T Nation

Are "Gurus" Really Necessary?


#1

Ok, first let me say that I’m not referring to traditional coaches. In my opinion, the term coach is typically used to denote someone with a great deal of education and experience who serves as a guide to those inexperienced, or perhaps unable to be objective in their chosen pursuit.

No, I mean the Gurus as they seem to exist in the IFBB level of bodybuilding. Here you have advanced “athletes”, who I’m quite certain understand enough about training an nutrition to at least reach a high enough level on their own. Yet, at some point, they decide that they require someone else to take them to that upper echelon. Is it solely abut the PEDs? Is it some perceived magical application of the same nutrition and training info that everyone else has access to? Perhaps it’s just a deep seated need to feel like you’re being guided by someone more knowledgeable to put you at ease, or even have someone to blame when things don’t turn out as planned(how many times do we see IFBB competitors change coaches year after year when they again fail to take top honors).

I believe it was the late Dan Duchaine who said that coaching bodybuilders was akin to babysitting giant children.

S


#2

Are there any top level athletes who don’t have a coach? I don’t know what it’s like to compete at the highest level but if that one situation you havent faced which could derail you comes up, you don’t want to scramble around to find someone - or worse, experiment as it’s unfolding. That could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Also, PEDs.


#3

All of the above

If you don’t enjoy parts of the process why not have someone else handle all the planning and details for you. Pros are probably bored shitless of some aspects of prep.

Probably mutually beneficial too: Fame, Money, Politics etc.

Jeremy Buendia + Hany Rambod + Evogen = Olympia + $$$


#4

Probably for steroids connections and to be a bro


#5

I have a sneaking suspicion Brian Shaw trains himself, but you’re the strongman so I imagine you’d know more about him than I


#6

Brian is a bit interesting as he is a coach as well as a competitor. He also has a “crew” he trains with. Thor has a coach, unsure about Big Z, Hall and some of the other guys.


#7

I’m also not sure, but I have the same impression from Shaws training. Dan Green also trains without a coach? I have zero knowledge about BB pros though.


#8

Obviously not a bodybuilder of any sort but with these guru coaches I feel as though they are really just there to keep the competitors on track. Mostly in relation to nutrition and drugs. Phil Heath is currently #1 and pretty sure with his genetics a damn monkey could design his bro split and it’d work.


#9

This is an interesting idea. I don’t think ‘gurus’ exist – If you listen to Phil Heath or Kai Greene or Jeremy Buendia, etc speak/read what they write on social media, they always refer to these ‘gurus’ as their coaches, and it’s the internet that terms them ‘gurus’. So, I’m going to just use the word ‘coach’ here. As to whether they are ‘necessary’, I think that’s a coin flip.

On the one hand, you can argue ‘No’ by citing Dorian Yates and all the Olympias he won and all the size he developed without using a coach. But on the other hand, you could argue against that point by citing that Dorian may have won the Olympia title more than he did if he had a coach that could have helped prevent all his injuries. Then again, Ronnie Coleman had a coach and he injured the hell out of himself; not to speak ill of the deceased, but Dallas McCarver had a coach too…

This is not to point fingers or to call anyone out or to be malicious in any way; rather, I just think this might be interesting and/or illuminating: @The_Mighty_Stu and @BrickHead – do you guys know why Arash decided he needed a coach after doing everything himself for nearly 20 years? (no need to answer…you may choose to read that question as rhetorical if you’d like)


#10

arnold, haney, yates did it on their own. why do pros need a coach nowadays? it is really interesting.


#11

I just remembered that Calum Von Moger isn’t coached formerly either. You could argue, however, that seeing as he get so much advice Frank McGrath that he is being trained.

I think seeking coaching is probably related to the confidence of the lifter. With all due resoect for world-class competitiors, most guys like Eddie Hall, CVM and Ed Coan know they’re at the top of the game, whereas contenders like Thor and Ramy know they have what it takes, but just can’t ‘break the wall’ to get number 1.


