Life Lessons from 7 Years of Weightlifting

weightlifting

It’s been seven years since I’ve started the practice of weightlifting. I’ve been touching various types of training like Crossfit, bodybuilding, olympic lifting and powerlifting. I’ve tried tons of methods of training and eating. I’ve digest hundreds of articles on the internet. I’ve certainly acquired great knowledge of the field during those 7 years. Without a doubt, there was a good progression in physic and  in strength. I’m in much better shape and health than before. But most of all, I’ve gained many lessons that I can apply in my daily life. Today, I want to share those lessons I’ve learned from my seven years of weightlifting.

*Learning never stop. Often during the learning process, you’ll reach a point where you think you know enough. That is exactly what happened during my progression. I remember reading tons of materials on weightlifting from various resources, then one day I’ve come to conclusion that I didn’t have anything more to learn. I thought I was smarter than others. The problem is that I was out of new ideas. I became dogmatic about my training. I’ve also noticed a process of unlearning. The brain can’t remember everything, it needs from time to time a review of what he already know, otherwise you will forget stuff over time. I remember last year reading Built for Show, a basic bodybuilding book. I was surprised how much stuff I had forgotten simply by not reading and reviewing my notes. Then, reading Bench Press : The Science showed me totally new ideas I wasn’t even aware of.  I’ve come to conclusion that if I wasn’t among the best, I certainly had more things to learn. This idea applies to any another fields.

*Having the right resources. In anything you’ll learn, you will meet charlatans or people who don’t know what they are talking about. I’ve found that reading from the best in weightlifting is one of the most valuable thing I could do. I think of names like Eric Cressey, Jim Wendler, Lou Schuler, Bret Contreras, Mark Rippetoe and many others. Find the best in whatever you are doing and learn from them.

*Not going with the crowd. In the same vein, I’ve learned to be skeptical of what people told me or of what I’ve learned. In a gym, you’ll always meet people who think they know everything. They even try to teach other people. The worst is that they are average at best. They will often claim you the last bro science ideas and they will be dogmatic about what they do. You will be confronted to popular ideas that can be far from the best. It’s the same in boxing, in stock market investing, in cooking and I could go on for hours naming them all.

*Having a plan and sticking to it. I’ve made my biggest progression whenever I had a clear plan for my training and for my nutrition. Without a clear plan, you’re going anywhere but where you want. Imagine that you have a clear plan for learning to cook. You know wich class you’ll follow, how much you will practice every week, you have books from the best to read and you have plan progression with goals. You’ll probably make a good progression. On the hand, if you have no plan, you’ll probably won’t do much. And, by the way, you should stick to your plan. You can change it, but try it for while. There is nothing worse than juggling with different plans.

*Keeping track of progression. One of the best tools I think about is keeping a log of progression. In weightlifting it was keeping track of each exercises progression in weight and volume. In nutrition, it was more habit keeping track of different habits. I’m still amazed to see people come at the gym without anything to take notes of what they did.  Keeping a journal is another important tool. It is great to make a review of what you did good or bad from time to time. It’s the best way to know where you’re at. Philip A. Fisher words summarize this idea very well: “I have always believed that the chief difference between a fool and a wise man is that the wise man learns from his mistakes, while the fool never does“.

*Better worse than not at all. It’s better to lift weight on you worst days than not at all. I know plenty of people who will skip gym at the first sign of tiredness or stress. If you want to read a book, won’t you be closer to the end if you read 10 pages instead of 0?

*Find the key items. With time, I’ve found that nothing is equal. I mean that some things will give much greater benefits than others. I can give the examples of deadlift, bench press, overhead press and squats that are probably the exercises that will give the most rewards. In supplements, creatine and proteins will be the one that gives you the most benefits.  The problem is that we tend to focus on to many things and a lot of them aren’t that useful. It’s a simple application of Pareto 80/20.

