T Nation

The Many Sides to T-Nation


WIth all the information out there its pretty easy to question what the ideal training phyilosphy is. Thanks to T-Nation we have a wide variety of profesionals to aid us in our conquest to better ourselves. Whether we desire to pack on size, gain strengh, or achieve a completely different purpose, T-Nation is there for us. It is an organization devoted to people like us who unite in the singal conquest to better ourselves. Well thanks for the help, but i cant help but wonder what the ideal way is?

(This post is ment to debate the many training methodologies and thoughts for gaining size, strenght, fatloss, ect, and the some of the authors who make it possible. If you dont give a dam fine, but maybe this post will bring about some ideas and new thoughts to training.)

So for those of us who wish to improve ourselves for purley astetical purposes, T-Nation is the holy grail! We have authors such as Chad Waterbury, Christian Thibaudeau, Charles Poliquin, Charles Staley, Dan John , and such who share the thoughts with us to bring about our transformation. Such great minds who think so differently to achieve one goal.

Im not going to go into to detail but If you have read their articles, you know first hand they differ in opion, at least slightly;) To train or not to train to failure, train with speed, total body workouts, splits, specilizations, special techniques, ex: drop sets, forced sets, eccentric loading, tempo changes, -enough!

I certaintly do not know that much compared to these authors, who I highly respect, but from reading all the information generated from this site and many other sources, I have concluded that basically there is no one majic formula which applys to everyone. Duh, Im sure alot of you knew this to, but it seems like the key lies up to you! Knowing when to train, when to eat, sleep, and hopefully surpass your previuos status. T-Nation provides us with the info, we have to apply it.

Maybe the reason so many highly touted people have different views on training is that they have done what works for them and the poeple they train. You really have to figure out works for you, thats hard, however, its the truth. We can read as much as we like but the result and expirence is what we earn and how we choose to interpt it for the next time directly effects us!

Id like to hear some expirences with differnt training programs where you made great progress, where maybe you did something far out which caused for major improvment. For size, strengh, and fatloss. Oh- and maybe if your a MMA fighter, throw your routine in their!

thanks T-Nation!

 my bad about spelling;(


I did it better than you did!!!

Slay the Dragon: the study of an online bodybuilding community

The internet is filled with message boards and discussion forums about every known topic, product, or interest that anyone could possibly have. T-Nation is dedicated to bodybuilding and performance training, and this would not be unique, if it weren't for how the site is set up. Testosterone Nation is more than a place where "meat-heads" come to compare strength feats, argue about how much protein to consume, or debate training routines; it's about way more than that.

A T-Nation contributing author characterized the role of T-Nation in a bodybuilder or strength athlete's life by comparing it to the Greek mythology of Thesus and Ariadne. Thesus was the Greek boy who volunteered to go into the Labyrinth to attempt to kill the Minotaur. Ariadne provided him with a ball of thread that he could fasten to the door of the labyrinth and then when Thesus had to come back out, he could follow the string back to the place where he entered.

The T-Nation author, known as 'TC' says, "That's T-Nation's job, to help people like us find their Ariadne thread, to help guide them through this journey that we have all chosen. It's also T-Nation's job to help you defeat the dragon, or Minotaur, as the case may be."

When you arrive at T-Nation, you are met with a menacing but mesmerizing image of a gigantic physique, with a black background and deep red and bright white text. Part of the mantra goes, "...Testosterone Nation is a philosophy, a way of life. It's where there are no excuses and no apologies; where men are free to be men. It's where the noble aspects of Testosterone rule."

And while this would seem extremely "meat-headed," it is backed up by a huge cohort of chemists, scientists, nutritional theorists, exercise physiologists, and world-famous trainers. "A Place where new ideas are born, where false and outdated dogmas are destroyed, and where truth and intellect rule."

It's not just for bodybuilders either, it's also "home to powerlifters, mixed martial artists, and athletes of any kind who stand to benefit from increased size, strength, power, speed, or endurance."

Once you enter the main part of the site, there are statistics that keep track of the number of published articles, forum threads, and the number of user published posts to those topics. As of right now, there are over 3,430 articles, 108,000 threads, and over 1.4 million posts. To say that T-Nation is a bustling underground of mind and muscle activity would be an understatement.

The site is formated like most news sites such as CNN or the New York Times, with the most recent articles on the front page and then a sidebar for accessing the forums, older articles, specific authors, and the company's store. You see, T-Nation is a subsidiary of the high-tech sports supplement company known as Biotest.

