30 Years, 30 Fitness Lessons (Get This Stuff Right)

fitness lessons

I turned 30 this year.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but about ten years ago, I started to realize how little I actually know. It’s called “growing up,” I guess.

And while the sheer magnitude of what I still don’t know is beyond human comprehension, with roughly twenty years of training under my belt and now ten years as a fitness professional, I have picked up some lessons about fitness and life, along the way – lessons that I’d like to share with you today.

So, here are 30 lessons I’ve learned about fitness over my lifetime. Perhaps you’ve learned some of them yourself. Whether these provide you with new ideas or good reminders, I hope that they’re helpful for you.

There’s something in here for everyone, and I hope that you get at least one or two that you can latch onto.

30 Lessons From a Lifetime of Fitness

  1. Fitness methods that do not prioritize health above all else are doomed to fail eventually.
  2. You can’t out-train a bad diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or a lack of sleep.
  3. Working out doesn’t make you a commando, ninja, or badass.
  4. The real secret to getting healthy and fit as quickly as possible is usually to slow down.
  5. You’ll get greater benefits out of mastering a variety of squat exercises than just specializing in one or two. The same goes for most other fundamental exercises.
  6. Nutrient delivery is far more important than nutrient timing. So, heal your gut, get mobile, and get moving.
  7. Until you know who you are, why you’re here, what you believe, and what you stand for, you’ll perpetually struggle to achieve mastery over your health and fitness. You can’t have fitness mastery without self-mastery. The two go hand-in-hand.
  8. If you wish to remove the impediments to your health and fitness, you must remove as many damaging activities from your life as possible, compensate for the ones that you can’t remove, and implement enough variety into your training and day to day life to reduce the risk of over-specializations from occurring.
  9. If you don’t eat as many vegetables as you should be, don’t ask me anything about nutrition. And please, for goodness sake, don’t ask me about testosterone therapy if you’re not willing to give up your beer drinking habit.
  10. If you’re too busy to take care of yourself, then just between you and me, you don’t have your priorities straight.
  11. Whether you realize it or not, you’re doing “yoga” all day long. What shape are you creating with your body? Speaking of which…
  12. Habitually sitting down for prolonged periods of time will have catastrophic consequences to your health and fitness that cannot be remedied except through physical activity (e.g. less sitting).
  13. If you can do all kinds of crazy fitness tricks and stunts, but can’t run, jump, or climb with ease, your fitness is quite lacking. Also, you can get even stronger, more fit, and more resilient from climbing rocks, trees, and walls than you will from doing pull-ups or other “vertical pulling” exercises alone. Just food for thought.
  14. Making small changes almost always works better than making big changes. And small changes to your habits can accumulate into big changes in your results.
  15. Training should build you up, not break you down. And exercise shouldn’t hurt. Pain is not gain.
  16. There isn’t a drug, supplement, pill, or procedure on the planet that is as effective as a healthy diet, proper training, and restful sleep. Continue to ignore this at your peril.
  17. More often than not, strength of character is the determining factor in one’s success. Think about that.
  18. One of the secrets of not overeating is to not mind being hungry.
  19. If you don’t have a good enough reason to change, you won’t.
  20. Body fat isn’t stubborn. It’s really quite predictable.
  21. Common sense isn’t common anymore. Therefore, the one who wishes to be uncommon, must be unconventional.
  22. Exercise should not be “punishment” for your “diet sins.”
  23. Food is more than just fuel – a lot more. And it’s not good or bad, clean or dirty. It’s just food. So, eat as well as you can, and be glad that you have it.
  24. The “all-or-nothing” approach to fitness rarely works.
  25. If you can’t function normally after your workout, you’re doing it wrong.
  26. Perfection is over-rated, rarely works, and usually creates more problems than it’s worth. And by the way, taking action is better than thinking, planning, or hoping that you’ll take action. Most people would benefit a great deal from less information, more application.
  27. If your training isn’t functional, then chances are high that it’s dysfunctional.
  28. Effort gets better results in the short term, but using good technique gets better results in the long term.
  29. Those who ignore mental training will miss the single greatest strategy for succeeding in their physical training.
  30. The moment that you start to believe – deep down – that you are going to succeed, it becomes your destiny.

Final Words

This is my 600th post here at PhysicalLiving.com.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I posted the 500th post. Or, quite frankly, the first. And fortunately, things have come a long way since then.

Thank you so much for the support over the years! I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading. Deal?

Now, if you enjoyed this post, would you do me a favor and share it with your friends? That would be a huge help. Thank you!

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Health-First Fitness Coach

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P.P.S. Photo credit: 1.

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7 Responses

  1. I loved 7, 17, 21 & 30. You’re a wise young man John. Happy birthday.

  2. Great list! I’d love more information about the 2nd half of #9. Do you have a link to an article or something that explains the beer drinking/testosterone relationship?

    • Hey Scott, I haven’t written anything on the subject, but studies have shown that beer drinking lowers testosterone levels and increases estrogen levels. A quick Google search will provide plenty of information. I probably should put together an article about it, at some point. Thanks!

  3. Fantastic list and article with some very clever advise. Just stumbled upon your site and an immediate big fan. Loved your instructional video on correct pull-ups as well.

  4. Marcin, 35 from Poland

    Every single one is true but I especially like no.2, 7, 10 and 30😊 I’ll keep reading if you keep writing me back (Please be so kind and check also my post under the article about getting up early 😉). I realize that if you have four kids delay is inevitable. Happy birthday by the way!
    Take care!

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