T Nation

Biggest Mistake a Beginner Can Make


"The biggest mistake a beginner can make is taking advice from other beginners online"
-Jim Wendler

What do you guys think?


No shit. That is why we keep asking for pictures of all of these members handing out advice. It helps to see where the advice is coming from.

Any clueless newb can regurgitate what he read somewhere. That doesn't mean he knows what he is talking about because he lacks life experience.


Just listen to this guy, he knows his shit.


If you go to the hairdressers should you get your hair cut from the person with the best hair... Or from the person who cut their hair?
If you want advice on bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, lifting for MMA or whatever...

Should you prefer advice from the person with the best performance...

Or the person who coached that person to their performance?

Does it matter what their coach looks like / what their coach can do???

(Not to attempt to undermine legitimate worries about beginners giving advice, but more to say that perhaps one should have concerns about pictures telling the whole story as well)


I wonder why someone that's been a member for three months with zero posts went mad today in the beginners forum giving advice? Then started this post asking this question about exactly that.

The point is excellent though, the number of people that were asking stupid, easily researched questions a month ago that now have input on every thread here is ridiculous.


Has there ever been a coach that was a beginner in the sport s/he was coaching?

If not, how is this relevant?


I think giving advice is only something you should do if you have some knowledge of the subject. Giving an opinion is somewhat different, and having a discussion is different again. In the end, I don't really do exactly anything that I read from someone on a forum, but I do add it to the research I try to do on a particular topic and if its good advice, you will usually hear it over and over again (not to say that confirms it though), than I make a somewhat informed decision on whatever it is I'm trying to obtain.

At the end of the day, how do you really know who your chatting to on a forum, pics or not (they could be of their brother cousin etc). After a while its usually pretty easy to decipher the good info from the hoards of crap you hear, but of-course, no one wants advice from a beginner. However, if its sound advice whether they are just repeating it from somewhere else or not, how would you know?

But usually you can pick a beginner pretty easy, than again not all so called experts that are huge are very bright, so take what you read with a grain of salt as EVERYONE has an opinion on what works and what doesn't. From my small amount of experience, A number of training techniques and principles work well, and work different for everyone.


Um... Yes... There has been a coach that was a beginner in the sport s/he was coaching. I'd say most coaches were beginners in what they were coaching at some point.

Now I'm not quite sure what to do with your second question there...

Maybe try reading the last part of my post again. The bit in brackets. Does that help you see how what I wrote prior to that sentence is relevant to the conversation?


I like that.

It helps a lot if people are honest and clear about where what they are saying is coming from. If it is that it has worked for them (then people should be able to request proof!) or if they read it somewhere etc...


relevant anecdote:

We have a new sergeant in our company. He's a ranger, which means he must naturally know more about all things fitness-related than anyone else. The dude weighs about 140. This morning he had a little group of junior enlisted followers in the gym with him. They were doing deadlifts. Though I'm happy he wasn't making them do the bicep-curl routine that every other stupid mug in the military has adopted, I still had to say something: imagine every mistake you could make while trying to execute a deadlift.

Nothing pisses me off in the gym quite so much as the blind leading the blind. If you're going to waste equipment and time with poor form and a horrible routine, fine; it's your body. If you're going to waste everybody else's time by crowding the gym with a flock of equally clueless and misguided individuals who think they have nowhere else to turn for direction, then something needs to be said.

Jim Wendler's the boss, by the way.


Irrelevant analogy that does not fit here. Unless the person with the best hair cut their own hair, it does NOT relate to a bodybuilder who spent years building their body up. You don't gain a shit load of muscle by someone handing it to you or "cutting your hair for you".

Gee, I would go to the person who had PROVEN they know what they are talking about BY PRODUCING RESULTS either in themselves or others. A beginner has done NONE of this.

It matters to a large degree both what they look like and what they have done. Unless that skinny personal trainer has personally prepared people to reach the level I am after, he has proven nothing about what he knows...so his own personal development would become that much more important.

