T Nation

Good Idea?


So, one idea came to me while discussing things on the "For the T-Nation devout" thread that I thought I might run up the flag pole and see what members salute.

T-Nation offers an unprecedented level of interaction between the writers and consumers. IMO that interaction is largely one-sided. It has been said in the past that one reason that the Soviet weightlifting program was superior to the Western one is the level of control and monitoring that they had over their athletes. One of the things I posted up on the other thread and some agreed, was that there is a lot of anecdotal "evidence" that gets batted around the site.

As well, I think TC may've coined this term (if not, I'm coining it now) "vicarious mass". It has been said that you shouldn't necessarily judge a trainer by his physique, you should judge a trainer by his clients' physiques and not just by their physiques but the way their physiques have changed under that trainers' guidance a.k.a. "vicarious mass".

On the "Devout" thread, I was unofficially "called out" for not ACTUALLY doing anything, just thinking. I was thinking that I couldn't do what I was claiming, and then it occurs to me that I'm not alone. It?s time to start doing. If my concerns below could be addressed, I will/would post every two to four weeks (or more, or less) regardless of gain or loss, I will post parameters from Cressey's "28 Factors" article, I will posts the workout I used, the diet I used and the Berardi Parameters that fit into the "Massive Eating Calculator", the "Poliquin Type" I was or felt I was for that month. As well, I'm thinking of posting (like we already do) average bodyweight, % lean if I can, supplements used, morning RHR and temperature, Thibaudeau's strength reference lift results. If a coach or contributor would prefer other parameters they need only ask. I would consider this my "price" or "membership fee" to belong to T-Nation from now on. Don't see a post for the month? I haven't been on the site that month.

This idea solves several of the problems I posted above and in the other thread. Every program instantly has data to back it up, no more anecdotes. Coaches have MORE of a reason to contribute. Coaches get more recognition than just ?Nice program?.

Now, having promised all of that, here are my concerns:

  1. For a variety of reasons I am the only one that does it. One data point is an anecdote.

  2. That the forum is too informal, unstructured, and unregulated.

  3. The data will be stuck in unusable formats and lying/cheating will be rampant. A database would make the data more usable (IMO), and anonymity would reduce (hopefully) lying and cheating.

In the ?devout? thread, I compared sports science to medicine, chemistry, physics, etc. What I?m thinking here is massive database, something like Beilstein, or Chemical Abstracts but somewhat more along the lines of SETI or Folding @ Home.

To be clear, I?m not ready to jump into action quite yet, and my concerns shouldn?t be construed as demands. I?m merely thinking of a way to help me interact with T-Nation and T-Nation interact with me and others.

Good idea? Bad idea? Impossible? Already exists and I've had my head in the ground? Concerns I?ve missed? Anyone?


I would ask, what's the point? There are too many variables to control that results would be all over the place for different reasons. The simple answer for you is to just try each program that looks interesting to you. Log your diet, sleep, life events, results for everything and review them periodically. If some combination worked better than others, go back and do it again, then try some different ones. I guarantee that if you follow any of the programs on this site that you will get results, for a time.

If you're looking to see that ABBH I (for example) elicited an average 2% lbm gain during the 6 week cycle, you will be leaving out too many variables, several of which you cannot quantify. If you try to quantify their impacts, you will end up with spurious correlations. For example, how do you quantify the fact that due to excessive beach muscle training as a 16-17 year old, I can develop my biceps and triceps much faster than so and so offensive lineman, but my legs develop slower? Or separating those that workout prior to 7 am vs those that workout between 3-5pm? These variables will certainly have an impact, but how do you develop a database to assess them?
If you just want the "best" program out there, you won't find it and you are not seeing the big picture.



Do you mean you are not ready to develop a massive database yet or are you not ready to start training yet?


I agree with Dollar Bill, Trying new things will almost always produce improvements. The question is, will it continue to work if you go back to it.

Biggest flaw is that what works best for you will not necessarily work for "the masses". We are all individuals, which is why it's so important/great that we are given so much information to sort through. There is no "magic fomula".

I've read a few of your posts here and there and I find you to be an intelligent person with a lot of insight and thirst for knowledge. That's great. I don't have a lot of intrest in this idea because, frankly, it seems like a philisophical quest for "Truth with a capital T" for lifting. I have friends who love getting involved in various debates where they will argue for literally hours on topics that they know will never change the opinion of the others. I have other ways I want to spend my time. However, good luck in your quest should you choose to tackle it.


This is the new front of the genomic medicine why not make use of it in sport science as well (since we're all running the experiment and collecting the data anyway)? We all have 99.9% identical genetic material, It's only by looking for trends in a larger portion of the population that we see that the .1% make a difference. e.g. One of the more recently identified gene mutation is associated with colorectal cancer is called APC I1307K. This gene mutation is found in 6 percent of the Ashkenazi Jewish population and 28 percent of Ashkenazi families with a history of colon cancer, making it one of the more common cancer susceptibility genes.

It's the same story for MTHFR, Factor V, Prothrombin (Factor II), and hypercoagulation (blood clotting and or cardiovascular disease). CYP 450 and drug metabolism. HER2nu and breast cancer. p53 and various cancers. These are just off the top of my head, I could go on if I dug in my paper archive.

True, but I'm of the mind that Chad would love to hear that ABBH resulted in (for example) 2% lbm gain during a 6 week cycle for 75 of 75 people regardless of diet, prior training, gender, age, steroid consumption, etc., etc., etc. And you're right, there are lots of variables that may not or can not be accounted for that's part of what I'm trying to overcome.

