T Nation

30 Things I Think

I tossed this up as a blog the other day, but figured I’d post it here, hopefully for the newberinos to take to heart. I try to spend most of my time here in Beginners because, to me, there’s not as much of a point in talking things over with slightly-more experienced guys while leaving the new kids in the gym flailing on their own.

Frustrating as it sometimes can be, the way “it’s” always been done is for the more knowledgable guys to guide the less knowledgable guys. That shouldn’t change just because we’re on the Internet and not in the same gym at the same time.

Anyhow…

Maybe it was my recent birthday, or maybe I just couldn’t resist the urge to launch into a semi-random, semi-considerate list of principles, theories, and ideas, but here it goes:

  • If you can’t do double-digit push-ups and lunges, plus a handful of chin-ups, you’re out of shape and at that point, I don’t care how much you squat or how many abs are showing.

  • “Functional training” isn’t a broad generalization, it’s always context-specific. Competitive bodybuilders are extremely functional… for their sport… but they suck at MMA, and vice versa.

  • In From The Ground Up, Dan John said, “If all you did was clean and press, you could be awesome.” The more often I clean and press, the more I think he might be right.

  • Guys, whenever you adjust your junk in a public setting, where people like me can notice, I automatically assume you’re so poorly-endowed that you often forget it’s there and have to check. If you adjust your junk in the gym during your workout, I think you’re a giant tool fiddling with his small tool.

  • Joint mobility is important, but it’s pretty close to being overemphasized. Unless you have significant pre-existing issues, you’ll be fine if you “only” include a few quick, basic mobility drills in each workout; something for the hips and something for the thoracic spine are good “bang for your buck” areas to start with, with an ankle mobility and scapular stability drill coming in next.

  • Don’t forget where you came from, in family and in business. Biting the hand that feeds (or fed) you is a dirtbag move.

  • If you don’t know how to get a complete workout, hitting every major muscle group, using only a barbell, you still have learning to do.

  • No matter how advanced you are, get a role model, either real or fictional. Find somebody who inspires you be better, train harder, and bolsters your self-discipline, whether it’s Conan the Barbarian or your cousin Marty the Marine.

  • Get an arch-nemesis, preferably real, but certainly don’t feel the need to tell them they’re the lucky winner. Having somebody in mind, so you can always think to yourself, “XYZ wouldn’t punk out, so why am I?” can be incredibly motivating. Batman had, like, a thousand arch-enemies, and he’s pretty badass. Do likewise, gents.

  • When in doubt, do less, but do it harder. This applies to weight training and cardio.

  • Donate blood. It’s one of the least expensive (free, actually) and least time-consuming ways you can help your community. What’s the point of building a strong, lean, healthy body and keeping it to yourself? If you’re medically-able, donate as often as you can.

  • I purposely avoid conversations about politics, religion, and steroids, partly because I’m not 100% knowledgeable on those topics, though I certainly have an informed opinion on each, but also because those conversations are rarely productive and when they end, whoever you’re speaking with often views you just a bit differently from that point on. It’s a no-win situation.

  • If you don’t plan on ever using steroids, it makes no sense to train like someone who does, or to use that person’s physique and/or strength level as a motivator.

  • Metallica’s live S & M album is quite possibly the best training music ever created, start to finish. Anything by Disturbed or King Diamond are a close second.

  • Want to lose fat? The 3-step plan that never fails is: 1) Eat a little less. 2) Move a little more. 3) Do neither to an extreme. Get those broad strokes in place before sweating the details.

  • Whether you’re trying to gain muscle or lose fat, there’s no reason at all to be drinking plain water while you train. Drink whatever combination of aminos, protein, carbs, or other goodies are best suited your goals. Calories taken in immediately before, during, and immediately after you lift are absolutely crucial to progress.

  • There’s always more to learn, in lifting, nutrition, and in life, but that doesn’t mean things that worked 6, 16, or 60 years ago suddenly stop working. There should be enough room in your brain for the new info to bump into the old info and be like, “Why, hello, fellow idea. Let us live together as harmoniously productive roommates.”

