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Am I Qualified to Give Advice?
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ZSchaeff
Level

Join date: Feb 2013
Posts: 9

Team,

I like to think of myself as decently knowledgable with regards to physical fitness. I played college rugby at a somewhat competitive level, taken a few classes in college on strength and fitness development, and generally try to school myself up by reading this site. However, some of my friends and coworkers have lately been asking me to help them come up with a workout program.

Now, I'm all for helping people out, but I don't want to be that chud who tries to give advice without knowing what the hell he's talking about. As an avid T-Nation reader, I feel like I can comfortably talk about some important topics, i.e. different set/rep schemes to accomplish goals, proper exercise form, the importance of doing bicep curls in the squat rack while using as much of your lower back as possible, etc.

My question is this: before I start tossing out any advice or tips, is there any way to assess my own knowledge of program development and general physical fitness? I'm not necessarily trying to get a personal trainer certification or anything like that, but wouldn't be opposed to an online class or test, something along those lines. Do any other T-Nation readers give advice to friends, and if so, what kind of background did you have and how comfortable did you feel with your knowledge base?

Thanks in advance

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The Anchor
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Join date: May 2013
Posts: 240

ZSchaeff wrote:
the importance of doing bicep curls in the squat rack while using as much of your lower back as possible

YOU'LL FIT RIGHT IN.

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BillThe5th
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Join date: May 2013
Posts: 13

In short, the fact that you even thought to ask that question means you probably are qualified to give advice!

I think important considerations are the basis for the advice, and how it is given.

I spend most of my week managing a gym, and painfully watch people come in with a workout they printed out that morning from some website and leading a group of their friends through it, while the others view them as a guru of sorts. If you can name at least 3 problems with that scenario, you're probably good to go!

I think advice gets dangerous when someone bases it solely on a personal experience, or worse yet a secondhand experience, and preaches it like an established principle. Whether it is a single firsthand experience, a trend you saw among 30 teamates or clients, or something observed consistently in 25 different studies, make that clear.

Figuring out how to take it from there is up to them!

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Aero51
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Join date: Aug 2013
Posts: 223

Were you kidding about the bicep curling remark? Im no expert and even I know that's a bunch of BS

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Aragorn
Level 10

Join date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9405

Aero51 wrote:
Were you kidding about the bicep curling remark? Im no expert and even I know that's a bunch of BS


Yes, he was kidding. Probably the longest ongoing joke on this site lol.


OP--I think the big thing here is: humility. Strange and sort of odd to hear some random douche on the internet spout off about humility (especially after he's popped off his temper more than a few times here in recent memory), but I think the big thing here is this---you need to always maintain the "student" mentality. This means that you see yourself as always learning, always open to new ways of looking at things, and always thinking about the topic and ways to improve your own training etc. This keeps you honest with yourself concerning your own level of ability, and that to me is the central component in someone giving good advice....they don't "teach" as much as they share experiences that have worked for them in the past. Obviously of course if you make your living doing that then teaching is more common but for a general outlook that is how I would approach things.

This is evident because much of the time the people who say "always do this" usually don't know as much as people who understand context (which comes from learning), or some of the recent tiffs on the forums here that stem from certain posters making blanket statements and starting a storm :P

Really, anybody can share their experiences. It's always beneficial--sometimes you give somebody a new tip they learned, and sometimes you yourself learn something instead. It's only when you go from sharing experiences and perspective on what worked for you (which is definitely advice) to making more sweeping statements or more of a lecture style that you need to be careful. Doing the former can start disagreement, but it's your experience so who knows? Everybody is different. Doing the latter begins to get into ground where people can criticize you for lack of expertise lol. There are a couple notable examples of that here to draw from, but I am not going to bring them up by mentioning names.

Really though, the underlying idea is that you always stay open to learning more as a "student". The minute you don't, you become obsolete.

Oh and--if you have to ask, you aren't ready yet!

Joking, joking. Just joking. All experiences and perspectives are helpful in some way, to somebody, so by all means chime in.

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Chris Colucci
Contributor

Join date: Jan 2005
Posts: 6837

before I start tossing out any advice or tips, is there any way to assess my own knowledge of program development and general physical fitness?

Tim Ferriss had a quote, something along the lines of "an expert is simply anyone with more experience and/or knowledge than the target audience." That's kinda scary, but it's also sort of accurate in the sense that "who should give advice" depends at least a little bit on who's being given the advice.

If someone's been lifting for five years and gotten decent results, then they could essentially be considered "an expert" by the 17-year old kid who just walked into the gym for the first time. Go ahead and give that kid some advice. But if they walked up to the competitor who's three weeks out from his first pro show and tried to correct his form on seated rows, they'd be out of their league. Make sense?

