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The Best And Worst Training Advice You Ever Got?

Thought this would be a fun idea for a thread, and maybe get us some good nuggets of info along the way. What is the best piece of training advice you ever got, and what is the worst?

WORST: Do Sets of 5 For Strength

The person that told me this meant well, and IN CONTEXT this makes sense, but as a blanket statement it’s terrible advice. I was 17 at the time, had been lifting for a few years and always had strength as the priority, coming into lifting from a martial arts background. I got told that doing more than 5 reps was for “bodybuilding” and that, if I wanted to get strong, I had to do sets of 5. So I did sets of 5 for EVERYTHING: bench, rows, lat pulldowns, every machine in the gym, CURLS, french presses, etc etc. You’ll observe the lack of heavy lower body compounds there, which is REALLY where I shoulda started when it came to “strength”, but along with that, sets of 5 on curls and french presses are really dumb. The truth is that “strength” is a pretty nebulous idea and far too easily gets equated with “amount of weight you can move for one rep”. We mix it up with skill, and then focus on chasing that skill vs actually DEVELOPING strength through a variety of rep ranges and planes of movement. @dt79 and I have gone round and round agreeing with each other on this so many times, especially with the discussion of “big weak bodybuilders”.

Drinking the Pavel koolaid for a few years certainly didn’t help my “sets of 5 for strength” thing. Again: makes sense in context. A training cycle with an emphasis on 5s? Absolutely. Sets of 5 your whole life? Dumb dumb dumb.

BEST ADVICE: Do Super Squats

This actually came to me from a dude that was heavy into martial arts, which is interesting given that it’s a program about building size, but it was because I looked up to the dude in that regard that I was even willing to entertain it. Prior to that, I assumed it was just a bodybuilding program, meant for those big weak sissies (there I was drinking the koolaid again). I got the book for Christmas while in college, purely to read out of academic interest, and by the time I finished the book I already had my 6 week cycle planned out because Randall Strossen definitely uses his powers as a PhD in psychology to get you hooked. Running that program AND the gallon of milk a day+heavy food diet gave me a crash course in training AND recovery brutality that would have otherwise taken me YEARS to develop on my own. It was the start of many future years of absolute bonkers insanity in my training and eating, which I credit my success (and missing ACL) to.

What of you?

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The best advice I got was “feel the muscles” while lifting when I started first started lifting. We had no internet and everything I learned was from training with the big gym “bros”. It’s applicable to both inter and intramuscular coordination.

I only realized that after I took Oly lifting lessons because I couldn’t figure out how to do a proper clean until the instructor, a former 2nd or 3rd tier coach from China, told me the SAME THING but with different words. (They were still being paid peanuts at the time and moving here to work at a community training center was more lucrative.) If you have a high level of body awareness, any new thing you decide to do can instantly “click” once someone explains it to you in the right way.

If I hadn’t taken lessons, I’d still be doing the olympic lifts like how Rippetoe tells people to. Although I could never do a full snatch because I simply don’t have the flexibility and my limb ratios aren’t exactly conducive to such lifts, I did manage to power snatch quite a bit of weight in a relatively short amount of time and my instructor chalked it up to me already having a lot of muscle at the time because I had been lifting for only mass for years already, with the hypothetical use of roids prior to starting oly lifing. But my deadlift fell by around 150lbs IIRC.

So, IMO, technique is key when doing complex lifts but your base - the real base, not the Rippetoe “base of strength” - must be there. Muscles and MMC. I had lots of long conversations with my oly lifting instructor since he was a rather lonely immigrant lol and he told me that luckily I already had a lot of mass or he’d have put me on a “bodybuilding program” first. The reason why they don’t generally don’t do this for their national atheletes is:

  1. They are the genetic elite. If they don’t lift, they’d still be more muscular than the average person.

  2. The government gets them when they’re really young and roids the gifted ones up early so the oly training alone is sufficient for muscle growth even though they still do a lot of assistance exercises for mass.

This was almost 20 years ago. I’m not sure what they do there nowadays.

So, if you wanna get really strong, you also need to get really big in the right places depending on the specific lifts you’re training for.

Of course if you get too big in the wrong places, it would end up being detrimental but people take stuff like this to extremes in their way of thinking without consideration for context.

The idea is that you wanna max out the right muscles in terms of size while avoiding losing flexibility and building so much mass in other parts you end up in a higher weight class. The latter won’t be a problem for a loooong time if you’re natty and it doesn’t even matter if you’re not competing so it’s not even something the average person should fret about.

The point is this shit isn’t mutually exclusive. Just use some common sense.

The worst was very high volume training when cutting. This is the only thing that I think applies to only roided bodybuilders that the angry natties got right but even then I wouldn’t advise cutting in this manner.

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Man, that’s huge. I used to be all arms and no lats because I had no ability to recruit the lats when I did lat movements. I just figured, if I was doing lat pulldowns, rows and chins, I’d be hitting them. Heck, I STILL see the idea being populated that the MMC doesn’t matter and, if you do a movement, you’ll train the muscle. Results dictate otherwise.

High volume when cutting is another good point. People do bulking and cutting backwards. They take in a TON of calories and then do so LITTLE training. Why did we need all those calories then? Then they jack up the training and eat nothing…how are we going to recover?

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Best advice: mind over mater

Worst advice: Girls shouldn’t lift heavy
@dt79 this was given by a personal trainer at a shanghai commercial gym

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Not only that, people also take this shit to extremes by not caring about progressing in some way, e.g, weight lifted, rep speed, stricter from etc. Then they blame it on listening to the “bros” when they aren’t getting any gainz without using any common sense. The guys I first lifted with were using the whole stack with added weights for tricep pushdowns.

Now, of course you don’t need to do that since you can make your muscle(s) work harder with the aforementioned examples but that’s what the big guys I knew were doing based on, like you said, results.

Yup. People don’t realize that experienced roided dudes plan their cycles in a manner where they start taking MORE DRUGS when cutting to maintain muscle mass. Even noobs who start doing cycles just to bulk up do stupid shit like copy the same cycles the people who start them in the middle of bulking during their off seasons with relative lower doses.

When they start these 4-5 month cycles, they generally try to bulk up more with higher doses and gradually transition to contest prep while increasing the shit they use. Even the uneducated guys during the Dark Ages prior to the internet figured this out by reading the cycles in muscle mags and self experimentation. People can’t even do the same with so much fucking information available to them nowadays.

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Well, at least you have lot of them now lol. Prior to 2011, I couldn’t even find a single fucking gym in certain 2nd tier cities lol. The only places with weights and equipment available were the sports halls. Luckily I had already stopped lifting several years some time prior to 2013 as I had to stay in different parts of China for several weeks to months every year or I would have gone nuts.

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When my family was looking for an apartment. I looked for gyms… then apartments. There was a nice one that I rejected JUST because it was far from the gym

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Haha, I can imagine that. I started sourcing hotels with proper gyms when I had to travel there when I started lifting again by paying some guys whom I normally engage to do assorted errands for me for business activities to literally go to them and take pictures lol.

Nowadays, lots of commercial gyms have popped up (and in a mindblowingly short period of time) so I don’t have much of a problem anymore unless I have to go provinces in buttfuck nowhere to visit the factories. But then I can’t really lift properly in these places because the air pollution there triggers my asthma really bad so I just take some time off.

Best advice: Fast! Fast! Fast! Move bar fast!

From the oly lifting coach at the place I went for that.

I don’t remember any bad advice. It might as well have fallen on the floor before it reached my ears.

And of course “Eat! You need to eat to grow!” From my one buddy who told me that.

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It’s amazing how important this is on quick lifts and moving events. It seems obvious, but I’ve slowed myself down thinking too much. “Chest up, back straight, triple extension, come up on the toes, pull hard…why is this clean pull moving like a slow deadlift with a shrug?”

Next set I think “jump with the barbell in your hands” and it’s fast, explosive and neat.

Was the same with the yoke and farmer’s walks. Thought too much, moved too slow. Now all I think the whole time is “quick feet-quick feet-quick feet” and it works.

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Yep. A couple of my wrestling coaches were great with the quick cue.

They’d just yell “SHOOT!” and Bam! You shoot!

Same with Sprawl! ARCH! SIT! (For real, for the sit out to gramby roll).

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I think it depends on how one interprets and responds to mental cues. If I just thought “jump”, I’d fuck up the first pull if I’m pulling from the ground.

I think this is one of the biggest problems with people getting information exclusively online. Few things beat someone actually teaching you shit while knowing how to explain things to you in a way that you can understand them.

EDIT:

Correction: Actually, I’d fuck up the 2nd pull.

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@dt79 Oh believe me, these are technical monstrosities, haha. The latter just ends up being faster than the former.

@SkyzykS I miss wrestling so much, especially for that. Nothing better than hearing that little tidbit of wisdom come soaring over the roar of the crowd and it’s exactly what you needed to hear at that moment.

To slightly derail my own topic, for “best advice I ever GAVE”, I’m going to attribute it based on the fact it was advice that Mike Tuchscherer accepted, which gives me a pedigree.

We were having pizza at one point and he said “Ya know, pizza is awesome, but I’m kinda in the mood for a burger.”

I suggested getting a Whopper at the BK down the road and using slices of pizza as buns.

I meant it in jest.

It was not interpreted as being in jest.

I was informed that it was DELICIOUS.

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No, really, my former coach literally told some guys guys to do this and would yell “jump!” right when they start the lift from the floor. What I meant was people are mentally wired differently. You can tell some guys how to do the first pull with textbook technique and they will still end up doing a “slow” deadlift prior to the 2nd pull. The “jump” cue somehow clicks with them and they end up getting the first pull right.

EDIT:

And I never responded to using just the bar to build technique. I think it probably works mostly for new lifters. When lifting something heavy, I just revert back to instinct or start hesitating for a split second during the lift and fuck it up. But if you tell me which muscles I need to activate more, it suddenly clicks. Different strokes lol.

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This one DRIVES me crazy. I hear women saying they don’t want to get all muscled up. I’m like it’s not that easy to get muscled up. But, it’s ingrained in their heads and there is nothing I can do to change their minds.

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It’s an interesting bit of a psychological trick where people are convinced that UNDESIRABLE physical changes happen rapidly while desirable ones take forever. If you don’t wanna get bulky, it’ll happen instantly, but if you wanna add muscle it’s a LONG process. Dudes don’t wanna do the Building the Monolith dozen of eggs and 1.5lbs of beef a day or the Super Squats gallon of milk a day for 6 weeks because they’ll “get fat”, but they also don’t think they’ll get jacked too? How are you gonna get fat in 6 weeks but it’s too short of a time to add serious muscle too? And how come I can free fall muscle loss in the span of a week but cutting takes forever?

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You hear guys who have never lifted saying the same shit wrt to “getting too big” as if it’s that easy. A friend of mine trained with me for his first ever real gym session and got worried because he thought the pump he got indicated that he was quickly going to blow up into Ronnie Coleman lol.

To add: This dude is actually a very fucking smart guy especially when it comes to doing intellectual shit. He’s helped me out A LOT in these areas over the years. He just had some funny ideas in his head about the reality of lifting prior to this which I don’t know the origin of.

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Worst: Train pulling muscles vs. pressing muscle in a 2:1 ratio. Did this for years and didn’t realize how much it was holding me back in terms of stability on pressing movements and improving my posture. I think this advice maybe originally was aimed for traditional gym bros that only trained front of their bodies, but that was never me. I always followed pretty balanced and basic routines very early in my lifting career. Also if you need to do 2 sets of rows for every set of bench press, it speaks to some serious dysfunction you’re just trying to mask. The right pre-hab and activation exercises are infinitely more important here IMHO.

Best: This one I started just this year after reading enough of CT’s articles and that’s rest at least 4 min between working sets of compound movements. I used to think I had to keep my workouts “metabolic” to keep my body comp in check. But the longer rest has really done wonders to bring down my cortisol levels during and post workout and keep me in a more relaxed state of mind the whole workout. Performance is improving at a much better pace and quality of reps are better than ever. And I haven’t gotten fat :smiley:

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Agreed. And I think what’s ironic is that lots of the “experts” I’ve seen championing this didn’t even know how to perform back movements in a manner that effectively hits the lats. Whenever someone has this problem online, I usually tell them to go find an old Nautilus pullover machine and feel what getting your lats fired up really feels like.

Oh god the ratios. It’s one of those things that makes sense until you think about it for even a second. Does a inverted row equal a bodyweight bench press? Does a band pull apart equal a fly? Do chins cancel bodyweight presses? Big backs are awesome: that alone is the reason to do a lot of pulling, but the quest “for balance” is just silly.

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