Biotest Laboratories, LLC is a sports supplement company and T-Nation has been around since 1998. Biotest produces its own line of protein powder supplements, testosterone boosters, stimulants, fish oil, branch chained amino acids, fat burners, anabolic agents, and multi-vitamins.

For the most part, Biotest is considered a high tech company that produces some high quality products at fair prices. In my opinion, some of their products are better than others, and they don't have a totally unique monopoly on any specific product. Usually, the members of the forum will buy their supplements from Biotest out of loyalty, but nearly identical products can be had from a multitude of other companies.

The site is a brilliant business scheme, in that it brings its customer base right into its store, by letting them in through the virtual backdoor of their message-board forums. T-Nation authors publish articles about nutrition, exercise regimes, and all sorts of scientific approaches to creating the ultimate physique, and then the site members discuss those articles or just post their own threads on an array of topics from headings like "Building a Better Body, Supplements and Nutrition, The Over-35 Lifter, Off Topic, Steroids," and many more areas of interest.

This is where it gets interesting: where the record needs to be set straight. The T-Nation subculture needs to be properly understood, because they (bodybuilders/weight lifters) are so badly stigmatized and sometimes even demonized by a society that increasingly cares less and less about such "caveman" ideals. As I further investigate this site, it is becoming more apparent to me that the bodybuilding community is not stupid; in fact, it's alarmingly brilliant and ahead of its time in many ways.

The authors that post articles cite major University studies as their backing, and the authors are mostly M.D.s or graduates of top schools themselves with industry-respected certifications, which lends a lot of credibility to what they say. There are really intricate breakdowns that explain the complex science behind specific claims or the reasoning behind the routines or supplements that they prescribe for specific purposes.

Luckily, even with the site's huge following, the contributing authors do not shut themselves off from the public like some celebrities do. Information is free-flowing and the ability to contact people is pretty transparent. I can email the authors, forum members, send private messages, call some people, or even talk to these people face-to-face (as some of them are members of the very gym that I have a membership with).

I made a post (in 2005) in which I asked members to assess my workout routine, and boy did I learn something: these people take their training seriously and will "flame" anything that they see as "newbie" and outdated. At first, I felt like I was being unfairly attacked, but as I began to let what they were saying sink in, I realized that these people were right and that I needed to reevaluate my plan.

The good in all of this is that they helped me formulate a training plan that actually helped me to produce goal-oriented results. The goal? I needed to be able to do 20 dead-hang pull ups to obtain a perfect score for my military physical fitness test (PFT). The result? I can now do 25 dead-hang pull ups, and my overall PFT has improved from a 268/300 to a 285+ (depending on the day). T-Nation has information that can help people perform better, and that's why I have embraced it.

Sometimes when reading T-Nation, you get the feeling that people there have one-track minds, and that everyone else besides big, strong weight lifters are somehow less worthy as individuals. I never really have desired to get huge but just to be what I would call "whippet-like" in the ability to run fast for a long period of time, lift a lot of weight in comparison to my own bodyweight, and look good in the military's uniform.

For some people, it's just impractical to be enormous, and for others they are downright genetically limited. T-Nation members (not authors) do not take kindly to that mentality and instead seem to believe that hard work can overcome anything, including genetics.

"Shut up and lift!" That sentence and statement captures the overall attitude of the T-Nation membership. The Internet is loaded with weight lifting forums and supplement companies, but T-Nation and its members are of a more strident breed. If you're going to post on the forum, expect to be attacked and critiqued in a politically incorrect and upfront manner.

I have been the victim of Professor X's (a very vocal forum member) verbal assaults, as have many first time posters, but that's T-Nation. A place where you come to either stay for the long haul or get scared and run out of town almost as soon as you show up. There are no excuses for mediocrity and there?s no tolerance for those who want anything less than a Herculean physique. It?s a wonder that the message board even exists (in fact, there are currently problems with the message boards, but I?ll come back to that later). Talking just interferes with possible training time.

However, people do talk, questions are asked, and constructive discussion is fostered; though mostly due to the postings of articles by gurus which leads to the ensuing discussion. I have seen the future of nutrition and body performance at T-Nation, and it is scientifically intricate, yet comprehensible. T-Nation contributor Dr. John Berrardi recently stated, "Athletes know that the difference between medaling and placing off the podium can be the difference of hundredths of a second?any little edge they can get over their competition will likely lead to more successful performances."

This is not advocating illegal performance enhancing drugs at all, as Berrardi goes on to explain the benefits of branch chained amino acids for athletic purposes. If T-Nation had three main components they would be: scientific-based, attitudinal, and training-parameter based approaches to improvement.

