5 more lifting lessons for better gains (pt. 2)

written by Philip Stefanov  |  APRIL 4, 2023

Last week’s newsletter covered five important lifting lessons, and the feedback has been great, so I decided to do part two.

Here are five more lessons for better long-term gains:

1. You Matter

One of the things most people struggle with when they first start lifting weights is getting comfortable in a gym setting.

Beginners often feel like they are getting in the way of other trainees’ workouts and prefer to stand in the corner and use equipment nobody else wants.

It’s normal to feel anxious when first getting started or joining a new gym, but here’s the thing:

You matter.

Your gym membership is just as valid as anyone else’s, and your contribution helps keep that business afloat. Don’t keep your head down and think you’re out of place because that isn’t the case.

2. Strength is Cool, But It’s Not Everything

You’ve probably heard Mark Rippetoe’s famous quote:

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”

While I agree with it to a certain degree, I feel that too many trainees, including myself early on, romanticize the pursuit of strength.

Yes, building strength is great and undoubtedly more beneficial than not doing any form of structured training. However, it alone is not everything. Think about it this way:

The gym allows you to build strength in a highly controlled environment, on specific exercises, and through a limited range of motion. However, what is the purpose of that strength if you lack endurance, agility, and mobility?

So, I encourage you to shift your training focus to different things occasionally to address weak points and develop into a more well-rounded athlete.

3. There Is No Single Best Approach

There isn’t such a thing as ‘optimal’ because many factors go into the equation. Each approach should depend on the person’s lifestyle, goals, fitness level, available equipment, schedule, training preferences, stress outside the gym, etc.

So, when someone tries to sell you an ‘optimal’ approach to doing something, especially if they don’t know who you are and what your situation is, know that they probably don’t have your best interests at heart.

Even when working one-on-one with clients, good coaches provide an initial plan but are ready to make changes down the road based on feedback.

4. Consume Information Broadly But Be Selective Of What You Use

Don’t be afraid to consume information from various sources, even if you know a specific person or brand isn’t that good.

Even in such a scenario, you can learn valuable lessons regarding the tone, type of information, and marketing strategy someone sleazy might use to lure you in and take your money.

However, be selective of who you actually listen to because some of the most alluring people are great at making sales but not so much at teaching sound fitness practices.

There are plenty of examples in the fitness industry, so you must be mindful of who you listen to, what you spend money on, and whether the person teaching you something has an ulterior motive.

For example, someone might preach about ‘best’ training practices and heavily promote a specific way of working out. At first glance, they might seem genuine and helpful until the sales pitch comes, and they try to sell you a course on that type of ‘best’ way to train.

This ties into the previous lesson that there is no single optimal way to do things, so be wary of people who use strong language to convince you they know best.

5. Good Technique Differs Between People

Even when looking at top strength athletes, you can see differences between how individuals approach specific activities, set themselves up, and execute.

Textbook technique is a good goal to aim for, but it doesn’t work well for everyone because we differ anatomically and with regard to mobility, training habits, etc.

How you learn to perform an exercise initially will inevitably impact your training form down the road. Similarly, your leverages and strengths will determine the best way to do an exercise.

Let’s briefly review an example related to a popular topic of interest: squat depth.

Many people consider ass-to-grass (ATG) squats the gold standard, but some trainees have anatomical limitations preventing them from safely squatting that low. The lower back begins to round, which can lead to injuries.

In contrast, some folks have shallow hip sockets, which allow them to squat deeply without ever being at risk of injuries.

So, my advice is to experiment with your technique and find what works best for you.

Thank you for taking the time. Until next week,


Sign Up Today

Thank you for taking the time to read my weekly newsletter. Each week, I share one insightful and actionable piece of content like the one above. Over 10,000 people receive it every week. Sign up below to join the community.

No spam. Enjoy the content for free and unsubscribe any time.