T Nation

Most Important Credentials for Posting Training Advice?

For me, it’s all about skins on the wall. I personally would not pay for coaching from someone who has not competed at a high level in my sport, AND coached at least a handful of athletes to major accomplishments. I hired the coach I’m working with now because he’s won, for the last 2 years, the 198 class in USS Strongman at Nationals. That’s the thing I want to do next, so who better to learn it from than him? I hope to be sharing a podium with him next year (unless he becomes a 220). He’s a full time coach in Austin, Tx, so he’s also close to me. I can do in person and online training with him.

So that’s my threshold for advice, at my current level.

Here’s what I would advise beginners to look for, if they’re not ready to pay for coaching, but want to learn from online resources:

  1. Ignore the youtube videos from the youtube/IG-only personalities. Meaning, if someone is only making videos, but isn’t writing anything, and isn’t necessarily accomplished in the strength sport of their choice, they’re not worth watching. This eliminates the folks like Rich Piana (RIP), Blaha, the Hodge twins, etc. The youtube videos that are worth watching are put out by guys who are using the channel for additional exposure, but the nuts and bolts of their lifting involve actual competition and coaching. Brian Alsruhe is a wonderful example of this. So is Mark Bell. Or Chris Duffin.

  2. Focus on reading guys that, as I mentioned above, have walked the walk and also coach professionally, when it comes to articles. You may miss out on some good coaches who have not necessarily competed at a high level, but know their shit, but that’s ok. You’re at least a little more assured that you won’t be following bad advice. The odds of getting shit advice from a high level competitor who also coaches others to do well is low.

  3. DO NOT rely heavily on forums as a beginner. Period. Don’t try to discern which of the anonymous posters on forums are giving good advice and which aren’t. I realize that by saying this, I’m suggesting that beginners should not come to me for advice. And that’s alright. I don’t believe they should. I believe they should spend years reading articles, as I did, before posting a single thing on a weightlifting forum.


When I was a golf pro, this came up often. I had a student, her BFplayed. Like played, no shit played, but he couldn’t teach her for shit. I step on a nine iron to explain loft and she got it. Her boyfriend had spent weeks explaining it to her, she never got it.Five seconds with me, she got it.

He won The Masters, Zach Johnson. I never broke 70.

I used to work at a club in Orlando where a lot of broken down old pros hung out. One guy had the dubious distinction of being one of two players to play four rounds of the US Open without being in the 70’s. I think Trevino won it at Oak Hills, This cat shot 69.69, 80.80.

He’d sit at the end of the bar drunk as fuck and ask me what I did. “I teach.”

"You teach what?’


“Ever cashed a check?”

Well I had, of course, in sectional PGA play, but the point was made. This big fat drunk fuck could play lights out - he was way better than I.

But, he couldn’t teach for shit.

Foley taught Tiger, ever heard of him?

The Harmon brothers won a few tournaments, but were never good as their students.

How many tournaments did Dave Pelz win? Stan Utley?

None, yet they’re considered some of the best teachers in the country.

Valid point. But some are better teachers than performers.


why you only gonna quote half my sentence? lol

You played golf at a relatively high level though, to that point. It’s not as if you couldn’t break 90. I’m assuming by saying you never broke 70 means you’ve shot 70. (I broke 70 at a terrible municipal course in HS, btw. Zero sandtraps on the course, par 70). I’m not saying I need a world class competitor to coach me. But he has to have demonstrated competence in the sport. He has to be familiar with the experience of weight cuts, because if you’ve never done THAT particular thing, you don’t know how to coach someone through it. Trust me on that. So to that point, strongman may also be a bit different than golf, as far as coaching is concerned. To my knowledge, there are no high level coaches even out there who haven’t done anything in the sport themselves. Most have podium finishes at national or international competitions, at the least.

To sum up, it’s certainly the case that the absolute best performers are not necessarily the best coaches. We see this in every sport. Plenty of all time greats who couldn’t hack it as coaches. To circle around back to my sport, the top pros, for the most part, past or present, haven’t really invested themselves in coaching. It’s basically top amateur competitors and low level pros who are, at least currently, the best coaches out there.

To take it out of context, of course.

You make good points, I get it.

I was a great HS baseball player, but have no bidness coaching college level baseball - it’s a different game. Just like PGA Tour golf is a different game than the one I play, played.

Surprised you shot 70 - but not really. That’s good golf. You are correct, I routinely shoot in the 70’s, and guys ask me, why don’t you try to play on the Senior Tour. Lol, no clue. I’ll shoot 74 at Bethpage Red, and any hack in the top 300 on the Senior tour will shoot 65.

