20 Things the Gym Can Teach You


The gym can teach you valuable lessons that carry over into other areas of your life

The gym is one of the best teachers of self-improvement and discipline there is. It forces us to look at results and take responsibility for everything from our diet and meeting our fitness goals, to teaching us the amount of work at have to do to achieve goals. This post will teach you 20 life lessons you can glean from your time at the gym.

1. Training hard isn’t enough: The old phrase you can’t outtrain a bad diet is true. Diet matters. If you eat too many calories, you will not lose fat. On the other hand, if you are trying to build muscle mass and aren’t in a caloric surplus, you won’t build muscle. Your body is dependent on your diet. Lazy people will use that as an excuse not to train, but. training is important. The issue is that it isn’t enough. Your diet has to be spot on.

2. The gym is honest: If you haven’t been getting it done, there is something you’re doing wrong. If you have weaknesses they will show. Again, if your diet sucks your gym performance will suck. There are some freaks out there that can get away with a lousy diet and still get results, but they are rare. The gym is honest, you will get out what you put in. If your diet is on point, and you are committed to your training program/split, you will get good or even great results. If you have no discipline it will show. You need to be disciplined.

3. Discipline will make or break you: Build discipline if you want to be a success in and out of the gym. The gym is the easy part, but following a disciplined diet is what will yield maximum results. Another discipline is doing the exercises correctly. This means to keep tension on the muscles instead of the joints. Power lifters are different, they need to train through the full range of motion since competition lifts have to be perfectly done. Power lifters still need to build muscle. Extra layers of fat impress no one. Mark Bell and Dan Green have a lot of muscle mass and they are power lifters. Follow these guys, and stay away from fat power lifters. This brings me back to discipline. Most people who are fat have no discipline. I know this because I was fat for years due to a lack of discipline when eating. Take pride in having great discipline. The most disciplined person will win bodybuilding shows. Discipline means that you do the work every day with consistency. Meal prep is done every day, and training is done every day.

4. Consistency is king: Discipline and consistency go hand in hand. The to get results in the gym you have to be consistent. Inconsistency in one area will lead to inconsistent results in another area. Think about an Olympic champion athlete: to get to that level they must operate with a different level of consistency. Whoever can consistently diet and train will get the best results. This means getting it done every single day.

5. Attack your weakness: Only training your strengths will lead to muscle imbalances. You must attack your weakness with vigor and intensity. A lot of people neglect their weakness because it hurts their egos. The best way to fix a weakness is to turn it into a strength. If your quads suck, do front squats 3 times per week. Think that is too much? Olympic lifters squat 10-14 times per week. Your body can handle squatting everyday. I have been squatting everyday for 2 years now. My squat has increased by 100 lbs in that time. This can happen with anyone who does the work. Attacking your weakness is the fastest way to get rid of it. This means being relentless and going after the weakness the way a predator goes after prey. If you’re not relentless, you won’t get results.

6. Be relentless: To be relentless you have to be consistent with your discipline outside the gym and your intensity inside of the gym. Intensity and enthusiasm matter. Relentless people never stop until they get the end result. When they get the end result, they chase another result. Being relentless is about loving the thrill of the chase, and taking pride in getting to the end result. Results are the only thing that matters. Relentless people know that this is why they are constantly working for an end result. Be relentless inside and outside the gym. This means to pick a result that you want from the gym, and commit to getting it. Then you need to keep going with all of your intensity until you get it. Being relentless means that you do whatever it takes to get the end result and win. It is an aggressive approach that combined with great discipline will yield solid results. Relentless people have great discipline since they know that they have to do whatever it takes.

7. Do whatever it takes: You need to change your attitude. Be the guy or girl that does whatever it takes. You have to, as your life depends on your ability to do whatever it takes. This means that you are the guy or girl that trains at 5 am if you have to. You are the one who skips out on drinks with the friends because you want results so bad. Once you get used to doing whatever it takes, you will see massive results and opportunities will begin to fall in your lap. Results are all that matter. Whatever it takes means to get the job done no matter what. If you have to miss sleep, miss sleep. People who do whatever it takes usually are excellent in their execution. This is why they get such outstanding results.

