Who is a Weightlifter?

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Who is a Weightlifter?

A lot of people consider themselves a weightlifter nowadays, and I am thankful for that. People actually care about the barbell, so for the first time in history coaches like me can make a living doing what we love. I want everyone to pick up a barbell, and enjoy its magic with the rest of us. However it is one thing to pick up a barbell and perform the snatch and clean & jerk, and then it is a whole other deal to be considered a weightlifter.

It is easy to get jacked up from a Weightlifting Talk, Weightlifting Scoop, or The Barbell Life Podcast. Then you go out in your garage, snatch a PR, and then slam the bar to the ground in celebratory victory. Are you a weightlifter? Yes, you are, but I want to define a true seasoned weightlifter. I am talking about someone who has committed their lives to getting as good with the barbell as they are genetically capable.

Weightlifting is a blast when an athlete first starts. They are setting personal records almost weekly. Their legs are getting stronger, their back is getting more muscular, and their traps are starting to pop. They are performing these beautiful movements that most humans can’t grasp, their body feels nice and mobile, and nothing hurts. Folks this is the calm before the storm. Everyone loves the sport at this point, and almost no one quits during this phase.


However, there is a harsh reality on the horizon. It’s coming. It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”. Knees will begin to ache. Shoulders will begin to hurt. Personal records will be few and far in between.

At this point coaches start to learn a lot about the athlete. Is the athlete mentally tough? Do they truly love the sport? Some will stop training hard because the pain is too much. Some will straight up quit because the pain is too much, and the sport isn’t as fun because they aren’t setting records every week.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from being a weightlifter. I just want to put things into perspective. I am cool with weightlifters simply playing around with sport because they love the movement and athleticism. I love the movement and athleticism too. I don’t fault anyone for not embracing the joint pain.

A hardcore weightlifter has to be slightly crazy. I mean what kind of crazy fool embraces the daily pain and torture of weightlifting. I don’t have one full-time weightlifter that doesn’t feel pain on a daily basis. Olympic weightlifting is the definition of an overuse sport. There is a type of squat every day, and there is a bar being held overhead almost every day. Of course the knees, wrists, shoulders, and back are going to take a beating.


Let me explain the mindset of these top men and women. I want to give you boys and girls a close up look inside the brain of these top athletes. Then you can have a better picture of what to expect, and a better idea of what it takes. Maybe you want to train three days per week pain free, and compete in the state championships once per year. Then again, maybe you are one of the brave souls that will train 6-12 times per week for 60-150 minutes per session until your body simply can’t perform anymore. Here’s a look!

Every world-class weightlifter that I know has a desire to one day compete in the Olympic Games. Along the way, they have the desire to make International Teams and win National Championships. Their goal drives their very life. Something inside them drives them towards this goal. They have something to prove. They have someone to prove wrong.

Everyone is different as to what drives them towards the dream of the Olympic Games, but guaranteed they all are driven beyond normal comprehension. This drive keeps them up at night. Their teeth grind at night because their intensity knows no sleep. There is a fire that burns so bright within them that simply won’t allow them to quit or to slow down.

They have something to prove, and no knee or shoulder pain is going to get in their way. Instead they will become Master’s of the Mundane things that will allow them to continue training. They will master recovery. They will find support staff to aid in this recovery: Chiropractors, PTs, Massage Therapists, and Athletic Trainers.

They will perfect their diets, so their performance can be optimized. They will wrap their knees to stabilize the joint. They will use Tiger Balm to warm up their backs. They will Rom Wod everyday.

Great weightlifters are perfectionists. They find the perfect coach. They will find the perfect technique and movement, and that perfection will never end. Weightlifting is a game of physics. The center of gravity is their field of battle. Every day will be spent finding a better bar path to maximize the center of gravity in their favor.

They will never repeat the same training program because they are constantly trying to improve the program. How can they add 5 more kilos to their squat? How can they improve the strength and speed of their pull? How can they get more stable overhead? They will never stop turning over rocks to find new ways to improve.

Are they obsessed? Well yeah are you not? Whatever drives them deep inside keeps them focused on the goal. Nothing will sway them until the goal is either reached or out of reach. There is only one way to satisfy that burning desire, and that is to see the obsession through. If they give it their all, they will be able to live with the outcome. If they quit early, they will forever question their desire to quit. This question will follow them to the grave.

Yes if you snatch and clean & jerk, you are a weightlifter. However, I think that I have defined the difference in a recreational weightlifter, and a full-time dedicated weightlifter. For sanity’s sake, I recommend just having fun with the sport. However, if you are as crazy as this coach, I welcome you to the obsessed.

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Remember on September 17th-18th we will be hosting the Mash Barbell Picnic” on the Farm. Weightlifting Day 1 and Powerlifting Day 2, but more importantly hanging out together the entire weekend. Check it out below:

The Mash Barbell Picnic

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