I think the biggest thing for me was
If only I ate more in high school I could have made amazing gains, and was active enough in sports it would not have been fat.[/quote]
I think, having done this several times before, the big thing is making them understand the concepts at work in body transformation, and also making no bones about exactly how hard it is…it’s kind of a dare actually. But they need to understand how much dedication it will take to do it.
They also need to draw on your experience and they need an environment to ask questions that will not be ridiculed…no matter how stupid they might sound.
In general, I try to agree with as much of their question or ideas as possible while simultaneously pointing out the serious flaws and assumptions they just made. It’s easier to say, “yeah, I see where you’re coming from but it really doesn’t work that way”, or “well, sometimes that can work, like if 1., 2., 3., but generally you want…” than to say “No.”.
Also, I try and explain in practical terms the reasons behind WHY you want something or do something, or train in a certain way…
because if someone is trying something out, they often want to be told why something works or doesn’t work as much as they want to be told what to do. They want reassurance that you know things, and/or that this particular approach has worked before—I often use myself or people at the gym I know as examples because then they can visually see the difference it makes.
They need positive reinforcement. This goes along with my general approach to questions above. Encouragement, but not hand holding. Bust their ass, but tell them every time they do something right. They aren’t to the point where going to the gym is a good experience on its own yet, they need external motivation. That’s often the way it goes with newbs and only time in the gym will make you self-motivated as most vets usually are.
As far as training itself goes, that depends a) on your level of real world experience and progress b) on your book knowledge and c) on your ability to supervise them.
If you can personally look after them most or all of the times they’re at the gym, then you can use more advanced training programs than Starting Strength or 5x5. Use something you have personal positive experience with. Me, that’s WSB training. I know that shit. Dumbed down for newbs of course.
But there’s no use in advocating box squatting or something if they’re going to be left on their own without proper technique coaching and supervision. If you don’t have the ability to coach them personally in the gym most of the time then you need a simple foolproof program like Starting Strength, Scrawny to Brawny, or 5x5.
Newbs react best to concrete plans, not programs that leave too much open to choice, which is an advantage for vets. Example, while you could say “shoot for 40-50 reps depending on how good you feel, and use as many sets as you need to get there”, you could not say “waveload the bench for 3 waves” or “You need a total training volume of 12,000 pounds”. So you make a program that allows some small choices, but no big choices where they can mess up.