So You Wanna Write for T-Nation?

I think I’ve received a dozen emails in the past year asking me how to go about getting an article published on T-Nation.com. In the past week, I’ve received three emails on this topic so I figured it was time to write a blogpost.

It is my opinion that T-Nation authors are the cream of the crop. There are certainly veteran professors and researchers out there who understand the science of strength better than anyone, and there are seasoned coaches out there who understand the practicality of strength better than anyone, but T-Nation authors have a good blend between the two and are pretty darn innovative as well. I’ve heard some guys rip on T-Nation but I suspect that they’re just bitter that they can’t get published on the site. I credit much of my knowledge over the years to T-Nation.

Without further ado, I present thee with my top ten tips that will allow you to write for T-Nation:

1. Train Hard

There are some skinny geeks who have snuck through the cracks and gotten articles published due to cleverness and brilliance, but these cases are far and few between. In order to know strength you have to train for strength. People will take you much more seriously if you have a muscular physique. I’m no Jay Cutler, but you can tell I train hard.

2. Experiment With Everything

In order to understand how to design programs, you have to learn how the variables interact with one another. If you want to understand these variables to the best of your abilities, you should have extensive experience training via Bodypart Splits, Lower/Upper Splits, Push/Pull Splits, Total Body Training, High-Volume Training, High-Intensity Training, High Frequency Training, Escalating Density Training, and Progressive Distance Training. You should know all the exercises and tools of the trade: bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, machines, kettlebells, bands, chains, ropes, suspension systems, specialty bars, body leverage systems and apparatuses, etc.

If all you’ve ever done is one type of training you can’t possibly understand the relationships between various types of stimuli.

3. Read the Archives

T-Nation has been around since 1998. Past articles are all archived. You’ve got a lot of reading to do. If you don’t know who Charles Poliquin, Ian King, Nelson Montana, Jerry Telle, Charles Staley, Cy Wilson, Paul Chek, and John Paul Catanzaro are then you don’t know T-Nation. Learn the roots.

4. Read the Forums

If you want to get an idea about what T-Nation readers are interested in, spend time reading the T-Nation forums. I don’t do this because I intuitively know what the readers want to read because I’m a meathead weekend warrior just like them! Forums also alert you to various issues at hand so you can do more investigating.

5. Read Journals

I didn’t do much of this in the past, but this separates the men from the boys. I’ve been a journal-reading machine lately and I wish I did more of it earlier on. It’s not always fun, but it’s damn effective. I print out journal articles and store them in giant 3-ring binders so I can revisit them down the road.

You should also learn how to cite articles, books, and the like in your articles. This separates the men from the boys as well.

6. Read Bodybuilding Magazines and Read Up on Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Strongman, and Sport Training

You need to know the culture, traditions, practices, methods, and beliefs of the most muscular and powerful men on the planet. You also need to know how to adapt their routines to serve the general public.

7. Know that Physical Therapy Related Topics Won’t Win You Any Prizes on T-Nation

It’s great to understand movement efficiency, mobility, stability, form, SMR, activation techniques, breathing patterns, assessments, and restoration work, but these alone will not get you published on T-Nation. They will on other sites, but if you want to write for T-Nation you need to also understand hypertrophy, strength, power, and conditioning. You need to intertwine the corrective stuff with the hardcore stuff or you’ll bore the readers.

It’s called “Testosterone Nation,” not “Estrogen Country.”

8. Train Other People

Nobody cares if you can quote all the journals and reel off scientific facts if you’ve never trained anyone. Furthermore, you can’t possibly write good programs if you don’t have experience training a wide variety of individuals.

9. Have a Niche

Master a certain topic or type of training and your chances of getting published on T-Nation will increased dramatically. Think about it; Cosgrove was the angry Scotsman/fat loss guy (now he’s the business/marketing guru), Tate and Wendler are the powerlifting/strength guys, Thibs is the hypertrophy guy, Cressey is a powerlifting/deadlift/corrective exercise/baseball/shoulder guy (I guess he fulfils several niches), Robertson is a powerlifting/corrective exercise/glute/knee guy, Waterbury is the nervous system guy, Boyle is the functional training guy, Tumminello is the joint-friendly strength & conditioning guy, Romaniello is the get-shredded guy, and John is Yoda.

10. Have Patience

I wrote an article that I wanted to submit to T-Nation in 2005 but I never followed through. Instead, I waited four more years and spent those entire four years eating, breathing, living, and dreaming strength training. I look back at the 2006 article and laugh. It was called “Band Training for Badasses” and was pretty good, but knowing what I know now I wasn’t ready to be published on T-Nation.

Before I ever submitted an article to T-Nation, I had obtained a master’s degree, held my CPT certificate for 12 years, held my CSCS for 8 years, trained hard for 17 years, trained hundreds of clients, owned my own studio for several years, invented a workout machine, written an eBook, and had conducted extensive EMG experiments.

You have to develop street cred and demonstrate that you are an expert. This takes time.

11. Bonus: Write, Write, Write!

It’s important that you write well so the drafts you submit convey intelligence. If your ideas don’t flow well, you don’t communicate effectively, or you make tons of mistakes, then chances are your article will be deleted immediately. My advice is to get a free blog and start writing. Practice makes perfect.

So there you have it! Eleven tips to help you get published on T-Nation. Good luck!

28 thoughts on “So You Wanna Write for T-Nation?

    1. Bret Contreras

      Not true Daniel. I’ve never mentioned supplements in any of my articles. I’d also have no problem recommending Spike and Flameout. Spike kicks ass and Flameout is very beneficial.

