Weightlifting is Fun

Weightlifting training is fun! You are throwing heavy weights around, jumping under moving objects, and testing your own physical and mental strength every rep!  Some of the not so fun things are stretching, ice bath/sauna, meal preparation, winding down to get to sleep early, etc.  These are often viewed as chores or obstacles.  I recently read this quote from James Clear who presented a good perspective on these small things that will make such a huge impact on your weightlifting.  

“Many people view their habits and routines as obstacles or, at the very least, obligations to get through. Making the morning coffee, driving your kids to the next activity, preparing the next meal—we often see our routines as chores to be completed.

But these are not moments to be dismissed. They are life. Making coffee can be a peaceful ritual—perhaps even a fulfilling one—if done with care rather than rushed to completion. It’s about the amount of attention you devote to these simple moments, and whether you choose to appreciate them or bulldoze through them on the way to the next task.

Find the beauty and joy in your daily rituals and you will find beauty and joy in your daily life. To love your habits is to love your days, and to love your days is to love your life.”

Try this perspective out next time you stretch, just be in the moment and appreciate the activity for what it is! 

How it Feels is a Lie

I like to use the statement “How it feels is a lie” with SOME of my athletes.  As you could imagine, it can be taken out of context very easy.  So lets break it down:

Some days weight feels heavy in your hands or slow, so you talk yourself out of confidently attacking the lift like you would on a day you “feel” good.  This severely limits how many good training days and lifts you can accomplish if you fall pray to this bottle necked.  You should be able to go under a bar at the same speed no mater how much weight is on the bar, you are just moving your body down, not the weight.  One of the biggest differences between intermediate and advanced lifters is that they don’t slow down when going under on heavy attempts.  Intermediate lifters will tense up because if feels heavy and they think they need to ‘use more muscle’.  The opposite is true! How heavy it feels is irrelevant. You still need to fight to hold position, transition under just as fast as a lighter rep, and make the lift! Practicing making lifts when they feel heavy is great training!! Then when you go out and attempt that PR lift and it feels heavy you have the confidence to attack a heavy feeling lift and make it anyway.  “It Feels Heavy” is a lie the bar tells your mind.  Do not believe it! Trust your training and technique.  

PS.  The “How it feels is a lie” concept does not apply to pain. 

Goal Setting

  1. Imagine the outcome goal you want in detail.  
  2. Break that outcome goal into smaller checkpoints.
  3. Apply a timeline to these two above.
  4. What is the biggest bang for your buck thing you need to do everyday to get to the first checkpoint?  
  5. Starting doing number 4 everyday without fail.  Only focus on number 4.  Numbers 1-3 rarely need to be thought about.
  6. Once number 4 is a habit, start slowly adding in more things you can do everyday that will help you get to the next checkpoint.  
  7. Adjust and adapt as needed! Focusing on the daily process goals are the real key to goal setting, not the outcome goals or checkpoints.  Re-evaluate and adjust accordingly.

Why Weightlifting Should be a Second Sport

Reasons why weightlifting should be a second sport:

  1. You can not get enough volume just doing weightlifting to build general athleticism and a decent work capacity.  Wresting, Gymnastics, Soccer, Swimming, and Skateboarding are all good options.  Football and baseball tend to cause more problems than physical benefits, but they are better than nothing (just my opinion).  
  2. Most people don’t really see how strong they can get until about 27.  If you specialized in weightlifting from youth until 27, you would see a high burnout rate.  If it’s treated as a complement to other sports, it is more sustainable. 
  3. Team Building.  Weightlifting is an individual sport with a team aspect.  The nature of weightlifting makes it a little hard to build a teamwork mentality.  Other sports like football, soccer, and basketball tend to do this on their own.  Someone who is a Team Player, will make training and competition so much better! 

If you are wondering why you need team players in weightlifting i’ll give you some examples.  

  1. Team USA athlete chooses to go to an international competition where they know they will pop hot for PED’s.  The consequences of this choice at worst puts the rest of the country at risk for not being able to compete internationally.  At best it causes Team USA to loose points that would lead to a Team Title.  
  2. Training with someone who is a team player is night and day!  The encouragement, the camaraderie, and even just the company make the hard days of training more bearable.  It also makes the better days of training better!
  3. Competing with a team player is also a huge positive. If someone is actually in the stands cheering for you when you lift, that is a big positive.  

What other benefits do you get from playing other sports before weightlifting?