Doing whatever it takes is a winning philosophy. This is what champion athletes do. Floyd Mayweather is an athlete that did whatever it took to be the best boxer in the world and he reaped the rewards. Another athlete, Kobe Bryant, always did the work and took pride in being the guy that does whatever it takes. The guy that does whatever it takes will reap the rewards, and everyone else will get the leftovers. Think about the payoff. Who has the best chance to get the payoff, and the reward, the guy or girl that half-asses or the guy or girl that does whatever it takes? If you have to add sprints to the routine to lose extra body fat, do it. Results don’t care about you, you have to care about results. The people who do whatever it takes always win and they always find a way eventually.

8. The gym is ruthless: The gym doesn’t give a crap about how you feel or that your girlfriend dumped you. That has nothing to do with results. The only thing you need to do to get results is whatever it takes. Why? The gym and your gains are ruthless. They demand your attention. If you don’t pay attention to the results you want you will never achieve them. You don’t have to enjoy the long, hard work, but you have to do it. Whoever can push themselves to the edge the fastest will grow and adapt the fastest. We are always growing and adapting in the gym. The gym can teach people everything they need to know about life – if they allow it to. Most physically strong people are mentally strong, too. I talk more about physical strength and toughness with people I train because the mental toughness gurus are usually full of it. I haven’t seen many mentally tough people who aren’t physically tough too. Toughness has to be earned.

Toughness is earned through work and hardship. People have to overcome fears and weaknesses everyday. If you aren’t capable of overcoming fears and weaknesses, you won’t receive anything. It takes a lot of disciplined, consistent work to build the body of your dreams. The gym is ruthless and has no compassion for you. If you don’t train with intensity and eat right, your gains will suffer. You can’t have any mercy on yourself or other people. When you go to the gym you have to train with all of your intensity and your enthusiasm. When you get home you have to use all of your mental discipline and consistency to make sure you are eating well. Eating well is more important than the training. Whoever eats well, and disciplines themselves will have the best physique.

People ask me about the macros people. These people eat well, when they cut, they are in a calorie deficit. A keto diet is more strict and it works faster, but, macros work as well, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit. You can either increase physical activity to lose the fat or you can lower your caloric intake. That choice is completely up to the individual, since both methods produce results.

9. Patience helps gains come faster: If you are patient and focus on doing the work to the best of your ability, you will get fast results. This is where a lot of people screw up their gains in the gym. They expect to change their bodies in 3 weeks. This is rarely the case. It usually takes 90-120 days to change your body. The reason it takes so long is due to diet, and your body adapting to the stimulus of being in the gym. If your diet is perfect, you can get results in 90 days.  Yet, most people don’t have perfect diets. Most people cheat on their diets. They cheat on their diets because they are impatient. Cheating usually causes a lot of people to stop going all in.

That is why I use different terms to describe mindsets, and attitudes. What you must have is a practical attitude. If you are 50 lbs overweight, don’t expect to win a bodybuilding show in 3 months. Pick a goal that is practical, and slightly out of reach. This doesn’t give you an excuse to quit and not try. You need to push hard and fast, and go all in to whatever phase you are in.

10. You have to give it 100%: Since the gym is honest, you have to give it 100% effort. That means if you really want results, you have to stick to a diet plan and train 4-6 days per week for 4-6 months. It takes total dedication and commitment to transform your body. That means that you need to use your “full tank of gas” during every exercise session, and you need to use every ounce of mental focus every time you eat. People are capable of more than they think, the issue is that they never push themselves to new levels.


Attain new heights physically and mentally with self discipline

11. It can teach you to advance to new levels: Where you currently are could improve. All the modern body positivity nonsense is just an excuse to be mediocre. You need to get better everyday. You need to advance to new levels. If someone tells you you’re fat, and thereafter you lose weight because of that person, isn’t that something positive? If that were to happen, that person who told you about your weight, just helped you improve your life. People need to be told when they are overweight. Results matter more than feelings. Raise your current level of discipline. Raise your intensity. Raise your commitment. Go all in.

