In terms of technology and information available to lifters we have never had it so good. There is now a huge number of blogs, e books, Facebook pages and lifting websites with a vast array of training programs and advice available to us at our fingertips. This may at first seem to be a great thing for young lifters; however, it can often be a double edged sword.
I have seen many young lifters write their own programs or change their technique based on something they have read on the net with little real understanding of the correct principles involved. Usually they have come up with something way too complicated (in my opinion) for most advanced lifters let alone a newcomer. Of course they still make reasonable progress (as they would on many programs, almost anything will work in the early days) reinforcing their belief they are on the right track. In my view inexperienced lifters should stick to basic or simple programs with a reasonable amount of accessory work. Too often newer lifters think that the more scientific and complicated a program sounds; the better it must be.
I would strongly urge all young lifters to find an experienced coach with a good reputation, one who has proven results with a number of lifters. Do as your coach tells you; this takes all the guesswork and a lot of stress out of your training. Let your coach do the thinking, you do the lifting.
As a coach of a small number of young lifters I welcome questions and always ask the athlete for feedback as to how the weight feels and how they are feeling during and after training. I do not welcome suggestions to change their training based on something they have read on the net. Of course it is a free world, they can do as they wish, just as I am free to discontinue coaching them. As a young lifter I was definitely guilty of reading something from time to time and questioning my coach (the great Barry Murray) In every single instance I turned out to be wrong and Barry was dead right. Luckily for me I had a coach who kept me in line. Pre Internet Barry seemed to coach just about everyone, I am sure he has forgotten more about powerlifting than I will ever know!
While I am on the subject here is a list of words that are not allowed during my athlete’s training sessions or on the lifter’s Facebook page etc if referring to powerlifting;
*Animal (human being is strongly encouraged)
*Swole (I am not actually sure what that means but I am pretty sure I don’t like it)
*Skwaats (or any other incorrect spelling)
*swearing or other profanity on Facebook.
*macros (I call macros food).
*deload. (taper seems a good enough word for every other sport in the world)
*reload – (categorically Metallica’s worst album. Actually, is there a good one?)
*motor unit recruitment (or other overly cerebral descriptions of something that should be very simple)
The following are some other rules for my lifters:
* All lifters must compete at least once a year.
*All lifters must spot and load or perform other tasks when not lifting.
*No cutting weight unless you are already a national title holder in the weight class above.
*Wear appropriate gym clothing to train in, you are not at work or a nightclub.
*Gloves are never allowed (unless you are planning to challenge someone to a duel, of course then a glove is totally necessary!)
* No headphones. Amusing hats are welcome.
*No training; legs, chest and back. We squat, bench and deadlift.
*Weights must be put away neatly. We all help each other here.
*No death metal. Led Zeppelin is the heaviest music you should ever lift to, trust me on this one! But be careful in the first verse of Communication Breakdown, third line “I don’t know what it is..etc” Robert Plant performs a series of crotchet triplets that can really mess with your rhythm.
*keeping noise whilst lifting to an absolute minimum. Especially if you are doing arm curls.
*No arm curls.
* Never squat in front of a mirror in fact the only exercise I find acceptable in front of a mirror is arm curls.
*No arm curls!
*Stop telling everyone on Facebook how humble you are. “Don’t be humble you’re not that good!” Golda Meir
*Lower deadlifts to the ground with control. (especially if Shane Naylor is part of the training group!)
These are just rules for MY lifters, if you don’t train with me; knock yourself out, Beast Mode away! Please don’t interpret the above as criticism of my fellow lifters, these are merely rules for people I coach, this is all just food for thought. I know many truly great lifters do arm curls, train with mirrors, listen to death metal etc, this is not a criticism of them at all, I have my own reasons for these rules and often what applies to a young lifter is irrelevant to an experienced or elite lifter. This is all just my personal opinion, make of it what you will.
I also usually will not allow anyone to train with injury or illness, unless it is very minor. I have been seeing more and more comments recently along the lines of “Really unwell today but that’s when you have to push through and train hard anyway! Beast mode rargh rargh grunt grunt etc” Although very well intentioned, these lifters would be much better off at home resting. Injury and illness is your body telling you NOT to train. You become a great lifter over a lifetime, missing a few sessions here and there will not matter in the long run. Training whilst you are unwell or injured is not tough, it’s just stupid. Remember, it is not a contest to see who can train the hardest; we are preparing to be at our best on competition day. I do advocate training hard, but be smart about it.
My best performance (yes there actually was one, you would not have read about it because it was prior to the invention of the printing press!) came after missing 6 of my last 10 weeks training before the competition due to illness (a bad case of the flu), I came into the comp feeling fresh and very strong, had I kept training through the illness I am sure it would not have been such a happy ending. Before GPA worlds in Sydney last year when Shane Naylor won the open men’s raw division he performed a total of 31 squats over the ten week training program leading up to the event, he opened up on the world record.
If you do wish to check training programs online or better still; reading actual books, I thoroughly recommend “Power By Paul” Paul Anderson “The Coan Phillipi deadlift program (online)”, “Deadlift Dynamite” by Andy Bolton and “Super Squats” Randall J Strossen there are dozens more but I have to stop somewhere. Of course I am not saying do not read about training online, I am merely urging caution if you wish to devise your own program.
Brendan Hains (human being) 16/7/2015