Flipping the Switch

In weightlifting there is a unique switch that must be turned on and off.  Athletes need to be able to go from the slower strength movement of the pull, to the more gymnastic speed component of pulling their body under the bar, then back to the controlled strength of the catch.  Load, unload, load.  Being able to turn that switch On, Off, and back On in less than the 3 seconds is a skill that needs to be practiced. If you are having trouble doing it, try these out

  1. Hold the bar with a loose hook grip.  The hook grip does all the work, you don’t need to squeeze the life out of the bar too.  A loose hook grip will help you keep your arms relaxed and fast during the pull under.
  2. Using the Competition Pull or Panda Pull to teach when to turn that switch on and off during the pull.  
  3. Exercises like Snatch from high blocks can help you focus more on the speed under the bar or turning the switch off.
  4. Exercises like Muscle Snatch can help with the muscular development of going under the bar, but if you are really having trouble relaxing the arms or going under the bar fast, it might be worth avoiding exercises like the muscle snatch for a while.  They should be reintroduced as you improve because you have to be strong. 
  5. If you are having trouble turning the tension back on in the catch, I like to have my athletes to pause right at the point they get under the bar, then squat it all the way down. A majority of these reps should be done at about 60%.  This helps the athlete learn how to control the bar in the catch.  The next step is to learn to control the bar faster at this point (position over speed).

What else do you think should be on this list?

Progression of a Weightlifter

There are lots of different ways to do this, but I think this sets some pretty good guidelines for the aspiring weightlifter or parent out there.  

  1. Learn the movements at a young age, but do not specialize in them before other sports.
  2. Focus on a variety of exercises, strength qualities, tempos, and different ranges of motion.  Work really hard, but do not compare yourself to others.  People develop at MUCH different rates.  
  3. Play other sports!  
  4. Compete in weightlifting as well as in other sports.  Weightlifters might compete 4-6 times a year, while sports like wrestling will compete 4-6 times a week and soccer once a week.  Competing often will give you the experience to learn how you compete best regardless of the sport.    
  5. Train with other people.  Create or join a community of like minded people who want to get strong!
  6. Start specializing in weightlifting about 4-8 years into training.  This should be about the time you have finished up with traditional organized sports.  You can always go back to other sports.  I believe other high volume sports are imperative to developing enough work capacity to actually get strong.  You can’t replicate that in a gym.
  7. Keep a long term plan of about 8 years or more in mind.  
  8. Use common sense
  9. Did I say to play other sports yet?

What do you agree with or disagree with on this list?

What Weightlifting Equipment Really Matters


  1. Bar and plates.  Should be a weightlifting bar and competition style plates.  Those wide bumper plates made out of High-Temp rubber will give you a false sense of bar whip. 
  2. Shoes and singlet.  You need these to compete in, so you should train in them too.  Only train in the singlet occasionally.
  3. Chalk.
  4. Squat Stand.  Because you have to get strong in the squat!


List of things to do recover better in order of importance:

  1. Sleep 8-10 hours a night
  2. Proper nutrition
  3. Drinking enough water
  4. Stretch: 30 minutes a day
  5. Massage: 2 hours a week
  6. Basic Supplementation: Protein, zinc, magnesium, D3, fish oil, and a multivitamin

Should this list be in a different order? Should anything else be on it?

Knee Pain

List of things that cause knee pain for weightlifters

  1. Tense Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, and Feet with lots of trigger points in them
  2. Poor Diet.  Eating less inflammatory foods and more fish oil and pineapple will do wonders.
  3. Poor Squatting position and movement
  4. Strength Ratios out of balance. Ex. Weak VMO’s, or hamstrings compared to the Vastus Lateralis.  
  5. Too much squatting volume.  If you are addressing all the above well and your knees still hurt a lot, you should start looking at your training volume.  Keep in mind that discomfort and pain are different.
  6. Structural Issues like a torn meniscus or arthritis which need to be evaluated by a professional.  

Is there anything else you think should be on this list?

Elbow Pain Culprits

List of things that cause elbow pain for weightlifters:

  1. Barbell not spinning
  2. Tight shoulders. In the snatch for example, you can still be in good position, but your humerus is internally rotating, when the bar in your hands is forcing external rotation.  The torsion is felt in the elbow.  A similar issue can happen in the front rack position for the Clean and Jerk.
  3. Poor rhythm causing the bar to crash on you in the catch of the snatch. 
  4. Poor catch position 

What else do you think should be on this list?