T Nation

Mentor the Wretched Newbies

In his recent article TC Wrote:[quote]
Amendment III

Testosterone readers shall mentor the wretched newbies.

There aren’t many weightlifters left in the world, at least not that many like us. Maybe bodybuilding is seen as wretched excess or maybe it’s seen as just too blatantly egocentric and narcissistic. Maybe the public is so hyperaware of steroids that anyone who shows a little muscle is thought to be a drug user and that perception turned off a whole generation of potential new lifters.

Whatever the reason, we need to mentor those who show the least little interest in our sport. Most of us were scrawny and weak at one time and most of us had someone to mentor us, whether it was a grizzled old gym rat or a particular writer in a bodybuilding magazine.

If we don’t mentor, our numbers will continue to diminish. For every one who squats or deadlifts, there’ll be a thousand Bosu ball trainers. Mentor or get ready to say goodbye to this lifestyle.[/quote]

You also said in a response to California Law in Professor X’s thread that the estimated hardcore lifting population (an unavoidably subjective designation to some degree) has dropped from 12 to 5 million over the last several years. Not being in a position to question those numbers and since you’re a smart guy who’s business it is to know these things I’ll give you your premise. Not begrudgingly BTW.

In light of the preceding I do hereby promise to do my best.

Not that I’m the pinnacle of achievement or knowledge or that I enjoy coddling some of these whining babies, but because the present state of affairs would appear to demand it. Also, the site belongs to you guys and that’s what you very rationally said you want.

I may fail on occasion with my forehead bleeding from beating it on my desk, but I’ll do the best I can. I hope others will do the same.

What the hell is wrong with newbies these days? Why can’t anyone teach themselves things anymore?

Nobody ever mentored me, and I’ve turned out pretty well with regards to my training accomplishments.

Everyone’s so friggin’ helpless, waiting for people to tell them what to do, rather than find it out for themselves.

Oh well, I’ve already helped plenty in-person at gyms, no sense not carrying it over into the electronic world.

On a more important note, I think this place would be most improved by people actually leaning more towards actually helping somebody by answering their question, rather than 40 straight responses of people trying to come up with witty ways to mock the OP.

I mean, a few mockery responses are needed, but eventually people should just shut up and try to help, especially if they’re not funny.

Most of the posts in the beginners section are from people willing to take advice. A few are obvious trolls or have an attitude but some of those are fun anyway.

Yeah, there’s a good deal of “I can’t gain weight and I’m eating a lot” and “I’m skinny and I want to lose fat”, but most will listen to sense. Makes you wonder where that obesity epidemic is, though…

Agree with all the posts above. imo, there’s a buncha guys around that have a genuine interest in learning, myself included. Obviously it’s more fun watching everyone take apart the fool that’s 150lbs and “wants to get ripped”, but apart from those low points, there’s no call for simply being difficult when someone’s asking for help. If we looked past the more conspicuous - read: idiotic - posts around, there’s a fair number of intelligent questions around as well.

I remember seeing Lou Ferrigno in the Hulk TV show when I was kid and thinking how cool it would be to be an imposingly huge mammoth like that guy was. We weren’t into training at all (to say the least), but as boys we had it in the back of our minds that huge and strong was manly and desirable. It was just assumed. Nowadays that has been replaced by some male fitness model ideal.

That’s the thing that kills me. Not that everybody should want to be an Olympia contender, but what happened to boys wanting to be big men?

I also think the media blitz about steroids has contributed to this, but from a different angle than the one TC covered. Some guys would probably have more lofty goals if they thought they were reachable. They think that it’s not possible to be actually jaw droppingly impressive without drugs so why try. Ryan Reynolds looks better than I do now so I’ll make that my goal.

I think I’ve developed much more of a ‘tolerance’ with the younger crowd since I’ve been working in a high school the past 3 years. My current gym (as with my last one) is filled with what seems to be the standard issue in gyms these days… high school kids, weighing maybe 130-140 lbs tops, decked out in a
wife beater’ that’s either a size small, or was actually purchased in the children’s dept of their local store.

In the 10 months I’ve been at this gym, I have developed a sort of following in that I may be one of the few guys over 200lbs who will actually nicely answer questions,… but I am continually amazed how many schmucks I see who go right back to doing whatever stupid shit they were doing before they asked for help anyway. Most people don’t want help, they want attention. HAving someone tell you what you were doing isn’t optimal, or even downright wrong must be a traumatic experience to some of these kids -lol

Still, if I had someone give me half the advice I’ve given, I like to think I would have saved myself a lot of wasted time, so with that in mind, I’ll offer help to anyone who wants it, if not,… well, it’s not my time I’m wasting in the gym, it’s yours.

