The 66 Laws of Lifting and Life

Life has rules.
Some are quite obvious. Never hit on a friend’s ex-girlfriend, always put the toilet seat down at your lady’s house, and always make sure your fridge is stocked with beer in case you have company.
Lifting has rules.
Some of these are quite obvious, too. Don’t curl in the squat rack, step back from the dumbbell rack before you begin your set, and always re-rack your plates when you’re finished.

But some of the rules of lifting and life aren’t so obvious. You won’t find any step-by-step guides showing you how they work, but if you spend enough time under the bar they will become crystal-clear.

The gym works best for you when it mimics life. We all have tough shit to deal with at times, but when you’ve spent some time throwing around heavy iron, life’s difficulties suddenly become a bit easier to handle.

If there’s anything that spending a significant portion of your days with intense DOMs will tell you, it’s that you always have room to grow.

Here are the “66 Laws of Lifting and Life”.

  1. Anything worth doing takes time.
  1. Never judge others who are trying their hardest. Perfect form on a 95-lb back squat is infinitely more impressive than  a 225-lb quarter squat.
  1. If you never give up, you’ll be tough as hell to beat.
  1. Men, please don’t lift with a collared shirt, blue jeans or bicycle shorts. Ever. Unless you’re shipwrecked on a desert island, that’s all you’ve got, and you get lucky and the island has a squat rack.
  1. Everyone has an opinion — but if it works for you, there’s no reason to stop.

Side note: Don’t spend ONE SECOND worrying about the “keyboard warriors” out there. Your mates in the gym are ten times more important.

  1. Showing up every day is half the battle.
  1. The doers will always accomplish more than the thinkers. The fisherman with the shiniest bait doesn’t catch the most fish. The fisherman with the most lines in the water does.
  1. You can’t rush something that you want to last forever. Fat loss, muscle gain, strength — it all takes a significant amount of time. Never train for today. Train for the long haul.
  1. Be mindful of the process, not the results — you can only control what you put into something.
  1. You will have to make sacrifices if you want to reach your goals.

(You can still have bacon, though. You can always have bacon.)

  1. You’re never done — “It’s still your motherf*ckin’ set.”

  1. There are very few reasons to stand on a bosu ball. To “engage your core” is certainly not one of them.
  1. 1 If you want a cookie, have a cookie. Just don’t have all the cookies.
  1. Have good posture. Keep your shoulders back and your chin up — you’ll get better results.
  1. Write things down so you don’t forget them. With smartphones, this should be easy. Be sure to use the “notes” app in between your sets.
  1. Your progress will be determined by the quality of your work, not by the time you spend doing it. Half an hour of solid, professional work trumps an hour of BS every single time.
  1. Deodorant/cologne/perfume are okay, but it’s always better to just not have body odor to begin with.
  1. Be present daily. The past is over and the future isn’t here. The present is the only thing we can control.
  1. 1% improvements add up. The law of compound interest is extremely powerful.
  1. If your ass sweats, be sure you wipe the print off the bench.
  1. The antithesis of progression isn’t regression, it’s complacency. Never settle for staying the same.
  1. Everything works at first, but nothing works forever. You must be willing to drop your old, preconceived notions and embrace the uncertainty of a new routine, a new philosophy or a new methodology. Adapt and thrive.
  1. “Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weight.” Amen, Ronnie.

  1. Being strong is very useful. You might find people asking you to pick up heavy shit for them. Don’t be put off by the requests. Do it. And when you’re done, smile and wink at them. ‘Cuz you a bad muthaf*cka.
  1. The only way to make 200 pounds feel “light” is by mastering 300 pounds.
  1. Doing things the right way is always better, so show good form.
  1. “More” doesn’t always equal “better”. Unless it’s ice cream. Or steak.
  1. If you chew gum, be careful not to choke on it.
  1. Stop caring what others think about you. Do whatever makes you happy. F*cks are given way too frequently in this world. Make sure you only give them where they’re deserved.
  1. Be humble and don’t lift it if it’s too heavy for you. If you get cocky, you will eventually get put in your place.

