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This question was originally published on Quora. Answer by Nicolas Cole.

I've been training seriously in the gym for about 8 years now, and have been fortunate to have learned many lessons from the more experienced lifters that were generous enough to teach me what they had learned along the way. Not sure how "secret" these tips are, but these are things I wish I had known years before I ended up learning them.

1) Ego Gets You Nowhere

I'm putting this first for two reasons: One because I think one of the most useless things you can become in life is a soulless and douchebag meathead with a physique (aka not using your "status" for good) and two because this will actually help you gain muscle faster. Everybody gets so caught up in how much weight they can move, how big they are, ego ego ego. They care more about the number of plates than they do how many reps they can get or even how well they can perform each rep. If you want to build an impressive physique, leave your ego at the door. You will build muscle and avoid injury at 10x the pace if you stop focusing on trying to out-bench someone else and instead focus on performing each lift with strict, perfected form. Squeeze. Focus. Be mentally engaged the entire time. This is how real muscle is built, and how you can ultimate shape the physique you want. The flipside here is, quite literally, your ego is useless in the gym. It's actually useless everywhere. Everybody goes through it and you will too—you'll put on some size, you'll get shredded and then people will start to build you up. You'll get attention. You'll become the center of attention. And it'll make you feel "above" people. Don't let it hit you like that. Remember, you once walked into that gym feeling unsure or self-conscious too. Don't forget that. Use your newfound "status" to help the next person. Leave your ego at the door. You'll get farther in every sense.

2) Lifting Routines Are 20 Percent; Food Is 80 Percent

If you think you are going to achieve your fitness goals by focusing 100% of your time and energy on what your lifting routine is, you are wasting your time. In order to gain muscle, in order to build an impressive physique, in order to be healthy, in order to avoid injury, in order to succeed in just about every way possible in fitness you HAVE to learn about nutrition. You have to be conscious of what you eat. You have to learn what a carb is, what a gram of protein is, what fats are, and how all 3 affect your body. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an inexperienced lifter. They might be moving a lot of weight or they might be strong or they might have achieved their own successes in the "fitness" world, but imagine how much farther they would be if they learned about food.

3) Supplements Are NOT NECESSARY

When I was thinking about competing, I got asked maybe 2 or 3 times a DAY at my gym by different people what supplements I was taking. People assumed that in order to have a physique like mine I had to be taking some "secret" supplement. -I've never done steroids -I've used protein powders off and on but haven't used them in about 2 years now because they upset my stomach. -I've taken, on and off, creatine, arginine, glutamine, preworkout, Amino Acids, and Tribulus. That's it. But supplements are NOT necessary. I didn't build my physique out of 100 bottles of creatine. I didn't build my physique out of stacking hundreds of dollars of supplements. I built it through 2 things: 1) Consistency 2) A perfect diet I don't drink alcohol. I don't eat processed foods. I don't eat fast food. I don't eat "unhealthfully." I cook all my meals (6 per day) myself. I eat very clean, very low in sugar. I am consistent. That's how I built my physique.For YEARS, I thought it was all about the supplements—just like everyone else. And when I tell people the "secret" is just a consistent meal plan, they STILL ask "Yeah but what supplements are you taking?" There is no secret. Supplements aren't necessary. The "Secret" is the food you eat.

4) Train With Someone Better Than You

I have been very, very lucky in that I had some very generous lifters "mentor" me for long periods of time. I've trained with powerlifters and pro bodybuilders every day for years. This is what allowed me to grow at a much faster rate—both physically and mentally in terms of fitness knowledge. Some people can do it by themselves, but from my own experience I grow the most whenever I'm lifting with other people. Even today I have a lifting partner. There's something about training with other people that makes it feel competitive and pushes you to push yourself. If you can, find someone to train with. You'll learn more, you'll grow more, and it'll be more fun..

5) Do NOT Push Through Injuries

It's not worth it. There were times when I was so obsessed with my lifting routines that I would lift regardless of how I felt, and I ended up hurting myself more. If you feel it in your body that something isn't right, then rest. Know the difference between soreness and real pain, but even mid lift, if a certain angle or a certain weight doesn't feel right then change it. If you're training with other people, don't be afraid to say something. Only YOU know your body. Put that above everything else and keep yourself healthy.

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