T Nation

Where do I Start?


Every featured author has their own advice, specialty, programs, and goals. I'm sure all are correct to some degree. I want to develop a solid base of knowledge. I don't know where to start. There are so many choices.

It seems that anyone could say "your ideas are wrong. mine are better" in the strength/conditioning and body building world. Yes, T-Nation has the best minds in the game, but they don't exactly subscribe to any one method. Everyone has their own style. Do I just pick somebody and get on board with their ideas?

Other than learning how to read studies in journals of strength and conditioning it seems there isn't a way to learn about what works and what doesn't unless it's taken from an expert.

I'm all for standing on the shoulders of giants. Any tips on which ones are good? There must be a set of articles that every newb should read.


I like to have a understanding and knowledge about a wide variety of things other than just one or a few. Having one idea often creats bias and hinders critical thinking along with self thought. I often find myself asking questions and trying to answer them myself.

It takes time to weed out the pretenders from the actual people who preach and even pratice what they preach. With that being said, I don't think everyone is "wrong or right" but they are somewhere in the middle. All the things you will read and learn have some truth and some doubt. Just because they are different doesn't mean one or the other is better than the other.

There is a reason that good trainers have many tools in their belts than just a hammer. They can't please everyone with one teaching, you need to reach out to others with a wide variety of knowledge.

What information are you specifically looking to read or learn about? Like overall training and health? Are you considering personal training or just overall self gain?


Lifters naturally gravitate towards a particular style of lifting (powerlifting vs. bodybuilding vs. strongman vs. etc)... I'm paraphrasing someone but I don't remember whom...

Anyway, my point is to lift long enough to discover which discipline you gravitate towards before marrying any particular guru. It will thin the herd of possible "giants" to stand on and save you from a lot of program hopping (at least, it did for me).

Almost any lift or even lifting technique for that lift can be both right or wrong depending on the path you choose and the goals you set.

Edit: 90% of having a "solid base" of lifting knowledge comes from what you get in the gym. I thought I knew just about everything when it came to working out because of all the articles I had read, then I joined a local power-lifting club. These geezers didn't know shit about anatomy or "modern" lifting programs (a lot of them never even heard of 5/3/1) yet they still managed to move some heavy ass weight (365lb bench RAW at my weight, for example), even now into their 60's and 70's (and 80's in a couple of years for one of them).

The text book knowledge is a great tool, don't think I'm trying to say otherwise, but it's minor details compared to the hands-on knowledge. << That's the base. The rest is the icing.


Knowledge of what?

Lifting weights? Get in the gym.

I could recommend books/journals/authors/websites, but you'll have to be more specific.

A major problem that I notice is newbs get fucked up by reading too much information, but they have no idea how to apply that information. That, or they become a disciple of a certain author and their limited thinking prevents them from ever figuring out what works for them.

Not saying this is you, just something I observe.


How about getting under the bar and trying it out for yourself?


Oh this is easy. The professor x how do you train thread. Duhhhhh.

Ha I kid, but on a serious note the threads on T-Nation by people like px, bonez, bbb, kingbeef, and many many many others have helped me progress more than any silly internet guru like lyle mcdonald.

I know a lot of little guys that have made little progress that have been lifting longer than me who like to quote articles authors and yeah I don't care.


To offer an analogy, it sounds like OP wants to get into alpine sports. How do you do that?

Do you ski, snowboard, telemark? Free-ride, moguls, race, teach, jib, backcountry? You sit back and ask yourself which expert to listen to?

Well, you go buy some equipment, get some time on the snow, and figure what you enjoy, and what you want to get out of the sport. You make your decision to become an olympic downhill racer, or halfpipe snowboarder after you've played around with it a little.

To translate back to training, go and lift. Start simple, and see what you enjoy, and what direction you want to take. Do you get off on the fact that you just move x-amout of weight, do you geek how swole your guns get after endless sets of curls, or do you revel in the purity of taking a weight from the floor and snatching it overhead? Experiment a little.

Set some reasonable (and challenging goals) and achieve them. Don't make it too complicated too quickly.


I do workout. I go as hard as I can, but I've never had an assessment by a strength and conditioning specialist. I don't think teaching myself would be a great idea. I bet a certified strength and conditioning specialist or even an experienced lifter could look at a max attempt deadlift of mine and find 100 things wrong with it.


I don't think I really have the genetics to get into bodybuilding, powerlifting, or o-lifting. I like moving as much weight as I can, but that's not anything to brag about. Ultimately I'd like to maintain as much power as I can so I can be as fast as possible for flag football or pick up soccer.


