I’ve started a new, 12-month long program called, “Flight,” which is sponsored by Barbell Shrugged and lead by Kurt Mullican and Mike Bledsoe. The interesting thing about picking up new programs is that often new coaches come with them… which means new techniques you’ve never been exposed to before. This, if respected and paid attention to, will expose weaknesses… and that is a good thing. Exposing a weakness gives you the opportunity to strengthen yourself. Often people shy away from things that make them uncomfortable. I say take this head on, embrace being uncomfortable, and digest what it will take to become comfortable. What it really takes is time, attention to detail, and training.
Weightlifting exposes every possible structural “weakness” you may have: agility, mobility, strength, speed, power, discipline… even mental toughness, attention to detail…. It is a demanding sport or style of training on every level. By exposing your weaknesses, you give yourself the opportunity to become a stronger version of yourself.
Take for example the feature image of this blog post, if you look closely, my right foot is canted a little bit further out than my left. This is a structural integrity problem. It probably has to do with my hip mobility in my right leg, in which my foot cants outwards in order for my hip to get into position and open up. This also happens on heavy squats if I am not paying attention to it. Allowing this to happen creates a flaw in the integrity of your lifts, as well as it can be a precursor to injury.
In the next image (below), I am sitting in a “Quad Sitting Jerk Grip.” This is a challenging position for mobility. The back must stay upright and flat, the weight needs to be on your heels (as much as possible), and you need to be prepare to shoot your hips back for the second pull of the lift. I also need to avoid a “butt-wink.” This means I cannot get as deep into my squat as I can in positions I am more comfortable with. If you look closely you can see I have some ankle mobility issues here where I am not fully on my heels. This takes power away from my initial drive from this position, and, when dealing with taking a lift overhead, your ankles are the base on which you must catch a lift while in a pocket. The more mobile your ankles are, the more stable you are able to receive a lift over head.
Working on weaknesses, while daunting, humbling, and frustrating, is necessary in order to become great at what you do, in anything in life. Embrace your challenges, your weaknesses, seek help, be objective. Often when dealing with the barbell one must take two steps back. Too much emphasis is put on what weight we can put above our heads, when there is so much more that can be measured as growth and success: straighter back on the catch, more technically proficient pulls, quicker speed under the bar, improvements in mobility…. Do not put so much emphasis on weight in a sport that demands so much of your mind and discipline. Every inch of your body with that barbell is earned. To progress, it will challenge you. Respect the barbell, and it will reward you in return. Remember: The barbell does not lie.