Kind of like me saying I lift, like you lift - I squat sets of 160, think you repped out 315 23 times.

Yeah, I lift, just like @flipcollar

And I can get a CSCS credential, post a few pics on IG with a tan, and i’m a coach. So now I’m gonna coach you on strongman.


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A someone who has no business giving advice to the vast majority of posters on this site, are you sure on this one? It seems like the vast majority of articles (certainly on this site), offer nothing more than a distraction for beginner lifters to me. As stated above, this is a genuine question looking to learn, not a retorical one.

It wasn’t here, but still, one of the things I did early on in my training career was read every single article on elitefts. Now, that was in 2008, so there were far less than there are now, but it was still a bit of an undertaking. Total firehose of information, but early on enough I began to see the overlap that articles had. Primarily “eat a lot of food and lift a lot of weight”, but also some very basic program structuring.

It requires the beginner to be willing to read WITHOUT implementing. The biggest issue is that trainees will read an article and immediately try to apply it, rather than just marinade on it.


I read essentially the same thing in a Dan John book last night. I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to do everything all at once and being baffled when I didn’t magically become a superman overnight.

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This is an interesting point, and I don’t think people understand that hiring or working with a “name” doesn’t guarantee success. I see a lot of amateurs hiring a certain coach (JM) and honestly appear to think he’s some wizard with power (knowledge) that no one else has access to and that they’re unquestionable now going to win their upcoming show. Obviously this is no slight against the coach, merely what some people think in terms of the importance of what they bring to the table themselves.



So here’s something to add, based on a conversation I was just having with a friend. There are plenty of supposed coaches out there who have their own websites, and articles they have “written”. Is that always enough to give someone true credibility?

I phrase it this way having watched as a certain individual who has called himself a coach for years, but spent all of his time while working an unrelated BS job reading the works of accomplished coaches and athletes and then doing his own “book reports” on them, but instead of giving credit he claimed the ideas and eventually started selling them to online sites. (He’s been called out many times for outright stealing programs to use for “his athletes”). As a competitor he’d be lucky to even be considered a middle of the packer.

Or what if someone is visible enough (usually online via a constant presence on social media, posting daily motivational quotes or selfies) to have spoken with (everyone seems to have a podcast these days) people who are actually accomplished themselves,… does that make the interviewer more reputable? Does it counter their own lack of success/results?

Mike Mentzer said that when he started training he originally thought he understood what he was doing just because he was able to quote the workouts of the top people written about in the magazines. Ron Harris has written thousands of articles and interviews and yet never had any great competitive success or coached anyone who did well (I like Ron by the way, I just don’t view him as an expert source).


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For the life of me I can’t think of anyone who would fit that description :smiling_imp:


I mean, you should be surprised, I never talk about golf on here, because it’s not a big part of my life now. But 20 years ago, it was EVERYTHING. In high school, I wanted to be a club Pro when I grew up. I worked on a golf course. I played every day, all day during the summer, sun up to sun down, and every afternoon during the school year. I loved it. My body and leverages were soooooo different back then. I had a very flat swing, couldn’t play anything but a draw. I played baseball growing up, before I got into golf, and that had a big impact on how I swung the golf club for many years. And I was super flexible, so I could hit it almost as far back then as I do now. I added 75 lbs to my bodyweight and maybe 20 yards to my drive… lol.

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You bring up a good point. When I started reading on TNation, 15 years ago, they were putting out 1 article per week, and all the authors were highly qualified. It was a set of less than 15 guys putting out all the content, essentially. So admittedly, I had less garbage to sift through. But that being said, I think there’s a lot more garbage to sift through on the forums than the articles, even today.

Elitefts is still very high quality in terms of articles. And one can also read through the archives on this site, you can go back and read everything that a handful of the better coaches have put out over the years. I don’t think anyone who posts in the forums on this site is going to help beginners more than the likes of Wendler, Dan John, Thibs, Meadows, etc.

No, of course not. It’s just a good starting point. You still have to be a discerning reader. There is no remedy for stupid. If you literally can’t tell ANY difference between good coaches and bad ones, you’re just gonna be fucked. It’s the same concept as differentiating between fake news and real news. Plenty of people can’t tell a difference. Those are fucked no matter what parameters you give them for news searches.


Agreed. Of course the internet allows for some serious exaggeration/subtle untruths. How many authors (coaches?) talk about their “athletes” or how they work with high level athletes and yet you never hear a single name dropped or see the amazing contest pics of the “stable of competitors” -lol.

The downside of first starting out in the gym in the internet/social media era I suppose.