12. Advancing and conquering is everything: What if we focused all of our energy on advancing and conquering instead of playing it safe? What would happen? The answer is we would live more fulfilling lives. This isn’t about chasing a temporary high. This is about consistently reaching new and higher levels. This means that you consistently advance in whatever it is that you do. This is how our ancestors acted. This is how Alexander the Great was. If you advance and conquer in bodybuilding/power lifting, that will give you the formula for advancing and conquering in everything else.

This means you use your full tank of gas/energy to move forward towards a positive result or outcome. This means working like a maniac and demanding results and improvement. To advance and conquer in the gym, you have to focus on it. Use Gorilla Mindset principles. Am I focusing on advancing and conquering? Will this action help me advance in what I am doing? Focus on taking control and taking your body to a new level. There are daily steps and actions that you can take every day to get there. Use every resource, and exhaust every ounce of energy. Kick the door down until you finally see a breakthrough. This is a habit of conquerors and people who advance.

13. Your past doesn’t matter: Did you have a bad childhood? Have you served in prison? Do you have PTSD? Guess what, none of that matters. All that matters is the work and dedication that you put into the gym. It takes that maniacal drive and intensity to get there. But, once you get there, the results are so satisfying you can taste them. Obviously, PTSD and prison are extreme examples. My point is that anyone can get results in and out of the gym if they commit, have dedication and are consistent. There is no limit to how much you can do about advancing towards what you want to achieve.

There will be naysayers who only want to agitate you and break your focus. But, you can go all in and use every resource to get the results that you want. Forget about everything else. People prefer to whine about their past and say that they are special, unique snowflakes who struggle to get results. This isn’t true. If you chase results like a madman, you will begin to see the results. The gym doesn’t care about your past and neither should you, even if your past is fantastic. Whatever happened in the past is history and it can’t be changed. If you focus on maximizing your time right now to create your ideal future results, you will enjoy your life and the gym a lot more. If you use your energy and enthusiasm to advance and get things done, every day you will be closer to getting to your ideal future. All it takes is concentrated, dedicated focus on results.

 14. You need persistence: Persistence is a quality of every great man or woman. I have a phrase I use that says persistence pays. Keep going, and chase the finish line. If you don’t keep attacking and chasing down your goal, you will never get there. Have the persistence of a maniac and work like a man possessed to get the best results possible. This will make a lot of people uncomfortable, but those are the same people who will later be asking you for advice.

15. Emotions need to be controlled: In the gym and in business, emotions will mess you up. You need to do whatever it takes to keep emotions at a minimum. Learn to control your emotions. You will have doubts about the gym, for example you may be scared to lift heavier. The cure for all of it is to say this. “So what, I will go for it anyway.” This phrase works. We care too much about things that do not matter. The reason for this behavior is our ego. Put your ego to use. Take it personally that you are scared to advance. Take it personally that you are playing it safe and avoiding risks. This is a productive way to use your ego. Controlling your emotions is everything –  in bodybuilding and business. You will have bad days that will make you doubt yourself. What is doubt? Doubt is fear and uncertainty. The only thing that matters is results. The only way to get results is to take action. Action solves every problem. Keep emotions to yourself and begin to use action to solve problems and get better.

If you are an emotional mess, it will block your focus and make you screw up in the gym. Deep belly breathing is my preferred method to control emotions. If you keep cool, and steady your emotions throughout the day, you will be less reactive and it will be easier to get things done. This doesn’t mean that you need to become a pacifist and withdraw from life. It means you need to focus on doing things to get results in the gym and in business. You need to focus on activity and getting things done. Focusing on doing rather than feeling will get optimal results.

16. You can evolve and grow: The gym will teaches that you can evolve and grow. This is the case for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your past is. If you consistently show up, train and diet you can transform yourself, and grow physically and mentally. To do this you have to consistently stretch your current abilities. But, this is something most people want to avoid. They want to perform within their comfort zone rather than their effective zone. Whoever can deal with the most discomfort will win.

