10 Things I learned in 10 Years of Training

I can’t believe it’s already been 10 YEARS since I really started my own journey when it comes to health and fitness.

 

I’ve said it before but for those of you who are new here, it’s true, I haven’t always liked to train and be active. In fact, early on in my life it was quite the opposite. End of summer, early fall of 2009 I was going into my senior season of football in High School and all of a sudden I realized a few things… First, that even though I hated weights and training, it came somewhat easy and being a standout wasn’t so much because of my effort - but more so because of how small my school was (less than 500 students TOTAL). Second, that this was going to be the last few months being with that specific group of guys and I enjoyed that comradery too much to want to really do anything else. So I started taking things a little more serious… 

The story goes on, as I ended up playing four more years at the collegiate level, where my training and level of attention to my health and well being just continued to grow. That’s a whole other blog in itself. But for now, as we are right at the 10 YEAR mark in my journey..

 

I want to share with you, 10 THINGS I have learned from 2009-2019

I’ve learned way more than 10 things… but for the sake of time, I thought I would just share a few of these with you. Some humorous, some more serious, but all things that I definitely had a bit backwards in the beginning.

  1. It doesn’t have to be all CHICKEN & RICE

Yep, early on I was on that super “bro” diet. Buying my chicken in bulk and cooking rice by the 10lb bag fulls! I thought, the cleaner I eat the better. The only thing I did here was restrict myself from things I actually enjoyed and took it as a quick way to see results. Sure you might see some progress, but you’re going to be miserable. Lack of creativity is where we all struggle, that’s common. But it is 2019, all you have to do is look up “macro friendly meal ideas” on Pintrest or email my side kick Jenna and you’ll quickly realize that ditching the “bro” diet is the best thing for you. 

2. Starting small brings better results and WAY SAFER! 

We are all guilty of jumping into things head first and 99% of the time it’s done with great intention. But I think it’s safe to say that the completion rate of those projects, ideas, or programs we so quickly got started on, would have had a higher completion rate if we would have just slowed down and taken a smarter approach. Early on, I was full on, full head of steam, not slowing down for anyone. I was determined to get as fit as possible, as big as possible, and as quickly as possible. This later resulted in me going through several injuries that set me back further than where I was when I got started. It’s safe to say that no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, breaking that idea down into different levels, different tasks, and trying to chisel away at it, is a lot smarter than diving head first into the deep end.

3. Early mornings are for the birds - but they just might be the best thing for you.

It’s no secret that I hate mornings. Everyone in my family hates mornings and always have, so I’m just convinced it was somehow a trait that was passed down to me. That being said, I’ve had a few select times in my life where I found myself on that 5am grind. First time was in 2013, I was meeting a close friend (Travis Gullet) at the gym to train and workout every single day before his workday kicked off. Low and behold, he ended up losing over 100lbs! That wasn’t because of me - that was because of him and the decision he made to just simply make it happen. But being a part of that year long experience changed me completely. The second stint was a few years later after I first moved to Florida and found myself working nearly 60 hours a week. I simply didn't have enough hours in the day to train, workout or take care of business like I wanted to, unless I was up before the sun. During that 6 month period I went from managing a small team of a dozen coaches to managing a massive facility of 3,000+ gym members. My “career” blew up, I finally got a taste of what some might call success, and I was climbing that ladder faster than I realized. Both of these stents in my life were HUGE growth periods for me and are both cornerstone timelines that have occured in my life to help get me where I am today. It sucked at first, but that early rise and shine isn’t so bad. You should try it. 


4. You don’t need a state of the art facility.

I actually learned this quite early, but didn’t want to admit it. I was a sucker for a good LA Fitness (back in 2012), and had the mindset of bigger is better when it came to the gym I used to “chase my gains.” In fact, this was actually something that I realized as early as my freshman year in college. That’s when I was introduced to my best friend, Justin Honeycutt, who quickly showed me the ropes and how all you needed was a little will power and a set of dumbbells and you could carve out some serious progress. I spent the first few years of my fitness journey like a puppy with a new toy when it came to state of the art facilities - I wanted to get serious, so I thought I had to have serious equipment! When in reality, it actually doesn’t work that way at all. This has been something that I came to terms with over time but now it’s a serious staple in the way I conduct our coaching. To be honest, I would rather someone start at home and really chase consistency, then to get into a gym they have no idea where anything is at, how to work any of the equipment, or constantly be wondering who is watching them. (This piggybacks #2) 


5. Good training partners, come few and far between.

“If I just had a good training partner!” You’ve said it, I’ve said it, we’ve all thought it at one point. In my first 10 years of training I can count on one hand how many reliable and serious training partners I’ve had and the longest stint of working together was just over a year. That means nearly five of the ten years happened alone. If you have a good training partner - don’t take it for granted. With schedules being more chaotic than ever, lives being busier than ever, it’s VERY hard to find someone to consistently train with. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize how good you have it until it’s gone. 


