T Nation

How to Train?


I have a couple of friends, one of whom is a gymnast and the other is a triathelete. My gymnast buddy trains 6 times per week and while by bodybuilding standards would not be considered huge, is very lean and muscular. He looks better than most people who you would see at a gym lifting weights. He weighs 155 pounds and I am estimating his bf somewhere around 5-7%. As far as strength, he can do pushups and chinups (including one arm chinups) all day. The last time he was over at my house I loaded my barbell with 300 pounds (all the weight I had) and he had no problem deadlifting that weight - double his body weight. In his case it is certainly not genetics; his mother is 5' and maybe 100 lbs; his father is skinny like a stick and has a beer gut. His older brother has a body like Woody Allen.

My triathelete friend trains 5-6 times per week - she runs, swims, and cycles. She is lean, toned and has very muscular calves. Again, very strong and in excellent physical condition. I have never met her family so I can't speak to the topic of genetics.

Here are some observations that both have in common:

  • neither has ever lifted a weight; they don't train 3x per week doing 3 sets of 10;

  • pound for pound they are two of the strongest, best conditioned athletes I know;

  • neither of them pay much attention to macronutrient intake, calories, etc. From speaking with them they eat nothing special. They eat 3 balanced meals including meat, veggies, salads, etc. They snack on things like nuts, fruit, carrots, etc. I rarely see them eat junk food and have never seen them buy supplements such as protein powder or creatine.

  • their bodies look better than most of the people I see at the gym and I am willing to bet pound for pound they are stronger too.

I am going to follow up with them and do a detailed analysis of their training methods, along with a few bodybuilding friends and compart the different philosophies and techniques. I will let you know my findings.


Well, what are your goals? Athletes train for performance and most at a high-level get pretty good bodies along the way, though depending on the sport, they are not the kind most on this site are seeking. I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for or expecting to find or how you want to apply it to your own life and training.


One of my high-school friends was a top gymnast. He had an excellent physique. He did, however, train 4-5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Let's say 27 hours a week. All year. Are you prepared to do that? If you are, go for it. Me,I'll lift 3 hours a week, play rugby, and do a bit of cardio.