Sports are Not a Stress Outlet and Being Elite is on You, Not Your Program

 

Written by: Kevin Cann

 

I hear this quite a lot, “I lift to deal with my regular life.”  Maybe not that exact same quote, but something like that.  This may feel great on some days but will come back to bite you in the ass at some point.

 

When we are stressed, we can’t just take that anger and frustration we feel and put it into the weights.  Stress, anger, and frustration all change how we accomplish movement tasks.  This was a lesson I learned the hard way.

 

In my early 20s I started the MMA thing as an outlet for my stress and anger.  I quickly learned that when I allowed my feelings from my personal life to leak into my training my reaction time was slower, my combinations did not flow as smoothly, and punches actually hurt more because your neck is stiff and tense and not rolling with the punches.

 

The combination of those things would lead to subpar performance that would only make me more frustrated. When this happens you have two options: Figure it out or quit.  In a sport where you are getting hit in the face, it kind of forces you to make that decision.

 

Going through this taught me a lot about dealing with my emotions.  Sport taught me how to deal with life.  It is not an outlet for when you feel bad, but instead sport is a teacher to teach you how to deal with those emotions.  This difference in perspective is huge.

 

Powerlifting is a bit different as no one is getting hit in the face (although some should), I see so often a lifter allowing the perceived negativity from their personal lives to flow into their training.  The lifter does not take a few minutes to get their mind right, but instead just starts warming up.

 

Everything from their facial expressions to their body language tells you that something is not right with them on this day.  When I see this as a coach, I want to ask them who is messing with them and do a few MMA rounds with them, but every moment like this is a teaching moment with life skills that can be taught.

 

I know things will probably not go well in training for them that day, but I often do not interject. It is on them to figure it out. It is on them to get their mind right before they lift and to make the right decisions for the weight to put on the bar.  I know neither of those things will often happen.

 

Instead the lifter will sulkingly take a top set, which I plan around an RPE 9 based off of last week’s performance, probably when they were in high spirits.  They will miss the weight and throw the equivalent of an adult temper tantrum.  During this temper tantrum there are no good training decisions being made.  This training day was a complete waste of time, except for the lifter now dumping all of life’s frustrations on me.  This sure as shit didn’t work as a good outlet for stress.  Now I need a stress outlet!  I am kidding, this is the coach’s job, to guide the human, not just write a program.

 

We have all done this too. I have definitely done it myself and there is not a lifter on PPS that hasn’t done this.  It is recognizing it, recognizing it is on you to figure it out, and to stop putting blame on everything else.  It isn’t the program, it is you.

 

I think that the majority of lifters involved in this sport want to be somewhat competitive, whatever that means.  For me, I got started in this sport in my early 30s.  I didn’t touch a barbell too often throughout college soccer and MMA after. I did some dumbbell stuff and picked up a trap bar and front squat occasionally.

 

I knew I was well behind the 8 ball for this sport.  However, I set a goal to be more competitive as a masters lifter.  Then I saw that the masters lifters are just as strong as the open lifters, so maybe a competitive M4.  I am kidding here, but by 40 I will only have 7-8 years of training behind me.

 

Dave started powerlifting around the same time as I did.  However, he played college football.  They usually squat and bench with coaches in football.  This usually extends back into high school.  A college football player that gets into powerlifting in their early 20s has 8 years of weight room experience, usually with a barbell, and usually with a coach, before they get started.   I won’t have this experience under the bar until I am 40.

 

With that said, this is why I am not competitive.  If I want to be, I have to do everything right to make up for that lost time.  I have a very high pain tolerance and will train through almost anything.  Not being an asshole, but wisely training through things.  I can make up days here.

 

I can’t afford to allow my negative emotions to give me shitty training days.  Each shitty training day pushes me further behind everyone else.  For every shitty day I have, I know my competition is having a better day.

 

In other sports, I was reacting to an opponent.  You would be analyzing them the whole time, pick up on tendencies, and slowly pick them apart.  When things weren’t going well you could really make the game smaller.  Get rid of the ball faster in soccer to an easier outlet and gain some momentum or go out there and control distance and get a jab working in MMA.

 

In powerlifting it is tough, because the opponent is not the weights, but it is yourself.  This is the toughest opponent you will ever face in your life, because they know every single one of your weaknesses and they will exploit them better than anyone else.

