Today is my 35th birthday.
Considering I started taking weight training seriously at the age of 15, that makes it 20 years of training consistently.
Just writing that makes me feel old. But with experience comes wisdom, so here are five training lessons I've learned over the years:
1. Motivation is not constant—it ebbs and flows. There are times in life when you're highly motivated to push yourself, but you'll eventually fall into a slump. When you do, you'll have to rely on discipline to keep you going. Establish that discipline when you're feeling motivated so you don't completely fall off the wagon when you're not.
2. Injuries and setbacks are part of the process. There's an inherent risk of injury with any form of physical training. Some people use that as an excuse to stay away from it. However, there are much greater risks to being weak and sedentary. You're much better off building a body that's strong and resilient enough to withstand setbacks.
3. Exercising for your health looks very different than training to be the strongest, fastest, & sexiest version of yourself. Health and longevity training involves a lot of low and moderate-intensity exercise. Training for aesthetics and performance means pushing your body to its limits, sometimes at the cost of long-term health. There's a reason why so many pro bodybuilders die early deaths, and it goes beyond steroid use.
4. You can't chase too many training goals at once, so choose one or two at a time. If you're trying to put on as much muscle as possible while also training for a marathon, it's not going to work. Study the principle of specificity. Your body will adapt to the specific stress applied to it, so know what you're trying to achieve and how to train for it. It's best to focus on one goal for a period of time, then move on to the next goal in a future training cycle.
5. Don't be dogmatic about your training methodology—there are multiple approaches to physical health. It's human nature to fall in love with a process after it's brought us results. Keep an open mind so you can learn from a variety of training methods. Experiment with different modalities as much as possible so you can find what works best for your body and goals.
It took many years of experimentation and a lot of mistakes to arrive at these insights. Hopefully, you can learn from my experience and bypass the 20 years of work!