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How I Learn

By April 9, 2010December 26th, 2013Coaching Tips, Training Philosophy

In today’s blog I’d like to inform my readers as to exactly how I currently acquire knowledge pertaining to strength & conditioning. I probably spend 4-5 hours per day reading, watching, and listening to new fitness-related media. Some days when I’m researching it might be closer to 8 hours per day. Several days per week my entire waking hours will consist of fitness-related activities: writing, training others, training myself, reading, watching videos, etc. Obviously relevant fitness-related information is specific to each individual, as we all have our own interests. For example, a researcher may only rely on journals for information, whereas a powerlifter might only want to visit powerlifting websites for info. Personally, I am extremely interested in sport-specific training, bodybuilding, and powerlifting. I am mildly interested in nutrition and not very interested in endurance sports like running or triathalon training.

First I should mention that I do not like rehashers. If everything that comes out of your mouth or everything you write is exactly the same as another expert, then you’re a follower, not a leader. Way too many folks in this industry simply wait for their favorite guru idol to come out with a strong opinion and then rehash it. I prefer to not spend time on these folks’ sites.

In this industry the top thinkers tend to rise to the top. For example, I like to listen to certain guys like Eric Cressey, Christian Thibaudeau, and Kelly Baggett. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve read or heard something they said or wrote and was blown away by the logic behind their comments and the simplistic manner in which they express their thoughts. I may not always agree with these guys, but I always appreciate their brilliance and thought-processes. I look forward to the day when I will be mentioned in the same sentence as these top-minds in strength and conditioning.

Without further ado, here are the ways in which I learn:

Best Websites

1. TNation.Com

In my opinion TMuscle is by far the greatest strength training website that ever existed. Over the past twelve years, the world’s best strength training authors have been T-Nation contributors. From past authors such as Ian King, Charlie Francis, Joe DeFranco, John Berardi, Paul Chek, Alwn Cosgrove, Jeremy Frisch, Charles Poliquin, Charles Staley, Tim Henriques, and Chad Waterbury to more recent authors such as Mike Boyle, Jim Wendler, Nick Tumminello, Eric Minor, Scott Abel, and Clay Hyght. Then there are the constants who have been writing for T-Nation for many years such as Christian Thibaudeau, Dan John, Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Dave Tate. No other website even comes close to featuring this many talented writers. I can’t thank T-Nation enough for all the free learning they have provided me over the years!

As a matter of fact, if you were to spend an entire week reading every one of Christian Thibaudeau’s articles and Eric Cressey’s articles you’d probably be more knowledgeable than 99% of personal trainers and gym-rats! It’s unfortunate that the site has recently decided to reduce its number of weekly training and nutrition related articles to two per week instead of the four weekly articles they’ve always featured. Waking up to a new T-Nation article was a part of life for me!

2. Elitefts.Com

Elitefts does a great job at putting out quality content over a broad range of topics in strength & conditioning. Although not quite at the level of quality-content as TMuscle, Elitefts posts many excellent articles and the absolute best in the industry regarding the sport of powerlifting. Any time you get to read articles written by Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Louie Simmons, Martin Rooney, Alwyn Cosgrove, and James Smith you’re in for a treat.

3. Higher-Faster-Sports.Com

Higher-Faster-Sports.Com belongs to Kelly Baggett and contains a great number of free articles written by Kelly. In fact, just as in the case of Christian Thibaudeau and Eric Cressey, if you were to spend an entire week reading all of Kelly Baggett’s articles you’d certainly be a vertical jump and speed expert.

Best Podcasts

1. The Fitcast

The Fitcast is hosted by Kevin Larabee, Jonathon Fass, and Leigh Peele. Often Tony Gentilcore will join in as well. I’ve really enjoyed what Jonathon Fass has to say about most topics, and Kevin Larabee is becoming very knowledgeable himself having surrounded himself with so many top thinkers in the field.

2. Robertson Training Systems: In the Trenches Fitness

In the Trenches Fitness is hosted by Mike Robertson who does a hell of a job giving his fans free information month-in, month-out. I’ve really enjoyed the interviews he’s conducted and the interviewees he’s sought.

Best Blogs

1. Tony Gentilcore

I firmly believe that Tony Gentilcore is the most humorous individual in the fitness field and a guy whose personality really shines through in his blogs. Equally important is his vast amount of training knowledge. I highly recommend his blog!

2. Nick Tumminello

I believe that Nick Tumminello’s Youtube videos are second to none in the fitness field. You can really tell how much a guy knows by the way he speaks and moves in his exercise videos, and Nick really knows his stuff. Nick doesn’t shy away from controversial topics and always provides high-quality content. Nick and I speak on the phone from time to time and I can extremely honored to have him as a friend.

3. Robertson Training Systems (Mike Robertson)

Mike Robertson is always putting out great stuff, whether in article, manual, podcast, dvd, or blog format. He’s one of the guys who first started bridging the gap between physical therapy and strength training. Many thanks Mike!