I?ve literally seen fights break out about the proper way to rid of "stomach fat." The forum member kmac5855 posted a thread with that title, explaining that at 6'2 and 180 lbs he is, "pretty lean everywhere except for the stomach," and asked, "though I don't eat that cleanly, how should I go about trying to rid of this trouble area?" Here comes Professor X; who said, "This isn't anorexia.com, eat cleanly and train harder." Essentially, shut up and lift.

People seem to stress over minutiae, such as "how many eggs can I eat per day?" or "are beans considered carbs?" and even one that particularly captures the physique-obsessed culture of T-Nation, with, "Is a rest day important?" The site is packed with motivated individuals, no doubt, or those seeking guidance, but at times it feels as if the forums are used as a crutch or a place to complain. If a whining attitude is suspected, a "shut up and lift" response is sure to follow quickly.

I find myself caught wondering about the overall intent of the site. At times I feel that it is a helpful place with invaluable, cutting edge information and resources. Then I remember that T-Nation is just an affiliate for Biotest, which seems like a conflict of interests, when it comes to the site's forum membership. Are we just being sold to Biotest (when there are product placements within articles that claim scientific backing)? I think that there is a mixture: there is blatant product-placement and also sincere and truthful information being disseminated.

The articles are free, and they're undoubtedly paid for by the resulting product purchases that will sometimes coincide with the topic of the article. T-Nation doesn't always post articles that are just guised ads, either, as often times they'll be completely training routine focused. So there's a bit of give and take, but the business strategy is clear: give the people good information, and give them good products. That's just it! If the products didn't deliver, people would openly complain about them on the message boards. Thankfully, Biotest delivers quality products, which lessens the significance of overt advertising.

As of this time, there are major changes taking place within the structure of the site. The contributing authors were getting angry at the way some posters were picking apart their articles and making personal attacks and insults, so TC Luoma (one of the co-founders of T-Nation) posted an article in which he suggested that it might be "time for some drastic changes" and that it could also be "time go gut the forum."

TC apparently talked to Bitoest CEO Tim Patterson about the issue, because the authors have been so attacked by a minority of mean-spirited posters that the authors began to contribute less frequently, and something needed to be done. TC suggested ridding of the forum entirely, but this caused a backlash; and many posters came out and claimed that this move was being made by Biotest to further control their marketing messages.

However, Tim Patterson decided to just eliminate the ability for posters to make comments directly under the contributing authors' articles. There is now a separate section on the site to discuss the articles, which keeps the originally posted article free of clutter and personal attacks. I'm glad that the articles aren't allowed to be directly responded to because it removes the ability of vindictive posters to corrupt an otherwise well-intentioned article.

T-Nation is a valuable resource, and at first I thought the change was going to be more drastic and would censor what was an open community of knowledge. Thankfully, the T-Nation site was made better by this change.

T-Nation is the electronic equivalent of participating in a Rocky training montage, the Q-unveiling of new James Bond gadgets, and the parliament of a third world country. You get to talk training and read articles that express the necessary attitude that you must bring with you to your training, you're privy to Biotest's latest and greatest supplements, and then you can bicker about anything relative to these things. There are factions within the subculture, which helps to identify people in the community.

If you are a "Chad Waterbury guy," odds are that you're following a routine that involves a 3-4 day per week training regimen, with each day based around completely different set/rep parameters. You'll also most likely eat a diet that consists of 33/33/33 (33% of your calories coming from each macronutrient).

If you adhere to John Berrardi's nutritional protocols, you may follow his Precision Nutrition guideline or the concepts outlined in a book titled "Nutrient Timing." A Christian Thibaudeau believer might punish their body with his "Violent Variations" program, which entails training to failure and through all sorts of unconventional hypertrophy-inducing protocols. The idea is that you'll find someone who gives structure to concepts that make sense to you, so you?ll be able to implement a well thought out plan for yourself.

That's one of the major selling points to T-Nation for me. I tend to take everything with a grain of salt, as I just sift through mounds of information (there are almost 10 years worth of articles, all accessible through the site's search engine), and as I compare and contrast and ultimately apply these things to my life and training; I find what works and what does not, then do it all over again. Cy Willson (Biotest employee and article contributor) once said, "your body is your playground, experiment!" Along with just shutting up and lifting, Cy's statement might also rank right up there as a T-Nation lesson to live by.

This brings us to a troubling aspect of the T-Nation community: does it and the community encourage somehow, even inadvertently, the use of illegal substances for performance enhancement (anabolic steroids)? Biotest does not currently sell any products that contain illegal substances, however, in the pre-Government ban days of the prohormones era, Biotest did supply a product to fill that category: MAG-10.

