T Nation

At What Point Do You Think You Are "Qualified" to Give Out Advice?

Me, duketheslaya and Chris_Colucci were discussing this in this thread.

And thought we’d expand the discusion to this thread.

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Good on 'ya for starting the thread. To repeat and expand on my previous reply:

Someone is “qualified” to offer advice when they know the advice is useful. A lifter gains that ability through experience in their own (successful) training and/or from seeing their advice put into (successful) practice by other people. An inexperienced person has no business offering advice to someone who’s slightly-more inexperienced because that’s the blind leading the blind.

If you’re parroting advice that you think is useful, it helps to credit the source to avoid looking like you’re speaking from experience. “Dave Tate said this can help in this situation”, “John Meadows says not to do that because…”, “I read that Pwnisher said he did this and it worked”.

We originally got on the topic because the issue of “correcting” people in the gym came up. My basic point was that most people shouldn’t be correcting others in the gym because it’s too difficult to determine if that person’s actually doing something “wrong” or if they’re just doing something you’re unfamiliar with. Beginners, especially, are in no position to correct anyone on anything because, often literally, they don’t know squat.


Unsolicited advice: never.


So much this!

Too many people think they have the right… no, the NEED to correct others. It’s a problem in general. Short of requesting assistance, failure is the greatest teacher. If someone is too prideful to ask for help, they are too prideful to take your unsolicited help.

If it’s solicited, that’s a completely different scenario. I think you either have demonstrated competence by your own merit, or have studied a solution of enough to cite others.


100% agree. I made a vow to never ever give unsolicited advice in the gym, there has been a few occasions I have really wanted too as I know I could help, but I had to stop myself. The other month I saw a young lad in the gym, I noticed he was really watching what I was doing, he was writing stuff down. I took a sneaky look at his paper when I was getting a drink and he had written down my the back routine I was doing! Even knowing this I didn’t offer advice without him directly asking.

I once got told I was doing dips wrong by some complete clown, I smiled and said thanks for the info, after I had done warming up I strapped 60kg on and done my working sets. He watched me and looked a little sheepish, I thanked him again for the tips on the way out. From that day I vowed to never be like that guy.


Like to add raw beginners would probably do good NOT giving advice on forums along with not getting into debates on subjects they have no first hand knowledge of. Its amazing how guys after reading and watching videos for six months feel they are experts on shit.


People parroting advice as their own, ONLINE?? Surely you jest kind sir! But all joking aside it is pretty bad.


I’m rather on the chubby side so a couple of times douche bags challenged to bench more than they did. So I slapped on another 45 lb plate on each side of their max bench and did that for reps. :smiley:

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The first time I remember giving anyone advice in a weight room was telling three clowns to stop giving bad advice to a hot girl; that must have been some early form of giving a woman “negs” to get her to like them.

That same year my martial artist girlfriend wanted me to set her up a weight lifting program. I had been lifting for five straight years, four to six days a week at that point.

Years later I was in China and couldn’t stop myself from correcting a guy’s bench press. He was just going to hurt himself. Anyway, after a few months of being each other’s spotters, he started teaching me Tai Chi. But he was a weird teacher; since for him Tai Chi was just something passed down in the family, he also smoked, ate lots of meat, and hated getting up early in the morning. He was surprised when I told him that Tai Chi is a part of whole New Age lifestyle thing in America.

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When do you think someone is not a beginner anymore then, is it experience, knowledge, training time?

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What if someone is obviously a beginner and needs help, do you just let them curl away until they don’t come back to the gym?

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Ha, I was racking my brain trying to remember the kinda-recent thread talking about this. Turns out it was titled Unsolicited Advice.

[quote=“hugh_gilly, post:10, topic:227379”]
When do you think someone is not a beginner anymore then, is it experience, knowledge, training time?[/quote]
I know you were asking Bulldog, but I’ll just chime in that it’s possible to train inefficiently for a long time. Plenty of guy spin their wheels in the gym for years. And it’s possible to have lots of book knowledge with little to no practical knowledge. That’s the old analogy of the virgin who’s read the Kama Sutra cover to cover and memorized the good parts.

Experience is the biggest factor, even moreso significant experience. Brought your squat from 115 to 155? Good work, but maybe hesitate to tell people “Here’s how to put 40 pounds on your squat…”


Another point, and something I brought up to @duketheslaya in that other thread, you don’t really know if someone’s doing something wrong or if you’re missing relevant information like their injury history, goals, overall programming, etc.

Do some (many?) people use crap form? Sure, but not all people all the time. Seeing a few reps from across the gym definitely doesn’t give you enough info to go in and say “Stop doing that. Do this instead.”

You see someone doing this exercise, do you go up and say “You’re going to destroy your spine.”?

You see this, do you laugh at “the dork doing useless half reps”?

Bottomline: When it comes to giving advice to strangers, just mind your own business.

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Always ask first. You never know when you are going to learn something.

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I wish someone would have given me some advice the first few weeks in the gym. Too proud to ask & too cheap to pay a trainer. I’m still very much a noob.

I used to squat in the rack facing a mirror. Why? Cause that’s how 90% of the idiots in my gym set the bar up. I saw a guy doing them “backwards” in that he was facing away from the mirror. Thought it strange till my starting strength book came & Rippetoe explains why mirrors are bad for your squat. Switched it around next workout & reps felt much more consistent. I saw a kid pretty much just learning (20lb on bar) with his dad & suggested they turn around & explained my rationale & how it helped me. Dad seemed super grateful & now that’s how I see them squatting.

I didn’t go out of my way to give advice, they were waiting on me to finish to use gym’s only squat rack. I only gave the advice because after I finished, they started switching the pins 180deg to the mirrored side of the rack. Sometimes people have that “…I hope I’m doing this right…” look in their eye. If I see that look & I’m confident that I can help without being intrusive or offensive, I will. Hoodie on, headphones in, head down, you wanna destroy your rotator cuff, g’head tho.


I ask in a curious way instead of just saying they’re doing it wrong. Asked someone what they were doing it looked like a half good morning half squat with the bar behind them. Learnt a new exercise, the barbell hack squat, from the exchange. He couldn’t squat or put a bar on a back as it was injured and found a exercise he could still do.

Someone once questioned me for doing band pushdowns and laughed at the exercise. Don’t think they know what they think the 20+ bands on the wall are for.

If you work on the gym floor where your job is to no one dies or does anything to stupid and hurts themselves, would it be acceptable to show them how to do something or just let them carry on?

There’s nothing wrong with squatting in front of mirror unless one is a competitive lifter or something. Even then, it would be subjective. Don’t rely on just one source of information to form fixed opinions and always keep in mind the context in which the information is written.


First understand i was pointing my finger at you…dint want to give you that impression.
@Chris_Colucci response sums it up nicely … I will go more into my own point of few shortly.

For me squatting in front of the mirror made it much harder to fix my eyes on a “dead spot” & my form improved when I either closed my eyes or turned around.

I tried a suggestion, got a benefit from trying & relayed my experience respectfully to someone who may (or may not) benefit. Kind of how knowledge gets passed IMO.