What Is The ONE Thing You Wish You Had When You Started?

Hey Folks,

Just thought to do this. This should be a fun mental exercise AND, my hope is, we compile a list of “must haves” from those that have “been there and done that” such that those who are starting out know what to look for and how to sort the wheat from the chaff.


  • You can only pick ONE thing. That thing can be anything, but you are forced to pick just one thing.

I am but a one trick pony, so let me go for my one trick


I WISH I had this book when I got started. It would have answered SO many questions for me and got me headed on the right path early in my training. It covers everything: how to execute the basic exercises, how to get your head right for a big set, and how to EAT for success. It even has basic periodization in it, transitioning between the Super Squat program to a 5x5 bulk and power program and back. Instead of wasting time winging it in the weight room, I could have been SO far ahead of the game and had a SOLID grasp on “hard training” MUCH earlier. This would have had me on a rocket path to success.

What about you? What did you discover that, upon discovery, you thought “if only I had THIS when I started”?


I wish I didn’t have access to the internet. I spent way too much time reading and researching about the best way to do things, and not enough time figuring it out on my own.


So flipping that around, would you say you wish you had a coach/mentor instead?

I’m realizing that I gave a bit of a non-answer by using a negative, haha.

I think a coach/mentor would have made a significant difference in my early progress.


Absolutely. The old “big guy at the gym” thing has gone the way of the Dodo with the internet. No one wants to approach anyone unless it’s to “correct” them. People will spend a whole hour staring daggers at someone in the power rack vs ask to work in. Having someone take you under your wing and show you the ropes was crucial.

Dave Tate wrote an awesome series of articles about just that, and I love coming back to it

And John McCallum’s “Complete Keys to Progress” has similar tales with John’s knucklehead daughter’s boyfriend Marvin.


Time. I just wish I would have started sooner.


Wish i was trained by Arthur Jones in 1980 when i first started

I was lucky enough to have a strength training coach (from football) when i started, and he had a pretty good starting routine for newbies. This covered my beginner programming needs well enough.

What I wish I had… was the fortitude to be more serious with it. I didn’t get serious until years in.

EDIT: would also substitute for access to 5/3/1 earlier… didn’t get a hold on that one until like year 12/13 of lifting :sweat_smile:


Don’t bounce out of the bottom of those squats.


I think i’ll go with proper guidance. Not sure i needed a coach but when i started working out at 16, the gym provided programmes which i followed and therefore wasted about 4 years.

I wish i’d have run super squats or even SS 5X5 for those years instead.


Definitely looking like guidance is a key thing here.

@rugby_lifting What would you consider “proper guidance” at this point in your training? Is there one particular author you wish you had discovered?

@Andrewgen_Receptors was it specifically fortitude or other distractors? If fortitude, how did you end up finding it?

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conditioning should be the foundation on which your programming is built


Ehh maybe motivation, clarity, or just common sense. I was an idiot teenager who didn’t know that carb loading was bad if you’re trying to lose weight (lol). I never researched anything for myself and I just followed along with bro stuff really. Of course, this leads one to the impression that maybe I did need a program, but I’ll plead the 5th :sweat_smile:

Enlistment did a lot of bad for me, but also did some good too. One of those ‘goods’ is that I realized I’m the person who does great when I’m told “no”, and being enlisted means pretty much everything is a “no”… I call this “fortitude” (could effectively be replaced by “beneficial defiance”). I also became one of the people that sees absurdly difficult things and runs towards it (not actually running though, because running is hard :grimacing: ). Both of these attributes I think deserve credit for most of the great things I’ve done in life (and in the gym).

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@ChongLordUno I got so excited when I saw you replied and then I read the reply and was so mad I didn’t think to write it! Haha. That’s an outstanding point! People talk about a “baseline of strength” and worry about hitting certain barbell lifts, when all of that should come AFTER we’re actually in shape in the first place! You can do SO much more once you have that sorted.


More open-mindedness, more awareness of my ignorance.

I was so dogmatic with random stuff that I read but really knew absolutely nothing about. Anyone who disagreed with me didn’t have the superior knowledge I had from reading whatever I read the evening before.

A kind of bittersweet benefit of this though is I’ve learned not to judge other people for being in the same part of their journey as I once was.


I, too, am a one-trick pony, but I’m gonna say:


for just about all of the same reasons Pwn outlined for Super Squats.

That, and because I’ve been running 5/3/1 templates for the past 13 months with a fair amount of success, and because I haven’t yet run Super Squats.


This is really tough for me because I had a lot of success with lifting and building muscle from early on (I posted a transformation photo of myself from 15-16 a while back in my log) and I think the fact that I progressed so much throughout my teenage years stunted my mental growth. I thought I knew everything there was to know about building Muscle which caused me to Plateau for YEARS, when I could’ve been making progress this entire time.

So my wish would have to be, I wish I would’ve committed myself to keep learning and researching. Learning about lifting, muscle building, programming, and whatever I may not yet even know about.

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That’s perfect, because I think a lot of the answers and knowledge I needed resides within that book.


@T3hPwnisher mate I was going to say ‘do burpees’ however you had first dibs on the one trick pony

Seriously though, if I had discovered your log in 2001 then that would have saved me years of dicking about in the gym

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Follow an actual program, instead of just lifting to get sore on the next body part due for a workout.

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