T Nation

Things I Have Learned


Often times we find things out in life when it is to late to do anything about it. On occasion I try to pass along things that I have learned so that others might gain from my own mistakes.

The following is a a short list (short, what do you call long?) of things that I have learned along the way. Some of them are pretty basic, others may surprise you. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.


There are many things to focus on if you are going to have a successful life. Strength training is a great hobby. You look better, get to feel good about yourself and, if you are smart, generally improve your over all health. However, if it starts to consume your life you are headed in the wrong direction!

In all you do make sure that you have balance! learn to budget your time wisely. Time is all you have! If you spend to much of it trying to make your biceps bigger you miss things that are a whole lot more important than big biceps. Like time with your family, friends, girlfriend (boyfriend). Time connecting to others. Make sure the entire "Training experience" has a prominent position in your life, but don't make it your master, make it your slave.

Always Demonstrate Your Appreciation

How many times has someone helped us when they didn't have to? You give them a "thanks" and move on from there. How much better would it be to take a few minutes to drop them a written note? It costs nothing and really demonstrates how much you appreciated their kind act.

To many times in life we take for granted the kind deeds performed for us by our loved ones. Does your wife, or girlfriend make you dinner each night? Do you ever take the time to show them how much you appreciate it? Again, a nice thank you note, or card can demonstrate your appreciation. One red rose will also demonstrate your love for their kindness.

You Just Might Be Wrong

Ever argue a point and feel you are absolutely correct? We all do it, (no one is more guilty than I am). On occasion we need to stop and think, what if I'm wrong? Many things that I knew I was right about 20 years ago, I don't feel so strongly about now. Was I right then, or am I right now?

You may know for a fact that President Bush lied to the American people. You may know without a doubt that John Kerry didn't deserve the medals he won, and threw most of them away. You may be absolutely certain that there is no God. That there is only one way to do your favorite exercise. But....what if you are wrong?

What does all this mean? It simply means that giving the other person the benefit of the doubt will not only make you seem more amiable, but also put the other person in a more open frame of mind. They might even start to think that they could be wrong.

You Generally Get Back What You Put Forth.

Those who post horror stories about relationships often only tell one side. If we cheat on our significant other, it's only a matter of time before he or she is cheating on us, or some other disasterous occurrence takes place. Life is a circle, if you think you can escape the consequence of your poor behavior indefinitely, you are quite mistaken!

Think it's fun to have sex with someone else's wife, or girlfriend? At some point you will pay the price for your actions. It might not even seem related in any way to your original offense, but it will happen. The Buddists call this "karma." Christianity says "you reap what you sow." Every great religion on earth has a name for it. I simply call it the "Circle Theory."

I have lived long enough to actually see this take place over a given period of time. It's actually cosmic justice. Those who "take" when they do not have a right to do so are punished sooner or later. Those who spread violence and discord for their own amusement, or personal gain not only fail in the end, but also pay a hefty price for their behavior!

Have you been ignoring this one? Time to change. It's only a matter of time before there will be pay back in your life!

Do What Works For You (know your attributes)

You read lots of good training advice on this site. My question is this, what works for you? I have repeatedly stated that Bench Pressing causes shoulder injuries. I feel that this is true because of my own experience, and the experience of many whom I have trained with through the years. However, it might not be dangerous for you. You may have the sort of body (shorter arms, barrel chest) that will not harm your shoulders when you bench.

The same can be stated in other aspects of life. You need to be able to expand your strengths! Matters not if that particular technique or approach doesn't work for others. If it works for you, do that particular thing until it doesn't work any longer. Forget about what the latest guru claims. First, you need to know yourself. Your body and your mind. Take an inventory of your own strenght and weaknesses. Make a list of what has worked for you in the past.

Often what separates successful people from those who are not so successful is that the successful people know what they are good at and continue to do it, over and over!

Hate Is not A Bad Thing

I bet I really got your attention on this one! To many times people try to win their argument by name calling. What is nastier than to be called a "hater." However, the real issue is it's what you hate that matters!

