T Nation

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

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:

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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

1 Like

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?

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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

1 Like

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.

If you’re genuinely offended by someone offering their opinion (in a public place or even more so online), I think you need to sort yourself out… I’m happy to discuss my training methods at any time, and if anyone comments or offers me advice I’ll either try it out (if it sounds reasonable) or ignore it; and that’s regardless of the source. Either way, no big deal. Who really cares?

It could be that a beginner to lifting has better insight coming from a different background and could spot something we in the world of lifting wouldn’t necessarily. If they offer advice in good spirit and aren’t pushy / rude, it can only benefit everyone involved, especially if it leads you to question your methods and justify them.


And thats the problem anymore…the current gym culture is such that its consider Bad manners to give helpful advice if not asked. Regardless of the good intentions of the one trying too be helpful… OR how qualified that individual may or may not be to give it.


Communicating to other gym goers about what they are doing and why they are doing it is very helpful and constructive. Always can learn from someone else.

But that’s kinda in line with the rest of life. If I saw parenting that wasn’t how I would do it while out at the shops it would be rude to stick your nose in and interfere. Or tell a complete stranger that there shoes look awful with there trousers and to maybe try a different style. 9 times out of 10 unsolicited advice in any situation would not be well received.

that being said, it is a shame. I’ve seen a grown man get extremely hurt and disrespected that a woman gave him advice about his squats, she did it so politely, explained she was fully qualified and had worked with a lot of athletes, and that she was only telling him due to the high risk of injury with what he was doing wrong. Still he was not at all happy

after that i asked her to look at my deadlift!

People should welcome advice or help from people even if they think they know what they are doing is correct.

Can be as simple as “Have you tried using a underhand grip on rows?”
“No, is it good to do it like that?”
“I do it that like that and feel my back working a lot more, give it a go.”

I don’t see why anyone would get offended by something like this and can be very productive.

1 Like

If i see an exercise that looks a little different well thats fine each to there own but what i meant @Chris_Colucci was if they are using incorrect form and it is hazardous to there joints and they are at risk do i tell them or let them find out the hard way.

At my gym there are only a couple of people who do weights properly (as in go there to train and properly track their progress etc. ) Theres no seriously lifters really. everyone just does cardio or random weights. Like curls everyday and then proceeds to leave
I live in a small town and mainly mums/ or ladies wanting leg gains go to the gym and do there cardio along with there bosu ball exercises for “”"“functionality”"" and thinking there going to get nice legs and butt because they do a couple of half assed sets of leg presses. they are the ones who use incorrect form . They hardly do weights but when they do its with atrocious form.