6. Compound lifts should be in EVERYONE’S routine.

For the sake of not getting to sciency, and I also think I could write a whole blog on this topic specifically, I’ll keep it simple. Compound movements are exercises that engage many muscle groups at one time, and for 99% of the general population that’s not trying to be a bodybuilder, you don’t need to train things as isolated as you might think. The biggest benefit of compound movements might just be the time efficiency they bring to your routine. And yes, even females should be incorporating compound movements into their routine. Here are a few examples of compound movements: 

  • Barbell Squats

  • Deadlifts

  • Overhead Press

  • Bench Press



7. Grunting DOESN’T actually get you there.

Believe it or not, I go to a gym here in Tampa that actually has that saying, “The grunt is what gets you there,” painted on their wall. As much as I get the marketing technique and how intense you might feel letting out a strong grunt during a lift - it’s really not helping you much. That being said, I'm all for hard work, but I’m also all for not making others feel like they are deep in the jungle while standing near the dumbbells. So beat your chest and act like a baboon if you’d like, no judgements here, but understand that effort is everything and if you’re pushing hard a grunt might just slip now and then. At that point, I respect it! 


8. Cardio CAN be fun.

For those of you who are new here, i’ll say it now - I’ve always struggled with cardio and finding enjoyment in it. But it’s just like a few of the things we’ve already talked about above. Start small, start smart, start with something you ACTUALLY ENJOY, and in due time you’ll find yourself looking forward to it. Maybe not looking forward to the cardio specifically, at first, but at least looking forward to the feeling it brings. From there it starts to snowball and you’ll get to a place that it comes easy. Most think, including myself at one point, that cardio just has to be you and the treadmill exchanging blows, but I challenge you to think outside the box! Rowing, walking, biking, even jumping rope, are all ways you can get that cardio in without being attached to the treadmill. After all, cardio only refers to an increase in your cardiovascular system. So anything you do that increases your heart rate is technically “cardio.”


9. Longevity is EVERYTHING.

This is definitely something that took me a while to really settle on. When I first started seeing my first progress it was push, push, push, more, more, more! And not that it really mattered then, being young and loaded with energy - you can get away with some level of stupidity when it comes to your training. But as the years passed and I started working with more and more clients I realized that as much as we all want to look and feel our best NOW, we all have plenty of life ahead of us (Lord willing, of course), we need to be patient, and play the long game. Taking proper rest days, being body aware is so crucial in this game of fitness because as cliche as it is, it’s true, we only live once - we need to start training and acting like it. 


10. STOP skipping steps.

This plays along with a few of the other things I’ve already mentioned but it just feels right to end with this one. Too many times we focus on the end result and disregard everything we need to do in order to get you there. But I challenge you, stop looking ahead and just focus on the here and now. I remember I always wanted to look a certain way, or lift a certain way in order to achieve certain marks or personal best, but I just kept falling short. Why was this? Because I kept skipping the steps I needed to pay attention to in order to actually be able to handle such things. I talk with clients all the time who want X, Y, and Z. It’s very easy to get super fixated on the end result, whereas if we simply focused on the next step (making a simple grocery list, prioritizing your day and time, getting up a few minutes early) every other step that follows only gets easier. Think of it like the bottom ball of a snowman. You don’t just walk outside and have a massive snowball sitting in your front yard. You have to grab a little snow, bend over and put some hard work into it as you push to get it to where you want it to be. 


Alright, that’s enough for now - I could go all day when it comes to things I’ve learned over my first 10 years on my fitness journey, but I think this covers it for now. - Drew 

If you enjoyed this blog I would love to hear some feedback! The easiest way to do that is to tweet me @drew_christian_  & let me know what you enjoyed about it and what maybe you think my next blog should be on! 

If you’re someone who struggles with some of these things, or even having trouble just getting started I am always willing to be a resource. Book a call with me TODAY by clicking the link below! Looking forward to hearing from each of you! https://calendly.com/dynamiclifestylesolutions/discovery-call-with-drew



Drew Bland