-Stu

I think you may be right there. Many young men (women too, maybe) just won’t listen, they aren’t ready to do that. So i’m sure ignorance from these people must be so frustrating. I just think what TC meant was that as the ‘elite’, you have an innate responsibility to ‘lead’, ie by being clear and explicit. ‘Just fucking eat’ will lead to a bunch of fat fuckers. ‘Just fucking read X article/book’ is good advice that will educate and inspire the less-accomplished’

I am going to be painfully honest for a minute. What I’m going to say applies to people who will eventually do well in this game not to the unteachable, know it all lipo-phobes.

I really believe that for rank beginners who haven’t yet gotten any kind of grip on how their own body works or what it responds to at all a website like this is the worst thing that could happen to them. Not THIS website, or even the fact that it’s on the web, but the astronomical quantity of often conflicting information which is symptomatic of the weight training world at large and certainly not peculiar to T-Nation.

They are not equipped to decipher what’s useful to them and they usually wind up tossing to and fro on a pitching sea of mental paralysis or firmly planted in somebody’s perceived camp.

If I could wave a wand and have serious newbies do what I said it would consist of the following:

1- Find a book of VERY BASIC physiology WITH PICTURES and learn what muscles are where and what they do. Origins and insertions along with how they pull on the damn bones to make us move around. I bet 75% of new people here have no usable idea about any of this. Exercise selection and execution is much more meaningful if you have some idea what’s going on inside

2- I’d have 90% of em do a push/pull/legs split every other day for 3 months, not too heavy for a while til they learn the movements and can FEEL what they’re working. Progressively harder work as they get more comfortable. 75-80% big compound movements with some supplemental stuff.

3- Assuming they have any designs on size I’d have them increase or decrease calories until they can hang onto about an inch or inch or inch and a half between their thumb and index finger next to their belly button standing straight up and maintain after that for the time being. What exactly to eat is another discussion and will somewhat depend on where they are when they start.

4- Get enough rest/sleep so that they don’t feel tired during the day.

After a few months of this they should have some new data on which to make the next round of decisions. They also should be moving toward a point where all the information they will encounter here will have more meaning for them though that may still be too soon for many.

If people aren’t allowed to experience anything for themselves before walking into a library of tens of thousands of volumes, in many cases they are unintentionally ill served in my opinion.

Of course this is an abbreviated version of all this, but it’s basically what I’ve been saying since I showed up here.

Stu, very true. Honestly, there’s enough training information in the articles and old posts to keep beginners and intermediates (me included) busy for years.

No real reason to post training questions most of the time other than to interact with other members and to feel like a part of a community.

[quote]new2training wrote:

Most people don’t want help, they want attention.

-Stu

Stu, very true. Honestly, there’s enough training information in the articles and old posts to keep beginners and intermediates (me included) busy for years.

No real reason to post training questions most of the time other than to interact with other members and to feel like a part of a community.
[/quote]

Sometimes that is true. But I think Tiribulus hit it in the post above: too much information, including conflicting, debatable information, can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

In athletics, when an individual isnt seeing the results he usually gets, he is considered to be in a slump. In these situations, the absolute worst thing he can do is get caught up in over analysis. In fact, what he has to do is go back to the basics, the fundamentals - in essence, become a newbie again.

Trib,

I applaud you for this post and recognise and appreciate what Bauer has mentioned.

I for one will continue to help as much as I can from both a training and nutrition standpoint. I still learn a lot from newbie posts so the more we engage in helping them the more we’ll learn.

Good post and let’s please do away with the squats and milk stupidity.

Cheers,

Sasha

There have been more than a few times that I said nothing in a thread where I did not agree with what somebody was being told, but was sure that just doing that would still be better than if I stirred up more confusion for the poor guy who obviously is not in a position to sort out what was what.

It never failed to be for naught though because human nature being what is somebody else would do it anyway

Knucklehead Newbie says:
“Hey guys I’m a bit mixed up about “XYZ” waddaya think I should do.”

Somebody gives a response.