MAG-10 was the equivalent of a full-blown anabolic steroids' younger brother, falling just scientifically short of being an illegal substance, but its effects were no less potent. This gave MAG-10 a huge user following, and to this day, T-Nation has a forum for Steroid discussion and many people reminisce about their "cycles" (the time spent using the drug) of MAG-10.

I would say that the general atmosphere of T-Nation could very well lead to the inadvertent interest and pursuit of steroids and accompanying information and potentially, use. This is not a redeeming quality of T-Nation, but I'd argue that any passionate subculture will have people who will go to extraordinary and (some might say) crazy lengths to achieve dramatic results.

For some areas of interest, it might be a "tricked out" car with road-illegal parts, for example. Whatever the case may be, it seems that when some individuals become passionate about something, they will engage in questionable behavior. I cannot demonize T-Nation because a particular group chooses to engage in steroid use.

T-Nation is certainly a lively and interesting community, where motivated minds look for answers about how to transform the body. You'll find a store with products, stressed out trainees who "need" to know how much broccoli to eat per day, endless advice on how to train, and forum members both looking to help or to engage in flame wars.

It looks like a state-of-the-art but well-used gym, it smells like hard work, it's loud with conversation, and it has the feel of having the privilege to enter Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. For anyone desiring to arm themselves with the knowledge to go about properly transforming their physique and the way they think about nutrition and training for a specific goal, T-Nation contains the necessary information to be successful.


When I started lifting I started on a body part split routine, which seems to be a general taboo for beginners. Despite that, I still saw great progress with it, and over 2 years in I am just now trying total body workouts for the first time (and only because of schedule constraints making 4-5 days a week harder to do).


T-Nation changed my life.


Let us know how that goes. I have a feeling it will be a productive change up. Sooner or later I'll probably do this myself for a change.



Did you write that up for a school paper by any chance?


how do you guys feel about lifting instinctivley vs say lifting to a schedule?

your body is very complex and when you learn how to read it, that is your best guage.

Arnold lifted in his early years instinclivley, yes he had a rough schedule but sometimes he varied.

I always feel pyscologically more productive when I preform a workout that I did by whim, it may not be more productive, but sometimes there is a reasonfor your choice. Im not talking about bench and bis because that is what you feel you need to work but a seriuos consideration toward your bodies response and feel to certain excersises.


T-nations what you make of it,

"Guido the plumber and Michelangelo obtained their marble from the same quarry, but what each saw in the marble made the difference between a nobleman's sink and a brilliant sculpture".
Bob Kall


I would say that training instinctively is the ability to make changes on the fly at any point, as such I think it's the best way to train.

I know what muscles I'm going to work and what exercises I'm likely to use but the weight I use and the rep/set scheme isn't set in stone, I go by feel.

I still keep a log of everything just to make sure I don't move backwards but I find it more interesting when I can just mix it up a little, it also seems to be working (which is all that matters in the end).

If I was still focusing on increasing my numbers (as a priority) I would probably stick to a more structured program as I found it was easier to progress (strength wise) when I was doing that.


LOL professor why...


I like this quote by Dorian Yates when it comes to instinctive training "I don't believe in instinctive training. When I see 500 pounds on the bar, my instincts tell me to go home."

Now years after the fact Dorian has since noted he wished he toned it down a bit leading up to precontest which is where his injuries happened, but I think the take home point is pretty clear.

If I'm in the gym I'm there to do better than before so I might as well not go if I won't get that down.


What's with this current trend of people using quotes as though they are their own thoughts?

Just because someone else thinks something it doesn't mean that we must all follow. Maybe what Dorian thinks is applicable to Dorian and we would do best to find out what is applicable to us.

If you're aiming for 5 reps with a weight and are only capable of 3 reps that day (for whatever reason) do you:

a) Risk injury by trying to force yourself to get to 5 with bad form etc?


b) Listen to your body and stop at 3?

For me training instinctively works both ways, sometimes you back down and sometimes you end up doing more than you ever thought you would simply because you feel that you have it in you.

We're not robots, just because you did something last week it doesn't mean that you'll be able to do it this week. You can follow the:

This weeks performance = 1.1(Last weeks performance)

formula all you want but when you find out that your body doesn't always adhere to that rule you can either work around it or get upset and go home, I prefer to work around it.


