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Lessons Learned On The Quest To Be - Bigger Stronger Leaner

I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread about the lessons us every day gym rats have learned over the years. It can be anything from methodologies, to motivation, to anything that might be beneficial for others to read. We can also debate the lessons and maybe learn even more.

Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned:

1.) A video camera is the best non-lifting tool to have in your tool bag. Videotaping lifts is the best way to assess your form and progress EVEN if you have a training partner. There is nothing more humbling and motivating at the same time than seeing yourself squat well above parallel.

2.) Set up on max effort/PR lifts is VERY important. For me missed lifts are almost always due to sloppy setup, not a lack of strength.

3.) CONSISTANCY is king for most non-competitive lifters. IMO consistency is more important than a proper training template (as long as there is some plan).

4.) Worrying about training philosophy, style, templates is nowhere near as important, in the beginning years, as consistency and intensity.

5.) If you lift heavy and/or you get in a lot of volume, you better SLEEP a lot. If you have trouble sleeping invest time & money to figure out how to sleep better.

6.) Don’t program jump. If you choose a program sticks with it for at least 6 weeks.

7.) Supplements are only as good as the work you put in at the gym and the food you consume. If you eat 1200 calories a day and you need 2500 to grow, adding a protein shake and fish oil isn’t going to do a whole heck of a lot.

8.) Less is more. IMO, 3-4 exercises at most per workout.

9.) BW exercises are often neglected and that’s a mistake. Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping, etc… Are all very helpful for us every day gym rats. If you haven’t done push-ups or pull-ups in a few years, give it a shot, and be humbled.

Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread about the lessons us every day gym rats have learned over the years. It can be anything from methodologies, to motivation, to anything that might be beneficial for others to read. We can also debate the lessons and maybe learn even more.

Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned:

1.) A video camera is the best non-lifting tool to have in your tool bag. Videotaping lifts is the best way to assess your form and progress EVEN if you have a training partner. There is nothing more humbling and motivating at the same time than seeing yourself squat well above parallel.

2.) Set up on max effort/PR lifts is VERY important. For me missed lifts are almost always due to sloppy setup, not a lack of strength.

3.) CONSISTANCY is king for most non-competitive lifters. IMO consistency is more important than a proper training template (as long as there is some plan).

4.) Worrying about training philosophy, style, templates is nowhere near as important, in the beginning years, as consistency and intensity.

5.) If you lift heavy and/or you get in a lot of volume, you better SLEEP a lot. If you have trouble sleeping invest time & money to figure out how to sleep better.

6.) Don’t program jump. If you choose a program sticks with it for at least 6 weeks.

7.) Supplements are only as good as the work you put in at the gym and the food you consume. If you eat 1200 calories a day and you need 2500 to grow, adding a protein shake and fish oil isn’t going to do a whole heck of a lot.

8.) Less is more. IMO, 3-4 exercises at most per workout.

9.) BW exercises are often neglected and that’s a mistake. Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping, etc… Are all very helpful for us every day gym rats. If you haven’t done push-ups or pull-ups in a few years, give it a shot, and be humbled.

Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say.
[/quote]

Excellent post, I found the exact same things. To me no.1, 2, 3 and 8 are the most important.

#6 is something I always try to remind myself. Just switch the word ‘program’ for ‘method’.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread about the lessons us every day gym rats have learned over the years. It can be anything from methodologies, to motivation, to anything that might be beneficial for others to read. We can also debate the lessons and maybe learn even more.

Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned:

1.) A video camera is the best non-lifting tool to have in your tool bag. Videotaping lifts is the best way to assess your form and progress EVEN if you have a training partner. There is nothing more humbling and motivating at the same time than seeing yourself squat well above parallel.

2.) Set up on max effort/PR lifts is VERY important. For me missed lifts are almost always due to sloppy setup, not a lack of strength.

3.) CONSISTANCY is king for most non-competitive lifters. IMO consistency is more important than a proper training template (as long as there is some plan).

4.) Worrying about training philosophy, style, templates is nowhere near as important, in the beginning years, as consistency and intensity.