*Don’t underestimate the obvious. In other words, if you have difficulty with progression, maybe it’s basics life needs that you aren’t respecting. Do you get enough sleep? Do you eat healthy food? Do you take much alcohol or caffeine? Is your stress to high? Those are all things that we most of time don’t look out, but they can make a huge difference on many aspects.

 *Be consistent. It is really hard to be consistent. I’ve had all the difficulty in the world to achieve that. Many things can disrupt your progression like a new work, travel, school, a new relationship and many other things. People who carry on even during these times will be reward with much greater progress over a long period. Otherwise, you can expect to have a progression in waves.

Those ideas have really help became who I am today. I apply them consistently in all the aspects of my life. You don’t only learn in books and in school, you also learn by what you do on a daily basis in your life.

Randomness of June 2014

In “randomness”, I’m posting about the interesting stuff of the last month. It can be quotes, books, articles, websites, movies or whatever I think you could find interesting.

[1] I’ve been reading Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus Notch Persson and the Game that Changed Everything. I don’t remember reading a book that fast. It was a really well written biographic book. It was a complete dive in the world of indy games. It’s also a great story of success. It will probably part of my series “On the Bookshelf”.

[2] Here is a great quote by Calvin Coolidge (president of United States from 1923-1929): “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.The quote is self-explanatory. Whatever gift or talent you have, whatever school degrees you have, it won’t get you anywhere if you are not willing to do hard work.

[3] Do you know about Examine.com? It’s an independent organization that presents research on supplements and nutrition. They have tons of references to research on their website. They just released their Stack Guides. They cover subjects like testosterone, fat loss, sleep quality, bone health, memory and much more. You can buy each of them separately or all of them for a lower price.

[4] You should listen to the Art of Manliness podcast with John Romaniello. John is a bodybuilder and the writer of Man 2.0. The podcast is touching subjects like testosterone, Joseph Campbell, hormone optimization, intermittent fasting, fitness, the definition of “alpha” and a lot more.

[5] An excellent quote by the writer Mark Twain: “I am a very old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened.” It’s easy to be stressed by many things in our daily lives. Most of those things aren’t that important. We tend to overestimate the impact of bad things on long-term. If you have a house over your head, food to eat, your family is in good health and so is yourself…probably that your other problems are not that much important. My best example…last week I’ve had problems with my cellphone. On the moment it was the end of the world. It took a matter of 10 minutes to get things in order at the cell company. One week later, I don’t even bother anymore. In three months I won’t even remember about it.

[6] I recommend two great articles by Ryan Holiday. The first is Things I Learned On the Way to 27. I relate to this article because I’ve turned 27 in June.  Here is a quote I’ve found impactful: “It doesn’t matter what age you are or how healthy you are: people die. They die unexpectedly. They die tragically. Sometimes they die violently. Never let this drift too far from your mind.” The other one is 30 Must Read Quotes From Icons of History Required To Turn Your Adversity Into Advantage. Get ready for the like of Marcus Aurelius, Churchill and Thoreau. I hope you like quotes!

[7] I’ve read 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. It’s a weightlifting program as a book. I’ve you are in interested in powerlifting or bodybuilding, it’s worth taking a look. I’m currently doing that program and it’s breath of fresh air. 

[8] I’m cheating, it’s a July article, but here is Love is Not Enough on Mark Manson blog. It’s about the idealization of love and relationships. I was surprise by the intro on John Lennon and so you will. Great stuff. 

[9] Another good quote by the humorist Louis CK:You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.” It’s true that we have so much difficulty nowadays to just spend time with ourselves. It’s like we are junkie for information or sensation. Being active non-stop. It’s not a surprise that we have so much anxiety and stress in our lives. On that note, I’m planning to read Mindfulness In Plain English.

[10] One more book that I’ve read was The Gallic Wars by Gaius Caesar. The title says everything, it’s the military campaign of Caesar in Gaul just before Rome Civil War. It’s really straightforward. Don’t expect things about the life of Caesar or the Roman army, it’s mostly a summary of the different military campaigns. It’s the only book that has been written by Caesar.