 

Coaches and athletes are always looking for weaknesses within the lifts themselves.  I do feel that this is important, but these are often not the biggest issues that need to be addressed.  Many of these issues can get better from appropriate training.

 

The bigger issue is within each and every individual.  I will set training up as a coach to bring these emotions to the forefront.  I firmly believe in training with consequences and I will make you frustrated at some point.  Some are stronger than others here, but they will all experience it.

 

Each one of these experiences is an opportunity to learn and to face your biggest opponent in this sport, YOU.  You will want to blame the program, the coach, the equipment, and so on.  This isn’t facing your opponent; this is running away.  This is the opponent winning, and you either figure it out, or quit.

 

If you are working with a coach that has had some higher levels of success with lifters over a period of time, it is not the program that is at fault for anything.  I would have never left Sheiko if he did not stop taking distance lifters.

 

I have not hit a PR since I started working with Hartman about a year ago.  This has absolutely nothing to do with him as a coach.  He coaches girls that can’t legally drink that will out lift me.  This all falls on me as an athlete.

 

I was forced to find a new coach and Hartman does things very differently than Sheiko.  I think if I had reached out to Hartman under different circumstances that the transition would have been different.  I wasn’t fully bought in because the situation was forced upon me by circumstance.

 

The switch in program style was very drastic too.  It actually pissed me off at times.  He elicited an emotional response in me for sure.  At times I wanted to put my fist through a wall and the frustration made me hate training at times.

 

It didn’t help that I am coaching at the same time and lifters dumping this same frustration on me too when their training doesn’t fit their ideal picture.  With Sheiko you just did what you are told.  He gave me a little flexibility, but not much at all. I coached in a similar way and the frustration as an athlete and coach was far less at this time due to this.

 

With Hartman, it wasn’t setup to just do as I am told, but I lifted as if it was.  I missed a lot of reps and made some really poor decisions within training.    I would then come in for the next session frustrated and try to get it all back that day and have another shitty day of bad decisions and poor lifting.

 

It took me a while to realize this.  I learned how to apply general principles in training and the technique of the lifts from Sheiko.  This was such an important period of time for me as a coach, more so than an athlete.

 

Hartman, whether it was intentional or not, taught me how to handle my emotions in training.  This allows me to handle the emotions of the lifters I coach.  Hartman forced me to be a better lifter.  I am lucky I had past experiences in other sports that allowed me to improve this very quickly once I recognized it.

 

I took more of a role in my lifting.  I write my own program, but Hartman gives me his insights and thoughts on my decisions. Almost always I take what he says, and I do it as he has much more experience than I do and a more objective view of my lifting.

 

I have not benched over 300lbs in a meet since August of 2017.  For the first time since then, I am confident I can hit that 303lbs bench press on any day, with any grip.  It took 2 years to get to this point for me.  Probably would have been less time with a better attitude.

 

My squat feels the best it has ever felt.  I have had some good runs with squats over the last year that just fizzled out by the time I got to singles or a competition.  Some of this is due to my inconsistency with the technical aspects of the lift.  I am pretty confident that I can chip a PR on the platform right now if I had a meet in a couple weeks.  This weight would be a 3rdI missed due to depth last summer at a competition. It took a year for me to feel like I am back to that number with technique that will hold up under the rules of the sport.

 

My deadlift is weird. It is my strongest lift, but it experiences some big ups and downs.  With Sheiko my deadlift went to 505lbs in my second meet, to 455lbs the next time I tested. It then went to 485lbs a few months later when I tested again.  9 months after I pulled the 505lbs on a deadlift bar, I hit 518lbs in a USAPL meet. I put 15lbs on my best deadlift with tougher equipment in a year, but it just went backwards for a while for me to get there.  Long term progress isn’t too bad here at all.  At the time it seemed terrible, but I wasn’t so worried without a meet scheduled.

 

I missed 545lbs a couple weeks ago, which is about 20lbs behind my best ever meet pull from last summer. It is in my head a little, and this is why I have a coach.  Hartman gave me some ideas, so I threw them into the program.  I know it will come around, I just need to train hard and make good decisions.

 

I had 2 very different programs that yielded very similar results.  No matter what program I would decide to do, this would have been the case because the problem was me and not the program.  Find a coach you can work well with and stick with them while addressing those individual weaknesses we all possess.

 

Take ownership for the things that YOU can do better as lifter.  This includes maintaining bodyweight, sacrificing drinking on weekends, bringing 100% to each training day, and your attitude.