4. Eric Cressey

As previously mentioned, Eric is a bit of a genius. I am often mesmerized at his presentations and articles. In addition, he may be the second funniest guy in strength & conditioning next to his partner Tony.

5. Jason Ferruggia

I like Jason’s no B.S. attitude toward strength training. I enjoy reading from guys who I can tell really bust their butts in the gym. You can tell in an author’s writing whether he actually trains hard or not and I can definitely tell that Jason lifts like an animal. He’s a great source of information for general hypertrophy and strength training.

Best Magazines

1. Men’s Health Magazine

Men’s Health is an excellent magazine that features excerpts and articles from most of today’s top strength coaches.

2. Muscular Development Magazine

Although many individuals in the strength & conditioning industry would laugh at me for reading Muscular Development every month, I look at it as my “secret weapon.” First, the magazine contains numerous scientists and journal research abstracts. Second, I love bodybuilding and enjoy reading about how the top pros including Jay Cutler, Branch Warren, Victor Martinez, and Kai Greene actually train. Each month I’m like a fat kid who’s been given a piece of cake when my Muscular Development Magazine arrives.

Best Seminars


NSCA provides the best seminars out there and is one of the few associations that marries evidence-based methods and practical methods. They master the art and science of training.

2. Perform Better Seminars

I will only put one name down for seminars because no other company even comes close to putting on high-quality seminars as Perform Better. To get a chance to see Juan Carlos Santana, Martin Rooney, Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Todd Durkin, Vern Gambetta, Gray Cook, Mark Verstegen, Stuart McGill, and Robert Dos Remedios speak at the same venue is mind-boggling! These seminars are the absolute greatest networking events as well.

Other Media

1. Facebook – I love Facebook for networking purposes. Each day I run through the newsfeeds and am left with around a dozen great blogs, articles, and videos.

2. Twitter – I love being on Twitter for the same reason I love Facebook; each day I am provided some great, free material to read pertaining to strength & conditioning.

3. YouTube – Thank God for Youtube as it has allowed fitness writers to film video clips to embed into their articles and blogs for detailed demonstrations.

4. Textbooks/Books/eBooks/Manuals – I always try to read a couple of books at a time. For instance, right now I’m reading Biomechanics and Motor Control of Human Movement.

5. Journals – I am very lucky to be able to access full text journal articles; a privilege that I take advantage of quite often when researching a particular topic.

6. DVD’s – In the past year I purchased Mike Boyle’s Functional Strength Coach 3.0 and Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Bill Hartmann’s Assess & Correct. Both were outstanding. I enjoy watching training videos of top bodybuilders and powerlifters as well.

7. Conversations – As I mentioned earlier, I am lucky to have a few colleagues in the industry who I chat with from time to time. This is an amazing privilege that will only expand as I meet more like-minded folks and do more networking.

8. Training – This should go without saying, but unless you train hard yourself and train plenty of other folks in the form of personal training or being a strength coach, you’ll have a very difficult time maximizing your learning, incorporating the knowledge you’ve learned from others, and/or improving upon existing methods.

That about wraps things up for this blog. I hope you enjoyed learning about how I learn! Furthermore, I hope to spark some individuals to broaden their horizons and start learning from some of the same folks who continue to educate me on strength & conditioning topics.


  • Daniel says:

    T-nation wasn’t what it was before. The past few months the articles were heavily inflated and it was a joy to find one good articles between five other. So, I understand there decision to cut back on articles. But I’d rather see them posting quality articles every day.

    • Daniel says:

      …oops (their decision)

    • Hmmm, call me crazy but I still felt the quality of the articles was great. I’m pretty easy to please though! For example, I remember the week that my “Dispelling the Glute Myth” article came out there was an awesome interview with Christian Thibaudeau the week before and an awesome interview with Jim Wendler the week of my article. You may be right; maybe they just eliminated the “not so good articles.” Either way we’re left with some great articles each month but I still liked the “filler.”

  • Mark Young says:

    Great summary Bret! I’d scratch off that Mark Young clown. 🙂

  • matibu says:

    Totally agree Daniel, t-nation rocked a couple of months ago and now they post two per week. Maybe in a month you find a couple of good articles

  • Thanks for the kind words Bret. I appreciate it.

  • Steve says:

    Brett – thanks for this post. I’m going to work through it as there are several sites you’ve mentioned that I didn’t know. Again, a very generous contribution. Your blog definitely belongs on the list too, no question.

    Your readers might want to check out Mike T. Nelson – very interesting stuff.

  • Patrick Ward says:

    Thank you for the kind words Bret.


  • Tim Egerton says:

    Thankyou Bret. I am honoured to be included in this article.


  • Mike – I’ve seen that post before. I think I’ve made it to Mr. Valle’s blog a few times to be honest. Although half of me wanted to respond to him, I tried to keep in mind that “all publicity is good publicity.”

    Although Carl can be pretty brutal I really appreciate his honesty and no-nonsense approach. I think he’s very intelligent too. The good thing is that I believe Carl has taken a liking to some of my more recent writings and the Elitetrack community seems to be doing lots of hip thrust as evidenced in one of their forum threads.

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