25 Years, 25 Years of Strength Training Lessons


Extreme Training, Foundational Programs, Moderate Training, Strenuous Training, Uncategorized.

sandbag workouts

Okay, first off, this title is a bit misleading. I actually have been strength training for 26 years, but that just didn’t sound as good! Yup, I first entered my first weight room at the age of 14! Hobbling in on crutches, my older brother, Greg, took me to the gym shortly after I completely tore my right ankle.

While doctors were debating whether I would walk without a cane, Greg wasn’t going to let me sulk in self pity. I remember going with him and his friend Mark to the Bally’s by our house. A bit overwhelmed with the music, the lights, and people WAY more physically mature than myself I went in not knowing what to expect.

Of course we did what any good teenage boys would do, we hit the bench press first! After quickly getting pinned by the barbell empty and begging my brother, who was busy laughing at me, to get the barbell off me I fell oddly in love with strength training.

Now 26 years later I have learned a lot, I always think in life if you do something long enough you either learn a lot and grow or you stay the same and learn nothing! So, here are 25 of my top lessons about strength training that hopefully you will help you! I take that back, I’m splitting this into three parts because you will see with strength training idea number 6;) So, this will be really my first 10!

  1. You will make mistakes!

Probably the BIGGEST question I get from young trainers is, “what can I read or do so I don’t make any mistakes!” The reality is that mistakes help you grow and something that only experience can teach you! Mistakes are not a bad thing if they help you grow and learn, they are only bad things if you get nothing out of the experience!

2. As soon as you know it all, you find out you don’t.

If I have learned ANYTHING in all this time strength training, is that as soon as I am sure about something, I learn or am exposed to something that changes me. Of course in this internet age people want to point this out as “you are wrong”, but I think of it as evolving.

Those that have done the SAME thing year after year are usually those that don’t have all that much to share. They are “stuck” in trying to prove something rather than trying to get better.

3. How long you have done something doesn’t mean you are good at it!

One of the things I love hearing the most from coaches that are trying to prove a point they are right is when they say, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I know what I am talking about!” Just because you have done something for a long time doesn’t mean you are good at it! Time alone gives you the POTENTIAL to learn things, but it doesn’t guarantee it! Think of possibly your gym teacher in school that was a teacher for decades and still just tossed the ball out every day. Being around a long time just means you somehow survived, not that you thrived!

4. The most buff person or biggest lifter isn’t always the best coach!

Growing up I loved basketball, it was my sport! I grew up during the Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan days. These guys were tremendous athletes, they were all time great players! They were HORRIBLE coaches! Being great at something doesn’t mean you are a great teacher! Find those that are great communicators, thinkers, and have results to back up the ideas they are sharing.

5. The internet is full of a lot of SH&%T!

Ironically, if I asked people if everything on the internet is real, most level headed people would say no. Yet, when I ask people why they are following this person or that program it is because they are buying what the person says only on the internet. Odd right?

To probably no one’s surprise there is a lot of bad stuff on the internet. People that will flat out lie to you to make a buck and make themselves look good (which isn’t hard to do on social media), but the reality is they are no more successful than you! That is where the responsibility of being a smart consumer comes into play. Do your homework, ask questions, heck, ask for references. You work hard for your money, don’t just throw it away!

6. Most people have no attention span

The good thing about today’s world is we can get information faster than ever, the bad thing is today we can get information faster than ever! This impacts people’s attention spans and what they can absorb. Did you know the average person has an EIGHT second attention span to something? Back when I was in school for teaching, we were told to convey a message to kids in 20 seconds, we are at less than half of that now!

Sometimes one of the best things you can do is put blinders on. If you are doing to give something a try put your blinders on and just do THAT thing for an honest trial!

7. If you fall in love with something learn the most about it!

One of the most unique aspects of DVRT is that it is built from having experience with A LOT of different programs! If I were to add it up, I have probably spent close to six figures on continuing education programs over the years. Even if in the end I didn’t find something incredibly useful, I always wanted to learn the MOST about it. How could I accurately know if something was “good” or “bad” if I didn’t really learn about it?

Most times people think if they watch a video, read a blog, etc. they are learning about something. If something really strikes a chord with you devote yourself to learning the most about it possible so that you really understand the intent, purpose, and implementation. Only then can you speak intelligently about it!

8. ACTUALLY do things!

I would love to brag to you that EVERYTHING I have ever tried I was awesome at. The reality is there are a lot of things that I tried I wasn’t very good at. That never really deterred me though, however, I think a lot of people eye ball things from a distance and if they aren’t going to be the best right off the bat they won’t even try. Then to defend this fear, they call something bad or useless.

You would be SHOCKED at how many high level coaches that have tried to challenge DVRT and I asked them if they ever used it? They reply with “no, but…..” How can you know if you haven’t tried? Be open to putting yourself out there, you still may not like something but you will have a better idea what about it doesn’t work for you!

9. The things you aren’t good at are the things you should prioritize

This is an easy thing to cheer and say, it is a REALLY hard thing to make yourself do! We are all human and with that, we all like to experience success. Trust me, this doesn’t mean you can’t do the things that make you “feel good” about yourself, but understand two things. The first is that “feeling good” about something is simply one’s perception that you have ownership of. The second is that most people still prioritize the things that they like to do, instead, put first the things that you SHOULD be doing. You can tell a lot of one’s priorities simply by what they put FIRST in a program!

10. Be consistent!

This will probably work with several other points here, but the truth is that most people aren’t consistent. I don’t mean just in their workouts, but their desired goals, their message, and even what they say. If you can at least be consistent and focused for a 4 week period you will be doing WAY better with your strength training than most!

I realize these are some simple ideas, but simple doesn’t mean easy. I encourage you to not just read this, but actually write down which ones you can see yourself MOST in and create a plan of how you are going to try to learn from my mistakes so you can get results faster!