T Nation

If You Could Go Back...


#1

Thought this could be a cool, maybe even valuable thought experiment.

Say you could go back and coach your former self in your early days of lifting (assuming your younger self would accept the coaching). Where were your starting points, your goals then (& how they've transitioned to your goals now), and how would you use the experience you've obtained over the years to the benefit of your younger self?


#2

Ive thought about this a lot. I would have probably gone back and given myself more confidence and direction. When I was 15 years old I could row 80lb dumb bells for reps like it was nothing. I had no idea that kind of strength was rare for a beginner. I would have told myself to follow a routine first to learn the basics, like 5x5, and above all avoid injury. I would have told myself to stick with winter tract (really fun sport) but ditch cross country and anything long distance. Like I said, I think about this question often, because I know if I had some guidance I would be doing so much better.


#3

I would go back to my 14 year old self and have him start squatting and doing more olympic lifts. I feel like sports throughout high school and college would have been so much more successful if I would have focused on developing more lower body power. Turns out benching 5 days a week, pretty much only made me good at benching. Who woulda thunk it!! I also would have taught myself how to eat with a purpose instead of all the garbage I remember consuming!


#4

I would go back to my 14 year-old, 135 lb self and coach him on basic barbell training and nutrition. Starting Strength, then Texas Method/Madcow 5x5, then 5/3/1. Eating to gain 50 lbs gradually over the course of high school. Had I done this, I’m sure I would have been a much more successful high school athlete, and more confident/happier in general throughout teen years.


#5

An amazing topic idea. I’ve written about this a bit in my blog. I’ve got some things I wish I did differently, and some things that I did RIGHT back then that I learned was “wrong”, then realized much later in life that I had it figured out.

THINGS I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY

-I would’ve started lifting earlier, instead of listening to the nonsense about it stunting your growth until you are 13 (which was the hardfast number going around at the time, and nowadays I hear anything form 14-18).

-I would’ve started with 5/3/1 right away and quit worrying about “beginner routines”. I already had a solid foundation of athleticism, even as a fat kid, and the heavy work paired with the assistance would’ve really given me a sustainable plan to follow for years.

-I would’ve learned what actually was and was not good food at ate accordingly. I had it pretty sweet, and my dad made breakfast and lunch to order for me everyday, whatever I wanted. I ate a lot of good things, but I also ate a lot of junk that was disguised as good things. Bagels, juices, lots of carbs I didn’t need. And then my mom did a great job of keeping the house stocked with amazing junk food (again, out of love rather than neglect). I ate a lot of stuff because I could get away with it, but I’d be so much further ahead if I figured it out then.

-Spend more time learning about the mind/muscle connection. Getting that figured out early would go a long way.

THINGS I WAS DOING RIGHT AND QUIT DOING BECAUSE I WAS STUPID

-I didn’t worry about overtraining at all back then, and amazingly I never got overtrained. I’d spend hours a day training in some capacity, between lifting, cardio and martial arts. Then, a while later, I found out about the overtraining boogeyman, trained significantly less, and got less results. Huh, how funny.

-I thought getting bigger was just as important as getting stronger back then. It seemed like you should do both when you lifted weights. I then learned about the hypertrophy rep range vs the strength rep range, and how sarcoplasmic hypertrophy was just worthless show muscle and that I wanted myofibillar hypertrophy and should only train in the 1-5 rep range to get stronger (because wanted to look better was for wimps). Holy shit did I get stupid when I got older.

-I thought someone should be able to be strong AND fit (and god forbid, leanish). I watched a lot of action movies, read comic books, and idolized these characters that were strong and fit and looked good. Then, later, I learned that you had to EAT your way to strength gains, and put on 100lbs and not care what anyone thinks of you because you’re getting jacked, and not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded was something to take pride in. Again, how was I so much smarter when I was younger?


#6

I would do the exact same thing I did back then. Go to the gym and pester big guys for advice. Ended up being trained by an up and coming bodybuilding coach for free. Probably took pity on a twig trying to squat an empty bar. Started at 105lbs, finished at 190lbs naturally.


#7

I would have:

  • Never picked up Arnie’s BB Encyclopedia and gone straight to the advanced workout; because ofcourse I was advanced and it looked far more fun than doing “shitty” good mornings.
  • Started with Starting Strength, so I could write here that I had wished I hadn’t started with Starting Strength and with something more sustainable instead of that embarrassing Arnie story
  • Not avoided fat like the plague
  • Ate more than 1800 calories
  • 3x10km jobs per week, nope
  • Done the military press. For some reason I avoided military pressing and the end result was weak shoulders and poor mobility above head
  • I had an injury in my groin at 15. I completely stopped any lower body mobility work. Couple that with running, I went from being about to do the splits to hardly any mobility at all, it took 3 years of mobility work to get anywhere near open hips again.
  • Learnt to squat properly.
  • Used a prowler early

#8

I would:

-stress the importance of protein. I’m not one of those guys who thinks you need 2g per lb of your bodyweight or whatever, but my diet of 90% carbs wasn’t doing it. Lucky I’ve got a good metabolism or I’d have been 300lbs and 80% body fat by my early 20s.