 

If you choose to go out with friends and eat like shit, it is ok to do these things as you got to live life but accept the consequences that comes with these actions.  This sport can fit in your life however you want. World champions aren’t going out every weekend and sulking between sets.

 

My motto right now is “No reps off.”  This includes every rep from the empty bar up through my top sets.  I noticed I was only getting focused once the weight gets heavier.  This was a lot of missed opportunities to get better.  We can always improve our mental and physical attributes.

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You Get What You Earn and Is Weightlifting that Different from Powerlifting?

Written by: Kevin Cann

 

I am going to combine two article topics here as there is some carryover.  Just a warning that this could get very long, but reading is good for you.  I follow this IG account “Flowrestling.”  They show mostly wrestling highlights, and some of those kids are fast, strong, and extremely athletic.  I enjoy watching it between everyone else lifting weights.

 

There was a video of wrestling great Terry Brands.  Brands was an NCAA champ and a world champ that failed to make his first Olympic team. He made some changes and came back to not only make the team 4 years later, but to earn a bronze medal.  This video was titled “You get what you earn.”

 

As Nationals rolls around this is an important message.  Brands was talking about the first words his father had said to him in his hotel room, “You get what you earned.  You don’t always know what the reasons are.  You think you might have been the hardest working guy.  You think you might have done everything right, but you get what you earned, figure it out.  If you don’t want it to happen again figure it out.”

 

We live in a day where no one is accountable for their actions.  On a Weightlifting House Podcast, Josh Gibson asked Zach Krych, his thoughts on the 10 years he trained at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado.  He talked about lifters not bringing the same intensity as the lifters from other countries. He also talked about lifters living far outside of their weight classes in training.  He then made a comment “The Chinese aren’t doing that.”

 

This is so true of American culture.  We want everything, but without sacrificing anything.  There was another episode with a Romanian weightlifter that was asked about American weightlifting and his response was “Americans do not have patience. It takes patience to add weight to the bar (to be competitive).”

 

If you want to be competitive in this sport you need to make sacrifices and do everything right.  This isn’t just for 8 weeks before a competition. Olympians in weightlifting train for 20 years, or more in many cases, starting at 8 years old.  Powerlifters think after a couple of years of training they should be competing at Nationals.  Don’t get me wrong, this happens frequently, but finishing 80that Nationals is not competitive.

 

However, that gives the lifters this false sense that they are doing everything right and they are just going to climb to the top with the same attitude and work ethic.  I will assure you that this will not happen.

 

If you want to get to the top, or see progress beyond a certain point, it takes much more than just carrying on.  You need to maintain a bodyweight year round, you need to bring focus, effort, and intensity into each and every rep, you need to make good training decisions, and you need to do this consistently.  Every time you choose to go out with your friends and drink, or take it easy on a training day, someone else is not doing that and is gaining ground or getting further away from you.  This goes back to “The Chinese are not doing that.”  This is not just being consistent for 8 weeks, but for years.  This is your choice though.  You do not have to make these sacrifices if you just want to compete at Nationals one day and have fun.  This sport can fit into your life anyway you want and that is what makes it great.  If you do want to be the best possible lifter you can be in your career, it requires much more than just showing up.  Every action of every day needs to be geared to that goal.  I am going to quote another wrestling great, and former title challenger in the UFC, Chael Sonnen “If you aren’t willing to go too far, you will never go far enough.”

 

Weightlifting in other countries seem to have this attitude.  I have had a recent obsession with weightlifting culture and the sport in general.  The question I have been asking myself lately is “Is weightlifting really that different from powerlifting?”  You substitute SBD for Virus and I think the sports have more in common than what many people typically believe.

 

I think weightlifting is a higher skilled sport, but I think that powerlifting is more skilled than people think.  It takes a lot of skill to squat 700lbs, that is why not many people can do it.  Sheiko was actually a weightlifting coach until he had a weightlifter that he knew would be very good at powerlifting.

 

Much of Sheiko’s program was similar to that of a weightlifter.  There were a lot of positional variations that definitely had weightlifting influence.  I would consistently repeat the same weights and same variations as well.  Exercises would change weekly, but if I had 5×5 70% squat with chains in my program, I would perform that around a handful of times in a 12 week period.

 

After 12 weeks, there may be a test.  Hopefully we add some weight onto our maxes and then we repeat a similar program with the new maxes.  This is very similar to weightlifting.  The Greeks test every 4-5 weeks and then run the same program with new loads.

