Fitness Mentors Then and Now

I thought I would do a post on the history of people who have most influenced me on fitness.

Dave Scott and Mark Allen

In high school, I recall seeing the Ironman on TV. It was the era where Dave Scott and Mark Allen were tops in the field. I didn’t have an interest in team sports and I liked to run, so this event captured my interest. They inspired me to run more.

When I got to college, I knew I wanted to get into marathon running and eventually triathlons. I documented that journey in the post The Runner 1989-1995.

Unlike the mentors below, I didn’t learn much from Scott and Allen, other than what is humanly possible to accomplish as an endurance athlete.

Dr. Michael Colgan and Bill Pearl

I also had a strong interest in nutrition. In the book Optimum Sports Nutrition, Dr. Colgan spoke convincingly on how strength training can greatly benefit endurance athletes. I knew I wanted to lift at some point. This book combined with some running injuries that had left me sidelined was the exact motivation to get me into lifting weights.

Once I started lifting, it became more important than running. I also picked up the book Getting Stronger by Bill Pearl. That book was my bible to lifting when I started.

Getting Stronger : Weight Training for Men and Women

Look at that awesome cover. 😯

Muscle Media 2000 and T-Nation

I closed out the 1990s and early 2000s reading Muscle Media 2000 and then the T-Nation website. Back then T-Nation was I consumed hundreds of articles on lifting.


MM2K became the worthless Muscle Media and then disappeared. T-Nation is still around and I peek in occasionally.


In mid-2001, I received Power to the People in the mail. It was the book that changed everything for me. In 2011, I posted a full review titled Power To The People – 10 Years Later. I consumed other Pavel books as well and met him at the 2004 Arnold Expo.

The HIT Gurus (Anderson, McGuff & Little, Darden)

It was a post on Conditioning Research that opened me up to the idea of slow lifting and High-Intensity Training. Shortly afterward I would read Body By Science (McGuff & Little). This was followed by two training sessions with Greg Anderson.

I went from being a skeptic to a disciple of HIT. There are tons of posts on this site on the HIT topic. Today, I rarely go to failure, as I now believe the science supports higher volume for muscle development, especially with ectomorphs.

The most important lesson that I walked away ended up not being intensity, but an entire framework for exercise safety. Not only exercise selection but how to use lighter weights and slower movements to increase safety. What I learned from HIT got me away from chasing numbers and drastically reduced my injury rate.

Athlean-X and YouTube

Reading about exercise is fine. Watching exercise is even better. Now that we are in the age of YouTube, it has become my go-to location for learning about exercise. Watching a skilled instructor perform an exercise often from different angles is one of the greatest things about the Internet.

And in my opinion, no channel is better than Athlean-X. That channel has years of top-quality videos on any aspect of fitness you would want to watch. Often multiple videos. When I watch Athlean-X content, I realize that as much as I know, there is still a lot I can learn.

If you are a Millenial or Gen-Z fellow, you have no excuse not to be swole, if you want to be. The recipe for being muscular is right there and it is free. And unlike me, you won’t be thumbing through Bill Pearl’s book of tiny black-and-white photos trying to guess if your form is correct.

Other Mentors?

Who were or still are some of your most influential fitness mentors? Hope I didn’t forget anyone. In my next post, I’ll be revisiting my old friend Pavel.


Add yours

  1. I had that Bill Pearl book, used it with my Sears concrete weight set. But my first fitness “mentor” was Jack LaLanne (and his dogs, of course).


    This book could be interesting for you, it debates HIT vs multiple sets well, the mythology, the history…author is an exercise expert instead of enthusiast and it shows.

  3. @All – Does anyone else get an occasional 504 error accessing the blog and have to click a button to see a live version of the site.

    @Ondrej – I have years of mixing up the volume using HIT principles. Backing off on the intensity and increasing volume has worked much better for me.

  4. Tony Horton (all the P90X programs and more) completely changed my life. At a certain point, I realized I was fetishing learning about fitness and nutrition – consuming more and more extraneous info that just didn’t make all that much of a difference.

    Having a plug-and-play program that gets such fantastic results has been everything. (I’m not a sponsored Coach or anything – just an enthusiast!).

  5. MAS: Fair enough. I prefer a bodybuilding-like HIT, maybe 10-12 exercises every 4 days or so. Positive failure with a short hold.
    Hard to say what worked best though.
    This is heavily influenced by lifting career phase, stressors, work…I don’t think there is a way to evaluate two similar methods properly.
    Everybody swears by the method that made a difference when they started out. Skyler Tanner’s was big 6 once a week – 16 pounds of muscle gained. So it would seem HIT can play that role too.

  6. +1 on Tony Horton and P90X.
    I would add Mark Sisson as well.

    Regarding the 503 errors. I don’t see those but I get TLS issues when hitting the blog from work. I think their proxy doesn’t like the wildcard certs.

  7. By Darden, do you mean Ellington Darden? What was the book?

  8. MAS: Fisr enough. But I noticed it is actually the volume evidence based guys like Schoenfeld who under the weight of evidence concede more and more ground to Steele, Fischer – for example, it is now mainstream position that lifting to failure irrespective of load leads to similar hypertrophy.

  9. @Elizabeth – Yes, Ellington Darden. It was a combination of books, articles, and interviews.

    @Ondrej – I was unaware they had conceded points to the HIT guys. Thanks for sharing. In Body By Science, McGuff & Little do state that ectomorphs might respond better to more volume. So the idea probably has some merit.

  10. I want to thank you so much for your blog. I followed a bit many years ago. I’m so glad this is still going. Great stuff! I will look over your Seattle posts later as I’m visiting for a conference. I love it here!

  11. @Elizabeth – Thanks.

  12. Clarence Bass

  13. Also phil maffetone on the endurance side.

  14. @Ondrej, where does Schoenfeld concede that? I’d be interested in reading the discussion. Seems like this debate has advanced since I last checked in on it.

  15. Had trouble with the website for a couple of weeks — the “you are too thin” kept coming up in spite of newer entries.

    I got around it by clicking your twitter feed to see if you put up any new links there.

    However today the problem is gone; clicked on the website and all the new material appeared. What did you do?

  16. @garymar – I made a change on the Admin and CloudFlare to not cache the home page for more than a few hours. But it isn’t working 100%. I couldn’t see the new content yesterday. I’m stumped.

    Hitting Control-R on Windows does fix it as it forces a refresh.

    I stopped sharing blog links to Twitter. I don’t want to respond to my content there. All discussion related to a post ideally should be in the comments section here and not lost on some tweet there.

  17. Dan John

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