Biomechanics, Exercise, Motor Control, Programming, Strength & Conditioning, Technique, The Training Geek, Weightlifting

Stop Making These Lifting Mistakes This New Year.

A New Year, A New You.

Many of you have New Year’s resolutions which you want to keep this year and some of them may be lifting related. Save yourself the disappointment of not being able to achieve them by preventing yourself from making these simple mistakes as you look towards the new year of training and practising your lifts.

Stop Ripping and Start Slowing Things Down.

The weightlifting movements are always perceived as movements of explosiveness and speed. Many people think that you need to be as powerful as your human potential allows you to in order for you to perform the lifts well. This leads to many making the rookie mistake of trying to “grip and rip”. Especially when you are in a setting that requires you to perform these lifts faster in order for you to “get a good time”.

560279_365187063536124_94998705_nHe sure doesn’t pull the bar off the ground aggressively even though he gets quite aggressive in his set up. Image Credit: Hookgrip

According to Fitt’s Law, movement speed is inversely proportional to movement accuracy. This also means that if you are going to try to move the barbell fast off the ground, it means that you would have some form of compromise getting into the positions you NEED to get into in order to properly execute the correct movements in the lifts. Instead of thinking of trying to hit it hard and fast from the gecko, you may want to try to generate enough speed to overcome ertia and GRADUALLY increase momentum to the point of extension where you then move with the intent of speed.

Hip Hinge Less, Leg Drive More.

When learning the lifts, as a beginner, you will always hear that you have to bring your hips through in the extension phase of the second pull. This typically results in a more loopy bar path or a swing of the bar around the torso. More importantly, it uses more of the back or torso as a lever instead of the legs as a driving force in the vertical direction. Even when cycling repetitions, it is critical that the intention is to use the legs more than the back. Once the trunk starts fatiguing, things get messy quite quickly.

mg3062The image speaks for itself. Knowing to use your legs doesn’t mean just your hips. Image Credit: Karl Buchholtz Photography

Learning this correctly from the start will help in picking efficiency up as you will be learning to use your biggest prime movers in the body to do the work. Learn to spread the work across the glutes, hamstrings and quads (3 main muscle groups) rather than putting the stress on the erectors which are not meant to be movement generators. This will not only help get you through your training more effectively but also reduce the chance of a major injury or compensatory movements subsequently causing over-use injuries.

A Bigger Squat Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Bigger Lifts.

Being able to execute the lifts well requires a good sense of what the body is going through during the movements. This body awareness is something that takes time in training to build up and gaining it will make alot more of your assistance or accessory exercises more transferrable.


This relates alot to squatting because squatting is a major part of a weightlifter’s program. Yes, squatting well and having a big squat will definitely benefit your lifts. IF you are able to transfer that leg strength into your movement. The ability to use your legs in extension is critical and not just being able to push up a certain load. This ability of having awareness in the use of your legs will allow you to properly execute the leg drive needed for most of the propulsive components of the lifts. The mistake is that many novices embark on a squat program without this awareness and put in countless repetitions of squats and end up banging their bodies up but not achieving their eventual goal of improving their lifts.

Don’t Just Learn Technique. Learn YOUR technique.

Like a golf swing, there is no one technique that is identical to another. It is pretty awesome now that there’s so much more coverage on weightlifting and you can easily gain insight to how the top-level athletes are actually moving through media platforms. However, seeing such movements at surface level and not understanding the complexity of their style in relation to other factors such as anthropometry and training history, the rookie mistake made is to imitate and not to apply.

keep-pulling-female-webMay look like the same point of the movement but all the positions are different. Image Credit: Hookgrip.

Learning the concepts behind movement, the reasoning behind certain positions or cues and subsequently applying it to your own lifting allows you to then make an INFORMED decision (not just a blind decision) on how you should be moving in the snatch or clean and jerk. Knowing the characteristics of your body such as your lever lengths, and even your strengths and weaknesses or physical limitations will help you make a better decision on how to move and give you a smooth path towards improvements in your lifting.

Accessorize to Maximize Your Training.

I completely understand that if you are executing most of your training in a class setting, you are basically following whatever programming is given on that day and it’s completely up to your box’s programming if you are getting what you NEED in terms of developing your movement and even body for lifting. When you first get hooked on the weightlifting movements, you will fall into the trap of just doing the main lifts and thinking that the more you practise them, the better you will get with them.

ba63d301baa60f0706ad0be99550549eHow do you think they build bodies like that? Probably not just from the full lifts. Image Credit: Hookgrip.

Sadly, you are WRONG! Not really wrong but you are not building yourself up to maximize your success in performing the lifts well. As a beginner, it is critical to understand that you need a variety of exercises related to the lifts to create as much practice and motor development opportunities within your motor control. Think of it like building up that memory bank. This helps develop that awareness for the movements as mentioned earlier. Secondly, even if you are doing some variations of the lifts in your training, you may not be prepping your body up physically to handle the physical demands of the lifts. So not only variety, but also the mundane work like mobility, stability and even hypertrophy. In simple terms and in the words of a famous strength coach with his own training system, if you want to build a massive pyramid, you need to build a big base. If you want a bigger pyramid, the base has to be bigger meaning you have to be covering more exercises first before you can begin specialising in the main lifts for the most part of your program.


It’s great to see that you have understood that the weightlifting movements are pretty awesome and they benefit you in many ways than just explosiveness and power. Done with the right mentality, you will be on a path of discovery, learning about yourself and what your body is capable of. Too many people look for the easy way out only to find that they have hit a dead-end. Set things right from the start and you will see yourself growing easily into the lifts with ease as you work towards your New Year resolution of being great at them this year.

