T Nation

When is it appropriate to offer advice in the gym?

I often wonder about this when i’m standing in the gym watching people doing incredibly dumb things. Sometimes its form issues - the other night a beginer was struggling to bench 135 lbs and he kept moving his head/ neck like he was an owl - other times I see guys squating on their toes instead of their heels - some times its just people who have no idea what they’re doing, i.e. this bone skinny kid who couldn’t have weighed 140 lbs soaking wet spent an hour doing shoulder presses and curls before “finishing it off” with 6 sets of upright rows, or the kid who’s spent an hour and a half hitting his chest from every conceivable angle using every conceivable machine, yet wouldn’t know what back and leg work was if it was sleeping with his sister.

Now I always keep my mouth shut. But should I? I think a lot of people have gotten some really bad advice over the years about training. I also think that most of those people will eventually give up. But some might stick around and become actual T-men if only someone would give them some good advice.

What do you guys think?

Depends. Women will usually listen to advice; guys will just resent you unless a) they ask for advice, or b) you are 250+ lbs (in which case they are probably in awe and greatful that you would even speak to them.)

eag, be very cautious. In my years in gyms, and believe me, it’s years, I’ve gotten quite close-mouthed with my advice. More and more, people ask me for advice, but only occasionally do I offer it unasked for, and that’s only when it’s someone who works out hard, busts their ass, and appears to WANT IT. Still, I’m cautious and ask them if I can offer a piece or advice.

Most people don’t want advice, they know better in many cases, but there are ego and other reasons they do what they’re doing.

I would shy away from offerring advice unless asked. Most people feel they know everything and do not respond well to advice. You would be surprised how even though you an educated T-man you could probablly be put in the same situation with someone above you Knowing more wanting to offer you advice! You would probably end up Well I read in t-mag etc etc. Thats how they feel about reading info in muscle media Etc. People just see me doing crazy workouts and I’m the only one making progress in the gym that doesn’t use roids so they usually end up asking me.

I’d suggest not giving advice. Sure, I get kinda aggravated too when I see some guy tossing his shoulders back to heft up a dumbbell on a “curl” or raising his torso 6" off the bench to get that press up. Why should it aggravate us when it has nothing to do with us? It shouldn’t, but somehow it does. But the good news is that I myself started at that point a year ago, and have leaned better, so any scrawny gymjerk can become proper, too. I see a lot more of the poor performance right now because of the herds of New Years’ resolutions, too. It’ll pass.

Don’t waste your time. I agree 100 percent on the ego part. I’m the retard in the gym who’s doing the pullups with a 4 or 5 second eccentric. I’m the guy who lowers the weight on the floor with control when deadlifting. Silly me. The point I’m trying to make is, most guys in the gym will not only ignore your advice, they’ll actually make a mockery of it. Never give it unless it’s asked and earned. Think of it as money, you just don’t go around handing it out. I have to get this off my chest while I’m here. Two guys (with 13 cannons!) see me doing skullcrushers with a paltry 80 lbs. My technique is perfect, and I’m getting an incredible pump. I put the weight down, and flex my puny arms. The one bozo picks up the weight and asks the other if he wants it to START OFF with!! He responds by saying, “those are baby weights dog, come here and hand me them man weights”. Maybe those gold chains or that cell phone on his belt made him super strong who knows. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but these guys both look like the AIDS poster boys.

I stick with the credo of keeping my mouth shut unless asked. I do enjoy eaves dropping on other people giving advice though. My favorite kind is the hot chick in the gym being inundated with advice from every lonely meathead in the place every 10 minutes.

I could go around the gyma nd make pointers to 80% of the people working out. I don’t because its a lost cause. When you work out try to imagine yourself alone in the dark. Dont even look at other people. Its anti social but it cuts out the bs.

I tend to agree with the other responders, keep quiet unless asked. Having too been in a gym for many years as well as working at one you will find most people wont take your advice anyway. You can show somebody how to properly perform an exercise and the next time you see them in the gym, they’ll be cheating and swinging just like before. The best policy is to teach by example. I notice that when my partner and I try a new exercise we can come in the next day and see a group of guys trying that same exercise. Hopefully they benefit from it.

The only time I will offer advice, unasked that is, is if I see somebody doing something that will damage equipment or that will possibly injure another member.

MB… “possibly injure another member”!!! Please elaborate, this has got to be fuckin’ hilarious.

I learned a long time ago that people dont listen to what you have to say. Save your breath. If they care enough, they will do the research on their own.

