This is the second edition of the advice I post on regular basis on First Pull’s Facebook. The first edition covered the seven first tips I have posted and keeping up with the tradition, I am posting seven other tips. These tips cover pretty much everything weightlifting-related : programming, coaching, injuries, sleep, psychology and technique. I am making them available on here so that these can be easily searchable.
Advice of the day 8.
Weightlifting is about pushing through adversity and somehow maintaining your motivation when all goes wrong. Some days you feel good but your training does not go well. Some days you feel bad, but your training goes well. Sometimes you are stressed due to school or work, and it negatively affect your training. Sometimes you are injured and it feels like it’s taking forever to heal and sometimes you are not progressing as much as you would like/expected.
Hang in there, that’s normal and it’s expected. Set new goals and stick to it. Your turn will come as long as you keep pushing and training hard. It takes 7-10 years to be at the top of this sport if gifted and if the right choices are made. Mistakes will be made, injuries/pains will have to be dealt with and experimenting will be done. Stay smart and keep the motivation high through setting realistic goals. It could be PRs or committing to train X times a week or healing an injury. Track the progress, enjoy the confidence boost.
Advice of the day 9.
Some of you may train in the morning or train twice a day. A reasonable question to ask is : how can you maximize your morning training? Many feel sluggish or tired or take time to feel awake. Many rush from the bed to the gym and train on an empty stomach.
Advice : always try to wake up two hours before your morning training. This will help overcome feelings of sluggishness and prevent lack of performance due to digestion. Two hours will allow you to have food in you, a coffee if that’s your thing and the nervous system is going to be awake (that’s one way of putting it). That will translate in better coordination.
Start the session with dynamic stretching and don’t be afraid to do a few explosive movements before hitting the workout. A few jumps, drop snatches, jump squats or muscle snatches will go a long way in feeling ready and awake.
Advice of the day 10
Never ignore your pain and aches, but most importantly your injuries.
I have known or worked with people that would rather pretend the pain/injury they have is not there. Some think it will just go away by itself (sometimes it does when its due to inflammation). Some think doing a few mobility Wod can fix every injuries they have.
Being injured means the injury is preventing the structure from doing its job. Thus, your body will have to compensate. Its not rare to see an adductor injury being compensated by the medial hamstring at the knee for instance. Your training should be adapted as well.
You should see somebody who has the knowledge necessary to find out what you have and what you can do to help it. Even better if the physio/osteo/AT knows weightlifting. Yes it can be pricey, but its worthwhile. Not doing so will put you at risk and may prevent you from progressing in this sport. Only the “healthier” athletes get to be great in this sport. You have to be willing to take a step back if you want to take two steps forward.
Advice of the day 11
If you are a student in your finals or a worker dealing with stressful deadlines, adapt your training by lowering the volume and keep intensity mid-high (heavy but fun and fluid)
Volume tends to be really tiring which is not what we want in a period of excessive stress. Nobody will get an A+ by falling asleep in front of their study notes. In those periods, i suggest to autoregulate the training. Aim to do a heavy set or two of 2-3 exercise (eg : snatch, clean and jerk and back squat) and call it a day. It will be enough to maintain form and allow you to save energy to deal with your study or work deadlines. You will come back with great hunger to train.
Advice of the day 12
Self diagnostic of injuries should be prevented in every gym and no amount of knowledge acquired from online sources can change that.
I have often heard athletes in pain say that they are ”ok” or ”will be fine soon” since they foam roll or do a few mobility wods. I am not against foam rolling or mobility wod, far from that. However, there is no point in foam rolling or doing 100 mobility wods that are not specifically targeting your issues and the issues you think you have might not be the issues you actually have.
”Yes but my quad hurts, so I roll it”
Just because you feel pain in an area does not main that the issue is actually located in this area. As an example, Pain in the hip may be due to a host of things such bad function of the hip muscles but also bad stabilization of the knee or ankle (Thus the hip compensate). Rolling it still does not change what’s happening under.
Most of us are not qualified to make these diagnostics and that’s why you should be seeing somebody that understand these issues (Physio/osteo/AT). Moreover, in trained weightlifters, I would venture to say that injuries are not due to lack of mobility but lack of stability (something gives up trying to hold the weight). You would probably need corrective exercises rather than foam rolling…but that’s for your physio/osteo to tell you
Advice of the day 13
Weightlifting is about control and the learning weightlifter should be aware of it.
The elite weightlifter is a master at controlling what an average human being can not. The weightlifter has to control his/her emotions so that anxiety, stress and fear do not get into the way of the lift.
A true weightlifter has control over the bar. Sure the bar has a mind of its own always fighting to put the lifter out of position. However, the weightlifter still holds position by controlling the pull. Except for rare exceptions, most lifters don’t yank the bar, or hit and drop or pull with the arms which are all signs that control of the bar is lost. Put simply, the efficient lifter control the bar in a way that puts him/her at mechanical advantage.
Advice of the day 14
Weightlifting training and programming should be based on priorities rather than what you like to do the most, or have done in the past.
An example : You may love the squat and enjoy squatting more than the next guy, but if it is not your weakness and it is your strength, then your precious time and energy are not spent on the things that will make you better. Many people I have worked with have a squat to CJ ratio of 150-160%. Doing more squats probably won’t make you better at the clean in this scenario.
On the other hand, some people can only power 60-70% of their best full lifts and some people can power 110-120% of their best full lifts. On one hand, lifter A should probably work on his powers since that’s a weakness by normal standards (we want 80-90%). On the other hand, lifter B needs to work on his full lifts as we should expect the full lifts to be 10-20% higher than the powers.
Training is supposed to vary to work on current weaknesses, so staying glued to ”how you used to train” as an indicator of what you should currently do is not a good way to program your training. Weaknesses changes over time so should your programming.