I started lifting weights in my early thirties and immediately fell in love with it. It felt primal, pure, and rewarding.
When you first start lifting, progress comes easy. Newbie gains, they call it. Those rapid results were satisfying and encouraged me to keep going. I soon formed a habit and trained consistently on a set schedule, week in and week out.
I quickly noticed a clear correlation between the effort I put in and the progress I made. It seemed like a direct linear relationship — more so than any other activity I can think of.
The three fundamental traits of success
Reflecting on this, I realized there were three core components to my progress:
- Having a good lifting program (aka working on the right things or working smart)
- Working with intensity (i.e. pushing myself to my limits and aiming for max output every session)
- Consistency (showing up regularly at the gym and never skipping sessions or exercises)
As long as I ticked all three boxes, my progress took care of itself.
As I got deeper into lifting, I broke past the newbie gain stage. Progress still came, but it was more hard-won. That was fine — by now, I was in a well-greased groove.
I tracked my progress with targets for lifting ever-increasing weight and was starting to dial in details like diet, rest, and recovery. I was counting calories, tracking macros, and optimizing my sleep patterns.
These things all helped me continue to progress, as did occasionally switching up my lifting protocol or adding assistance exercises when I plateaued on a certain lift.
But the key to my progress always came down to a foundation of those three core elements; working on the right things, working hard, and consistently showing up. Without nailing all three, those little additional details would have been a waste of time.
Two bonus tips
Now I’m going to bookend these three traits with two tips that will help you apply them:
- Start by clearly defining your goal. Otherwise, it’s hard to identify the right things to work on, and you can go round in circles without making much progress. This is actually the most critical aspect of success. Goal-setting is an art of its own, which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say, defining what success looks like before you begin will make…