For example, is it wrong to hate child abuse, Laziness, Ignorance or the act of bullyism? No! In fact, there is a long list of such things that we should all hate. If there were less tolerance for these things it would be a better world!

Learn to tolerate people, but feel free to hate a despicable act!

You Always Have Something To Learn

I thought I was a pretty sharp guy when it came to nutrition. That is until I found this site! I ate better than most, I steered clear of junk food and things that harmed the body. But, I had no idea of the ways their were to manipulate the body, through nutrition to new highs. The staff of T-mag and people like Tampa Terry, Phill, Ptdr and many others have really opened my eyes to new nutritional ideas.

Are you trying to learn something each day, or do you already think that you are an expert? People should never stop learning. Currently my daughter is trying to teach me to play the piano (it's not a pretty thing, but education does not have to be pretty). Expand your mind along with your body!

Help Someone Today

Most of you are young and strong right now. That's a good thing, but you can count on this, it won't last! 100 years from this very day everyone who is reading these words will be dead. Okay, not exactly a pep talk huh? My point on this last one is to hopefully provoke you into asking yourself some questions: What am I going to leave behind? It's never to early to think about what you stand for.

What will your legacy be? Will it be one where you gave back to your fellow man, or one where you tried to take as much as you could? Not only will the latter lead you to an unhappy life, it will also be a wasted life!

To many times we claim that we enjoy helping others. Do you really? Do you help someone every day? Are you the reason that someone smiled and felt good about themselves, or are you the reason that they are feeling stress and thinking negative thoughts?

There are countless acts of kindness that you can perform each day. Something as simple as getting the mail for an elderly neighbor. Letting someone go ahead of you at a four way stop. Smiling at someone who probably does not get to many smiles from strangers. Holding the door open at a store for someone who has their hands full. These are all simple acts of kindness that cost you practically nothing in time, and cost even less in dollars and cents.

Don't forget the larger acts either. You can give of your time, or money. There are countless charites and religious organizations that always need a helping hand. Either way, you are making a difference for the better. Not only in the lives of the people whom you have helped, but in your own as well.

You raise your own self esteem when you stop to help someone else. You are telling yourself repeatedly that you are a good person. One who cares for others. This will in turn help you to be more successful in your own life. You can never help others without helping yourself!

I want to thank those of you who have actually spent the time to read this. there is much more that I would love to write, but I will leave it for another time (I can hear the sigh of relief form you guys). I welcome all constructive comments.


Very sound wisdom, for some of us hardheads it takes a lot of mistakes to learn those lessons!


Once again, an excellent post from ZEB. This should have all of us scratching our heads and looking within ourselves.

ZEB, thanks for taking the time to type this.


While I agree with most of what you said, I cannot agree with your position on hate.

Hate is always a bad thing. Hate has never brought about anything good.

Hate will always bring out the worst in individuals. We should focus on justice and forgiveness long before we turn towards hate to guide our actions.

"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." --1 John iii. 15

I am not religious btw, but this is one area in which I believe that we can all learn something from the Bible.


Well done! I hope everyone takes the time to read this.


Ironic how much we think alike Zeb, despite our differences.


chrisr --

I think you're misinterpreting Zeb on the Hate. Hate in the absract is just an emotion. Personally, I don't think one should focus on it all the time, but in moderation I think it can be a powerful motivating force for good.

Basically, hate is a vector quantity, and it's the direction that makes it bad or good (separate from the amount and duration, which are separate considerations). Hate directed at people is probably bad -- which I think is your position. However, one can hate actions, situations: for example, one can hate cruelty and barbarism -- and this can be a good thing.


Some pretty good generalisms youve got there.

I have to amend your "showing appreciation" outlook. I "hate" getting letters, I hate getting cards, I hate reading someones emotions on anything. Your view seems to be a positive one, but I hate when someone has to use the written word to relay a message to someone. If you have something to say to me, then say it, don't write it. Writing it is only another shield to seperate yourself from the issue. If you feel strongly enough about something then it should not be difficult to personally say what you should. Sure write it down and read it to me in person, but dont make me read it.


hate is a vector- that is profound, BB. I never thought of it like that....