5.) If you lift heavy and/or you get in a lot of volume, you better SLEEP a lot. If you have trouble sleeping invest time & money to figure out how to sleep better.

6.) Don’t program jump. If you choose a program sticks with it for at least 6 weeks.

7.) Supplements are only as good as the work you put in at the gym and the food you consume. If you eat 1200 calories a day and you need 2500 to grow, adding a protein shake and fish oil isn’t going to do a whole heck of a lot.

8.) Less is more. IMO, 3-4 exercises at most per workout.

9.) BW exercises are often neglected and that’s a mistake. Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping, etc… Are all very helpful for us every day gym rats. If you haven’t done push-ups or pull-ups in a few years, give it a shot, and be humbled.

Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say.
[/quote]

Excellent post, I found the exact same things. To me no.1, 2, 3 and 8 are the most important.[/quote]

Thanks CT!

I’m hoping to gain insight into how people train. Maybe someones experience/perspective is something I’ve never thought of or read and it’s what will work best for me.

[quote]coolusername wrote:
#6 is something I always try to remind myself. Just switch the word ‘program’ for ‘method’.[/quote]

Absolutely, it’s very enticing to swap methods.

The counter to that is, you need to be honest with yourself and evaluate after you’ve used a certain method for a while. If you haven’t gained the way you should have is it A.) you, or B.) the program just isn’t for you. Then adjust accordingly.

Number 8 was and still is a challenge at times.Always felt like i had to crawl out of the gym but CT`s layering system has helped me with this.It blends pretty much every part of training that i love in each session.Good list for sure though thanks for the reminder.

I can relate to no. 6.
For some reason I need to be stimulated and love to start a new split or new set of exercises etc… In the past I’ve been excited for the first few weeks then start to look around at what else I can change to get better results lol.

I really believe to get good results you need to stick to a program for at least 6-8 weeks. At least I find that’s what has worked for me. Program hopping although kept me stimulated probably didn’t do much in the way of results.

Lately I’ve been training with Accumulation and Intensification blocks and I love it. Keeps me stimulated and most importantly to a lifter my age (almost 44) keeps me injury free.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

  1. Fix your recovery. If you’re not married and claim to be serious about lifting, get your fucking sleep.

  2. mega dosing vitamins or taking a super vitamin like animal pak DOES make a difference

  3. For complete newbies: sticking to a program is key, but experimentation is needed as well. Especially if you’re not athletically inclined you will have to practice a lot of different movements, try to feel the muscles, and see what works for you.

  4. Think of the long-term and not the immediate…even if an idea ends up being a mistake, the sum of those experiences will prove valuable down the road.

  5. also experiment in nutrition and find what works best for your tongue, wallet, body, and pace of lifestyle.

The fear of being catabolic is mostly irrational. If you are stressing our about missing one of your 2 hour feedings or how much leg mass you are going to lose going for a jog, the stress is probably more damaging than the event.

Fear of losing your body is a terrible reason to avoid using it.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
Fear of losing your body is a terrible reason to avoid using it.
[/quote]

I like this.

Think of your body like a bathtub.

The workouts (stress) is like the water that comes in, and recovery is the drain.

You can only make the tub so big until the water overflows; you gotta make the drain bigger at come point.

^ best advice I could get.

Going back to the gym, after several years, I realised that mental intensity - explosive contractions while maintaining muscle tension on every rep - is the hardest part of weightlifting I’m relearning. Sometimes I don’t fully “switch on” before a set and this can make a difference of several reps. I have a new appreciation for how much multiple years of experience matters in this sport as this kind of intensity takes a damn long time to acquire.

This is also why I feel new lifters should train with or at least spend time observing the older, bigger guys at the gym.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread about the lessons us every day gym rats have learned over the years. It can be anything from methodologies, to motivation, to anything that might be beneficial for others to read. We can also debate the lessons and maybe learn even more.

Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned:

1.) A video camera is the best non-lifting tool to have in your tool bag. Videotaping lifts is the best way to assess your form and progress EVEN if you have a training partner. There is nothing more humbling and motivating at the same time than seeing yourself squat well above parallel.

