T Nation

Words of Wisdom

Just some thoughts I put together. . .

The busiest trainer at your gym and the best trainer at your gym are probably not the same person. One spends their time improving their marketing skills, the other their training skills. Pick the right one.

When you want to improve at something do not look for a coach who is naturally good at that thing. Find the coach who has little natural talent but developed through perseverance, determination and skill. That’s the coach who knows all the tricks to help you improve, the naturally gifted individual never had to struggle for success so they really don’t know how to achieve it outside of having the right genetics.

In the end if you want to get better at something practice!!! If you want to be better at throwing a baseball you go out and throw a baseball, you don’t spend hours in the gym doing internal rotation work. If you want to get better at lifting heavy weights go lift heavy weights, anything else is a detail that can be added later.

If a muscle won’t grow don’t worry about it, instead try and make it stronger. One of the adaptations that your body will undergo to increase strength is hypertrophy. While it may not be the most efficient way it’s never failed anyone yet.

If you can’t bench 1.5 x your bodyweight, deadlift 2x your bodyweight and squat 2x your bodyweight you don’t have sticking points, you’re weak.

Not everyone shares your goals, while we may not understand the mind of a marathon runner we should not mock them. They may not want what we want but their dedication is without question, the same goes for any athlete, powerlifter or bodybuilder.

When people ask you to help them improve themselves take them seriously, if they’ve gone through the effort of asking for help it’s the least you can do.

If someone asks for help improving themselves tell them to keep a diet log for 2 weeks then come back and talk to you. If they do it they obviously have what it takes to make the changes, if they don’t you’ll never see them again.

Too often in sports coaches organize their practices by mimicking what their coaches had them do, there’s no rational or thought given to it. If a coach can’t hold at least a moderately informed discussion on the physiological, psychological, or technical benefits of what they tell you to do then find another coach. “It’ll get you in shape” is not a valid answer.

If you ask someone for advice because they know more than you ensure you take their advice. Don’t start changing things because you want to, experts have a reason for everything they tell you to do and this is why you went to them, don’t mess with it.

Your ego is not a good training partner, leave it at home.


Well said brother. You forgot flossing, but I’ll give you a mulligan on that one.

I’m weak…:frowning:

Truth in that for sure.

I have to disagree with the point about seeking a coach who is not talented in the area he/she is coaching.
I am a very good football player and a very good Weightlifter, and yet I coach both sports…very well, I might add.

And your ratios are off as well. I think your reccomendations are weak…I bet guys like Dave Tate, Magnus ver Magnuson and the like would laugh at them as well. I’m just wondering where you came up with them and who gave you the authority to state them as truths.

Other than that, I agree with you though, so don’t think I’m busting your balls unfairly…just giving my $2 ha

$2 eh? You think pretty highly of yourself there brother. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

My point with the coaching is not to steer people away from good coaches. However, I see a huge number of people coaching sport (particularely in mountainbiking which is where I work) who are spectacular at the sport. As a result they’ve never had to sepnd a lot of time doing error detection and correction or working through skill progressions. This makes many of them poor instructors. Not all, but many. Whereas someone who’s good at the sport but not naturally gifted obviously got good at it through hard work, error D and C, and learning the right skill progressions. This often makes them the better instructor, not always but often. A good example is Ryan Leech, he’s one of the greatest trials riders in the world. When you ask him how to do a skill he says “well, you just do this” then does the skill. He has no idea how to break it up into progressions that people can use to develop.

On the weights being weak, my point was not that those are heavy weights, they’re not. The point was that I hear people who weight 200 lbs but can’t bench 225 lbs trying to figure out what their sticking point is. At that stage you shouldn’t be worrying about improving your sticking point, spend your time and effor developing the whole lift. Once you hit the numbers I put up you can start to look more into the details of why you can’t lift more. At the numbers I mentioned you’ve finally got a good base to begin the advanced training. . .


Ok, let me clairfy my first point. I agree with you for the most part. I am a very good football player now, but when I started, I sucked…big time…So I can see the merit in me having to find all the “tricks” to getting better.
As far as weightlifting, I am a very good lifter, when I started I had a good amount of natural strength, However, I have improved a great deal since then. And I gain muscle fairly easily, but I dont hesitate on giving advice on building up. I also gain fat easily, but I dont take any more pride in helping someone lose weight just cause its hard for me.
Normally there is an inverse relationship between size/skill and knowledge, but there are exceptions.

On the numbers, I see what your saying. I’ve seen many a football player who was bigger than me (guys 300lbs) who couldnt squat 300lbs. I think they are more mentally weak than anything else.

Good post Stu. I especially agree with concept that the best coaches are usually those who were’nt great athletes in the sport they coach. In fact if you were to look at any major league sport, you would be hard pressed to find a coach who was ever a top player in the game.

those who can, do

those who can’t, teach

Stu = Smart?

I wish you had said something smart earlier Stu, then I wouldn’t have run around telling everyone you were practicing for the lead in an off, off Broadway play called “Lead Paint chips, ain’t just for dippin’”.

…AND let me ask you, just who’s going to clean up all those bathroom walls?

Smart”…Huh…whoda think?

*editors note: For those not in the know, Stu and I are friends, he always has been - and baring any sort of head wound or heinous disease where his brain gets eaten up from the inside out - always will be a smart guy.

“Hell, by the time a man scratches his ass, clear his throat, and tells me how smart he is, we’ve already wasted fifteen minutes”

~ Lyndon B. Johnson

I would disagree with the fact that someone earns your attention just becuase they asked for advice. It’s not the asking for advice that takes the effort, its the following through with it, and 97% of these people can’t do that. Best just to ignore them and save yourself the slap in the face.

Well, Steve Spurrier won the Heisman trophy and seems to have enjoyed some degree of success coaching.

STU, your post looks right on the money. Though there are exceptions to every (coach) rule, that is good stuff to follow.

In faith,

I don’t understand how people could have misinterpreted that coaching thing. Made total sense to me: Look for the people who had to work for it, not the ones who won the genetic lottery. Lou Holtz is an AWESOME football coach. I doubt any one would put him on the front line, though.

Then why did USC just get the piss kicked out of them by their main rival?

Just messing with you. USC would suck much more if he was not there. They would be even better if his son wasn’t there.

Stu didn’t say these were absolutes. Just some things to consider.

There are exceptions to the rules of course. Heck, my girlfriend is a mountainbiking coach and easily one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen. Now, I’ve competed in, trained people for, coached, and just plain been around a lot of sports so I know good coaching.

She also used to race professional downhill mountainbikes for Norco. She is a natural athlete and did come out ahead on the genetic lottery. However she’s still an excellent coach.

These aren’t rules to live by or anything guys, just things I’ve noticed over the years.



Where would you have been if nobody answered your questions? If every time you tried to ask for help or knowledge people just turned and walked away?

I’m not saying you should spend hours of your life designing a program and diet for someone who probably won’t do it. I’m just saying that you can always offer advice that’s at their level. Such as: eat more protein, lose the donuts. Spend a few minutes explaining that even if they do lift heavy weights they’ll never look like a pro bodybuilder. Things like that.


Parcells is an awsome coach! I think we can all agree on that.

If someone asks for help improving themselves tell them to keep a diet log for 2 weeks then come back and talk to you. If they do it they obviously have what it takes to make the changes, if they don’t you’ll never see them again.

Hey Stu, if you’re gonna steal ideas from me, at least give credit!


Sorry Char,

I knew I got it from here but I couldn’t remember where and I couldn’t find it. Try typing “diet log” into the search and see what comes up.

Plus you’re in Japan, too far away to conern myself with :wink: