Things I wish I had known 8 years ago

Below we show the testimony of someone with experience lifting weights and training bodybuilding that may be interesting for people who are starting to train with some intensity. This post is extracted and translated from the subreddit Olympic Weightlifting de /fitness. We hope it will be of your benefit:

"I've been lifting weights seriously for about eight years now. Looking back I realize that when I started I did a lot of things wrong, but it took me a lot of trial and error to get to where I am today. Obviously I don't know everything. far from it now. I finished school with a bachelor's degree in physical therapy and will start my master's program in the fall. There have been many times when I was determined to be right about things, only to find out later that I was wrong.

That's the beauty of exercise and strength training: keep learning and growing. You should never be complacent with what you know. Buy books, read articles, ask at your gym. That attitude will only benefit you.

Here I am going to explain some things I wish I knew when I started 8 years ago. (Explanatory note: this is primarily aimed at beginners, but some of these things may be new to you, even if you've been lifting weights for a while):

1- The fact that your numbers are going up does not mean that you are doing well and exercise. I remember hitting a lot of goals when it came to benching, squatting, and deadlifting. However, later I discovered little things that I was doing wrong that could have caused an injury. Fixing these little tweaks made the exercises a lot harder, but I felt a lot stronger and more confident because of them.

2- Mobility work is extremely important. After a couple of years of lifting weights, I was riding high. He was bigger, stronger, more confident, etc. However, I didn't realize how rigid I was and how that was restricting so much of what I was doing in the weight room and in my life. If you don't know much about mobility, do some research. Thoracic spine mobility, shoulder mobility, hip mobility, ankle mobility, the list goes on and on. Look for people like Kelly Starrett, Eric Cressey, Matthew Ibraham and others. They all have YouTube channels and their attention to detail regarding range of motion, stability, and mobility are some of the most helpful and revealing pieces of information you can find.

3- Never underestimate the importance of warming up. I see a lot of people walk into the gym, do a couple of shoulder rolls, and then start working out. I used to do the same. However, once I started adding dynamic warm-ups and mobility/pre-rehab exercises before lifting weights, I noticed a world of difference. Consider the exercises you'll be doing each day and work on those areas before lifting weights.

4- The compound movements are "the cane". This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I used to do the typical back/biceps, chest/triceps, shoulders/traps, leg splits (which, depending on your goals, isn't necessarily a bad thing). However, once I switched to Push/Pull/Leg splits, I really noticed a change in my body. Reduce insulation work. Focus on exercises that really challenge your strength, stability, and coordination. Pull ups, chin ups, incline rows, squats, deadlifts, RDLs, overhead presses, incline bench/bench, push-ups, dips, cleans, snatches, etc. Those are the exercises that should make up the majority of your workouts. Find ways to make them more difficult if you've already mastered them. Not only will your strength increase, but you will look much better.

5- The best basic work you can do (in terms of safety and results) does not involve sit-ups or Russian twists. Just hear me out on this one. I used to do the usual ab exercises: sit-ups, sit-ups, leg raises, Russian twists, side bends, etc. Start using movements that will help you in your other lifts (and will also strengthen and grow your abs). For example, anti-extension/flexion movements, anti-rotation, rotation, etc. I've been doing these exercises for my core for years and have noticed that my other lifts improve because of them (despite being extremely sore the next day): Hanging Leg Raises, Pallof Presses, Landmine Rotations, Wood Chips, planks on a stability ball, throws (wheel or stability ball), dead bugs, bird-dogs, back extensions, dragonflies, rotary throws, plank slides with gliders, side planks, charging farmer, overhead charging , etc. Many of these can be done with one knee or made more difficult by removing an arm or leg. Basically, any exercise that challenges your body's ability to stay stable has a profound effect on your overall strength and will also give you that abdominal pain that so many people want (although that's not what we're after...but you know what I'm saying). Another note on this: People tend to think of the "core" as just your abs. But your core is actually all the structures that support your trunk and limbs. This includes the abdominals, shoulder joints, hip joints, lower back muscles, etc. By strengthening these areas, you improve the rigidity of your trunk. When your trunk stiffens, it allows for more freedom of movement in your limbs.