 

Sheiko was big on variations and load variability.  I also have a bias towards those two pieces, but the premise is very similar.  I also like the intensities of the Greek weightlifting system.  I incorporate much of both training styles into my programs.

 

The Greeks will hit a new max and then hit that same number for the next 3-4 weeks.  Repeating that new max over and over.  Sheiko would use a variation with the same reps and weight over and over.  You get better at that weight and exercise the more you practice it.

 

I started programming prescribed singles for my lifters.  This single is somewhere between their best double and triple.  On a good day it is an RPE 8, on a tough day it is an RPE 8.5/9.  This is a hard, but doable weight that causes some technique breakdown and brings some emotions into the lifter.  We repeat this weight for 3-4 weeks and then we will add some weight to the bar and repeat the process.

 

After the singles we perform the variations like we always have.  These typically work on the technical inefficiencies we see with the single.  We removed a lot of the bodybuilding stuff and replaced it with more barbell stuff like snatch grip deadlifts, good mornings, front squats, floor press, and so on. I am actually thinking of leaving these in long term instead of waving them out.  Why not build these up?  I think we often just change for the sake of change.

 

I think the argument of bodybuilding exercises are to build up weaknesses and keep things healthy. The variations will build up weaknesses within the lifts better than isolated exercises.  I think for beginners with limited body awareness and coordination, those exercises are still important and there will be more in their programs.

 

After Nationals, when volume drops, we will add more bodybuilding stuff in as well just to give them a bit of a physical and mental break from the grinds of training.  Most weightlifting systems that I am aware of forces the kids early on to experience a wide range of sports.  This is true in both Russia and Greece.

 

Once they enter the teenage years they begin to specialize more.  In America, kids specialize early in life, or do not participate in sports before entering the sport of powerlifting.  This is why I think variation is so important here.  It helps counter some of those pieces of American culture.  Bodybuilding/GPP exercises can fit in here as well for newer lifters.

 

I feel most things usually fall in the middle somewhere.  Powerlifters probably overestimate the importance of bodybuilding type exercises and weightlifters may underestimate their importance.  A logical implementation for me is to include them in the program after major competitions but remove them as the competition season gets into full swing.  They can come and go based off of volume of the lifts and as nagging things pop up.

F#*$ Your Accessory Work

Written by: Kevin Cann

 

In a conversation with John Flagg (might have been on the Clinical Athlete podcast) he had pointed out that my training style is very similar to the training style of many weightlifters.  To be honest I have never thought about that before.

 

Weightlifting is the yacht club of the strength sports; I don’t want my reputation being destroyed by that getting out there.  This sparked an interest in the sport of weightlifting for me.

 

I got Quinn Henoch on the podcast to chat programming stuff.  I found this podcast “Weightlifting House” that is very good and definitely not just for weightlifters, and I got some good information on the training of various national teams within the sport.

 

When I first started working with Jeremy Hartman, he told me to watch this documentary on Pyros Dymas, the famous Greek weightlifter.  I developed a fascination with the Greek weightlifting system here.

 

Dymas did spend quite a bit of time in the Soviet System before the current day Greek system.  As did the rest of that Greek weightlifting Dream Team.  I know in Russia every kid does gymnastics and does not specialize in a sport until they are a little older.

 

This is how the Greek system is today as well.  Children are encouraged to play as many sports as possible and specialization does not come until later.  Year 1 of weightlifting seems to be unloaded positions of the clean and jerk and the snatch and GPP stuff like jumps and pull-ups.  This is also similar to the Soviet System.

 

Year 2, the Greeks only perform 8 exercises.  The front and back squat, the Olympic lifts, and a couple variations of the Olympic lifts. They hit a maximal attempt only 1 time every 2 weeks at this stage.  The majority of the work is done between 80-85% of 1RM.

 

In the 3rdyear of training the exercises drop down to just 4.  They hit maximal attempts every 4thor 5thweek. During that training block after the acquiring of a new max, they work up to 100% very frequently, sometimes multiple times per day.

 

The advanced athletes are even required to take it when they know they will miss.  The Greeks see benefits to missing weights.  Every 3rdor 4thweek is a lighter week with a drop in volume and only working up to 85% of 1RM.

 

Every year they have a transition period that lasts 15-20 days where they are eased back into the handling of maximal attempts.  This fascinates me because their program is only 4 exercises.  There are not variations and there is zero accessory work.

