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What Exactly Am I Doing This For?

Here you are. toiling away at our gym and you have maybe a plate or two on the end of the barbell and you think to yourself, “This is great progress!”  Then you examine social media from IG to FB and everything in between.  Suddenly, you are thinking to yourself, “You lazy, weak sack of shit.  A 13 years old girl in China is out lifting you and some 84 years old grandfather just smashed your best squat.”  You post your progress to said social media and even your mother doesn’t give you a like.  C’mon, right?
In our society, that is merit based, you have so many choices and so much information and so much of everything that you are burdened by a constant fear of being inadequate.  You know the drill:  the need for better grades, a more attractive mate, a more attractive body,  the need for cooler hobbies, more friends, more money, etc.  That is one heavy burden when all you want to do is squat with a couple of plates on the bar!  Or snatch your age and never mind your body weight.
These are big challenges to keep your own progress in mind.  Take pleasure in how far you have come.  Remind yourself that a few weeks or months ago you were not lifting the weights you are today and not moving as well as you do now.  These are simple things and oh so important to keep telling yourself.  You are going to lose every time if you compare yourself to someone else because you can always find someone bigger, stronger, faster, richer, smarter, etc. than you.  And making assumptions about where you “should be” at a particular point are not very helpful either.
If you have been something for x amount of time and you are at Z position, what’s bad about that for you?  No need to “should” all over yourself.  If you are starting out in the sport of weightlifting, I consider you a toddler.  It’s gonna take a while until you get to the steady walking stage.  The fact that you are a growed-ass adult is irrelevant.  Five or 6 or 7 years from now, you will be further along the road.  The most experienced lifters in our club didn’t start out where they are now when they each walked into the gym 10+ years ago.  It takes time to get to that inflection point and everything comes together.   It is a great feeling when it does happen and it will.  In the meantime, make sure to take pleasure in the simple and mundane things of “Tight.  Close.  Finish.  Feet flat on the floor as long as possible.”
Before Nick Mangold went to Ohio State on a full scholarship and then got plucked from college to play for the New York Jets and got a huge signing bonus, his mother said that it took him until he was a junior in high school before he was coordinated enough and athletic enough to do what was required of him as a football player.  Mind you, he was 17 at the time.  He had been playing football for 10 years.
“You know what I’m saying,” the Platform said.
Ready.  Steady.  Go.

Six Most Important Lifts of Your Life

Or, what is going to happen at your first or next meet.

Soon, you will be facing the 6 most important lifts of your life.  These could be the last lifts you ever do or they could be the first of many competition and training lifts or they could mark a new stage in your lifting career.  No matter, the 6 lifts you do in the upcoming meet will be the 6 most important lifts of your life.
You need to have a good approach to these lifts.  No “…try…” or “…maybe…” or other shrugging it off.  You need to be confident in your training up to now, confident in your fitness up to now, confident in “tight, close, finish, feet flat”, and in your ability to hit lifts.  You are taking a trip to Parts Unknown.  Lift weights you may have never even lifted before.  Lift weights overhead that you couldn’t roll across the floor a few months ago.  The goal of a meet is to put more weight up overhead than you have ever done before and, because you may not get another chance at these 6 lifts, you put everything into them.  Spend time convincing yourself that you can do these lifts.
That doesn’t mean to run out there on to the platform like a maniac and do something crazy or whatever just because.  That means you go out there ready to give the weight a good ride.  Physically and mentally you are ready. Your coach and staff can only do so much.  They can only guide you to the edge of the platform, wish you good luck, and then the show is all yours.  You will feel victory and failure.  Perhaps even in the same lift.  Physically, your openers and your goal weights for the meet are all achievable or Coach would not have given them to you.
Channel Chemerkin who called for more weight loaded on to a barbell in a weightlifting competition than has ever been requested before or since.  Then go for it.  He was not thinking failure or “let me give it a try” as he chalked up.  He approached the bar and went for it with all he had.  Every lifter facing the 6 most important lifts of his or her life has to have the same approach; no compromise.
In case you forgot or didn’t know:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuiBO9FnFjY  Running up to the stage!
Rest physically and prepare mentally for these, the 6 most important lifts of your life.  Good luck to you!

Pulls to a Stick

Pulls to a stick. What does that mean? It means you must use your legs. Leg drive is critical to getting the heavier than normal weight up so that the arms can finish the pull. When doing snatch and clean pulls this week, perhaps load a bit more weight on there to test yourself for a triple. No harm. Make sure that the pull looks like your normal lift. You cannot have snatch pull form and full snatch form and expect much from either.
Set the PVC pipe up so that it is mid-sternum high when doing snatch pulls and just above the belly button when doing clean pulls. Drive and keep driving with the legs as you stand up and launch the barbell up. A rep counts if the barbell hits the PVC pipe.

Watching the archery world cup finals the other day was insightful in terms of focus and direction. Each archer, male or female, shot down the same course at the same target in the same conditions. Weather was not ideal. Each archer shoots 5 arrows which are scored. Total points wins. In the gold medal match for the women, it was Turkey versus Korea. In the second round, the Turk had a slight lead and the Korean stormed back to force a good shot from the Turk. All the Turk had to do, since she had last shot, was to hit greater than a 8. You could see the look on her face as she sighted down. Something happened and as she released the arrow, her face drooped. She got a 7. In the final round, the exact same thing happened. They began even on the first three arrows and then the Turk faltered hitting 6 and 7 to virtually let the Korean win. The Korean only hit 8’s.

Both competitors had mental lapses with the Korean faltering the least. I think that each competitor began thinking or focusing on something other than the task at hand.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you had the men’s bronze medal match which pitted an American against an Australian. They tied for points in regulation. Then the procedure is to go to a tiebreaker and they go until one arrow beats the other arrow. Aussie goes first and fires a 9. In order to get the bronze medal, Brady Ellison must hit a 10. The wind is blowing, it’s raining, his coach counts down when the shot clock hits 10 seconds (“10, 9, 8…”) at 3 seconds he fires off his shot and nails the 10. Boom, bronze medal

Did the Aussie falter? I don’t know. What I did see was the American concentrating on the task at hand. Not the arrow he shot to tie the match. Not the arrow that 2 rounds ago scored only a 7. He was all in for this arrow which needed to be a 10.

This is what you as a lifter must be: all in for the lift at hand. Your mind cannot think of the last lift you missed or even think about the technical error from a prior lift. You need to look forward, remind yourself “Tight. Close. Finish.”, and concentrate on the task at hand. The barbell in front of you is the only one that has ever mattered. The music is something you don’t like. Why can you hear it? The personal trainers are arguing football. Why do you even know what they are talking about? Filter out distractions and absorb the task at hand. There is a loaded barbell in front of you which may be more weight than you have ever lifted before and all of your mental energy must be directed toward it. Apply your mind as well as your muscles to the barbell, impose your will on the barbell, and lift the weight.

Half of this weightlifting game is 90% mental.

Lift like you mean it.