I don’t really bother because dependent on their age , the older they are , the more they think they know what they are on about. People often see useful advice as a personal ego blow rather than someone just helping them out. I have seen it from both angles, this professional rep-counter came upto me and my training partner and started to lecture us about squatting to parallel, I told him that I totally agreed with him but how comes his training partner hadn’t squatted to parallel, he muttered something about doing a really heavy weight…I just thought what a dickhead. The worse thing was that my training partner and I were spending the next few months working on our form. Good advice which makes sense is fine but advice from someone who doesn’t even follow his own advice is tripe.

I agree with this thread. First you’re not there to offer advice, stick to your business of a quick 45-55 minute weight training session and don’t waste your time. Second, I’ve had everyone from that skinny ass kid to a 60 year old woman and everything inbetween ask me for advice. In my experience if you look good and ALSO look like you know what you’re doing, people will approach. When they do, even though I prefer to workout in solitude and quickly, I’ll always offer advice and be friendly enough to help someone, but not too friendly. If you’re too friendly you may end up with a different training partner that you never asked for, VERY ANNOYING!!

At the gym I work at usually I’m busy, however if I see someone who appears to be interested inweights I just point them to T-mag. I know one person actually said it was the best advice he ever got.

I stay to myself too. I have in the past gave out a little advice, but it just ended up with the dudes aggravating me every time I see them in the gym. Also giving out info leads to alot of competitive feelings from the others in the gym. I don’t mind competition but I mainly compete with myself and the iron. Too much interaction just messes up my pump.

I guess times have changed too much…
I got started in lifting over 15 years ago, when I was a teenager, and it was at a real T-man type gym- Eifferman’s in Las Vegas. It was a small gym (it could have fit in the aerobics area of most major gym chains) with tons of weights and all of 2 stationary bikes for aerobic equipment (which were only used by those warming up on cold days or guys dieting down for a contest). I’m sure most of the old timers know the type of place- small, jammed with the essentials and only a few machines, db’s up to 210 lbs, way too fucking hot in the summer and way too fucking cold in winter.

It was filled with huge men who were as strong as they looked. Yes, most of them were openly on the juice and seeing a guy getting a "Vitamin S" shot in the locker room wasn't unusual, but this was 15 years ago, before the big media scare and crackdown.

With all that strength and muscle, you’d think there’d be more than a few egos, but that was far from the case. Everyone there was incredibly nice and helpful. Especially to the younger guys coming through. If I was doing something wrong, people would tell me. If I wasn’t doing the basics - squats, presses, rows, I got shit from the guys.

With the exception of a few people (or guys preping for a contest) you could talk to anyone at any time.

And I’m thankful for having had that kind of environment to start in. Because it gave me the proper foundation. 15 years later I’m still squating, pressing and rowing, even as my goals have changed from being as huge as frickin possible to just maintaining a strong, healthy, muscular body.

So I see these new guys and what they’re doing wrong and I think back to how I got started, and how much help I got. And it makes me want to do the same for others.

But I guess you guys are right. It isn’t 15 years ago and it’s no longer a cult sport based around small, $90 a year gyms packed with guys who live to lift heavy weights.
Oh well.

i think its funny that because im only 17 everyone assumes i am one of those kids that doesnt know anything. i’ve had lots of people come up to me giving me advice including trainers and old powerlifters. i respect the advice they give me and appreciate most of it. i always thank them and if i know something is stupid or bs advice i usually just thank them anyway and tell them i will keep that in mind because its usually not worth it to argue. as far is giving advice goes , sometimes it is hard to tell if someone is doing what they are doing to acheive a specific training result and really do know what they are doing or if they are doing something a certain way just because they dont know better. because of this i usually dont offer advice unless it is someone i allready know and then i will talk to them and ask them some questions about their training program. by doing this you can pretty much find out for sure if they know what they are doing or not and then offer advice if needed. that way if someone does know what they are doing you give them the chance to explain why they are doing it that way and it is more along the lines of a coversation rather than a criticism.

Nic’s got a good point. A person might have a good reason for performing an exercise a certain way. The last phase of King’s 12 week leg program prescribed a set of heavy quarter squats. I almost felt guilty doing them, since most people do them just to put a lot of weight on the bar. However, combined with full squats in a sound routine, they produced quite a training effect–a 70 lb increase in my squat 1RM!

When you’re in the shower and you try to give a guy advice on the jelquing techinque.

I am in agreement with the majority of this post. I do not give advice unless I am asked. I had the benefit of starting in a gym such as one described in a earlier post and yes it was a great experience. I always thanked any that offered advice and still do, even if I think it is worthless advice. One should keep in mind that when a person offers advice they have a good intention, they want to see you avoid a problem they have had or to excel faster than they did. Anyone that would react as a jerk to a little advice is truly a puny person. But as was pointed out numerous times in this string there are many such people walking around in gyms everywhere.