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5 Lessons I Would Tell My Younger Self As A Lifter

There are sayings such as “Hindsight is 20/20.”, and “If only I knew then what I know now.”.  

These can ring true for any area of our lives, and it applies to my time in the gym as a recreational lifter.

These are just a handful of important things I’ve learned along the way and the wisdom I would impart to my younger self. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather 5 points that quickly popped into my head when I think about the advice I’d give to myself early on.

Not all of our paths are going to be the same, but there are many places they may intersect along the way, and maybe 1, or a few of these, are relatable to you as well. 

1 – There Is No Rush

Pushing for progress and wanting to arrive at a future point where I would finally be bigger and stronger became more prevalent a couple of years into my lifting journey. 

I would fret over a missed workout, or a schedule change, while often questioning if what I’m doing is “optimal” to get to where I want to go. 

The truth is, at least for me, there is no rush. I can’t force progress more than what I’m capable of doing at any given time. 

What I can do is commit to putting in the work and the effort as best I can, when I can, and stay consistent.

2 – There Is No Perfect Weight Or End Result

This point ties in nicely with the first one. 

I would often think that once I hit a certain goal, whether it be a specific body weight or lifting a certain amount of weight on a given exercise, I finally “made it”. 

If I could, I’d go back and tell myself the fact is, as a recreational lifter and non-competitor, the journey never really ends and there is no “end game”. 

Milestones are great to have and keep track of, but I will never truly be “done”, and that’s a good thing.

3 – Don’t “Maingain” Or Body Recomp

This is a big one and one that took me a long while to get over. 

When I first began to take lifting seriously and seek out information online, intermittent fasting, lean gaining and body recomp were all the rage.

This sounded perfect to me.

Gain super slowly, all muscle, and just the tiniest amount of body fat. 

“Stay the same scale weight by gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time”.

Except in reality, I most likely just ended up spinning my wheels for a long time. 

I believe this approach can work for some people and under the right circumstances, however looking back, I don’t feel that I was one of them and kept at it for way too long. 

I would go back and tell myself to do actual bulks instead. 

Gain weight slowly, but actually gain weight over time and let the scale slowly rise while continuing to push performance and progress wisely. 

Focus on truly building rather than trying to do both at the same time. 

4 – Train Wisely. Avoid Injury

When I was younger, I didn’t worry too much about injuries. I felt resilient, and a bit bulletproof because of my youth. I’m sure many of you can relate. 

While a younger body might be able to tolerate a bit more, nobody is impervious to injury. 

And while I have been very fortunate to not have suffered anything major, I have had my share of tweaks, strains, and muscle pulls throughout my time in the gym.

Missing workouts due to an injury can set you back much more than taking things slowly and allowing progress to occur in that fashion. 

Not to mention, being injured sucks. It hurts, it is inconvenient, and depending on the severity, could require rehab or even surgery. 

I would tell myself, similarly to the first point, that there is no rush. 

Do not ego lift or chase weight and/or reps that just aren’t there yet. 

To paraphrase Alberto Nunez from Team 3DMJ, “One rep will not make you, but it can certainly break you.”. 

5 – A Fluid Plan Works Just As Well, If Not Better, Than A Rigid One

This one ties into both points 1 and 2 and is something I still remind myself of to this day. 

For a long time, I was super rigid with my training and schedule. 

I felt that I absolutely had to be at the gym hitting a certain workout on a certain day within my schedule. And if I missed a day or had to shuffle some things around, I felt as if I would not make all the progress I could or worse, lose progress. 

I would go back and tell myself that this is not the case at all and that allowing some variance and fluidity within the overall scheme can be beneficial mentally as well. 

I would remind myself that as long as I am staying consistent within the flow of what life brings my way and putting in a truly solid effort each time I’m in the gym, then I’m still on the right path. 

Five Of Many

I’m sure that with some deeper thought and reflection, I could come up with other lessons I’ve learned, adjustments I could make and bits of advice I could give myself early on. 

But these are the big ones that I feel would have been most helpful when starting out. 

Can you relate to any of these as an experienced lifter?

What are some lessons you would tell your younger self if he or she bumped into you at the gym and asked for some advice?

Disclaimer: None of the information in this article is intended to be medical or health advice. Always consult with a qualified physician before taking part in any exercise or fitness regimen, and always train responsibly.

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