2.) Set up on max effort/PR lifts is VERY important. For me missed lifts are almost always due to sloppy setup, not a lack of strength.

3.) CONSISTANCY is king for most non-competitive lifters. IMO consistency is more important than a proper training template (as long as there is some plan).

4.) Worrying about training philosophy, style, templates is nowhere near as important, in the beginning years, as consistency and intensity.

5.) If you lift heavy and/or you get in a lot of volume, you better SLEEP a lot. If you have trouble sleeping invest time & money to figure out how to sleep better.

6.) Don’t program jump. If you choose a program sticks with it for at least 6 weeks.

7.) Supplements are only as good as the work you put in at the gym and the food you consume. If you eat 1200 calories a day and you need 2500 to grow, adding a protein shake and fish oil isn’t going to do a whole heck of a lot.

8.) Less is more. IMO, 3-4 exercises at most per workout.

9.) BW exercises are often neglected and that’s a mistake. Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping, etc… Are all very helpful for us every day gym rats. If you haven’t done push-ups or pull-ups in a few years, give it a shot, and be humbled.

Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say.
[/quote]

#9 for sure. Dips and pullups are just badass imo. Also I used to have imbalances that messed up my squat form until I tried perfecting king deadlifts. They’re also great because they can be trained higher frequency

I would even add to that #10 for me is Don’t be afraid of overtraining. For me, when I think I’ve been pushing myself too hard lately I try stepping up my caloric intake and see how I feel at the end of the week. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on the opportunity to deload or take a full break. I’ve found that I can do 2 upper and 2 lower days a week, and on top of that do high volume bw work in a separate session everyday (50ish chins/100ish pushups) without falling behind. It took some time gradually easing into it but the bw stuff is low intensity, great practice for other compound lifts, and feels good. The body can handle a lot it just needs more food, not less work

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Going back to the gym, after several years, I realised that mental intensity - explosive contractions while maintaining muscle tension on every rep - is the hardest part of weightlifting I’m relearning. Sometimes I don’t fully “switch on” before a set and this can make a difference of several reps. I have a new appreciation for how much multiple years of experience matters in this sport as this kind of intensity takes a damn long time to acquire.

This is also why I feel new lifters should train with or at least spend time observing the older, bigger guys at the gym.[/quote]

Can you go more in depth about this? I feel like I’m starting to get this, but not quite there yet.

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:

#9 for sure. Dips and pullups are just badass imo. Also I used to have imbalances that messed up my squat form until I tried perfecting king deadlifts. They’re also great because they can be trained higher frequency

I would even add to that #10 for me is Don’t be afraid of overtraining. For me, when I think I’ve been pushing myself too hard lately I try stepping up my caloric intake and see how I feel at the end of the week. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on the opportunity to deload or take a full break. I’ve found that I can do 2 upper and 2 lower days a week, and on top of that do high volume bw work in a separate session everyday (50ish chins/100ish pushups) without falling behind. It took some time gradually easing into it but the bw stuff is low intensity, great practice for other compound lifts, and feels good. The body can handle a lot it just needs more food, not less work[/quote]

Agree on the overtraining, I think for me anyway the first week or two when adding volumne to a routine makes me feel sluggish (like I’m overtrained), but once my body adjusts the added volumne is works out well.

What is a King Deadlift?

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:

#9 for sure. Dips and pullups are just badass imo. Also I used to have imbalances that messed up my squat form until I tried perfecting king deadlifts. They’re also great because they can be trained higher frequency

I would even add to that #10 for me is Don’t be afraid of overtraining. For me, when I think I’ve been pushing myself too hard lately I try stepping up my caloric intake and see how I feel at the end of the week. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on the opportunity to deload or take a full break. I’ve found that I can do 2 upper and 2 lower days a week, and on top of that do high volume bw work in a separate session everyday (50ish chins/100ish pushups) without falling behind. It took some time gradually easing into it but the bw stuff is low intensity, great practice for other compound lifts, and feels good. The body can handle a lot it just needs more food, not less work[/quote]

Agree on the overtraining, I think for me anyway the first week or two when adding volumne to a routine makes me feel sluggish (like I’m overtrained), but once my body adjusts the added volumne is works out well.