First of all, read Cressey's "28 Synergistic Factors" and Poliquin's "The Five Elements" and I think you'll see that while this would be tough, it's not unwanted and undoable (IMO). Also, I can quite easily envision doing what I'm thinking about for a database and my talents extend all the way to Microsoft Access (which is, in my understanding, the database equivalent to being able to drive a car).

Here's the part where I admittedly step on some toes (He's a big guy, I don't think he'll cry.) As for spurious correlations, How about high frequency training because gymnasts and mechanics do it? (Once again, no offense, if the program works then this is a non-issue and I'm a sack of shit, but you gotta admit that it's spurious.)

To answer your specific question, ideally, you would collect enough data on "Beach-muscle building 16-17 yr. olds" or "upper body biased teens" and "so-and-so offensive linemen" or "Professional Linemen" such that you end up with four groups, "Teens AM", "Teens PM", "Lineman AM", "Lineman PM", and your "Average T-person" control group and see how the factors play out.

I'm not necessarily looking for the "best" program out there (it would be nice and interesting if we stumbled across it though [something like a program that adds 50# and 500# to your squat in a year]). "We" would be looking for the program with the highest probability of success given a set of very clear variables or in the example above, the program that, almost without regard to who you are or what you do, at least puts SOME mass on you.

BTW- It's kind of scary how many people keep telling me I'm not 'seeing the big picture.' No matter what I'm talking about on these forums. I get it, training is, for large numbers of people, very, very, complex. However, depending on your religious beliefs (How's that for big picture?) it's not absolutely irreducibly complex.


Technically, neither, I've started setting up a database in MS Access (with myself as the sole subject) and I haven't stopped working out. I more meant that I'm not going to pursue this idea much further if lots of people poo poo it.


This is one of Cressey's "28 Synergistic Factors" the "Newness" of a program. Already in MY database, currently it ranges from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Nth repetition of the program, given a year, I'll have several datapoints with one individual showing the effectiveness of Christian Thibaudeau's "Rennaisance Bodybuilding" workout. If 50 other people did the same, would you like to see the results? How about just the natural endomorphs ages 20-30? All we need is enough members and we're bound to collect the data.

This method doesn't assume the existence of "magical formulas". It assumes the existence of complex parameters that can only be delineated through large sampling that may/will yield statistically better or worse formulas.

Let me say this in regard to this portion of your post. What your friends are doing (based solely on the info provided) is known as mental masturbation. Now, mental mastubation can easily be confused with two other exercises, brainstorming and thought experiments. Discriminating between the two (or three) is done solely on the outcome of the action (IMO). If you just sit all day and dream about riding on a beam of light, it's mental masturbation. If you compose the Theory of Relativity to describe the physics of riding a beam of light, it's a thought experiment. If you guess that machines could probably think like humans do or perform any calculation in the know universe, it's mental masturbation. If you build a Turing Calculator/ENIAC/PC/Deep Blue to prove it, it's a thought experiment. Not to assert that I'm an Albert Einstein or an Alan Turing, but you can certainly see the parallels. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the "Quest for Truth" if you weren't on it at least in part, why switch routines or keep a lifting notebook or read T-mag? Since you're doing these things anyway (If not, you should be.) why not contribute to the cause?


Do you even lift weights? I am being serious. It is a little scary that so many on this forum seem to believe that they will "think" their way into physical progress. This isn't an exam in school. You have to work your ass off. You learn as you go. Bodybuilding/strength training is not for nerds who don't want to work hard or get any sweat on them. There are many intellugent people who are successful in bodybuilding, but they figured out that your work ethic is even more important than your IQ or your "database".


Sure, but that doesn't mean that we look, act and feel 99.9% like each other. I'm no geneticist, nor have I done much research into it, but that 0.1% could be a rather large number of different character traits, including muscle tone (not the misconception of muscle tone, but the actual shape of the muscle belly itself, vascularization, various leverage ratios, tendon and ligament thickness, etc, all of which have a major impact on muscular development and training optimization. We share 100% organic material with all known living species, however, that doesn't mean that I can train like an ant and get the same results.

Hey, if you really want to pursue it, knock yourself out, but I will say it again, it's a waste of time, imho.



Seriosly, what would the point of this be? In other words, how would someone use this data in order to better themselves? It's not like there is an exact proper dose of "muscle-building stimulus" that needs to be administered.

What if someone, say me, can't tolerate the volume prescribed, but would do just fine with less sets and same principles? Or same number of sets, but lower intensity for a few weeks. Or, just taking every 3rd week of instead of every 4th or 5th or whatever the program calls for.

You can learn a lot from other people's expirience, but then you don't have to fixate on a particular program. Find some of the many PL boards where people post their workouts and knock yourself out.

What you'll find out is that, while some particular method may work better for one person then the other, it's the consistency and total loading on the body that really counts.

You'll find out that you can't train hard all the time, but you need to train hard in order to progress. Hard being something like 5x5 on full squats, or 15 DL cluster singles.

You'll find out that novice lifters can progress continously for few weeks and than have to backdown a bit. You'll find out that advanced lifters have to focus on their weak links for a while, or have longer loading periods. You'll find out that more advanced you are, more you need to specialize.

You'll see that sound nutrition is very important. You'll see that good form is very important.

After all that, you should realize that the majority of people never really outgrow most basic routines like ABBH or Bill Starr's HLM, and that more people shoud be just eating a bit more a lifting a bit harder than last time.

And remember, it's not what you know, it's what you've done in the gym.