., et al. “Acute hormonal and neuromuscular responses to hypertrophy, strength and power type resistance exercise.” European journal of applied physiology 105.5 (2009): 695-704. Viewed at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-008-0951-z
Demmy James is a fitness buff who loves inspiring people to reach their health and fitness goals. He is also a content contributor for Muscle & Strength.