6- Kettlebells are AWESOME. I avoided kettlebells for a long time until a few years ago. Kettlebells allow you to do some slightly wacky moves that will challenge your body in a thousand ways. Kettlebell swings would be at the top of my list for these types of movements. Not only are they great for glute strength/power, they have a dragging effect to show proper hip hinge mechanics and is a great tool to add for high intensity conditioning.

Turkish raises, windmills, one arm presses, goblet squats (great for beginners) and many other exercises that challenge your limits in a unique way. If you haven't tried training with kettlebells, I recommend you start now.

7- Real, real, real cardio doesn't have to be a drag. I know a lot of people are pretty far away from the long-duration trend on treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, and stationary bikes that has dominated fitness culture for decades. However, cardio has value. Circuits and HIIT are really valuable if you want to do cardio work. Not only is it faster, but it's a lot less boring and a lot more fun and effective. Some ideas of exercises to try for your conditioning: PROWLER PUSH-UPS, kettlebell swings, rowing intervals, ball strikes (both front and side-to-side), plyometric work, speed ladders, tire flips, mountain climbers, box jumps, sprints, battle ropes, jumping rope, pulling a sled (with a rope, working mainly the back), etc. These will not only blow your mind, but they will also work your entire body instead of just your legs. The possibilities are endless.

8- Writing, or following, a training program in a disciplined way will take you to the next level. I can't tell you how many of my workouts in years past consisted of walking to the gym and weaving from one exercise to another. Of course he was crushed, but how could he know if he had really made any progress? When I follow a prewritten routine, I go to the gym with a mission. I know what I am going to do, how many times and how much weight I am going to use. This really instills discipline in you. Some days you arrive feeling sluggish, but if you have a set routine, you know you have to finish what you have written. Otherwise, you would probably cut your training short. Having a specific goal changes your mindset completely. Tracking your progress keeps you prepared and prevents you from cheating. Looking back at your numbers and seeing them go up is an amazing feeling. Look for programs like 5/3/1, starting strength, PHAT... to name a few. Or, if you feel competent enough, write your own. Take pictures of your evolution. Keep track of your numbers. It is essential to achieve your goals.

9- Study your damn anatomy. A lot of things started clicking for me when I started studying anatomy and physiology. Although it can be boring, once you learn where each bone is, where your muscles originate and insert, how the contraction process takes place, etc., then you will begin to see lifting in a whole new light. Biomechanics is also important. These things can change the way you lift weights and help you pay more attention to your technique. For example, you know to keep your elbows back to target your triceps during dips, but do you know WHY? Did you know that your pec attaches to your humerus (arm bone), so when you hold your arms close, you're basically subtracting the pec from [most of] the movement? Not only will this help you, but it will help if anyone ever needs advice or has a "why" question. Do your muscles flex? Well, no, they don't. Your joints flex and extend. Your muscles contract and relax. Discover the function of each muscle, which muscles contribute to elbow/shoulder/hip/knee extension and flexion, and you will learn many new things. Look for websites like that have great illustrations of muscle function and location.

10- Nutrition and sleep are really as important as people think they are. I know it's obvious and everyone has more than heard about it, but nice to underline it. Simply Google the benefits of sleep; if you don't know them, they are essential. On nutrition… well, an entire essay could be written on just that topic, but you MUST make this a priority over everything else. If you have your eating habits in place, everything else will come with relative ease. Nope undervalues its importance.

11- Respiratory mechanics is important. That is something which, really, I have had to learn to assimilate lately. And I don't mean the typical "exhale when performing/using concentric contractions and inhale during downward/eccentric contractions. I'm talking about proper breathing and rib alignment. Proper breathing mechanics and setup on Google or YouTube. Most of we're chest breathers, when we actually need to use our diaphragms. This will change the way you do almost every exercise."



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