The Biggest Mistakes that I See Lifters Making

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I love the barbell. By now you all know that. I love weightlifting, powerlifting, and anything strength related. I have been training since I was eleven-years-old. I competed when I was 12-years-old. That is 31 years of experience. I am not bragging about my abilities as a coach. I was giving you an idea about the amount of observations that I have had the opportunity to witness in the weight room.

Over the last five years, CrossFit has made an incredible impression on the world. More people than ever are experiencing the magic of the barbell. Social Media gives you all access to your favorite lifters. You also have access to an amazing amount of information some of it good and some terrible.

Over the years the mistakes that people make haven’t really changed. However the amount of people making those mistakes has skyrocketed. This is my attempt at minimizing that number. Here goes:

1. Program Hopping- the Internet is full of free or at least inexpensive programs. That’s great! In my day I had to scrape for programming, and often time I had to guess. Here’s a big secret: almost every program in the world will work. However, some are better than others. The key is to see them through, learn, and assess.

That is the way that I have learned all of my programming skills. In powerlifting, I tried Ed Coan’s Program, Westside Barbell, Sheiko, and many others. In weightlifting, I have tried several Catalyst programs. I have also learned from Glenn Pendlay, Don McCauley, and many others. My original coach was Wes Barnett, so I started with his programming, which was awesome I might add. I continue to learn from others until this very day.

I have always performed the workout myself before giving them to my athletes. I have also completed the program before making judgment. I have yet to perform a program without learning something. The problem of quitting the program early is missing the taper. A lot of programs are designed to break you down. You might even get weaker for a while because your body can’t keep up. However, during the taper you might experience the surge of your life setting massive personal records. Finish the program, then you can determine the points that you like and don’t like. This is how you learn about programming.

2. Not auto-regulating- I am not a guy that will tell you not to go heavy in training. I went heavy everyday of my life, and in doing so broke 7 World Records. I have also watched guys like Chad Wesley Smith never go heavy in training, and that has worked for him. In weightlifting, I watch my young lifter go heavy very often, and it seems to work for them. However, I watched Pete Kelly stick to his percentages, and he broke American Records and made it to the Olympics. Tom Gough also made it to the Olympics and broke American Records training heavy all the time.


My point is that you can go heavy all the time or stick to your percentages, and you can end up doing well either way. However, if you are going to go heavy on the daily, you are going to have to learn to auto-regulate. That means you have to be honest with yourself! You know exactly what I mean. We all know the days that we aren’t going to do well. That’s ok. That’s our body cycling, and that is part of the whole thing. On days like that, pull back, hit your minimum, and work on technique.

Even on the days that you are feeling great, you need to limit you misses. If you are a long ways off from a meet, there is no point in attempting a weight six times. That is just going to ruin your training for the weeks to come. The goal is to make attempts. Missing can become a habit, so try not to get used to missing. I normally give my athletes a miss limit, and it is very important that they stick to it.

3. Trying to Self-Coach too soon! I am all about people trying to learn for themselves. I have spent my life trying to learn for myself, but I also had amazing coaches early in my career. In college, my strength coach was Coach Mike Kent. He is now the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Florida. He gave me an amazing base of knowledge.

My second coach was Wes Barnett, the two-time Olympian. I never questioned him once. I totally believed in his coaching and program. However, I didn’t have the Internet to distract me. Opinions, programs, and techniques on a daily basis bombard all of us. It’s ok to try new things, but it is so valuable to have a coach to guide you along the way.

When I was 28-years-old, I began the process of coaching myself. At that point, I had 17 years in the game. I was ready! If you have been strength training for six months, you are not ready. You need help and guidance. A great coach is invaluable to the future of all athletes, and they are a great help for putting you on the right road for a lifetime of learning. I am forever grateful to those coaches.

So the moral of this story is to complete all programs that you start and learn from each of them. Auto-Regulation is a way to keep the body healthy during hard training, and it is the process of learning to make attempts rather than miss. Last, I want you all to find a coach that will guide you down this iron journey. Good-luck!


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Thank You from all of us at Mash Elite Performance and Mash Mafia Weightlifting and Powerlifting!

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