Good post Zeb, a thought provoking read, one that will invoke action as well as just thought


Well put, BB


Zeb, I couldn't agree with you more.

I would just like to add to this what I've learned, so far, in my 21, almost 22 years of life.

For all of you young men and ladies out there around my age, I hope you all realize that the decisions you make at this point in your life are going to shape who and what you're going to be for the rest of your lives. I hope you also realize that the habits you form now will also follow you to your death bed.

All the stress we're going through right now from an exam one day, to a final the next, to a career decision a few years later, these decisions have huge ramifications on our future. Whether you spend the night before the test getting wasted or studying will follow you to your adulthood, when you could either stay up late the night before your anniversary and get wasted, or go to bed early and wake up and surprise your wife with breakfast in bed or a sensual sponge bath.

These are all decisions that you must make and depending upon which decisions you make will go a long way in molding the man or woman you will be. I'm sure mom and dad have long told you what I'm saying now, but it can't be more truthful.

Our age-group is going to be in trouble when we are counted on to lead this countr. Us leaders need to step forward and direct all these unguided kids. We have our priorities all wrong now. We have put playtime ahead of worktime. Going back to ZEB's original post, we must all know how to balance work and play.

Our age-group has a tremendous amount of potential, let's not look back on our lives and make up excuses as to why we didn't become the people we COULD have become.


Sure wish I'd listened to that bench press advice...shoulder's a hurtin'!


Nobody has come to the end of their life and said "I wish I would have worked more"

They always say "I wish I spent more time with my Kids/family"


Great post zeb as always. But A great addition by T-Matt. U hit our generation right on the money. I live in a town where other teens are rich, rude, have no respect for older people, and NEVER smile. I feel great doing small things like: holding a door open, cause its totally unexpected. Great Thread.


Definitely a good post, ZEB. Especially the part about taking time to be kind to people. Nothin' cleans out the cobwebs in your soul like a little selflessness.

The only thing I don't agree with is your circle theory. I mean, anybody who sticks around long enough is going to have things both good and bad happen to them. Just because someone does something bad one day doen't mean that it's going to come back and bite him on the ass later in some other way. On the other hand, to use your example -- a cheater WILL eventually through dumb luck or clumsiness get caught and pay the consequences somehow... but this isn't because of some cosmic policeman busting your ass, it's because the behavior inherently carries a risk which will eventually come to fruition. It's like flipping a coin, ya know? If you flip the coin enough, sooner or later it'll come up tails.

Anyway ZEB, thanks again for sharing. I always like to read your posts -- even if we don't agree on things sometimes, I still have great respect for you.



I see what you are saying and I guess I did misunderstand Zeb.

But you do have to realize that most people don't divorce actions and individuals. If you say you hate laziness, then more often than not you hate lazy people; its human nature.

This is only my personal belief, but I would kill someone before I would hate them.


The biggest thing I have learned is that I didn't know a damn thing about training and lifting until I made a conscious effort to learn something. I feel hundreds of times more knowledgable now and I learn more each day.

I also learned that the people that talk and brag the most in the gym, are usually the dumbest people in there and have the least valuable things to say. On the other hand that monster in the power rack minding his own business is probably a walking encyclopedia, or at the very least, he knows a thing or two about real lifting. And he'd probably be more than happy to talk to you and help you out.



Hating what is wrong or improper is never a bad thing. Hating people is always a bad thing.

Right Side Up,

What part of your shoulder has pain?


I've been told it's my AC joint. It hurts slightly at various points when I move it around and it's also tender to the touch.

I feel it most, however, when I try to bench a barbell - a few days ago I couldn't bring 95 lbs. more than 1/2 way down.

I was doing rotator work and light shoulder work hoping to help it recover quicker, but I think I was just aggravating it worse. I've decided to stay out of the gym until finals are over and assess how I feel then.