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.