HomeFitness5 Things I've Learned From 5 Years In The Gym

5 Things I’ve Learned From 5 Years In The Gym

My Journey

"It's not who wins it's who's left"

windshield wipers exercise

Time flies, it's been 5 years since I joined my first gym and came to the realization that my genetic weren't to blame for my slender, skinny frame.
Although I was an ectomorph I knew there was something I could do to build muscle, get strong and transform my life.

I've been in the gym day in, day out ever since.

Different mindsets, supplements, training regimes, you name it over the last 5 years I've tried it.

There's no quick solution to go from a skinny ectomorph style physique to a ripped, muscular adonis - it takes time and hard work, consistently.
But at the same time I admit I spent a lot of time blindly trying different techniques, exercises and workouts... many of which turned out to be a complete waste of time. The 6 points below are the key principles I learned over the last 6 years with the iron.

Make sure you're applying these principles as you'll cut the learner curve, meaning you'll get on the right track quicker instead of messing around with ridiculous isolation exercises, rest periods and training schedules.

5 Things I've Learned Over The Last 5 Years

The principles I learned that helped me avoid the BS of the fitness industry and transform my physique.

See also
Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger Book Review (Mike Matthews Bigger Leaner Stronger Sequel)

Consistency Is The Difference Between A Good Physique & A Great Physique

Regardless of whether you think you've found the perfect diet, training regime or supplement... unless you're consistent you're not going to see much in terms of results.
Missing every 2nd or 3rd workout, being consistent with your diet for a week then derailing yourself the folllowing week...

There's people that've been in the gym for 5 years or more that still look almost the same as when they signed up 5 years ago, sometimes they look better when they're able to maintain a consistent stint, sometimes they look worse as they succumb to stress and discipline issues... they always end up looking the same.

Sure, you can build a bit of muscle and burn a bit of fat without going all out, but if you want a top tier, jaw dropping physique you cannot be inconsistent in any module - be it training, nutrition or recovery.

Calories In Vs. Calories Out Is Key

There's no such thing as a 'fat burning food'.
There's no reason to eat meals 2 hours apart, studies has proven this has no notable effect on your metabolism.
There's no reason to starve yourself and drop all of your carbohydrates to get shredded.

See also
4 Exercises To Improve Your Posture

It's a simple game of calories in vs. calories out.

If you want to build muscle mass you must calculate your TDEE and then place your body into a caloric surplus (consuming 500~ calories more than your TDEE) while maintaining a good ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat (aim for around 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat).


If you want to burn fat you must calculate your TDEE and then place your body into a caloric deficit (consuming 500~ calories less than your TDEE) while maintaining a good ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat (aim for around 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat).

No need to change your workout regime to get shredded or build muscle, lift heavy and train the same with minute adjustments to your caloric intrake.

Supplements Are 99% Bullshit

Unless you've got every single aspect of your diet and training dialled in there's simply no point bothering with bodybuilding supplements.
The industry is full of snake oil salesmen... over the counter testosterone boosters, brain chain amino acids, intra-workout pump powders, truth be told you don't need any of them.

I recommend supplementing essential vitamins and minerals that you may be coming up short of in your diet, zinc, vitamin D and omega 3s to be specific.
Protein powder is useful when it comes to reaching your protein intake for the day, but that's it.

See also
20 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Lifting

Spend your money on high quality foods and lots of it if you're an ectomorph like myself, don't blow hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on bodybuilding supplements when your'e starting out like I did.

Resist The Isolation, Focus On The Compounds

As much as we all love bicep curls they're not going to do a lot for your physique.

Stay away from machines and gimmicky exercises and workout regimes.

The squat, bench press, overhead press and deadlift are the foundational 4 compound exercises, learn the form, apply progressive overload and watch your physique transform.
I didn't want to believe it when I started...

"but those exercises won't give me big arms!"

I was wrong, as a beginner as your bench press increases so will the size of your chest and triceps, if you're wasting your time on the triceps kickback and push-down as a means of building up your triceps I recommend giving it a break and hitting your compounds hard.

When you're benching 225lbs you're not going to be concerned about the size of your triceps... they'll take care of themselves!
The tension placed on your muscles via big compound movements simply can't be compared to that of a isolation exercise.

Although the triceps are the secondary muscle group in your bench press (albeit they can be targeted directly by utilizing a closer grip) the tension of 225lbs cannot be replicated with a 20lb dumbbell during your triceps kickbacks.

See also
Kick Sits: An Underrated Functional Exercise You Need To Perform

Progressive Overload Is The Key To Size & Strength Gains

Record your lifts.

Know the weight and repetitions you performed today, so you know what you need to lift during your next workout to beat it and continue to overload your muscles.
Don't guess the weight, don't lift the same weight from week to week.

Each workout should be based around progressing, not maintaining.

Progressive overload is the key to muscle growth, not shocking the muscles by switching exercises, training at different times of the day or changing your diet to include different foods.

Progressive overload is applied via an increase in weight, an increase in repetitions or an increase in time under tension (slower repetitions, shorter rest periods etc.).

Keep track of your workout today so you know what you need to do to continually progress tomorrow.

What's Been Your Biggest Realization In The Gym? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

Stay in Touch

To follow the best weight loss journeys, success stories and inspirational interviews with the industry's top coaches and specialists. Start changing your life today!

Related Articles