What is a King Deadlift? [/quote]
A king deadlift is a one legged bodyweight romanian deadlift. You stand on one leg and hip hinge back letting your torso pitch forward as much as is comfortable (this helps you feel the hamstrings in the movement). The ideal rep would get your hanging knee to brush the floor. They will really fry your quads too though, plus they’re a lot more comfortable than pistol squats (I really can’t even do pistols, I fall over after doing 3 or 4). Ian King invented them, he might have an article about them somewhere. They’re awesome though!

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Going back to the gym, after several years, I realised that mental intensity - explosive contractions while maintaining muscle tension on every rep - is the hardest part of weightlifting I’m relearning. Sometimes I don’t fully “switch on” before a set and this can make a difference of several reps. I have a new appreciation for how much multiple years of experience matters in this sport as this kind of intensity takes a damn long time to acquire.

This is also why I feel new lifters should train with or at least spend time observing the older, bigger guys at the gym.[/quote]

Can you go more in depth about this? I feel like I’m starting to get this, but not quite there yet. [/quote]

There’s a lot of aspects to this idea. Like maintaining tension when lowering the weight: seems like some guys just go dead and bounce the bar against their bodies to segue into the next rep.
Or maintaining stability: doing any standing lift, you have to “pack” any joint that doesn’t move. Like in squats you pack your neck, shoulder, back and abs, standing overhead presses you brace your abs and back and squeeze your glutes and quads to lock your legs etc. Basically lock into good posture under a load

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:

#9 for sure. Dips and pullups are just badass imo. Also I used to have imbalances that messed up my squat form until I tried perfecting king deadlifts. They’re also great because they can be trained higher frequency

I would even add to that #10 for me is Don’t be afraid of overtraining. For me, when I think I’ve been pushing myself too hard lately I try stepping up my caloric intake and see how I feel at the end of the week. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on the opportunity to deload or take a full break. I’ve found that I can do 2 upper and 2 lower days a week, and on top of that do high volume bw work in a separate session everyday (50ish chins/100ish pushups) without falling behind. It took some time gradually easing into it but the bw stuff is low intensity, great practice for other compound lifts, and feels good. The body can handle a lot it just needs more food, not less work[/quote]

Agree on the overtraining, I think for me anyway the first week or two when adding volumne to a routine makes me feel sluggish (like I’m overtrained), but once my body adjusts the added volumne is works out well.

What is a King Deadlift? [/quote]
A king deadlift is a one legged bodyweight romanian deadlift. You stand on one leg and hip hinge back letting your torso pitch forward as much as is comfortable (this helps you feel the hamstrings in the movement). The ideal rep would get your hanging knee to brush the floor. They will really fry your quads too though, plus they’re a lot more comfortable than pistol squats (I really can’t even do pistols, I fall over after doing 3 or 4). Ian King invented them, he might have an article about them somewhere. They’re awesome though![/quote]

Oh okay, gotcha.

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Going back to the gym, after several years, I realised that mental intensity - explosive contractions while maintaining muscle tension on every rep - is the hardest part of weightlifting I’m relearning. Sometimes I don’t fully “switch on” before a set and this can make a difference of several reps. I have a new appreciation for how much multiple years of experience matters in this sport as this kind of intensity takes a damn long time to acquire.

This is also why I feel new lifters should train with or at least spend time observing the older, bigger guys at the gym.[/quote]

Can you go more in depth about this? I feel like I’m starting to get this, but not quite there yet. [/quote]

There’s a lot of aspects to this idea. Like maintaining tension when lowering the weight: seems like some guys just go dead and bounce the bar against their bodies to segue into the next rep.
Or maintaining stability: doing any standing lift, you have to “pack” any joint that doesn’t move. Like in squats you pack your neck, shoulder, back and abs, standing overhead presses you brace your abs and back and squeeze your glutes and quads to lock your legs etc. Basically lock into good posture under a load
[/quote]

Gotcha, it’s one of those aspects of lifting that I need to improve on and have really seen a benefit from when I do apply it.