Things I’ve Learned over 20 years of training

At the time I’m writing this it’s the start of a new year. A great time to set some goals and get your training on track for the year. I’m definitely not some gym buff, but I’ve been training for a long time now and I thought I’d post some of the things I’ve found helped my training over the years. Hopefully they’ll help you in your own training goals.

#1 Warming up is really important

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that jumping into lifting weights, or doing pretty much any kind of exercise without warming up is one of the worst things you can do. Ironically, trying to get started faster can cost you many hours of time. Warming up seems like a waste of time sometimes and I have to force myself to do it, but it’s better than another back or shoulder injury. It’s not rocket science but there’s plenty of good guides around. Here’s one on youtube…

#2 You’re not competing with anyone else

Some of the bodies I’ve seen walking around the gyms I’ve attended over the years. You wonder how the heck people get into such good shape! Whether or not they have a little ahem help from steroids is another matter. It’s human nature to compare yourself to other people around you. But I’ve found it’s important to take things slowly with your training and focus on your goals.

You’ll meet people at all levels of fitness with all kinds of body shapes. Don’t compare yourself to them. Don’t get discouraged – and enjoy the success you have in your training.

#3 If you can’t have discipline, get a routine

If you’re anything like me, then you won’t always feel like exercising. Of course, you do need the discipline to get in your home gym, or climb on that exercise bike one more time, but you can take a lot of pressure off yourself by having a set time each day, or every X days when you do your training. For example, I always used to have ‘run Friday’. I know that on Friday I’m out for a run. No matter what.

This is even more important when you’re working from your home gym. Make a plan. Write it down and pin it up if it helps. But know what you’re doing and when.

#4 Start Small and build up!

I can think of a lot of people, as in a LOT, who have started training with the best of intentions and either not stuck with it, or gave up after a while. If I had to pick one reason why they disappeared from the gym, never to reappear, it would be this: They made it too hard for themselves, too early on.

If you half kill yourself when you start training, it’s very hard to motivate yourself to go to the next session. Not to mention the injuries you can get by going to hard, too soon. Take it easy at first. Start SMALL! Do a tiny amount of weight. Do a short amount of time. And build up. Let your body and your will grow!

One of the best things you can do when you start out is to keep a planner of your progress. If you’re on your climbing machine, then keep track of time or calories. If you’re lifing weights, record your sets, reps and weight. You’ll be amazed how quickly you come on, and how rewarding it is to see your progress.

 #5 Play the long game

I’ve met plenty of people who started training and gave up. Don’t be one of those people! It takes a long time to build up your body, your fitness, your lung capacity, your core strength and everything else you’ll need. Don’t plan for a few weeks of training. Aim to be training in 10 years. If you’re really out of shape, it will take a long time to get where you want to be.

And that’s FINE!

Take time and don’t rush. Build yourself up bit by bit. You can do it.

#6 Sort your diet out as well as your exercise

What you put into your body will have a huge impact on your training, not to mention your health. Everyone knows this but its all too easy to guess your diet and get it wrong. I’m still learning about nutrition for training all the time. I find it really difficult to make changes to my diet but learning what to eat is a HUGE part of training and health.

One of the best sites for learning about how to live longer, and the best kinds of foods to eat is , featuring medical research-based facts about what your should and shouldn’t eat, that’s easy to follow. I also really like Robin Ellis’s cookbook, Healthy Eating For Life, which has a lot of easy-to-make healthy foods.

#7 Have a day off

Modern life is nuts. Rush to work. Rush to pick up the children. And somewhere in there you have to fit in training. Having a home gym really helps to this end, but don’t get burnt out over-doing it.  Learn to listen to your body. Resting is an important part of training. It’s really exciting when you start getting into shape and want to train all the time, but take it easy. Stick to a plan and have a rest day regularly.

If you’ve got some tips you’ve picked up on home training over the years, please post them below. Happy and SAFE training to you.


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