  • Time management is underrated. Trim your time-wasters (like excessive email-checking) and you’ll be surprised how much more you get done in a day.

  • If you never plan to step on stage and compete, you’re not a bodybuilder, you’re just a guy who lifts weights, maybe does cardio, and pays attention to what he eats. If not being able to be labelled “a bodybuilder” upsets you, tough.

If I drive fast and make a lot of left turns, I’m not a NASCAR driver, I’m a guy in my car. If I shoot hoops alone in my driveway seven days a week, I’m not a basketball player, I’m a guy who plays basketball. There’s a difference; it may be subtle/borderline semantics, but there is one.

  • The only thing that genuinely annoys me in the gym is people who stand too close to the dumbbell rack while they lift (usually doing curls or lateral raises). It’s the only time I intentionally stare, waiting for an opportunity to let you know why that’s a douchey thing to do. But even then, I have the decency not to interrupt your set to tell you.

  • One of the best first steps you can take to improve your overall nutrition is to join a local CSA farm and eat all of the vegetables, usually 2-5 pounds worth, each week.

  • If you’re a personal trainer and you can’t explain any particular concept so that a 12-year old would understand it, you don’t really get it.

  • Great rule of thumb (should be rule of the wrist?) for fat loss cardio: Be explosive. Whether it’s sprinting, medicine ball throws for time, lightweight Olympic lift variations, or ballistic kettlebell exercises.

  • Regardless if it works or not, the “pick-up artist” phenomenon of the last few years makes me weep for the recent generation of boy-men.

  • I’ll say it once again: I don’t care what your bodyfat percentage is. Take pictures and track inches gained/lost for a much more accurate, more concrete way to chart progress.

  • For most people, eating three solid meals plus your pre/during/post-workout shakes will be pretty close to perfect, regardless of your goal.

  • It’s a tired, tired cliche, but when it comes to training, everything does work… for about six weeks. People have had results training one set per bodypart every two weeks, and some have had results training 20 sets per bodypart every three days. You’ll be lifting for your whole life, so be sure to experiment with everything in between.

  • Don’t be “too cool” to write down your workouts. Tracking your sessions from week to week and, eventually, year to year will let you see what does and doesn’t work. This is what makes long-term progress possible.

  • To express frustration, I call people knucklehead, goofball, and bonehead because calling them asshole, motherfucker, and shithead makes them stop listening to whatever else you’re saying.

  • Becoming a “Jack of all trades, Master of one or two” will turn you into a very valuable and useful person to friends, family, and employers. It also comes in handy when designing your training plan.

That should be 30 things. Unfortunately, since I was only shooting for 30, I couldn’t include any more, like how there’s no magic rep range that guarantees muscle-building, but if there was, it’d probably be under 8; or how the easiest way to get a better night’s sleep is to get darker window curtains, face the alarm clock away from you so it doesn’t act as a nightlight, and drink less water at night so you wake up to pee less.

I thought them all through, and they’re a few handfuls of things I believe, made just about as succinct as I can make them. Any questions? Let me know.

Awesome. I think this should be moved to the GAL forum so more people get a chance to read it.

sweet

I really liked the one on not arguing about areas you’re not knowledgeable in. Also, people doing curls by the dumbbell stacks is something no one should do.

Very good read.

I am learning.

thanks.

good read. dont agree with everything up there. I got that universal donor blood. Im not giving it out to just anyone lol.

Great post

I think this is best summed up by a Thomas Paine quote: “Time makes more converts than reason.” - Common Sense (1776)

This is true of anything. From physics to philosophy and everything in between.

I really like this quote:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - R.A. Heinlein (The Notebooks of Lazarus Long)

I mess with my junk at the gym :frowning:

haha do you never have to rearrange things when squatting or deadlifting? Stuff gets in weird positions sometimes.

Good read chris.

“everything does work… for about six weeks”

This alone is HUGE-took me ten years to realise and fully appreciate this. The difference has been night and day in both results and enjoyment of training since then.

I really enjoyed reading this

I liked the PUA comment.

I’m glad you post on this forum Chris. I can’t do ten pushups, but I like you all the same.

good stuff! I am up to a gallon and a half in blood donations

my time management completely sucks and has all semester. I know what wastes i need to trim, i just can’t make the final push to do so.