Knucklehead Newbie comes back, not knowing any better:
“Thanks a lot pal I’ll try that out”

I’m scratchin my head about what he’s been told, but it’s not THAT bad and it’s not dangerous so I figure this guy is better off doing SOMETHING for now until he learns more without having his noggin fried with a bunch debate and controversy.

However here comes somebody else:

“That dumbass doesn’t know what he’s talkin about THIS is what you should be doing.” Sure enough a third guy chimes in either agreeing with one or other of the first 2 or reporting how inept they both were as well and off we go.

The point is, even in these forums, a lot of these guys would be better off getting some basic info and unplugging their computer for a while than they are when they wind up in the fetal position under a table somewhere whimpering about being more messed up now than they were before.

And those are the ones that are open to instruction.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
I think I’ve developed much more of a ‘tolerance’ with the younger crowd since I’ve been working in a high school the past 3 years. My current gym (as with my last one) is filled with what seems to be the standard issue in gyms these days… high school kids, weighing maybe 130-140 lbs tops, decked out in a
wife beater’ that’s either a size small, or was actually purchased in the children’s dept of their local store.

In the 10 months I’ve been at this gym, I have developed a sort of following in that I may be one of the few guys over 200lbs who will actually nicely answer questions,… but I am continually amazed how many schmucks I see who go right back to doing whatever stupid shit they were doing before they asked for help anyway. Most people don’t want help, they want attention. Having someone tell you what you were doing isn’t optimal, or even downright wrong must be a traumatic experience to some of these kids -lol

Still, if I had someone give me half the advice I’ve given, I like to think I would have saved myself a lot of wasted time, so with that in mind, I’ll offer help to anyone who wants it, if not,… well, it’s not my time I’m wasting in the gym, it’s yours.

-Stu
[/quote]

I see this alot where I train also. It’s a Tennis club, so there are alot of 14-17 year old boys that bring their “dicktease” g/f with them to attempt to show off. While the same result doesn’t always happen, usually one of the 200 lb+ minority (there’s maybe 4 of us, it’s a tennis club, remember!) like myself ends up shaking his head at the sight of said high school newbie “blacking out” (reaching failure or dropping the plates off the bar) trying to put up 155 on the bench to impress his “dicktease”.

Training is NOT about showing off. If you have the physique of Johnny Jackson or Jay Cutler, ok then you can show off. Newbies need to be approach lifting with extreme humility, that’s the bottom line.

Newbies need to be approach lifting with extreme humility, that’s the bottom line.

[/quote]

I agree to a certain extent but I think you’re missing the point of this thread … The point is to converse about helping said Newbie become the best he can be. While we all voice our frustrations with those who reek of the “new gym-rat smell” we can’t lose sight of the ultimate goal of being positive role models in the gym and not shunning them just because they’re naive when it comes to the philosophy that most of us have come to embrace and love oh so dearly.

When we all first started we weren’t as purely motivated as we are now and had ulterior motives. O’DOYLE RULES!!

Well, with regards to there being ‘too much information’, I often find myself adding to whatever advice I’ve just dolled out… “This worked pretty well for me, but it may not work for you. Try it and if it doesn’t help, try something else”. I remember reading many years ago, most likely in a Flex magazine (we’ve all done it! -lol) that there are 2 great truths in bodybuilding,… 1) everything works to some degree and 2) nothing works for very long.

Now in my own training, this makes a world of sense. Anytime you change some variables, some sort of change will result. The real hard part is being able to recognize what triggered the change, and if it’s not what you’re after, being smart enough to discard it and opt for another approach.

Now this is where the teacher in me realizes that most “kids” (or even older people new to the game) want an exact perscription that will work for 100% of the people 100% of the time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist, and therein lies most peoples’ problems

-Stu

The main point for me was that I will try to find a renewed ability to give these guys the benefit of the doubt because it was really wearin me thin.

My post numbers dropped dramatically over the last several months. Not because I liked T-Nation any less really, but because I was getting burned out on listening to guys in the prime of life show such damn little vision for themselves. “I wanna be Brad Pitt in fight club”? That’s the extent of the male aspiration anymore?

On the other hand some of these beanheads could do well by being grabbed by the online shirt once in a while too.

I would honestly like to see an example where a “newbie” logged on, asked questions, and was mocked and ridiculed. Really, I would like to see an example of this. Where are these hapless victims?

What usually happens is that a person logs on, says he wants advice; and when he is given advice that he doesn’t want to hear, pitches a fit. “How dare you tell me I need to eat lift harder?! You are wrong! CrossFit rulz!” I suppose the more mature thing to do would be to ignore those people.

