I submitted this to TC as an article idea but he thought it might make a good post.
5 ways to open your eyes
Over the last 7 years the Guys of T-Nation have provided us with an invaluable resource as it it pertains to our goals: training, nutrition, supplementation, injury rehab, psychology and in general providing us with tools to change our lives any damm way we want to.
As the site has grown from a few writers with the site being updated weekly to the full blown daily interactive experience we all enjoy (all for FREE I might add), more now than ever the average T-Nation reader has the ability to put forth all and any of their comments, feedback and inquiries to the best field of coaches in the business.
But despite all we've been given, I still think the average t-man has become "lost" in the vastness of it all, with so many options available, with so many different paths offered, the same questions keep being asked " what's the best way to... what if I change this exercise for..." and I guess that's normal, but I think before we all ask more questions we should rediscover what we already have.
Here's 5 ways I think the average t-user can use to help clear the fog and maybe realize we've been given the answers all along.
1) Really read and understand what our coaches are trying to achieve.
To the casual user perusing the forums, you might notice a common theme..one of our favorite coaches puts out another kickass article following that the feedback comments are immediately the same " Coach Thibaudeau, Can I change barbell hack squats at 5x5 for lets say 3 sets of 17 reps of sissy squats.." or " Chad Waterbury, in ABBH you wrote Flat bench press at 10x3 85 % max..can I substitute 4x10 of cable flys but I'll really squeeze my pecs hard".
Look all the coaches on T-Nation realize when they write a program that not every reader is either gonna have the equipment or be at the stage of development for that particular program, but not all is lost if you fall short in one area as long as you realize the intended message the coach was trying to convey.
For example in Waterburys "Set rep Bible" Chad was trying to put forth some basic parameters based on his empirical evidence in the gym as to what we should aim for in terms of sets vs reps to try and achieve whatever our training goals are.
So why might I ask do some of us feel the need to immediately contradict his prescriptions in terms of sets and reps and plug in our own thoughts that completely go against his recommendations. Did you not READ what he wrote or is there some confusion as to what he meant by it all?
I mean the last time I checked T-Nation was a group of professional strength coaches brought on board because of their experience in the field. As we've all seen in the authors lockeroom all the coaches are open to comments and will gladly provide alternatives to given recommendations in a training article, but the the original message of the article must not get lost in the confusion.
If any of the coaches put forth a article on any topic: building mass, injury rehab, nutritional guidelines, really try to "empty your cup" as the great Bruce lee once said in order to absorb what the coach was trying to say.
2)" You cannot replace hard work with the acquisition of knowledge"
In Shug's great double tap interview with John Berardi, he brought up a quote that he heard Dr Berardi use on occasion that you cannot replace hard work with the acquisition of knowledge. You can analyze your diet and training logs everyday, trying to tweak and fine tune your program to try and achieve the penultimate program, thinking about training 24/7..but at some point you have to push away and just go train and maintain disciplined eating.
All the coaches have been screaming at us for years the same message..There are NO secrets..consistency wins every time folks. How many times have you seen the huge guy at the gym only to realize his training/eating was horrible but he got results why?...because he stopped thinking and started busting his ass and at times the big guy might be misguided but he's putting in the hours in the gym.
Mixed martial arts legend Bas Rutten was once asked "Bas, what's the first step to surviving a streetfight or being attacked?" the questioner hoping for some special technique or strategy, bas responded "You have to first except that you're gonna get hurt..once you do that the rest is just the will to act and survive ".
What bas meant to say I think is that all the preparation in the world is great but ultimately you'll have to act and it'll probably be painful. I'm not saying planning and strategy is lost and just go throw some weights around without thought but your own hard work will ultimately determine your success with any given endeavor in the gym or otherwise.
3) All of the T-Nation contributors have something to offer you.
Some readers develop almost an idol worship of their favorite contributers; Coach Staley once said that we're always looking for a new guru to "plug" into. Chad Waterbury, Cressey and Robertson, Coach Thibaudeau , Poliquin..the list goes on and on.
We read what they write and it seems too good to be true, they get "it"..they're inside our minds it seems. I know I myself at times have focused on a particular writer, going into the archives reading everything they wrote, downloading the articles looking for the elusive truth.
For anybody who's been on the site for a while you should realize that ALL the writers have information that can be of use to you, Just cause you love Coach Thib and he recommends the Olympic lifts and their many variants in many of his programs but Joe Defranco rarely uses them in his programs does not mean Coach Joe's program recommendations would not be of benefit to you.
Hell maybe you need to change direction in your program and he's got what you should be about doing right now .The more you look at it ,our favorite coaches have allot in common in their training recommendations and philosophies which leads me to....
4) Learn to see the lines of commonality between writers.
Regardless of who writes the articles certain opinions are always shared: big compound movements are where it's at, increase in weight or speed of movement in most cases will lead to progress, reduction of rest times leads to more "work" achieved per workout, your body is a unit not a collection of parts and train it as such.
After a certain point in your training career you must stop and revaluate and see if anything is stopping you from achieving the next level be it Injury, strength and postural imbalances, poor diet etc..I could go on and on but you get the picture. Certain themes all keep popping up in your favorite t-mag articles regardless of who wrote them. Learn to see them and try to use that in planning your own goals and you might not have to go through the frustration of stagnated progress.
5) T-Nation is ultimately trying to help you think for yourself and find your own path.
Why does this site exist? is it just a platform to sell Biotest supplements? , a training site for writers just trying to make a living?... I think Tim Patterson ,TC and Shugart and all our favorite contribs are part of something bigger.
I Think T-Nation is a collection of thinking men and women who often vary on their opinion on various topics but share a common desire to change the world by actualizing themselves to the best of their abilities. I think T-nation shouldn't give you all the answers but serve as a theme for your life, as it relates to your training goals and otherwise.
Regardless of who writes for T-Nation, most people on this site at one time or another felt a sense of dissatisfaction with something in their lives and thought of finding a better way and I'm sure if you ask all who are involved with this site, since being a part of T-Nation they've been enriched and continually evolve in the way they think about new information. I think all of us readers could benefit from turning inward and trying to find new ways to look at things using the example put forth by this great site.
In the end I am just a T-Nation reader like you and I hope I've put forth some useful opinions on how to "re-discover" T-Nation. Thanks for listening.