I had a new member come in this morning and start his training with our Olympic Lifting Clinic. As we move through our warm up, I am paying close attention to his coordination and mobility: two key elements to success in Olympic lifting. Neither of which turned out to very stellar as he manipulated a PVC pipe as we began progressions though full range of motion, building into Cleans and Snatches.
That being said, we made the necessary modifications, and got him moving. I could see the discouragement in his eyes as those in class with him start moving some pretty hefty loads, while he is sweating his ass off with an empty bar. It is more than obvious that he doesn’t understand what he’s missing. So let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. I lead in, “How long have you been Olympic lifting?”
He replies, “Never.”
I ask further, “Do you spend much time on mobility? Or has an overhead squat played much of a role in your training up to this point?”
Again, “Not at all.”
I close out with, “Right on man. Everyone has to start somewhere.” I point at one of my more seasoned members as he sets up to clean 185 pounds. “That’s where we are trying to get you to go. See his tight set up on the bar? His smooth pull off the floor, acceleration through the knees, and fast elbows as he receives the bar in that deep squat position? All that doesn’t happen over night. He’s been working on that for a few months now, and the speed has just recently improved over the past couple weeks.” He nods, “Technique will always trump the load. We need to get you familiar and develop coordination through each phase of the lift before we get you attempting to pull the building off its foundation.”
“I get it.”, he says, as a wave of ease washes over his face.
What is the relevance of this story? This is an epidemic that I’ve faced each and everyday of my fitness career. When you approach certain workouts or even singular movements by themselves that are foreign to you, you will be outside your comfort zone. Its important to bring yourself back to center. If it’s new, it’s going to be hard. If your a runner without a lot of lifting in your regimen, or a bodybuilder that never runs at all, or a seasoned Olympic lifter that has been missing gymnastics progressions in your training over the years, more than likely you’ll be overwhelmed when initially confronted with a foreign training stimulus.
At the same time, remind yourself why you wandered through my doors in the first place. Whatever you were doing before got old. It got boring. It didn’t present the same challenge anymore. You heard about what was going on here, and it peaked your interest. Or you simply just wanted to do something completely different. There is enough variety provided in our programming that you will, without a doubt, be exposed to your weakness. It is this challenge, that stimulates results. It is overcoming the hurdles that were your weaknesses while developing your strengths that keeps you coming back. Just keep in mind that no one is awesome at EVERYTHING, especially in the beginning, and if you don’t put in the TIME, progress is impossible.
Keep yourself grounded. You will improve. All you we have is time. Just be consistent and diligent in how you use it and the results will come.
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