I have been pretty busy in the last month and I have struggled to find the time to write something meaningful and worth sharing. After much deliberation with my athletes and people around me, there is a subject I would like to touch upon. It was suggested to me that I should write about what I think is necessary to reach the top in our sport (or any meaningful activity for whats worth). The following might sound pretty much straight forward, but it is a good reminder to all aspiring athletes.
I am the head coach of a weightlifting club situated in Montreal. In the last year, I have coached so many people from all ages and all levels. I have coached very young kids, teens, and adults. I have coached kids with ADHD and autism as well. I have coached serious and recreational athletes. I have coached crossfitters and weightlifters of all levels. I have had over 200 young kids visit me at the club as part of a summer camp activity during the summer. I have had hockey teams visit me as well.
When discussing with a friend of mine, it became apparent that – out of everybody I met and coached this year- the people I remembered the most where the people I had/have the most success with. This core group of lifters got better faster than everybody else I have met during the year because of their incredible work ethic. They did not miss training sessions, they had right lifestyle and support, and it felt like they never wanted to quit the gym.
Work ethic : An ethical principle that places greatest value on hard work and diligence.
You cannot go far (in terms of ranking) in this sport if you are not willing to work hard or do what’s needed to get better. You just cannot cruise your way to the top. You need to have lifted a certain number of submaximal kilos (tonnage) to improve just by a single kilo on your snatch or clean and jerk – and that amount grows every year. That means every year you are doing bigger loads which means more sets which means your training sessions are more draining.
Everybody can enjoy weightlifting for the amazement it provides : It is a very inspiring spectacle of strength and it comes with many health benefits to the recreational practitioner. However, there is a very big difference in the approach required to lift 60 kg and 200kg. If you are looking to be the best you could ever be, you will need to be disciplined and have the right work ethic. Your training time cannot be anything else than productive and it starts with your attitude in the gym and your willingness to embrace the work you have to do.
Getting good in this sport means you need to work in the gym – that’s a given. Having a strong work ethic means that you are okay with working on your weaknesses (being out of your comfort zone) and not just doing what you like because… well it’s fun to do things you are good at. While it may be fun, it won’t get you ahead. Nobody likes being bad at something, but only true dedicated athletes will work at improving their weaknesses instead of ignoring them.
Moreover, you also need work ethics outside of the gym. Your lifestyle has to be reflective of your goals. So many people are going to bed late, not eating well and party/drink/etc too often. If your goal is to have fun with weightlifting and have a great social life – that’s all fine. However, if you want to be the best version of you, you will need to make lifestyle changes to reach the top. Know that you will have to make sacrifices in your social life so that you can reach your goals.
I coach many young kids and many beginners in the gym often say that they wish they started at their age or they comment that it is easier to learn or commit at their age. Let me tell you this, there are many others things a kid can do to enjoy themselves instantly (whereas weightlifting is somewhat of an acquired taste). They can run around with their friends, play soccer/hockey/football or even play video games. All they have to do is tell their parents they don’t want to train and they want to have fun. Yet, even at 10 years old, they don’t want to miss training and they want to add kilos faster than I am willing to let them. That’s why they learn faster – they actually come in the gym and do the work.
I have an 8 year old kid training under me that got very mad and sad when he had to miss a training session…because he had the flu. This is motivation. This is dedication. This is work ethic. This is the baseline required to go from point A to point B. This is what separate athletes from recreational sportmens/womens. This is what separates average from excellence.
P.S : There is nothing wrong with not seeking excellence and just having fun in the gym as long as you are full aware of your goals. If your goal is excellence, then you will need to be driven and work hard. Make sure your attitude and lifestyle match your goals.