      Reply
  1. Anthony Mychal

    Daniel’s comment was funny nonetheless.

    I think it may be more informative if you detail your own personal journey, Bret. Instead of giving chunks of advice. No offence, but people should know to do the above or else they would really have no chance.

    Reply
    1. Mark Young

      I honestly think that doing it as Bret did is more effective than sharing one route into publishing. There isn’t one standard way to get into print (unless you send TC a lot of porn). :)

      Reply
    2. Bret Contreras

      Anthony, you’d be surprised. Many people think they can start writing for T-Nation at age 21 and a couple years of lifting underneath their belts. When I tell them they need to be patient, they seem pissed!

      Reply
  2. Mark Young

    “There are some skinny geeks who have snuck through the cracks and gotten articles published due to cleverness and brilliance, but these cases are far and few between.”

    Pfft….you caught me. Working out is for losers. :)

    “It’s called Testosterone Nation, not Estrogen Country.”

    LMAO. Hilarious!

    And if I may be so bold as to share my two cents having been published there myself…

    - A lot of those who write articles for T-Nation have been regular readers for YEARS. I literally wrote hundreds of posts giving advice in the forums under a handle which kept me anonymous to the rest of the world for years before I ever submitted an article. Crap…I still have print copies of T-Mag on my book shelf.

    - Don’t give up at one article. A lot of people get rejected in the beginning (or so I’ve heard). At the same time, don’t be annoying and keep sending stuff in either. If you keep getting rejected maybe you’re not ready. Or maybe you just suck and it is time to get a job at selling flowers in front of the beer store.

    Just my thoughts.

    Reply
  3. Chris Colucci

    Bryan got it right. An assortment of nude pics make the day go faster and help the editors to focus. Otherwise, your article may end up being run on the site in Pig Latin.

    Reply
  4. Lee Remick

    I think this is a fantastic post, but at the same time, I worry (not because of your post, simply on account of the nature of today’s online world) that a lot of guys see people writing for such online publications and instantly think they have some birthright to be an author, too. As you noted Bret (and this was echoed in Mark’s comment about sharing his expertise on the forum for years before ever having an article published), this sort of thing isn’t the product of some overnight success story, but rather, it is the culmination of years of hard (and ongoing) work. In fact, this could also be called the “training studio effect,” since seeing success of guys like you and the tips that you share make the dream seem so vivid, and yet, many guys want the glory without the grunt work.

    Reply
  5. Chris Colucci

    ^^^ Case in point, look at another bodybuilding website (who shall remain nameless) where they literally have an entire stable of teenage authors.

    Seriously. These are kids who could’ve had senior prom the night before and written an article while still smelling faintly of Bud Light and cheerleader poon.

    Think of the difference between Esquire magazine and five random dudes writing a blog, printing it out, and stapling it together. Just because you “can” write, doesn’t mean you should instantly have every outlet available to you. Coaches/trainers need to have GOOD info to share, not just “info.”

    Reply
  6. Kevin

    I ran into your website while doing some research…
    I like it, it’s funny and very informative. While I agree with your Physical Therapy comments above and that a person needs to submit something appealing to the Testosterone public. I don’t necessarily agree w/ the tongue and cheek commentary about anything corrective, movment enhancing, bimechanic challenging to essentially be estrogen building. Afterall that stuff kind-a fulfills your “Weider” web-sites principles of hitting the sweet spot… Doesn’t it. I mean Correct the movement… Biomechanics etc, get bigger. This focuses on as you know the most important factor of every conditioning program… Decrease Injury Potential of your/ our clientele.

    Now moreover. Your Lunge Post from earlier this month. I can’t agree more with you. I feel that is the number one movement in the lunge sequence/ MARTIX to be done/ executed. From a realist point of view to a clinical view. Realist first: Ask a garbage man or stay at home parent to never lunge like that during the day and I venture to say you’d get laughed at. Or a volleyball player digging out a spiked or driven ball on the court. No-wonder why we still see injuries happening on our playing surfaces. We don’t play like that why train like that? Just tell me on Lighter squats etc. you don’t teach the second toe, knee over the toes garbage… Now clinically, 90% of ppl suffer from back pain. Hmm back braces, ergonomicly correct squats… And yet still back pain. Hmm maybe it’s

    Reply
    1. Bret Contreras

      Kevin – the secret is to intertwine the “estrogen” stuff (movement quality, corrective, breathing, etc.) into the “testosterone” stuff (heavy lifting, bigger muscles, stronger muscles, etc.) so there’s a good balance. While there are many sites that cater to the physical therapy related topics, T-Nation contains a more hardcore audience that wants to know “what’s in it for them.” Cressey and Robertson were good at getting people to try glute bridges and hip flexor stretches because they mixed it into articles talking about glute power, hip extension strength, etc. and they “walked the walk” because they were strong themselves.

      I personally love learning about that type of stuff, but when I write I try to keep my audience in mind, and in this case the audience is mostly male lifters interested in maximum strength and hypertrophy.

      As far as the lunge commentary, I totally agree!

      Reply
  7. FJ

    After years of following T-Nation, I have finally unsubscribed from their RSS feed. Very often the only links in their posts are to supplements they are selling and in general there is very little to no scientific evidence to back up their (sometimes wild) claims. There are certainly some great authors there, but I prefer to follow them directly on their own websites rather than having to put up with the T-Nation fluff.

    Reply

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