But in general, I'd say you need to know more than the person you're talking to, but not know "just a little more" than that person. If they end up stumping you with questions on a regular basis, or if you go scrambling online to ask other people for second-hand answers, you're probably in over your head.

These were a few articles about being a professional trainer. You might be able to get some insights about what a successful coach is/isn't/should/shouldn't be doing:
http://www.T-Nation.com/...ersonal_trainer
http://www.T-Nation.com/...ss_professional
http://www.T-Nation.com/...the_fitness_biz

The Anchor wrote:
ZSchaeff wrote:
the importance of doing bicep curls in the squat rack while using as much of your lower back as possible

YOU'LL FIT RIGHT IN.

This is going to sound like the setup to a joke, but seriously, the way Rippetoe described doing barbell curls in Starting Strength (in the rack, starting the bar around shoulder level as if you were setting up to do overhead presses) is insane and is a new keeper in my routine. Because you can take advantage of the stretch reflex, you can go heavier, so it lends itself well to 4-6 rep sets, no problem. Of course, I have the luxury of training at off-peak hours and there are usually just four or five people in the gym at the same time.

I'm about 90% sure I wouldn't do it when it's more crowded. But still... it's something worth trying.

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BillThe5th
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Join date: May 2013
Posts: 13



If someone's been lifting for five years and gotten decent results, then they could essentially be considered "an expert" by the 17-year old kid who just walked into the gym for the first time. Go ahead and give that kid some advice. But if they walked up to the competitor who's three weeks out from his first pro show and tried to correct his form on seated rows, they'd be out of their league. Make sense?



I think overall this is a good general rule, but too much of that mentality can also be dangerous in the gym world. Doing something wrong long enough doesn't make it right, it just means you're lucky to not be injured and maybe you have good genes that would have gotten results from doing anything... and doesn't mean its good info to pass on.

I've painfully watched way too many guys with one or two well-developed muscle groups (but also with spines shaped like bananas, shoulders that almost touch each other in front of the chest, and a preventable major injury to almost every joint in their body) giving advice to the "rookies" by teaching them what they've done for years.

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BHappy
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Join date: May 2012
Posts: 850

Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water.

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RampantBadger
Level

Join date: Aug 2011
Posts: 2263

BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water.


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ZSchaeff
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Join date: Feb 2013
Posts: 9

Team,

Thanks for all the advice; I've bookmarked some of those articles and look forward to reading through them. In light of some of the comments, I feel confident about giving out training tips. I'm just always cautious about being like some of my old high school "strength coaches". In hindsight, a lot of those guys did more harm than good (at least in my experience), all while getting paid for it. Thanks again!

Also, I WAS kidding about that whole curls in the squat rack thing, but now I feel like I have to check out that Rippetoe tip...

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alexus
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Join date: Feb 2010
Posts: 4751

I think humility, yeah.

Instead of telling them this or that is the way... Tell them that in your experience x or that you heard y or whatever.

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Aragorn
Level 10

Join date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9405

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
[quote]BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water. [/quote]




Don't pay attention to him--I've only seen that kind of disjointed talk coming from a few people in my life, and they were all very high. I'm being serious here-- not like, internet forum bashing...like, hard drugs high, ACTUALLY disconnected from reality. It's a very clear signature.

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Aragorn
Level 10

Join date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9405

ZSchaeff wrote:
Team,

Thanks for all the advice; I've bookmarked some of those articles and look forward to reading through them. In light of some of the comments, I feel confident about giving out training tips. I'm just always cautious about being like some of my old high school "strength coaches". In hindsight, a lot of those guys did more harm than good (at least in my experience), all while getting paid for it. Thanks again!

Also, I WAS kidding about that whole curls in the squat rack thing, but now I feel like I have to check out that Rippetoe tip...



Hey, that's ok man. Better cautious than sorry, and it shows you have a good heart and good intentions. Those are always in short supply, so that's good!

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Apoklyps
Level

Join date: Aug 2012
Posts: 976

[quote] Aragorn wrote:
[quote] RampantBadger wrote:
[quote] BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water. [/quote]

[/quote] [/quote]


Don't pay attention to him--I've only seen that kind of disjointed talk coming from a few people in my life, and they were all very high. I'm being serious here-- not like, internet forum bashing...like, hard drugs high, ACTUALLY disconnected from reality. It's a very clear signature. [/quote]

That makes a lot of sense. I was just attributing it to him being French. Language barriers and all that. Not to mention the fact that Quebeckers are all crazy anyway...

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The Anchor
Level

Join date: May 2013
Posts: 240

Chris Colucci wrote:
This is going to sound like the setup to a joke, but seriously, the way Rippetoe described doing barbell curls in Starting Strength (in the rack, starting the bar around shoulder level as if you were setting up to do overhead presses) is insane and is a new keeper in my routine. Because you can take advantage of the stretch reflex, you can go heavier, so it lends itself well to 4-6 rep sets, no problem. Of course, I have the luxury of training at off-peak hours and there are usually just four or five people in the gym at the same time.