 

Dymas competed in 4 straight Olympics at a gold medal level in this system.  Part of that long-term success requires you to stay healthy.  I am sure the coach makes day to day decisions in the gym.  In any high level weightlifting gym there is always a coach sitting there a few feet away.

 

This has really got me thinking over the last year.  How important is variation and how important are accessories?  Time is a constraint and we need to maximize our time in the gym to drive high level performance.

 

I find variation to be very important.  Many powerlifters played sports growing up, many did not.  I think building up strength at various angles is our way of addressing the chances that the lifter specialized in another sport early in life or did not play sports at all.  Americans get into this sport later in life.

 

I also find variations to be important for skill development.  There are more efficient ways to lift than others.  Variation allows each lifter to explore those movements and find the ones that work best.  The coach can place constraints on these movements that help guide that process.

 

All skills and strength follow a non-linear pattern.  When one skill regresses, another better be there to pick it up.  For example, maybe you pull sumo, but you start to see a decline in sumo performance.  If you train conventional hard and make sure you can lift numbers close to your best, you can switch and potentially hit a PR.  We see this at times with PPS.

 

Variation also gives you a wide skillset to pick from.  Let us say that a lifter gets stuck at the knees with the sumo deadlift because they were out of position off the floor.  This most likely looks very similar to a conventional deadlift for the back.  If the lifter has that skill with a conventional, they have a stronger chance of locking out that weight.

 

I choose to use many different exercises in my training than just a few for those reasons.  I could go on with that as well, but you guys get the point.  As for accessories (think bodybuilding type work) I have always been skeptical.

 

It just does not make sense to me that a 50lbs chest fly is going to help you bench 400lbs.  I get the theory a bigger muscle has more potential, blah blah blah.  Your body adapts to the stressors placed upon it.  Muscle growth will occur from training the lifts, more is not necessary.

 

I have used this argument in the past, that accessories help to increase load tolerance at joints and may help to reduce injury risk.  This theory is also nice, but just not true.  Fact is, we don’t know shit about what causes injuries.

 

Tendons and ligaments don’t respond better to light weights and higher reps to help protect you from heavier weights.  I think we may believe this stuff because accessories help to control loads.  Lifters tend to “leave room” in the program for the accessories.

 

Increasing performance and reducing injury risk is a contradictory statement.  You need to do more to perform at a higher level.  Doing more increases injury risk.  As a coach we need to take the information that we have and make day to day decisions based off of that information.  Basically, don’t train like an asshole.

 

As a coach we need to educate each lifter to understand what pain is and what it isn’t, and we need to create an environment that allows them to learn those lessons in the gym as well. Through education and smart training we can build resilient lifters.

 

Over time we give them the tools to navigate painful situations and to keep training. Self-efficacy decreases disability. Self-efficacy also increases strength through developing the skill of training.  Making good decisions that allows the lifter to get the most out of each training day.

 

Over time we get more high quality training days (doing more), and less missed training days (injury risk), but that is all that we can do.  We don’t understand enough about injuries to say that we should spend time with accessories as they are “protective.”  Shit will happen at some point.  Lifters should expect it, not fear it, and be equipped to deal with it.

 

Going into Nationals, we are dumping all accessories out of the program.  We are going to spend time doing the things that we know will make us stronger. I like how the Greeks setup training. We aren’t going to just do singles as grinding out a rep in powerlifting might take around 10 seconds.  We need to be prepared for that.

 

However, we train heavy every single day in the gym.  We will continue to do that.  That is the sport.  This just requires the coach and the lifter to pay attention as training becomes a lot more than numbers on a spreadsheet.  This is the new standard.

The Importance of Skill Acquisition in Powerlifting

Written by Kevin Cann

 

USAPL Northeast Regionals just wrapped up this past weekend.  We had 18 lifters compete.  This meet was run very well with some very strict judging.  I loved this.  This was a great opportunity for some of the newer lifters to get a taste of what it is like to be on a bigger stage.

 

It was also a good opportunity for those that have never competed at Nationals, but will be, to get a feel for what it will be like.  This Regional meet has come a long way in just a few short years.  I am going to encourage my lifters to do it every year.

 

We did very well.  We had 2 open winners and 6 total top 5 finishes. We hit a lot of PRS in spite of missing quite a few lifts.  I was far more aggressive with my attempt selection than I was in the past.  Big events are for big weights and big opportunities.