Commit to going all the way. By doing this you will increase your odds at growth and evolution. You have to become better than you currently are if you want to grow and evolve. Like everything, this requires focus. If you can squat 315 you need to be pushing for 325. You have to constantly stretch and expand. Granted, sometimes in the gym you automatically know that you will miss the weight. The important thing is to practice your courage muscle.

17. Courage matters: Courage is when you take action or do something despite being afraid. To get great results you must have courage. Courage is a rare quality that most people simply do not have. They’re gutless. Courage is something that everyone has to teach themselves. No one can hand you courage on a silver platter. To change and advance to a new level takes courage and persistence. If you go for that big payoff or that great result, you can get it. Imagine how satisfying it would be to get the big payoff you were going for. Have the courage to risk failure. Whenever I think I am acting gutless, I remind myself to think of the Roman Gladiators. These men had nothing but courage and honor. They risked their lives in the arena and they either killed or got killed, and they did it in spite of fear. This makes it easier for me to flex my courage muscles. Recognize that you are taught from a young age to play it safe and to avoid taking risks: Don’t touch that. Drive safely. People are more interested in safety than results.

18. You can always do more: Some days when I leave the gym wiped out and covered in sweat, I still think that I could have done more. In fact, I know that I could have done more. Everyday I can do more than I currently do. So can everyone else.

You can diet better. You can lift heavier or squeeze the muscle harder. You can be greedier for results. This realization came to me when I began to squat everyday, and now I notice that I rarely get sore. This comes down to my discovery, the discovery was that you can do more. Everyone. More work equals more results. If you write 4,000 words per day you will improve faster than the person who writes 1,000 words per day. I can still remember last year when I started writing 1,000 words per day. Now, I can write that many in 30 minutes max. Sure, everyone has their peak hours or peak productivity but I learned that I can do more, and I can push myself to new and higher levels. This principle of knowing I can do more, and continuously reminding myself to do whatever it takes helped tremendously.

19. Failure means whatever you think it means: How you handle failure will make or break you. Failure is just a result that you didn’t want. The reason it hurts is because you’re soft. Your feelings get hurt easy. If you fail once you will get another attempt. Humans are terrified of failure. But with your physique and your diet, unless you are perfect you will have some results that you dislike. That is all failure is, a result that we dislike. Keep reminding yourself, if you keep failing you will eventually succeed. Train yourself to handle failure with courage and dignity.

20: You need a solid system: In the gym and in life you need a system, or a blueprint. Every great team or athlete has one. A system is a process, or things that you do consistently to get results. No goal can get accomplished without a solid system in place. This is true for everyone, not just me. Phil Jackson had the triangle offense. The Bulgarian weightlifting team had their own system. Joe Torre and the Yankees had their own system. Everyone that gets results has a system. The system you have matters. You need to work to create a system that gives you consistent results. There are systems that help you get ripped, strong and muscular, and there are other systems that don’t. The trick is to find what works for you and to stick to the system, and aim to consistently progress and move forward.

For some people the keto diet along with a short rest, high volume program might yield the best result. For other people their system could be tracking macros and focusing on strength. Everyone is different. There might be someone who has a better system than mine. You have to find the system that creates the best results. Don’t pick your favorite system, pick the one that gets the best and fastest results.

A writing system to increase writing ability could be to write for 3 hours a day. Or, you could try another method which is focused on the total words for each day. Either system works, and gets results. The best system is the one that gets results and one you can consistently implement. There will always be more work to do if you want to advance and progress. Picking the right system is everything. Choose wisely, because a bad choice will mean a setback. Setbacks will happen, but try to minimize them. The best way is to learn from the mistakes of others.


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Feedback Welcomed

Comment below, share some of your own thoughts and I will share some of my biggest mistakes in training. The goal is for us to learn from other people’s mistakes and to avoid making the same ones. This is easier said than done.

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One comment

  • I’ve recently started the 5×5 program after a long hiatus from weightlifting and I can’t agree more with points 3, 4, and 9. In the past, I’d flit from one routine to another if I didn’t start seeing results within a few weeks. I have a proven system (point 20), now I just have to trust the system and stick with it. I also like the fact that it’s simple and can be done very quickly. I don’t like spending an hour lifting so it works perfectly with my schedule and temperament.


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