1 – The Specialist
To learn a thing you must specialize in it momentarily. You won't automatically be proficient at powerlifting, kettlebell swinging, or posing like a bodybuilder if nobody has shown you how. You can't master anything without feedback from a master. That's where the specialist comes in.
They correct your mistakes, program your workouts, and help you become more efficient in a style of moving iron. Having one is obviously more necessary for those first starting out in any form of lifting, but even world-class coaches look to other coaches. And even experienced lifters will switch training styles to try something new.
2 – The Influencer
This is the person who plants ideas, like seeds, that slowly grow into bigger goals and belief systems. They give you direction and answer questions you didn't even know you had. Sometimes they show you that what you've been striving for is actually not worth your time. You don't need to see these people every day, or even in-person, to benefit from their influence. They're simply a voice of reason that helps you cut through trivial junk to grow towards bigger endeavors.
On occasion, the influencer will make you mad because you don't want what he or she says to be true. We need to hear those opposing views. Why? Because you learn nothing by surrounding yourself with people who always agree with you. If you're not faced with opposing information, you'll end up doing the same old workouts, striving for the same old goals, or eating the same old diet – things which may have worked at one point, but stopped serving you a long time ago.
Without even trying, influencers can redirect your energy where it matters. Because of them, you get to bottom of things like why you even work out, what actually matters in the big scheme of things, what your next steps should be, and what performance, longevity, and strength really mean to you. Influencers are your best bet for getting a serious wake-up call. If you don't have one or two right now, start looking.
3 – The Bro
Everyone should have one at some point. Guys have their bros. Girls have their lady-bros. They're like an energy drink in human form. Spend a minute with him or her and you're ready to "crush some plates." Your bro knows how to motivate so that staying home is not an option unless you're injured. And even though you can shoot the shit, they still know when to get serious. Sure, you could work out without these friends, but having someone nearby who's excited for your success and sad about your injuries is the best. Training becomes group therapy.
4 – The Workhorse
You need to see someone lifting heavier than you, going harder than you, and using better technique than you. You need this person even if you don't talk to him or her very often. But here's the catch: find a person whose abilities aren't so far out of reach that they seem impossible to accomplish. Make your workhorse someone who is maybe just a year or two more advanced than you, or just a level up in skill and strength. If you catch up to this person, then find a new workhorse to watch.
Having one of these gives you something realistic to aim for. You raise your standards when you see someone doing better than you, but you also stay grounded knowing that this person didn't get there overnight, and he or she is still improving from workout to workout, just like you.
5 – The Reliable Source of Varied Info
Everyone needs exposure to ideas. But it'd be dangerous to trust just one person in this case – especially in fitness, where there tends to be a lot of self-proclaimed experts. That's where T Nation comes in. You choose from a variety of people, who have a variety of perspectives. Then you gather insight from whomever speaks to you, gives you applicable info, challenges your beliefs, and keeps you excited about training. You weigh the pros and cons of what they recommend, test things out, and think for yourself.
Remember, no one person can contrive your exact set of circumstances, your goals, experience level or skill level, finances, preferences, or genetic profile. So it's up to you to search for answers and find out for yourself how they apply to you.