29 Lessons from 29 Years

I just realized that I didn’t post a “28 Lessons from 28 years” on my birthday last year. I also realized over a week late that I didn’t write one on my birthday this year either. Before senility fully sets in, here are 29 lessons related to fitness, business and life in general that I’ve learned over the past year:

  • Getting married helped me realize how many awesome people my wife and I have in our life. If you kindle your relationships with friends and family, it’s mind blowing how far they’ll go to help you with big life events.
  • On that note, when we were house shopping, we were referred to our realtor by several of my co-workers, and he was a rockstar who made the home buying process as smooth as possible. Another lesson: referrals are huge, whether you’re looking to hire or get hired.
  • The self-help book craze among fitness professionals is a little ridiculous. Mix in an anatomy or business book between Wish It, Want It, Do It ripoffs.
  • And while I do enjoy a self-help book every now and then, I’m sick of reading about what billionaires do every day now that they’re rich and don’t have to work (i.e. read and meditate for 8 hours a day). I want to hear about what they DID to get where they are.
  • Every time I’m in a productivity rut, I break it by waking up earlier.
  • I’m no social media guru, but my online reach starting growing faster when I became more consistent. Modern audiences have short attention spans and value consistency, so if you’re a content creator, set a schedule and stick to it.
  • Having a “Type A” personality doesn’t make you a good person, and NOT being Type A doesn’t make you a bad person. I had a hard time grasping this for a long time.
  • Sometimes “bad” business decisions are the best business decisions. In my experience, sacrificing a few dollars in the moment to help a client through a rough financial patch has never resulted in a long-term loss (double negatives in back-to-back lessons?). Learn to see the lifetime value of a customer instead of immediate cash.
  • Warm-up exercises and corrective exercises don’t have to be one and the same. You can use a warm-up drill even if it isn’t “fixing” anything.
  • Another fallacy: “If you have to foam roll it every day, your foam rolling isn’t working.” It’s called daily maintenance. That’s like saying if you have to change your car’s oil more than once, your oil change isn’t working.
  • Similarly, “program hopping” applies to corrective drills and soft tissue work too. You have to apply a stimulus long enough to let it create an adaptation. You can’t try it once, toss your hands up and cry that it didn’t work.
  • Every strength sport has a skill component, but getting really strong is always helpful. I may still be a novice with kettlebell stuff, but benching 400 pounds certainly helps when it comes to pressing the 44kg bell.


  • To paraphrase Jim Wendler: “Discipline over motivation.” Do it every single day and you won’t need to get motivated to do it.
  • To paraphrase Dr. Rob Gilbert: “If it’s easy to do, it’s also easy NOT to do.”
  • Another gem from Dr. Gilbert: Most people spend more money on their car than their library. Which is a shame, because your mind will get you much further in life than a car ever could.
  • Champions live and die by routines, so pick a few things that you do EVERY DAY to be successful. Start with making your bed and flossing.
  • It’s important to have passions and hobbies outside of fitness (or whatever you do for work). Greg Robins and I merged our mutual love for craft beer to create The Strength House podcast, and it’s tons of fun.
  • If maximal strength is your main goal, your conditioning workouts need to be really easy. Like, doesn’t-even-feel-like-a-workout easy.
  • But if fat loss is your goal, there’s nothing wrong with pushing the sled til you feel like you want to puke.
  • Speaking of goals, write them down. Just do it, it works.
  • I’d rather use accommodating resistance (i.e. bands and chains) than reduced range of motion exercises (i.e. board presses, block pulls, etc.) to overload the lockout of an exercise.


  • People like to crap on certain Ohio-based training methods for being “too low volume” to work for novice to intermediate lifters. Which is true, if your max squat is 225. What they forget is you build a lot of volume and tonnage during your warm-up sets when your 1RM is 1,000 pounds. Try doing 5×5 when your 80% is 800 pounds and see what happens.
  • On the other hand, many argue against submaximal percentage based training because your 1RM can fluctuate 5-10% on a given day. However, if you use intelligent programming, that fluctuation shouldn’t matter because the weights will be always be light enough to accommodate for days when you feel lousy.
  • You’ll rarely do yourself any harm by deloading every fourth week.
  • But if you train less than 3 days a week, don’t you dare deload every fourth week.
  • Don’t be afraid to load frontal plane exercises decently heavy to help mobility “stick”.
  • The more you specialize, the more you’ll have to ask for help. You can’t know everything about everything, so surround yourself with smart people who know stuff you don’t.
  • Eating speed works both ways: eat slower to lose weight, eat faster to gain weight. Set the clock and beat it.
  • Grilling is still the best meal prep option of all time. A tasty beverage helps too.



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