I understand where Scott is coming from, but I have to side with IQ here. First linear gains just don't happen consistently for very long for most people. I recently went for almost 2 months without being to lift one more pound for the same reps on any leg exercise, but was still growing. My last 4 workouts started with the sudden ability to get more reps on ALL exercises for 2 workouts in a row and then with more weight for the next 2.

Some systems function well as systems and nobody's against planning your training, but eventually you need to be able to adjust and tweak according to need and shifting imperfect human frailties. My daughter recently didn't have her greatest workout ever and it took me some effort to get her to understand that every single session can't be as good as every other one. She was upset that she wasn't getting what she wanted that day.

I think though that when training primarily for size a whole universe of possible methods and movements opens up when you're freed from one certain mindset or set of parameters. Who cares if nobody ever heard of whatever weird exercise you come up with if it works for you. Also some workouts I feel especially good and will toss in some more volume or if not feeling real energized that day might trim it back some. You get the idea.


Yes sir! lol


I just like the way he said it and it means more coming from a multiple time Olympia winner than some guy with a cartoon avatar, that's all ha.

I should clarify my response a bit because it depends... as usual. I'm in the gym to beat the logbook each time and if I don't beat it then I go crazy. But I can also use common sense and if I'm sick or got 2 hours of sleep I can understand that I'm not at my best and might chalk that day up as an extra rest day.

So maybe I should change my answer to, use your noggin when it comes to training.


This is one funny bit! Thanks for sharing.


I hope I didn't sound like I was attacking you as that wasn't my intention. It's just that i've noticed that a lot recently, someone's having a debate and all one side does is post quotes from their favourite guru.

It makes me laugh more than anything, I just imagine these people having a conversation with someone using nothing but quotes.

"So what do you think about the situation in the Middle East?"

"Well CCN says...but on the other hand Fox News says..."


No I understand, which is why I didn't "attack" in my response. That's a big problem on this site in particular because you'll get a discussion about whatever topic and someone(without personal experience) saying well CT or Waterbury says this etc, and they are just repeating things they've heard and not actually voicing their own thoughts.


Personally I agree with IQ, despite the fact that every time we enter the gym were supposed to be either stronger or bigger (some form of improvment from the previuos workout), our bodies dont always work that way. progression from a workout to workout basis only occurs when supercompensation occurs.

This is very interesting becasue 1. our bodies adapt very easily, so the compensation curve, rate at which we adapts may change as we become more advanced or change from program to program. 2. many people fail to relise that even though a muscle not feel sore or the aloted recovery days have passed the muscle may not be ready for training as well as the body.

Im not an advocator of HIT training and Im not an advocate of arnolod's self inflicting torture training, butI am an advocate of them doing what works for them, and me doing what works for me.

I know some days I can train 3 or even 4 days in a row training the same muscles and rest, making ample progress, sometimes I train each muscle group once a week. It all comes down to our circadian rythm, for those of you who remember biology, its our internal clock, it regulates our sleep patterns, its the reason for jet lag, and determines our gym preformance.

You should consider the fact that your workout routine written down on paper probably does not matche your circadian rythem.


I can't really voice what I meant without going into a very long post about this so I'll try to make it concise as possible.

I'll just leave it at for relatively short periods of time, 6-8 weeks, I train all out looking for improvements each time in weight or reps. If I don't improve I've lost that exercise and have to begin building on a new one. After the 6-8 weeks I relax a bit, and get back at it. The numbers DO NOT start where they ended at the end of the all out period, but they do end up progressing past them.

I'm doing everything in my power, eating recovery lowish volume etc to gain each time for my purpose of bodybuilding. And can we assume(please do so as to not get sidetracked here) that I'm using the same form from the start to finish.

Obviously the same thing will not likely work for a powerlifter or olympic lifter but lifting in the 7-10 range on compoound lifts allows me to progress(even if it's just slightly) each time during those short periods. For example one lift that has been going up and up over a long period of time is dead lifts out of the rack, from about 365 to 500 for similar reps.

I do not do this movement every week, it cycles back through every two weeks. So can I make progress nearly every time it comes up, you bet. Was it totally linear? No not really, went from maybe 365 to 405, then started at 380 and got to 435, 405 up to 455 etc.

I'm about tapped out of this movement for now and will likely have to change it out for a row or deads from the floor. If I was doing five movements for back I'd likely not be able to improve so much but just doing 1 thickness movement allows me to continually make progress.

So my training(DC if you can't tell) is totally based around progression over time. If I'm not going to improve or am run down I simply don't go to the gym that day.

If you read all that thanks ha, I think it's hard on a message board to really get opinions across when you don't exactly know where someone is coming from or what they are refering to.