We are in the midst of a modern-day weightlifting Renaissance in the United States. Due to the huge popularity of CrossFit, it’s now common to see someone in a commercial gym hitting some snatches or cleans. Even 10 years ago, if you mentioned “snatch” in a commercial gym you’d probably be slapped by the front desk lady and escorted out by management.
For someone who had to order his first pair of weightlifting shoes a size and a half too big because of the lack of availability, this surge in popularity is very exciting. It also brings about a new problem: there’s now a whole army of new weightlifters who have no clue what they’re doing! For something as technical as weightlifting, it’s not as easy as watching a YouTube video and heading to the gym armed with your newfound Internet knowledge.
So to help you out, I put together a list of a few tips for the beginning weightlifter:
Find a Coach
This can’t be emphasized enough. When first starting on your weightlifting journey, you need to find a coach or mentor who knows his stuff. Preferably, you would have a coach who could watch every lift you do, but this is pretty impractical for someone with a job, kids or other responsibilities. So if this is not a possibility, find someone to teach you the basics. Building a solid technical base is very important for continued weightlifting success. Also, make sure the coach knows what they are doing! It doesn’t have to be someone who produces champions year in and year out, but do some vetting and find someone with knowledge.
Technique Before Weight
Just like in any athletic endeavor, you need to become technically proficient before trying to increase your intensity. This is where having a coach or mentor guiding you is a great advantage. Make sure your basic positions and movement patterns are solid and set before adding kilos to the bar. Although it may sound contrary, the other side of this equation is where people progress too slowly. I have seen lots of dudes at the gym with nice looking snatches…with 30 kilos on the bar. You need to progress at your own pace, but you still need to progress.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a 200-kilo clean. It takes time and consistent practice to have success in weightlifting. Don’t get impatient and push the natural progression of your lifting. Accept that this is a long journey, and buckle up for the ride.
I know it sounds corny, but you need to have fun while training. Not every aspect of your training is going to be fun—there are a lot of things in the weight room that are not necessarily fun but are necessary. So rather than enjoying every second of your training…embrace the journey and always keep your end goals in mind. In the end, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing you are not going to stick with it.