Oh, and right now a person has posted a brand new thread asking about when to take BCAAs. Because, well, running a search for BCAAs would turn up zero results. Does anyone seriously think someone who is too dumb or too lazy to run a simple search is really going to endeavor to anything great? These people want things handed to them. They are not willing to work hard and will quit as soon as the newbie gains stop coming so quickly.

Anyhow, no one actually looking for advice who seemed serious has ever been turned away or mocked.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
I would honestly like to see an example where a “newbie” logged on, asked questions, and was mocked and ridiculed. Really, I would like to see an example of this. Where are these hapless victims?

What usually happens is that a person logs on, says he wants advice; and when he is given advice that he doesn’t want to hear, pitches a fit. “How dare you tell me I need to eat lift harder?! You are wrong! CrossFit rulz!” I suppose the more mature thing to do would be to ignore those people.

Oh, and right now a person has posted a brand new thread asking about when to take BCAAs. Because, well, running a search for BCAAs would turn up zero results. Does anyone seriously think someone who is too dumb or too lazy to run a simple search is really going to endeavor to anything great? These people want things handed to them. They are not willing to work hard and will quit as soon as the newbie gains stop coming so quickly.

Anyhow, no one actually looking for advice who seemed serious has ever been turned away or mocked.[/quote]

CaliLaw,
You should know, people want folks to agree with them or tell them they are doing great and just do what they are doing. Happens all the time. That or they keep asking the same question a different way until they get the answer they want.

As for the mocking, is it mocking or is it just healthy sarcasm?

I do appreciate when folks do give good advice, I read and learn, but sometimes I appreciate the sarcasm too.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
I would honestly like to see an example where a “newbie” logged on, asked questions, and was mocked and ridiculed. Really, I would like to see an example of this. Where are these hapless victims?

Anyhow, no one actually looking for advice who seemed serious has ever been turned away or mocked.[/quote]

I think you’ll remember this from the thread “Barardi Phone Consultation?”

"CappedAndPlanIt wrote:
I’m sorry if asking this just n00bs up your simple “Dont substitute information for hard work” message, but:

I get the impression you lift heavy as often as possible. What kind of de-loading/rest techniques have worked for you?

Response from You-know-who:

De-loading and rest techniques? I don’t even use those terms. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t know the latest lingo being pushed by whatever authors you’ve read. It really means little to nothing to me so I don’t know what you are talking about. Mind you, that is NOT coming from someone uneducated. That is coming from someone who knows more than most about the human body and also cares the least about what every trainer is trying to sell. "

I asked someone what they did, and was mocked for “using the new lingo being pushed by whatever authors I’ve read”. I was further mocked in that the poster pretended to “not know what I was talking about” (nevermind that the lingo I used was self explanatory).

But, of course, since this is objective proof that you are (once again) factually wrong, you’ll do the same as when the it originally occurred: Call me oversensitive and a “little bitch” or whatever it was you said.

By your logic, no poster has ever been mocked or ridiculed for asking a serious question… unless they were oversensitive… in which case it doesn’t count…

[quote]languid wrote:
Agree with all the posts above. imo, there’s a buncha guys around that have a genuine interest in learning, myself included. Obviously it’s more fun watching everyone take apart the fool that’s 150lbs and “wants to get ripped”, but apart from those low points, there’s no call for simply being difficult when someone’s asking for help. If we looked past the more conspicuous - read: idiotic - posts around, there’s a fair number of intelligent questions around as well.[/quote]

I dont see the need to “rip that person apart” in the first place.

Why not explain that without significant muscle mass, he wont look “ripped” even at low bodyfat levels?

Why not teach him about squats and deadlifts and pullups and how those will get him to his goals instead of cardio kickboxing and thousands of situps?

Why attack someone if they have a different physique goal than you? If they want to look like Brad Pitt, or Butterbean, or Howard the fucking Duck… why give them shit about it?

As I asked in another thread… how many people here now started out trying to build “beach muscles” or ever spent a good portion of their time “just training arms”? How many just needed some time before they got more educated and more serious?

How many people here bounced from one routine to the next in search of “the one” before realizing that “the one” isnt out there, but takes a lot of time to figure out for yourself?

Wouldn’t it help more to get people excited about lifting instead of putting them down because the more experienced lifters want to feel better about themselves?