  1. Actions speak louder than words. The confident man doesn’t need to open his mouth at every opportunity. You don’t need to grunt, moan, and scream every time you pick up a dumbbell. Be intense, lift the weight and get stronger. Just shut up about it.
  1. Use chalk. If your gym doesn’t allow it, hide it. If they catch you, find a new gym.
  1. If you’re spotting someone and they fart, don’t laugh —  it’s distracting. But if it smells, you are within your rights to give them a titty-twister between sets.
  1. The only thing to fear is — fear itself. You know that saying, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable?” It’s a solid quote, but here’s a better one: “Be UNcomfortable with being comfortable.” Once you finally feel uncomfortable in your comfort zone, real progress begins.
  1. Don’t be afraid to get help — you don’t know everything.
  1. When you’re working, be intense and strictly business — but when you’re not, smile and be friendly.
  1. Resting is at least as important as working for long-term improvement. Those guys you read about in magazines who train six days a week for two hours each session? They are one of two things:  1. Enhanced or 2.  Freaks. And you, my friend, are likely neither.
  1. Don’t spit in the drinking fountain.
  1. Simple is often more effective than complex. Don’t spend time coming up with a program that hits the bicep peak 7 different ways if you can’t do a pull-up and your row is stuck at 65 pounds. Take care of the basic, compound, barbell movements first. Strength is king. If you want to chase “the pump”, you need to be sure you can catch it first.
  1. Know the difference between good pain and bad pain.

Good pain = “The burn, baby, the burn.”

Bad pain = “What the hell was that pop?”

laws of lifting

Bad pain = “What the hell was that pop?”. Image courtesy of Life Booster.

  1. Eat your veggies and stay hydrated.
  1. Seek out things which are challenging, as the challenge will lead to growth. Nobody has ever grown by staying in their comfort zone. Attack the things that make you uncomfortable. Approaching life like this is what separates the great from the mediocre. There’s always shit you don’t want to do. And you should do that shitty shit — right now.
  1. Ask someone to spot you when the weight gets heavy. In both lifting and in life. We all need a bro-hug from time to time. Don’t be afraid to have emotions or feelings. We all have them, it’s just that some people are more comfortable with expressing them.
  1. Compare yourself to the “old you” and nothing else. If YOU are making improvements on a regular basis, that is literally all that matters. Comparing yourself to the unattainable ideal you see in the magazines, the movies and the media is a useless and unfulfilling way of going through life.
  1. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
  1. You can always be stronger. When you finally pull 600, the best thing to do is eat a post-workout meal and plan the path to 700.
  1. Your level of bro-ness is quantified by the size of your water bottle. One of those itty-bitty, mini bottles? You’re a sissy. A milk jug? Watermelon balls. It’s science.
  1. When you squat heavy, the world’s burdens feel a bit easier to deal with. When life has you down, you’re feeling poorly and you can’t imagine having any more weight on your shoulders, squat the hell out of it.
  1. Happiness comes from within — it is created inside of you, not the other way around. Assuming your basic needs are met, happiness should be attainable. If you’re not happy under these conditions, it’s time for some self-reflection.

    laws of lifting

    Happiness comes from within. Image courtesy of Fast Company.

  1. If you don’t feel like doing something but you know it will be good for you, fake it ’til you make it. Over time, you’ll probably realize it’s not all that bad.
  1. Always vomit in the appropriate place.
  1. The most difficult things to do often provide the greatest benefits.
  1. If you quit, you will lose your gains.
  1. Get some sleep. If you have kids, sell them. Take the money you made and purchase a better mattress.

    laws of lifting

    Get some sleep. Image courtesy of rogue health and fitness.

  1. Learn to deal with failure.
  1. Have a plan, and then go execute it. Ass-kickers aren’t born. They are made.
  1. You can accomplish amazing things with grit, determination and perseverance.
  1. Don’t be afraid to tell someone “no”.
  1. Assuming adequate intensity, if you want to gain mass, eat more – if you want to lose fat, eat less. It’s truly that simple.
  1. Learn to love yourself. If you can’t love yourself, how on earth can you possibly expect other people to love you?
  1. If you’re the strongest person in the room, find another room.
  1. Always shit before you squat. You’ve been warned.
  1. You will not learn more by browsing the internet than you will by spending time under the bar.
  1. Time spent on you is time well spent. You are an amazing investment —  don’t be afraid to be selfish.
  1. Stop whining and lift.
  1. When the gym explodes behind you after you walk out the door, don’t look back. Just put on a pair of sunglasses and smile. You did it right.

About the Author

Jason HelmesJason Helmes is an online fitness consultant from Canton, Michigan who is passionate about helping average men and women integrate fitness into their hectic schedules. His firm, Anyman Fitness, LLC, was founded in 2013 and has had over 650 clients to date.