Things I Have Learned at the Gym

Way back at the very beginning of my fitness journey two years ago, I began to make notes in a little notebook. On the inside cover of this notebook, I wrote the title, “Things I Learned at the Gym.” And so, as often as I learned something about training, about fitness, about myself, I wrote it in this little book. While I am sure that I missed recording some things, I have still managed to accumulate a good number of tidbits. For Christmas, I took most of those tidbits and created a booklet for my trainer, complete with photographs and images clipped from fitness magazines. He’s already opened his gift, so I am okay to post my list here now. There may be slight differences between my original edition, Michael’s edition, and this blog post, because I tend to edit and ad-lib as I re-write/type.

  1. Skipping isn’t as easy as it was when I was a kid or since I have had kids!
  2. Even foot muscles can become stiff and sore.
  3. Push-ups are slightly easier if I keep my core engaged.
  4. If I feel like I am choking, then my elbows are sufficiently raised for front squats.
  5. Be sure to tilt the pelvis while ab-rolling-that’s what keeps the back from hurting and makes the abs work.
  6. If at first you don’t succeed-use chalk.
  7. Training as a powerlifter is not the same as working out.
  8. Never show weakness to your trainer; he will be sure to work it.
  9. Breathe deeply. Expand your waist. Then contract your abs.
  10. Treat light weights the same as heavy ones.
  11. The start of a new training plan will result in several days of sore muscles.
  12. Lifting heavy things is fun.
  13. Trust my trainer’s judgement-it’s likely more accurate than mine.
  14. Shoulder blades back and down.
  15. Tension is important.
  16. A foam roller and lacrosse ball can be my friends and enemies.
  17. I can do more than I think I can.
  18. Powerlifting is fun and addicting.
  19. I’m an athlete. I need to eat like one.
  20. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and I haven’t died yet.
  21. Push through my legs and heels.
  22. Spotters can save your face!
  23. If there is pain, tell your trainer!
  24. Crunches are over-rated.
  25. Running before squats kills the squats. Squatting before a run kills the run.
  26. Believe in yourself!
  27. Pull those shoulders back.
  28. Heavy weights won’t make me bulky or manly.
  29. Your trainer can make any body part sore.
  30. Attempt to “break the bar” when bench-pressing.
  31. Even difficult, loathed exercises can become easier with practice and time.
  32. Keep a training log-my memory falters quickly.
  33. A 5-second pause is a long time when doing pause squats.
  34. When bench pressing, keep my elbows in line with my hands, not flared out.
  35. Banded mountain climbers are a good way to feel my hip flexors.
  36. Pull myself down with my hips.
  37. Break the bar across my back when squatting. Elbows down. Break at the knees and stay upright.
  38. Knee sleeves can save your knees!
  39. Breathe!
  40. Caffeine is a great pre-workout!
  41. Eat carbs within an hour of a heavy training session to replace glycogen.
  42. You can always practice and refine your technique.
  43. Do more pulling than pressing!
  44. Breathe!
  45. Lats back/chest up for squats.
  46. Neurological fatigue is real.
  47. I’m looking forward to a de-load week, even though I will likely hate it when it arrives.
  48. My deadlift on the platform will always be better than my deadlift in the gym.
  49. Trust my trainer!
  50. Breathe!
  51. Carbs aren’t evil. They help build muscle.
  52. Be careful what goals you proclaim to your trainer, because you can’t take them back.
  53. You can plan to have a great training session, but that doesn’t mean you will.
  54. But a seemingly “off” training session can still finish with improvements and personal records.
  55. Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective, even if that is as simple as moving the bench.
  56. I know that I’ve adapted to my current program, when I expect to be sore after a particularly challenging session but I’m not.
  57. A scary big goal doesn’t need to be reached all at once. Take small steps!
  58. Breathe!
  59. Sometimes a stomp of the foot can help me finish a grinder rep, even if it isn’t “legal”.
  60. Pull my hips through!
  61. 4″ deficit deadlifts are no fun after squats.
  62. Momentum is everything when doing toes to bar.
  63. My second rep is usually better than the first.
  64. Between my trainer and I, someone knows how many reps I’ve done. I think.
  65. The gym is the antidote to a bad day.
  66. Breathe!
  67. A minute with the battling ropes can feel like an hour.
  68. The 25 pound dumbbells won’t own me forever.
  69. My nose will always get itchy as soon as I’ve wrapped the straps around the bar or chalked my hands.
  70. Be careful what you say-it will come back to bite you.
  71. “Every competition is an opportunity to get better” -Michael Danis



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