1. Don't chase fatigue.
Is your goal to be exhausted, or is your goal to look better and get stronger? If you want to be tired, then you can do 500 burpees and call it a day. If you want to look better, you’ll follow a smart training program that prioritizes strength.
2. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is not necessarily an indicator of an effective workout.
So don’t be worried if you can barely sit on the toilet one week, and then the next week, you’re perfectly fine after the same workout.
3. Make the gym a priority.
Don’t treat your training sessions as an option, like something you’ll squeeze in when you happen to find yourself with an extra hour in the day. Your workouts are a commitment that you’re making to yourself for your long-term health.
4. I could write you the best training program in the world, and it’s not going to mean anything unless you meet it halfway.
In other words: it’s not the workout that delivers the intensity; it’s you. Are you really lifting as heavy as you can (while maintaining quality form) in the prescribed rep range, or are you busy gossiping with your girlfriend as you half-ass your squats? You decide.
5. There are lots of different ways to put together effective training programs.
The best coaches in the world are going to disagree with each other on some things, and that’s okay.
6. Lift heavy weights if you want to lose fat.
Lift heavy weights if you want to build muscle. Lift heavy weights if you want to get stronger.
7. Lifting heavy weights doesn’t make you bulky.
Lifting heavy weights and eating too many calories make you bulky. Lifting and eating the appropriate calories for your goals make you look lean and fit.
8. You don’t have to have a ton of time in the gym to get in an effective workout.
“I don’t have time to workout” is no longer a valid excuse. With just 20 minutes a day, you can get a solid training effect if you make the most of your time on the gym floor. Need an example? See below.
A1. Front squat (or goblet squat) 3x5
A2. Pullups (or inverted row) 3x8
B1. Barbell hip thrusts 3x10-12
B2. Pushups 3x8
B3. RKC plank 3x20s hold
9. On a similar note, supersets, tri-sets, and giant sets are your friend.
They’re great for squeezing in more work in less time. You can read more about supersets here.
10. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics.
Squats, deadlifts, pullups, pushup/bench variations, hip thrusts, and glute bridges should comprise the foundation of your workouts.
11. Weak glutes can get you into a lot of trouble, so get them strong.
Hip thrusts and glute bridges are great, but make sure you’re performing sufficient glute activation exercises and finding the right form tweak for you so you’re really getting the most out of the movements. And don’t forget squat variations, deadlift variations, and back extensions, just to name a few. Check out The Glute Guy to learn more.
12. Compound movements will almost always trump isolation exercises.
But there’s still a time and a place for just about everything. Except for squatting on a Bosu ball.
13. More volume is not always better; smarter is better.
14. Quality form takes priority.
This is especially true if you're a beginner. Learn how to perform a movement safely and with solid form before progressing to the big boy weights.
15. Jogging is great if your goal is to get better at jogging.
If you want to look better naked, then sprints are your answer.
16. Start off with as little conditioning as you can get away with.
If you can make progress without any, then milk that for as long as possible. Sprinkle in conditioning judiciously on an as-needed basis.
17. Strength gains are not linear.
Beginner trainees are going to experience much more rapid increases in strength at first due to improvements in neuromotor patterning and coordination. Then as the months go on, you’ll notice that your strength gains will slow down and maybe even plateau. This is normal and can be circumvented via a combination of smart training programming and proper nutrition to support your goals.
18. Most people will be fine weight training 3 to 5 days a week.
If on the lower end, I’d recommend full-body sessions; if on the higher end, I’d recommend an upper/lower split or even Layne Norton’s PHAT program.
19. Don’t worry about being self-conscious on the gym floor.
Most people are too busy focusing on themselves to even notice you. And besides, you're not there to impress anyone else; you're there to build a better you.
20. Invest in a quality coach to do the thinking for you if you find yourself obsessing over your training program.
Even the best trainers have trainers. Here are the handful that I can recommend and personally vouch for:
Sohee Walsh (Lee) – that’s me! I specialize in women’s fat loss and eating disorders.
Dr. Layne Norton (of course), but he’s just about always at max capacity. Works primarily with high level competitors.
Paul Revelia, who works primarily with competitors (bikini, figure, and bodybuilding).
Bret Contreras, who is the go-to guy for all things glute development. He runs the Get Glutes program, which is training-only and has a great support community.
21. If you’re injured, there’s almost always going to be a workaround.
With a broken arm, you can still do leg presses and leg extensions. A sprained ankle is the perfect time for you to finally hone in on those pull-ups you’ve been meaning to tackle.
22. Respect the gym.
It’s about the one consistent thing that will always be there in your life, no matter what happens. Let it be your haven, your place of me-time.
23. Training is not something you have to do; it’s something you get to do.
It’s not a chore, but a gift to yourself.
24. You don’t always need a barbell and weights to get in a solid workout.
There are plenty of things you can do with minimal equipment.
25. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that something can’t be done in the gym.
Women, that means that you can do pull-ups, and you have every right to take up the squat rack without some meathead telling you to sod off.