 

A few of the lifters had HUGE days.  Jess Ward won the 72kg weight class and finished 5thoverall with 703 IPF points (and she missed a lift).  Kerry won her weight class, but there are some things we need to work on.  Good to know on a bad day she can still hit her best ever total which was good for 10that Nationals, just wait for a good day.

 

Alyssa competed the weekend before.  In the past Alyssa has always fizzled by the time deadlifts rolled around.  The weekend before she hit a 20kg total PR. She missed her 3rdsquat and 3rdbench at Regionals.  She was definitely tired by this point.  She then went out and hit a lifetime deadlift PR on her 3rd. That is a competition skill PR right there and very important to see.

 

Kelly is still a newer lifter.  She has done a few local meets and has been able to get away with a few things.  When we saw the judging assignments for Regionals, we knew we had to tighten up a few things.  Her squat on that platform would not get whites where it has gotten whites in the past.  She had to put it a bit lower.

 

Each week we handled singles and just practiced putting them deeper.  Kelly then went out onto the platform and put a weight on her back that she hadn’t touched since March, and when she did it would not have been a passing squat at this competition.  She put it right where she needed to and hit a good strong 3rdattempt. She went 9/9 and had a big total PR on a very tough stage.

 

Daniel is another one I want to highlight.  Daniel missed all of his singles leading up to the competition.  He had a very tough training block.  Daniel saw a decline in his sumo deadlift performance, but we were able to switch to conventional to hit an all-time PR.  However, all other things just seemed to be trending in the wrong direction leading to the meet.

 

We had a good talk and Daniel is not scared to miss.  This is why missing reps is important.  It is a skill to learn to miss reps.  You learn how to handle them.  Daniel ended up going 9/9 and hitting PRs on all 3 of his lifts.  He turned what seemed like a down training block into one really good day on the platform.

 

These were not the only ones that did well, but ones I wanted to highlight for the purpose of this article.  They all showed a high level of skill within the sport.  These were numbers they have hit under all circumstances; this strength is stable.

 

By all circumstances I am referring to, different foot placements, grips, and stances, as well as under high levels of pressure.  The ones that saw previous bests end up as missed lifts all had something in common, they couldn’t do that.

 

Strength, as well as skill, are non-linear processes.  There will be progressions, but also regressions at times.  When one skill regresses there needs to be another skill that comes up and takes its place.

 

We need to develop a strong skillset so that the lifter can solve all problems within the lifts.  For example, Mike D missed his 3rddeadlift at his knees.  Mike pulls sumo and has a best ever gym pull of 670lbs.  Mike can’t pull 600 conventional.  If Mike had a similar conventional pull as his sumo deadlift, he would have the skillset, or strength at those angles, to overcome a slow -moving sumo deadlift off of the floor and to be able to lock it out.  The angles between this deadlift and the conventional deadlift are very similar.

 

Daniel showed that when his sumo deadlift went backwards, he was able to switch to conventional to hit a PR. Sarah was another PPS lifter that had a monster day.  She went 9/9 with a 22.5kg total PR and qualified for Raw Nationals.

 

All of the increases in total came from the squat and deadlift.  Sarah was hitting between 285-300lbs on her squat at all angles, with pauses, and on days she didn’t feel great.  She hit 281lbs in April, but 308lbs at Regionals.  Sarah going into her April meet struggled to pull 300lbs sumo but pulled 330lbs conventional.  This is about a 10% difference.

 

We hammered her sumo deadlift until she was able to pull 330lbs plus.  330lbs was her second and moved like an opener.  She ended up hitting 353lbs for an all-time PR and a bid to Nationals.

 

I am not saying that if a lifter has a huge difference between lifts that they can’t succeed on the platform.  They most certainly can, but from what I am seeing those probabilities decrease.  Mike D had similar numbers under these conditions with squat and bench and those remained stable for the platform.  250kg on the 3rdsquat moved better than it has in the past even.

 

This is not an all or nothing thing either.  Lifters with big differences at different angles may be better or worse at handling platform pressure.  There are a number of things that can explain these differences and play a role in performance.

 

Every weakness will come to the surface at some point.  To quote a video I saw “Momentum is a cruel mistress, always searching for that one thing that you have not prepared for.”  Time for us to take what we learned and begin to prepare for Raw Nationals.

