by Bret Contreras September 09, 2010
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!
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