Exercise, Programming, Strength & Conditioning, The Training Geek, Weightlifting, Workout

2 Main Symptoms Leading to Possible Over-Training

Over-training is usually defined as a condition where one’s volume and intensity in training is exceeding the individual’s capacity to recover. Especially in any sport, where the variables of volume and intensity are manipulated all the time to ensure constant adaptation of the body to the stimuli provided, it is important to ensure that recovering from training is adequate to meet those training demands. When that doesnt happen, overtraining occurs and many don’t seem to recognise it.


If a load meant to feel easy begins feeling difficult, something must be wrong right?

Even for weightlifters or powerlifters or anyone involved in the strength sports, overall poundage or tonnage is critical to periodisation and constant improvement in the lifts. Overdoing it will result in poor performance, increased risk of injury and the lack of progress.

But more importantly, you need to be able to recognise the symptoms that could possibly lead to overtraining. Many articles always mentioned the signs of overtraining but signs are objectively measurable while symptoms are more subjective. Being able to recognise the symptoms would allow you to recognise the situations which could lead you to overtraining.

1. You think you are not training hard enough.

You look at the exercises in your program and you think the loading is too easy or there are insufficient exercises. You want to do more reps, more sets, more exercises, hit more areas of your body within that session. You feel you have not accomplished something if you don’t hit a PB or you don’t sweat enough. You just want to do more and finish each session smashed and have nothing left in the tank.

Most of the time when you fall into this category, chances are that you are going to be over-training. Not every session needs to be a killer. In the whole picture of periodisation, there are times where the loading is less or the volume is less. This is to allow for constant adaptation and it’s just a piece in the entire puzzle. Learn to trust the program and have the belief that the program is pushing you to help you gain the results at the end of the day, not kill you day after day.

2. You are either always injured or sick.

Every other week, you fall sick or get a bug and cant train. Recovering slightly, you get back into training and end up falling sick again. Or you feel a small niggle and push past it. Suddenly it becomes an injury and you take some time off. You come back from it but get injured again because you went too hard too fast.

Usually when this happens, it’s a sign that your body is breaking down. The purpose of training is to break the body down to allow it to build back up stronger. Breaking it down too much or too often will result in too much stimulus to the systems of your body and not allowing it to recover enough. So a drop in your immune system or structural trauma of your muscles indicate that healing is needed. See it as nature’s way of telling you to let your body take a break and not physically break it.


There are many ways to figure out whether you are over-training or not. But these are the two I look out for. Especially in the weightlifting movements or any other movements involved with the sport, being able to identify these two symptoms is critical to ensuring longevity in the sport. Consistency in training is important so that you can continually have good practice of the lifts at a certain intensity. If you find yourself falling into these two categories, you are pushing yourself towards the direction of over-training too easily.

Biomechanics, Exercise, Programming, Technique, The Training Geek, Weightlifting, Workout

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Weightlifting Before I Started.

1. It is not simple lifting something overhead whether it’s heavy or not. No need to explain any further. As simple as it sounds.

2. You will be left with all kinds of superficial damage to your body. Whether it’s bruises on your thighs, shins and/or hips, shin scraps, abrasion on the thighs, calluses on your palms, broken fingernails etc, be prepared to look like you have gone through tough times during a war.

3. You will possibly be affected by some form of niggle or minor injury. Serious injury shouldn’t be a norm though. You will never be physically 100% fighting fit but your mind should be always be clear and 100% focused to tackle the session ahead. More importantly, you do what you can with what you have available. Shoulders screwed? Squat. Back sore? Lift off the blocks.

4. You wil experience frustration, confusion, joy, anger, excitement and many other feelings in a single session. You get a good lift, you are happy; then the next lift you fail and can’t repeat the same movement, you get anger, frustration, confusion all at once. You think you did a good lift but you end up being told that you didn’t use your legs enough. “What the?”

5. You will have to treat it like weight loss where every single kilogram added to your total is hard-earned. It can take a few days, perhaps a few months, possibly a year to add 1kg to your total and get a new PB. You just gotta keep going at it. You might take 100 attempts at a single weight before you finally get it. That could take 20+ sessions. Sometimes you just need one attempt.

6. If you take a break from it, be prepared to work at least twice as long and hard to get back to the same level as before. Strength and power take ages to build up but can be lost through detraining in a very short period of time. When taking a break from it, it is more important to ensure the movement pattern is still being practised to maintain the temporal structure of the movement.

7. Venting your anger and frustration on the bar only results in one of Newton’s Laws: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Go figure. If you have experienced this, you easily know what I mean especially when no matter how much harder you go at the lift, it ain’t happening.

8. Your coach gives you so many cues to focus on when lifting and yet tells you not to think too much. “What the?!” What they mean is to focus on the important stuff. What we also mean is to not fall into the notion of “paralysis by analysis”. Also, when you start to over-think the movement, it’s better to leave it and come back to it another session or another day.

9. You should know how to fail a lift more than anything else. Trying to muscle a weight results in undesirable outcomes. Injury is the common one. More importantly, muscling it long-term results in chronic injury. Learning to fail a lift is part of safety in lifting. Come back again to fight another day. But before you can come back you gotta make sure you survive.

10. So many different ways of pulling the bar off the ground. Which one is good for me or which should I follow? Learning more about the pulling techniques from different coaches/lifters/countries is good. Being able to understand the mechanisms or the fine points of that technique is another. Being able to apply that to your own body based on your individual anthropometric characteristics is what you need to be doing. So just lift how your body allows you to be lifting and what suits you best or works for you to lift the heaviest weights you can lift.

Ahhh. Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Sa Jaehyouk at Beijing 2008. Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac