T Nation

The Best And Worst Training Advice You Ever Got?

Best: Tough to pin down a single one, but the notion that you should look to people who’ve done what you want to do for advice and guidance is probably it. This helps filter out a lot of distracting noise, especially for a new trainee who might be drawn to something they find appealing or to someone whose advice might not be the most applicable. In other words, look at the totality of methods that’ve produced the results you’re after before you decide the wheel must be re-invented.

Worst: “Don’t use your strength”. This applied to BJJ, not strength training, but it still stands out as the worst training advice I’ve received. The correct advise is “refine your technique”, which is true for everyone no matter how much muscle they have. “Don’t use your strength” is, in practice, upper belts expressing disappointment that their stuff didn’t work. It is so vague and potentially misleading that it should never be said to anyone of any strength level on a BJJ mat unless it can actually be explained in meaningful detail.

It is one thing to say “don’t use your strength” if a new student is having success with brute force, absent any level of technique, like an adult flinging a child about easily. It is another thing to say it if a trainee is having success with the application of techniques in part due to strength disparity.

The antidote to that was training under an instructor who insisted, INSISTED that I smash anyone with a blue belt or higher, along with most male white belts. You do not want to grow accustomed to moderating your hip strength simply because it is a cheat code with low-level grapplers. Nor should you grow accustomed to moderating your pressure simply because lower-level training partners want to call it “using your strength”. Pressure is pressure and more pressure is good technique, whether through strength, size or refined technique. It is always a combination of those for everyone, no matter how much they bench.

In very simple terms, train like you intend to fight, not how your more sensitive and less seasoned training partners would like for you to train.


Been saying this for years,… Success leaves clues and if the people writing articles on how to do “X” have never actually been able to successfully do “X” themselves, then perhaps you should move along (in my ever so humble opinion, of course)



Worst Bench press is the best test of strength. I had a few people tell me this as I got into lifting as a teenager. As a result, I focused too much on benching as much weight as possible and not enough on learning technique and other useful movements. Now, I haven’t done a 1RM bench in over 10 years - no point + high risk of injury on a regular bench (the wider powerlifting pads are a lot nicer).

Best: Experiment a lot. What works for one person the best will not work for me the best.


That Thompson Fat pad is the bees knees. Unfortunately, the bench with it at the gym likes to adjust the barbell height independently. All of a sudden, it crashes down a peg, and scares the shit out of me.

No idea. Never took advice.


Oh, I just remembered another bad one (also from the same Shanghai commercial gym)
Drink a lot of water DURING the workout.
I know it’s important to stay hydrated, but drinking a lot during the workout just screwed my gut up big time and ruined quite a few workouts.
Even my cross country coach knew better and advised us against drinking a lot in the middle of practice

The only way to train if body build style.

I grew up in a town with 1 proper gym in it at the time. And it was body building only. The guy that owned it was a body builder. So was his wife and even their dog.
I went and asked at the gym about getting stronger. And I was genuinely told they couldn’t help me. And they tried to put me on bro split.
But worse than that EVERY half way good meat head in the town was on the same page. There were 0 people I could ask. I tried a few books but they were all very poor quality. Stuff like “90 days to SAS fit” or “Strength training with Royce Gracie”. It took me until 25 to find strength training - Strong Lifts. And to be fair T nation after that.

Best advice:
You can work harder.
This is not so much advice I’ve been given as advice I’ve picked up. Reading Pwn’s opening post reminded me of my 20 rep squat adventure. And my take away’s from that. The biggest one is - you can work harder. Or put better - you are not as close to failing as you think you are.
And this is 2 fold.
Each one of the 20 reps squat work outs was a battle. Each squat set was such a battle. And you think you can’t do it. But you can. It’s all about effort. Its about pushing ever closer to failure. And you learn that the edge is MUCH further away than you think.
And then you have the combined effect. Work out to work out. So many guys have 2/3 big sessions and then need a week off. Or “I’m going easy this week because last week I equalled my PB” . Or Because they feel “beat up from doing a bit more volume”. Welcome to making progress.
And this is not me rubbishing deloads. They work and are a requirement. But not often and not unless you’re putting the effort in the rest of the time. And even then - there is a reason programmes like Super Squats, 531 BtM, Deep Water are all 6 weeks long. You can sustain a hell of a work load for 6 weeks before you need a rest.
So work harder. For longer.


I haven’t purposefully taken a deload. Something always comes up. Vacation mostly. A get together that is all day on one of my training days. I think life gives me enough deloads, that I don’t need to schedule one.

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Worst: Workouts must not last longer than 60 minutes or you’ll tank your testosterone levels. I spent years not doing enough work to make progress trying to stick with this time limit. Only when I increased my volume and my sessions stretched to 1.5, 2 or even 2+ hours did my strength start progressing again. More volume and longer sessions was what I needed at that stage in my training career to make more progress.

Best: Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. I got this from an article on this site, but can’t remember which one it was. It helped me end (mostly) my abusive relationship with certain lifts – I loved (and still love) doing them, but they aren’t loving me back. As a somewhat banged up lifter, this was key advice for me.

Great thread idea!

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Yeah - again. This is something I feel strongly about.

If your not working a REALLY intense programme, this is 100% true. And that’s not me having a dig at your works outs. You found a way to manage fatigue over the long haul. And its working - obviusly.

But I think if you are running a dedicate 6 weeks flat out programme that you never miss a day of is different to running say 531 where you’re averaging 3 sessions a week over a month.


I don’t ever feel like I NEED a deload, but sometimes I really WANT one, just to switch things up

Recently though, I’ve been wanting to just lie in bed


Then the question becomes, would it be better to train a bit less intense, and not need a deload, and get an extra week of training or train more intense and need a deload, and miss a week?

Preference. I have phases of each. Doing a “silly idea” programme every so often is good for you. Tests the desire.


My bad lol. Watched it so long ago I couldn’t remember how much he was lifting.

But your boy cheated anyway. He was wearing straps.

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I think he may have had gloves too.

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I do recall his pants looked better than that silly looking PL suit he was wearing for squats.

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I’ve found that certain style programs lend themselves to needing deloads. PR sets, in particular, require deloading after enough time. The nature of a PR set is you dig DEEP into your recovery well, and, in turn, need to let it refill after enough deep digs. Straight set programs like Deep Water or 5s Pro BBB Beefcake? They’re tough, they suck, they’ll break your will, but you “only” need to do the prescribed sets and reps. They can be run back to back without said deloads.

Movement variation plays into it too. Sometimes a deload can be sneaky, and “look” like regular training, but instead we switched the movements around and that first week or two is spent learning how to do the lift, such that we actually can’t apply enough force to it to dig deep into our recovery well.

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Worst: XX is the best lift. There is no best lift or lifting modality. BB works well for some and not others. I’ve found I get more out of DL than squat, but, I’m also long limbed and lean… The same thing may not apply to a short lifter with a belly.

Best: Mobility is essential as you age. I can’t believe how stiff I’ve gotten in my 40s. No more, sir. I now have mobility goals… I’d like to throw a high round house kick again


Worst: “don’t work out to gain bulk. It will only turn to fat when you get older”

I can’t tell you how many of my family members told me that

Best: “you need to eat, boy. You ain’t never gonna get no size lessen you eat”

Turned me from a hard gainer 170 pounder to 230 pounds of sexy beast


I think we should rename hardgainer to “needs more food”