Throughout the years I’ve been involved in strength training, I’ve met and worked with some interesting people and also wasted a whole lot of money and time on a variety of products and techniques.
Looking back over it all, I have to ask myself, ” What are the most important lessons I have learned so far?”
Well, they may not be rocket science or life-altering, but I think it’s safe to say that the take-home messages includes some pretty damn good info that can benefit anyone involved in this field, regardless of their training age or level of expertise.
80 things I have learned about weight lifting
1. Nobody knows it all. Check out as many sources as you can when looking for information
2. Training to failure is a tool. Used wisely, it will do the job. Over-use will wear out its effects.
3. I could care less about how much you bench-press. It is not the end-all for determining upper body strength.
4. The weakest link is usually in the grip—fix it and you’ll find your upper body strength increasing.
5. You are what you eat. Eat crap and, in most instances, you’ll train like crap.
6. Learn how to differentiate between good pain and bad pain. If it’s a “shooting” it’s not good, but if it’s stiffness or soreness, that’s ok.
7. Cheating on your diet can be a good thing.
8. Staring at people in the gym is rude.
9. Deep tissue massage does the muscles good.
10. The quality of sleep is important.
11. An increase in effort will never make up for a lack in program-planning.
12. Everyone’s a know-it-all on the Internet, and these types don’t usually practice what they preach.
13. Good training partners are hard to come by—they’re like a rare gem. If you find one, don’t let go. They can make or break what you hope to accomplish in the gym.
14. Don’t ever become satisfied with your body because the day you become satisfied is the day you’ll stop training.
15. Expect negative criticism, but never let it get in the way of your achievement.
16. The physique you strive for involves a difficult journey; cherish the road you travel and it will make you a better person.
17. Don’t let hunger dictate what you eat. The brain is a trickster.
18. Small muscles recover faster then large muscles.
19. Squatting makes the world a better place. It teaches you about self discipline and perseverence; to keep on going when the going gets tough.
20. Not all fats are bad.
21. Beware of those who push “the newest, most exceptional” style of training. Most styles and methods are already well-known.
22. Start a food log and maintain it because you’ll learn so much from keeping one.
23. Don’t train in pain—listen to your body.
24. If it aint broke don’t fix it. In other words, if it works keep doing it until it doesn’t work anymore.
25. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
26. Too often, people focus on how much they _can_ lift, not on how much they _should_ lift.
27. There are no “one-size fits all” training programs.
28. There’s no one best way. Every method has advantages and disadvantages.
29. Don’t be close-minded. Critical thinking is a valuable tool in life which leads to unlimited progress.
30. Building an appreciable amount of muscle takes a long time—as well as patience, dedication, self-discipline and a lot of hard work.
31. A good program revolves around compound movements.
32. Size does not equal strength. Just because someone is big doesn’t mean they’re strong, and vice versa.
33. Sadly, most personal trainers don’t have half a clue about what they’re doing.
34. Cheating in an exercise equates to injury, if not immediately, then down the road.
35. Family, career, and education should always come before the pursuit of physique-related goals.
36. Don’t compare yourself to someone else; compare you to you.
37. If you think you know everything there is to know about training, nutrition and/or supplementation, you’re sadly mistaken.
38. The more you know, the less you know.
39. Training to failure using high volume works great for those who use drugs. The body can only handle so much stress and overload. If you’re a “natural” lifter, less is more
40. To be the best you need to study hard, read lots and practice what you learn.
41. Focus on the big picture, don’t sweat the small stuff.
42. Use it or lose it.
43. Always do the opposite of what a magazine says. If it says to do high volume workouts, cut your volume in half.
44. Don’t be afraid to experiment; trial and error is part of the learning process.
45. Consistency is the key to gains in strength and muscle.
46. There are no short-cuts to a great physique.
47. Nothing beats wholesome food.
48. You cannot shape a muscle; you can only make it bigger in appearance. If you’re lacking a great quad sweep, deal with it.
49. Excuses, excuses, excuses, just do it!
50. If you have a problem with your training, identify the area and fix it. Address the issue—don’t do a side-step.
51. Smaller goals need to be implemented and achieved in order for the larger goal to be accomplished.
52. Nothing can make up for the lack of proper nutrition and training.
53. Don’t get caught up with having a sensational workout every time you go to the gym. Everyone has “off” days.
54. Lifting weights solely for the purpose of bedding the opposite sex is lame.
55. The chances of you being the next Ronnie Coleman are the same as you winning the lottery. It won’t likely ever happen.
56. Respect your elders—listen and learn—even if you don’t agree with them.
57. Training hard in the gym will not make up for a poor nutritional intake.
58. Train smart, not hard.
59. Genetics play a role in training, however the majority that use this excuse aren’t even close to their genetic limit.
60. If someone says,” it’s the best,” chances are they’re trying to sell you something.
61. Keep up-to-date with scientific studies, but don’t follow them blindly.
62. Always pursue good form and technique.
63. Machines are not evil.
64. White sugar should be outlawed.
65. Size doesn’t equate with knowledge. The biggest guy in the gym doesn’t always know what he’s talking about.
66. Use periodization. It works.
67. Squats are not bad for the knees if you have healthy knee joints.
68. Isolation exercises should play a supporting role in a program.
69. Supplements are meant to be used in conjunction with a proper eating program, not as substitutes for good food.
70. You cannot isolate a muscle. You can place more emphasis on a particular area, but you cannot selectively isolate a muscle.
71. Overtraining doesn’t occur after a couple of sessions. It takes time to build up.
72. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. But if you’re going to voice one, make sure you can back it up.
73. Shut up and listen. Sometimes being quiet, when you don’t want to be, is the best thing.
74. Every method has its place. It’s just a matter of knowing when and where to place it in a trainee’s program.
75. You cannot “shock” a muscle.
76. Always strive for perfection. You won’t reach it, but the attempt itself produces continual results
77. Read every training-related piece of information you can get your hands on.
79. Treat the abdominal muscle like any other; work it hard.
80. Be kind, courteous, helpful and respectful to everyone around you. You are the missionaries of iron.
I’m sure I’ve missed hundreds of points, but these are the lessons I’ve learned so far. Some may be boring old lines you’ve heard before and others are a bit off the wall. They are, nonetheless, unique to my adventure in a world full of dumbbells, weight plates and barbells. As I advance in my lifts and gain new muscle, I’ll continue to be schooled, and hopefully, I’ll be back sometime with more tidbits.
Written by Maki Riddington
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