-get some coaching on how to do the big, barbell lifts

-pay attention to my posture and core (could still benefit from this now to be honest)

-not listen to those fucking morons who say you only need the big compound moves to build muscle. Arms and delts will be playing catch up forever.

-never even attempt to deadlift

EDIT: and I’d just do 5/3/1 forever


#9

[quote]Yogi wrote:
I would:
-not listen to those fucking morons who say you only need the big compound moves to build muscle. Arms and delts will be playing catch up forever.
[/quote]

This is what I was going to say, if you want it to be “big” train it!


#10

This is a great idea. My goal was and has always been strength. I would teach myself:

-Learning the importance of nutrition and recovery

-Prioritize mass and strength equally

-How to develop the mind-muscle connection with most muscle groups

-To focus on stabilizing the shoulders, spine and hips instead of strictly going after the numbers

-The above goes hand-in-hand with developing strong shoulders, abs and hips

-Utilize many variations early on to reinforce good body mechanics that transfers across variations

-Build a huge back using variations of pull-downs, wide grip rows, close grip rows and upright rows


#11

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I then learned about the hypertrophy rep range vs the strength rep range, and how sarcoplasmic hypertrophy was just worthless show muscle and that I wanted myofibillar hypertrophy and should only train in the 1-5 rep range to get stronger (because wanted to look better was for wimps).
[/quote]

Hahaha yeah I remember this.


#12

Great topic.

–I would tell 15 y.o. Me to not do close-grip upright rows under any circumstances!

–I would tell 20-25 y.o. Me that my split was stupid, and was producing irreversible biceps tendon damage.

–I would tell 30 y.o. Me to STOP GAINING WEIGHT.

–I would tell 31 (and 32, 33, 34, etc) y.o. Me to START LOSING WEIGHT.

More likely than not, none of them would have listened, and I’d still end up where I am today–a little more banged up than I’d like, but otherwise doing OK. I have always loved working out. But now that I’m a lot closer to my last workout than I am to my first, I appreciate and enjoy it all the more. I literally look forward to each and every workout. And if you don’t mind me saying so, you should too. Carpe diem, ladies and gents.


#13

I would tell young Angus1 to:

-Eat more healthy food more often. Base all meals around protein. At least 4-6 times per day.
-Take care of your shoulders and elbows with smart programming.

  • Don’t train Bench Press with low reps all the time as it will ruin your shoulders.
  • Don’t always use Flat Bench Press. eg…Do Flat Mon, Low Incline Thursday.
    -Stop doing skull crushers. Do PJR pullovers instead.
    -Don’t do Pullups with a wide pronated grip all the time or you will ruin your elbows. Change grips regularly.
    -Do an upper/ lower split with an emphasis on Rows.
    -Do lunges everyday for pelvic region health.
    -Stop long distance running. Do sprints instead.

#14

[quote]Rednose wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
I would:
-not listen to those fucking morons who say you only need the big compound moves to build muscle. Arms and delts will be playing catch up forever.
[/quote]

This is what I was going to say, if you want it to be “big” train it!
[/quote]

Sadly, that doesn’t work for all body parts :frowning:


#15

I forgot:

Don’t go to the gym with the goal of wiping yourself out each time.


#16

Pretty simple:

  • Choose one of the sports I enjoyed and stick with it!
  • Train all muscle groups evenly
  • Eat sufficiently (and decently)

EDIT: I’d also tell myself to stop being a dumb teenager and sit/stand up straight!


#17

Start lifting 10 years earlier


#18

train with a proper program
dont run so f—ing much or often
eat more [thought i was]
dont learn how to fight
stay out of the bars, more time in the gym


#19

This is going really well. Lots of perspective, hindsight, and training gold. If i could go back I’d

  • stop worrying about the minutiae such as which squat & hinge combo was the most optimal when i couldn’t even properly squat my bodyweight. Should have just hammered the basics.

  • thinking that having visible abs at 6’ 140ish was something to be proud of.

  • over thinking period. (KISS)

  • not eating enough quality foods.

  • i should have picked a sport, and focused my training around said sport.

  • maintained my mobility, instead of trying to get it back years later .


#20

[quote]Yogi wrote:

-never even attempt to deadlift

[/quote]

but why?