Surprised because that puts you in like the top 2% in the world. Not surprised because you seem to be very athletic and excel at whatever you try.

I got my start young, but didn’t become a rat until I was in my thirties - late thirties at that. When I got into it in my early thirties, aim right, come over the top, hit pull draws for everything. When I went to golf college, they straightened me out - but, taking one side of the course out of play is always a good strategy.

I hit it farther now than I did as a young man. Pretty sure it’s LBM and not technology since I am playing cheap balls and 1999 Cobra musclebacks with TT S300 shafts.

Wish my kids would get into it so I could have an excuse to go back - too much time and too expensive these days.

However, my brother did buy a golf course in Oregon, so you never know.

I think that depends entirely on the advice-seeker.

An already competitive bodybuilder looking for an advantage as they get into contest shape will probably be keen enough to filter out the good responses from the bad, regardless of how many unqualified people chime in on the thread topic. Similarly, I don’t think any IFBB pros hopped on to the Predator Program when it was being promoted on this site. There’s probably some poor sap out there who bought that guy’s book, but that poor sap is probably latching on to whatever crazy shit comes their way anyway.

A seasoned lifter already strong enough to deadlift 500 is unlikely to follow the advice of a 375lb deadlifter who suggests deadlifting twice per week is how you get to 600.

Perhaps there are some non-novices who’ve been led horribly astray by bad internet advice, but I think most people with any amount of time and achievement under the bar will understand that asking the internet a question will yield a mixed bag of responses.

That brings us to the novice. What’s best for the novice? Again, I think that depends on the person asking for advice, but I think the risk of bad advice is vastly overblown for your average trainee who isn’t a competitive athlete.

The first program that caught my eye as a novice was a Jason Blaha program. Ice Cream Fitness 5x5 or something like that. I didn’t end up running it, I ran some other internet guy’s rip-off of Blaha’s rip-off, but SO THE FUCK WHAT? The sales pitch hooked me. Compound movements were the way to go. You get the testosterone boost, the growth hormone boost, the unbeatable muscle building power of Blaha’s routine, the power to win every fight and strike fear into your enemies, and here’s a picture of Reg Park too. He was a tank, and you can be too if you buy their protein.

It got me lifting weights and, after 4 years of consistency with the lifting and inconsistency with a lot of other stuff, I ended up figuring it out as I go. I read a lot of T-Nation, bought 5/3/1 and ran it, losing over 50lbs and getting stronger than I ever imagined I could.

Had I somehow managed to hire Ronnie Coleman as a coach from the get-go, would I have had more success with my lifting? Probably, but I may have said fuck it somewhere along the line and quit before I got anywhere with it. No way to know.

It turns out that a sleazeball internet hack who said the right words to make me believe in lifting was all it took for me to get under the bar. One of the great things about lifting is that it really is quite hard to fuck up, provided you do it consistently and put some heart into it.

Advice is only good or bad if it is followed, and it rarely is. One of the good things about a forum like this is that it allows for a dialogue to take place, where any reasonably intelligent person can read through the entire context and call their own shots. Bad ideas out in the open are helpful when they can be exposed as bad ideas, letting better and even good ideas rise to the top.

That phenomenon is so powerful that it gets guys like Blaha to convey good ideas, like the benefits of training compound movements and the pitfalls of acting like Blaha.

In summary, I think everyone should be able to chime in on any topic. I don’t offer my opinion on anything I haven’t done, but others are free to do so. It’s entertaining and instructive when bad ideas get called out. We are usually lucky enough to have someone responding to any given thread that will at least call out the truly bad ideas, leaving the reader with enough information to decide what ideas he or she wants to take into consideration.


This was one of the best posts I’ve seen in a long time. Bravo

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This reminded me of the Charles Atlas ads in Bazooka bubble gum - pic below.


Just remember that phrase, I’ll gamble a stamp, lol.

Think I may have just dated myself.


I,too, am old enough to recall a time when hooligans roamed the beaches, kicking sand in the faces of everyone good and decent. There weren’t a lot of muscle men around back in those days. The public yearned for a hero who could squat at least four plates, bench three and deadlift five, but the heroes-to-be were too busy following bad advice from their precious muscle magazines.

A man named Wendler came along, and the rest is history. When’s the last time a hooligan kicked sand in your face at the beach?

I rest my case.


Thanks Jim Wendler, lol. Glad I gambled a stamp on 531.

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Take everything with a grain of salt. Try different ideas yourself and see what works and what you enjoy. Maybe the second best program is better for you if you enjoy it and can repeat it.