Your Outcomes Are on You

 

Written By Kevin Cann

 

 

We all know this scene. We are training hard, but just not seeing the increase in our numbers like we expected.  In fact, our numbers might be dipping a little bit.  Perhaps we have a competition approaching, or came and went, and our performance was not what we wanted.

 

The first thing that the athlete wants to do is to change the program.  Their first thought is that this program has stopped working for them and they need something else.  Maybe they are working with a coach that listens and decides to completely change things up.

 

This is a sign of immaturity and inexperience on both the coach and the athlete.  I know, because I have been that coach and I have been that athlete.  For one, both the coach and athlete needs to understand that dips in performance are part of the process.

 

100% of every person that takes up the sport of powerlifting will see dips in performance along the way. The overall trend over the bigger picture will be up, but there will be some valleys along the way.

 

One of the PPS lifters sent me this analogy of a woman walking a dog in the park.  The woman is walking in a straight line, this is the long-term trends of strength training.  The dog was all over the place.  The dog was going side to side, sitting down at times, turning around, you get the picture.

 

The dog in this scenario is the day to day, week to week, and month to month fluctuations.  Both the woman and the dog get to the same place at the end of the walk.  The woman in this scenario is a good metaphor for the coach.

 

The coach leads the lifter along this path but allows for those fluctuations that are inevitably going to happen.  I have written and spoke about complex theory and the ebbs and flows of all complex systems.

 

The human is an open complex system.  These ebbs and flows are completely unavoidable.  A dip in performance is not a reason to change anything, or to panic. This is just how things go.  Again, it is 100% inevitable.  It happens to 100% of everyone that competes in this sport.

 

I used to be so amazed at Sheiko’s lack of reaction to me having some down times in training.  He would always say “Just not today.”  He didn’t change what he was doing with me and didn’t react any more than that.

 

This really did not click with me until more recently.  When I was seeing a dip in performance for a couple of weeks I would intervene and change some things up.  This would get progress moving up again.  Going into the meets in April we had some huge total PRs across the board.

 

A lot of these total PRs were over 30kg, and some were 50kg and more.  There were very few under 15kg.  For example, one lifter put 35kg on his total in 4 months, and 3 months later he is looking at a smaller 5kg total PR.

 

I had another lifter put 37.5kg on his total from Regionals last year to April of this year, and now he is also looking at a small 5kg total PR.  42.5kg over the course of the year on the total is very good, it just so happened the majority of those numbers were front loaded in the last 12 months.

 

These situations do not require the coach or the athlete to change anything up.  In fact, changing them up yielded bigger success earlier on, but everything balances out in the end.  Intervening will mean that there will be unforeseen consequences later on. We can’t just continue to put 35kg on our totals every few months.  It just does not work that way.

 

Things have been going well in the bigger picture.  Of course we will make some adjustments with exercise selection to work on a few things, perhaps frequencies to get some extra work, but nothing major needs to be adjusted.

 

When lifters and coaches drastically change things under these circumstances it is a missed opportunity. It is a missed opportunity to learn to embrace the downs the same way as you embrace the ups.

 

It is easy to get after it and hit PRs when confidence is high, it is much more difficult to keep the effort high when motivation is low, and performance is down.  This teaches the lifter discipline.  It also forces them to learn to love other aspects of the sport besides the weight on the bar.

 

If a lifter only cares about weight on the bar they will not last very long in this sport.  This is due to the inevitable decreases in performance. This will peak frustration and eventually the frustration will win.

 

All too often these lifters jump from coach to coach and program to program.  This is going to lead to inevitable failure as well.  It is not the coach’s fault or the program’s fault.  The answer to the “problem” lies within the lifter.

 

The lifter needs to acknowledge and accept that there will be decreases in performance along the way. The lifter needs to look inside themselves and understand that they need to keep working hard, and this is an opportunity to work on their mental game for the sport.

 

The lifter needs to learn to love the downs as much as the ups.  This will allow the effort to stay high, and for long-term success to occur. Learning to enjoy training beyond the weight on the bar allows the lifter to have fun, and having fun keeps them training and brings PRs.

 

Those periods of training hard when things do not seem to be going well train a work ethic that will lead to greater long-term success as well.  Drastically changing things up does not allow for this learning and maturation process of the lifter to occur.  Long term trends of the lifter will probably be the same no matter what program they run or what coach they hire if they learn to enjoy training, work hard, and make good decisions.