Knowledge of what?

I want to be a certified strength and conditioning specialist. I'm sure that's scary to a lot of people on tnation. I'm about to finish prereqs in community college so I have a little ways to go before I even get started with classes pertaining to exercise science. If I had to specialize I'd want to work with power sports athletes, but I kind of want to be a jack of all trades when it comes to training athletes.

I've tried Max Strength. It's good. I just don't think powerlifting will help me run as fast as possible. I move weights to slow. I need to be doing squats and powercleans.

From what I've heard it sounds like a college education to be a personal trainer is just a big waste. I don't see how a college education could ever be a waste. It's mandatory to do almost anything now.

I want to be a great trainer. I don't want to be one of those guys that just does it between jobs.


I like to lift heavy weight, but I want to do it with a lot of power. I like power cleans. I'm not so fond of the snatch though.

I've been gunning for a 2x body weight squat, 225 for a lot of reps on bench, and a 315 power clean. I've been told my goals are minimal. Shit that stuffs hard. I don't think I'll ever get that 315 powerclean.


You never know until you try. I always thought I wanted to be a bodybuilder. Then I saw this video about powerlifting on YouTube and I was hooked. I started doing 5/3/1 and became obsessed with strength. Now, I have my first powerlifting meet in April. You just have to get in the gym, lift like a mad man, and decide if you want to be crazy fucking strong or you want to look better naked. It's all a matter of choice.



I've never had any "experts" analyze my form or strength or leverages or whatever either...doesn't seem to be holding me back much. Hard work+common sense+learning shit by trying it trumps a lot of things.


I wanted to a concert flutist when I was a lad... I would day dream about it day and night. Night and day. Even during dodge ball with the fellas. I was never blessed with the genetics. My fingers were no where near dextrous enough, my lung capacity was severely subpar, and my lip tightness was probably the worst that had ever been seen. BUT DAMMIT I HAD A DREAM! The problem was, I had no motivation to prove the nay sayers wrong. I listened to all the experts and never once even picked up a flute in public (besides seranading the librarian at the Ft. Worth public library in 2007......and also unsuccesfully in 2009).

I instead picked up powerlifting because I am short, stocky, and have a propensity for Oreos. I mean, I REALLY FUCKING LOVE oreos!! Anyway, even when I chalk up and prepare to pull 500+ lbs for a PR. I'm really just imagining a sintilating flute solo at Carnegy Hall in front of thousands. It is the single most regrettable occurance of my short, sorrow filled life.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this, SHINE YOU SHINEY-SHINER, YOU! Genetics and conventional wisdom be damned. You chase your dream and chase it with impunity and an undying love. Never give up and never sell yourself short. I LOVE YOU! LETS HUG!!!


Well, that was the last touch. We can safely /thread now.


Ah, now we're getting somewhere. For your situation, I'd recommend Rippetoe's books as a starting point: Starting Strength and Practical Programming. I'm also a huge fan of McGill's Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. If you're interesting in training power athletes, Zatsiorsky's book is good but perhaps a bit ahead of where you are at the moment.

As for articles, Eric Cressey's are as good a place as any to start. He not only troubleshoots problems in a practical way, but also does a fantastic job of explaining the science and logic behind everything he does.

There's much more to be read out there, but too much too soon won't do you any good. Other than that, get your education and continue to lift weights. I can't comment on how relevant a college education will be for you, as I'm not an American. Doubtless there has been threads on that topic before. Try a search.


"your ideas are wrong. mine are better"

Okay,.. seriously, there are so many different methods, and in all honesty, they all will work for someone to some degree. The issue is finding the program that will fit your current level, into your current schedule, and give results that are moving you towards your goals. It's very easy to say "try it for yourself", but if you really push any of the mroe experienced trainers on here, they will all recount how they tried different approaches before making a bit of progress.

They then stalled and tried different approaches again before making another bit of progress. Yes the whole 'eat a lot and always try to get stronger' approach does hold some water, but after a certain point, your body will just adapt and you will stall in terms of muscle growth. Best advice I can think to offer is that if you're still relatively new to the weights, then eating sufficient foods and trying to continually get stronger (while actually stressing your muscles, not just throwing weights), is probably the best approach.

Don't get too caught up with all the crazy programs and protocols out there. (If it really was just a simple game of getting 1 more rep each week, no one would sell any books or articles-lol)