#12

When I think Guru I think of someone who has a special way of doing something, or at least proclaims to. Not just a great base of knowledge

I wouldn’t consider CT a “guru”, but I might consider Meadows to have a hint of guru (I’m almost positive he would not consider himself one). He has a system of splits, exercises, and sequencing that he likes and I think he applies broadly to most of his trainees.

I think you kind of have to have “a way” you do you things to cross that guru line.


#13

I believe there are three groups of people who go to coaches/gurus (I think these terms are synonymous).

The first group is made up of people like myself who know quite a bit about nutrition and training and have a significant amount of experience but were unsure of how to go through a contest prep. That is, they likely know that along the way, when there are stalls in progress in fat loss, they will have to lower calories and/or increase physical activity. However, they are unsure of what specific changes should be made and how aggressively they should be made. Perhaps they can’t make a reasonable estimation about how much they will have to weigh at a shredded weight and thereby can’t figure out how long they will have to prep.

If I were younger and had years to compete, I would have figured it out myself, knowing that if I did one contest and flopped in my condition, I could use it as a learning experience and try to do better next time. But I did my first contest last year, and knew there was a big chance that I’d likely never do a show again considering my age, marriage, and effort to have a child (I think my wife told me she was pregnant a little more than a month after my show).

The second group of people is likely the group in which my pal Arash fits. Having known him for 20 years, I know that he likes things to be perfect. So though he knows a great deal about his body, is an intelligent guy, and got lean a few times in the past, he wants to come in mint condition and have a second set of eyes and guidance for that. There are others like this. Jay Cutler comes to mind. Though he was very in tune with his body, I believe he didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Apparently someone like Dorian had a better grasp on things when left to himself and had more confidence that he could get the job done alone. Same goes for everyone before the guru/coach concept came along.

The third group is made up of… OK, how am I going to put this? In saying what I will say here, I don’t mean to be mean-spirited. However, anyone who knows a few people on the inside will attest to it: many bodybuilders are idiotic! I don’t know if they are literally are idiots or morons, but how they behave or reason is idiotic! You or anyone else might be astonished by how little they know about nutrition or the manipulation of it or how to track their progress or how to visually or even mentally assess their visual, physical, and mental condition. Dan Duchaine once said in an interview for Ironman magazine, “Being a contest prep coach is like being a babysitter to a 250 pound baby. ‘Don’t do that,’ that’s all it is. They’ll call you up with the dumbest questions. ‘Coach, can I have the cheesecake?’ ‘Don’t do that!’”


#14

@j4gga2

This reminded me of a video where Brian Shaw called his coach to ask if he could scraf down half a pizza joint after training.


#15

Have you seen the eating video he did with SuperTraining? I’m pretty sure he did


#16

I do not consider bodybuilding a sport in any strict sense but there are obvious comparisons to be made. The pure fact of the physical activity underpinning what a bodybuilder does being the prime comparator. Bearing that in mind, I cannot think of any high level sport in which the athletes at all levels up to the top do not have a coaching staff to one degree or another.

Granted there is some difference in terms of a team sport as opposed to an individual one, but using the latter as an example, I can’t think of any high level combat athlete without a coaching staff.

To me therefore, it makes sense of a high level bodybuilder to have a coach. As others have said, it can ease the burden on them when they’re already putting their bodies though a lot of stress etc.

#edit# I’ll qualify the above by saying I know f*cking feck all about the prep/stage side of bodybuilding.


#17

I recently heard a story of a top level pro not liking the advice he was given by his coach. So, he did his own thing without telling his coach. The coach assuming his amazing advice was working bragged and beamed on social media while the competitor seemed content that he was paying his very well known and established coach a ridiculous amount of money to give him bad advice that he wasn’t even using. Does anyone else see a problem here?

S


#18

I don’t see forcing compliance as a coach’s role but I do find it strange that you would pay someone and then ignore them. Perhaps you dont want the negative attention that comes with the split otherwise it is a very strange decision.


#19

Negative attention,… like when it came to light a few years back that Kai was just using one coach in public (they were both under contract with MD magazine), and on social media and another coach who he was actually listening to and bringing some of his best conditioning with -lol.

Heck of a sport :slight_smile:

S


#20

They do say bodybuilding is about creating illusions!