A picture doesn't tell the WHOLE story, but you can guarantee it tells a great deal. There is very little I need to hear from some newb. An experienced personal trainer worth listening to will have a list of people with great physiques they either trained directly...or they will have built themselves up using the tactics they believe in.

Anyone else is largely not worth listening to if they have no results to show at all.


I agree with this..

Although undoubtedley there are far too many newbs dishing out advice they picked up the week before from another newb, there are cases where great coaches/trainers or just knowledgable indivuals dont necessarily look the part.

Living in England, there's loads of examples of this in football (soccer) with managers who were never good players, or even decent players, but are incredibly knowledgable coaches and their track records proove this.


While that was very easy to pull off when the internet just started, I would say it is getting harder and harder, especially if someone chooses a picture of a bodybuilder who stands out at all. From facebook to random sites like this one, someone somewhere would eventually recognize the picture. If you are worried, listen to the people who have been here long enough for that to not be much of an issue. It is not very hard to tell who is speaking from experience and who is repeating what they heard somewhere.


I think what you are saying probably applies to bodybuilding more than other things (e.g., like in the soccer case - there are examples of people who basically suck in a sport but go on to coach it really well). Totally hear what you are saying, though, with respect to their experience speaking to their knowledgeability - they certainly aren't beginners!

But even in the bodybuilding case...

A bodybuilder didn't necessarily write the programs they have used (or know why the programs they have used were effective).
A bodybuilder didn't necessarily write their own nutritional program (or know why the programs they have used were effective).
A genetically gifted individual doesn't necessarily know what a not genetically gifted individual needs to progress...
A short limbed lifter doesn't necessarily know what a long limbed lifter needs to do...
And so on.

I don't see the problem with people passing on things they have heard... Though I do see problems when people don't fully understand it so you get some awful chinese whisper thing going on.

One thing that I think is great about the beginners forums on this site is the number of knowledgeable and experienced people who will chime on in.

I feel a lot better about attempting to give good advice here since I know that people will speak up if they think I'm putting the person wrong. It must get pretty tiresome for experienced people to answer same old, same old questions all the time...

Isn't it positively helpful for other beginners to point people in the direction of 'do this routine instead of that dumb one' or tell skinny ass people they might want to gain some muscle before cutting to reveal hawt abz??


No, I still don't see how it is relevant. Obviously everyone was a beginner at some point. But what beginner was also the coach? Name one successful coach who was a beginner in his sport. I don't know if you're deliberately misunderstanding my post, or you really are that clueless to think coaches can coach something they have no experience in.


i didn't say coaches were beginners.

i said coaches may look like / perform like shit. hence they wouldn't necessarily pass the photo / performance test even though they might well have useful things to say.

i don't know if you are deliberately misunderstanding my post...


(Not to attempt to undermine legitimate worries about beginners giving advice, but more to say that perhaps one should have concerns about pictures telling the whole story as well)

in other words: i basically grant the point about beginners often offering dubious advice (though not always). then proff x said about how that is where it can be good to know where the person offering advice is at (e.g., by providing pictures). so then i made the point about (knowledgeable) coaches perhaps looking like shit / not having massive numbers to back them.



No one is claiming success means a person knows what they are talking about. But not even trying guarantees they DON'T know.


This is bodybuilding. Very rarely will you run across someone who really knows how to get huge who has no muscle on themselves and never did. Most of the guys like you claim train people who want to "tone". People like Charles Glass may not be huge now, but they have a long history of reaching levels far above average and the pics to prove it.

Bodybuilding at its core is a lifestyle.....so unless the guy teaching it has lived it at some point, beware of their advice in terms of ultimate results.



You have a much better chance learning something going up to the people in the gym who got huge than running up to everyone who looks like a newb.

Anyone denying this isn't living in reality.


Still not clear. This thread is about beginners coaching other beginners. If your hairstylist isn't a beginner, what does that have to do with this thread?