You are a good resource for beginners Chris. Keep it up.

sticky worthy

Glad some of you folks enjoyed it.

[quote]phishfood1128 wrote:
dont agree with everything up there.[/quote]

Nothing wrong with that. I’d actually say it’s encouraged not to believe everything any one person says. When a few people start saying similar stuff, though, that’s when it’s most important to perk up an ear.

Because, um, you’re afraid you’ll run out? :wink:

[quote]bunyip wrote:

  • If you’re a personal trainer and you can’t explain any particular concept so that a 12-year old would understand it, you don’t really get it.

This is true of anything. From physics to philosophy and everything in between. [/quote]

I actually have to credit my mom for this one. When I first started studying to be a trainer, she’d ask me about nutrition or exercise and I guess I’d get a bit carried away and explain in too much detail. She’d stop me and say, “Wait, I’m confused. Pretend you’re explaining it to a 12-year old so I can understand it.” It’s just something that clicked from then on.

its funny how u compared your mom to a 12 yr old

lol

[quote]waylanderxx wrote:
I mess with my junk at the gym :frowning:

haha do you never have to rearrange things when squatting or deadlifting? Stuff gets in weird positions sometimes.[/quote]

If it’s a legit issue of something bending a way it shouldn’t bend, I’d say discrection is the name of the game (hello, hip mobility drills between sets). If it’s ball juggling reminiscent of David Bowie in Labyrinth, that’s a bit much… especially when the guy is knuckle-deep in his scrote and then he finishes his last set with the same dumbbells you planned to use next.

[quote]Otep wrote:
I can’t do ten pushups, but I like you all the same.[/quote]

Barring a shoulder injury or some other structural issue, I’m afraid I may not be able to reciprocate your chummy feelings. :wink: For shame, O. For shame.

[quote]JaX Un wrote:
good stuff! I am up to a gallon and a half in blood donations[/quote]

Good on ya, bud.

I got most of it, actually, from Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek. It’s part-trimming (like killing time on the Internet), part-rearranging (like setting specific times to check e-mail), and part-switching your perspective (like no more multi-tasking).

I haven’t adopted each of his ideas exactly as he suggests, but I’ve tweaked the basic concepts to free up time. His ideas about a low information diet are also pretty solid.

Another big thing I’ve done is to avoid the Internet, and the whole computer whenever possible, on the weekends. Probably means it wasn’t a good idea to start this thread on a Friday afternoon, but still, it helps keep the weekends free. :slight_smile:

[quote]RiVaL6 wrote:
its funny how u compared your mom to a 12 yr old

lol[/quote]

Funny, yeah, but that’s really how she explained it. It’s not a “treat me like I’m dumb”-thing, it’s a “Break it down so it’s easy for almost anyone to comprehended”-thing.

When you “understand” a given topic because you’ve studied it thoroughly, it’s sometimes hard to remember that not everyone has the same base-level knowledge, and that’s when it’s important to be able to convey ideas and instructions without losing their purpose or effect.

Thanks for some great down to earth but applicable info Chris!

D

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Glad some of you folks enjoyed it.

phishfood1128 wrote:
dont agree with everything up there.

Nothing wrong with that. I’d actually say it’s encouraged not to believe everything any one person says. When a few people start saying similar stuff, though, that’s when it’s most important to perk up an ear.

I lied. I only disagree with half of the steroid point. There is a pro in my gym and he motivates me to get as big and strong as possible naturally but it would be retarded to train like him and I cannot make the claim with certainty that I will never try AAS.

I got that universal donor blood. Im not giving it out to just anyone lol.

Because, um, you’re afraid you’ll run out? :wink:

[/quote]

I lied. I only disagree with half of the steroid point. There is a pro in my gym and he motivates me to get as big and strong as possible naturally but it would be retarded to train like him and I cannot make the claim with certainty that I will never try AAS.

lol I want to donate but then I forget or never get around to it. Poor excuse but at least i feel somewhat bad about it.

Seriously though it was a great read. Your effort didnt go unnoticed.