I'm about 90% sure I wouldn't do it when it's more crowded. But still... it's something worth trying.


I don't get it. What's the benefit of starting the movement from the shoulders? I demand an explanation Mr. Colucci!

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Chris Colucci
Contributor

Join date: Jan 2005
Posts: 6837

The Anchor wrote:
Chris Colucci wrote:
This is going to sound like the setup to a joke, but seriously, the way Rippetoe described doing barbell curls in Starting Strength (in the rack, starting the bar around shoulder level as if you were setting up to do overhead presses) is insane and is a new keeper in my routine. Because you can take advantage of the stretch reflex, you can go heavier, so it lends itself well to 4-6 rep sets, no problem. Of course, I have the luxury of training at off-peak hours and there are usually just four or five people in the gym at the same time.

I'm about 90% sure I wouldn't do it when it's more crowded. But still... it's something worth trying.


I don't get it. What's the benefit of starting the movement from the shoulders? I demand an explanation Mr. Colucci!

Rippetoe actually spends about three and a half pages talking about barbell curls in the book. An interesting tidbit that I'd bet most armchair trainers who love to bash him and his program weren't aware of.

Think of the difference between a bottoms-up squat (starting with the bar on pins around waist-high) vs a standard squat. The benefit is in using that stretch-reflex at the midpoint - not necessarily bouncing out of the bottom, but earning the advantage of not starting in the naturally-weaker stretched position. You don't have that initial deadstop to overcome.

Also, starting from the rack creates tension in the delts from the very start, and since the some of the biceps originate from the shoulder joint, you can actually end up with a greater overall biceps contraction if you pay attention/have halfway decent mind-muscle connection. Curling the bar up to mouth- or nose-level, instead of keeping the elbows "glued to your sides" is another way to activate the front delts in coordination with the biceps.

I'm definitely not saying it's the best way to curl a bar, but it's a useful variation most people wouldn't consider.

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RampantBadger
Level

Join date: Aug 2011
Posts: 2263

Aragorn wrote:
RampantBadger wrote:
BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water.


]



Don't pay attention to him--I've only seen that kind of disjointed talk coming from a few people in my life, and they were all very high. I'm being serious here-- not like, internet forum bashing...like, hard drugs high, ACTUALLY disconnected from reality. It's a very clear signature.


Haha, yes now that you mention it I think you have a point.

Or alternatively he's just French...

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myself1992
Level 5

Join date: Feb 2009
Posts: 812

Well since they're asking you for advice it means that you know more than they do and that's enough to give them some advice. Just give them advice on stuff you know and don't make shit up

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Aragorn
Level 10

Join date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9405

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
[quote]Aragorn wrote:
[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
[quote]BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water. [/quote]

][/quote]


Don't pay attention to him--I've only seen that kind of disjointed talk coming from a few people in my life, and they were all very high. I'm being serious here-- not like, internet forum bashing...like, hard drugs high, ACTUALLY disconnected from reality. It's a very clear signature.[/quote]

Haha, yes now that you mention it I think you have a point.

Or alternatively he's just French...



LOL! I love that movie...fits perfectly.

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carbiduis
Level

Join date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1062

For fucks sake....

OP what are your best 1rm in the big 4?
How big are your arms?
How long have you been lifting?
Body weight?

Add up your answers....

Now subtract your body fat %
And subtract your best 40 time

If < 1000, answer is no
If > 2500, you are allowed to YELL ADVICE AT STRANGERS WHO DIDN'T EVEN ASK FOR IT

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Andrewdwatters1
Level 1

Join date: Jul 2010
Posts: 458

carbiduis wrote:
For fucks sake....

OP what are your best 1rm in the big 4?
How big are your arms?
How long have you been lifting?
Body weight?

Add up your answers....

Now subtract your body fat %
And subtract your best 40 time

If < 1000, answer is no
If > 2500, you are allowed to YELL ADVICE AT STRANGERS WHO DIDN'T EVEN ASK FOR IT



hahaha yes. I was waiting for this.

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Reed
Level

Join date: Jan 2010
Posts: 4434

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
[quote]BHappy wrote:
Say: - A eat 20 hours daily
- B train 1 H
- C rest 1 H
- No need to ask, other 2 H are to empty
Rinse and repeat until huge, impressive and other creative word not found in a real dictionairy.
PS. Should never go under water. [/quote]




Don't pay attention to him--I've only seen that kind of disjointed talk coming from a few people in my life, and they were all very high. I'm being serious here-- not like, internet forum bashing...like, hard drugs high, ACTUALLY disconnected from reality. It's a very clear signature.[/quote]

That's just Bhappy go back and look at his post history all of his posts are like what the fuck out there... Every one

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