LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast Clip — Dave Tate Reminisces About His Early Days As a Trainer

TAGS: table talk, learning, personal training, dave tate

COACH columnist

Ever had a point in your life where you knew it all?

If you’ve been 16 years old before, then yes. Dave Tate was no different. When he was in high school he got a job as a personal trainer at a local club. He had memorized all the Weider Principles, done a few powerlifting meets, and beyond that, what else is there to learn? His first client was a somewhat large man and Dave wanted him to bench press so he slapped a plate on the bar and handed it off to him. News flash for Dave: The untrained person doesn’t typically take 135 pounds as their first warm-up set. The lift-off felt harder than he predicted and ended up doing a partner bench press and upright row to get the bar back into the rack. Needless to say, Dave decided to drop the weight to an empty bar for the next set. Dave’s mind was blown that day when he realized the gap in his standards and expectations between what he would be seeing in his general population clients.

Just as he started thinking he had it all figured out once again, he went and took his first couple of college classes. Yet again, he had a giant hole ripped into his blindspots (and his ego). A couple more powerlifting meets and courses later, he was sure that he had finally learned it all! Until his lifts started stalling and he started listening more seriously to Louie Simmons. Then he finally started to realize that maybe he wasn’t ever going to have every single answer right away.

Looking back, Dave values these moments where he saw why always learning matters. Starting off as a general population personal trainer really challenged his creativity and ability to work with a wider variety of physical abilities. Not everyone wanted to run a linear periodization powerlifting program (or warm up with 135 on the bench press). Dave has constantly spoken on the value of knowing your own personal biases and how they can skew your viewpoint. Pre-internet, it was possible that the strongest person a young female strength coach knew was their dad or boyfriend. On the other side of that coin, you have the powerlifter who is surprised that not everyone can do a push-up. Dave started going to seminars or conferences once a month to try to fill in the gaps in his knowledge as quickly as possible. Often the best thing you can do is look outside your wheelhouse and gain new perspectives.

Text By Mason Nowak

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