Why you aren't getting better at weightlifting

Why you aren't getting better at weightlifting

Weightlifting is hard!

*If you'd prefer to listen to the main ideas, hit play above and listen. :D

It's already known that weightlifting is hard. I mean it is an olympic sport that people take their entire lives perfecting. You are not going to figure it out in a 1-hour long Crossfit class. 

Before we even get into snatches and clean and jerks I want to talk about habits.

Now we all know that if you do something consistently over time it becomes second nature. You stop thinking about it and it just happens every time.

Think about the last shower you took, you probably cleaned yourself the exact say way you always do. You probably dried yourself the same too.

You have PRACTICED that so many times and now it's just become what it is. If you want to change it, you'll have to think about it and remind yourself, or you'll just keep doing it the same.


I'm sure you're already thinking, "Rolo, wtf do showers and weightlifting have in common?"

It's not the shower I'm highlighting, it's the habit. You've practiced it a certain way and thats how it will stay unless you actively try to change it, the same goes for weightlifting.

The worst habit

Now if this is you, you're doing the worst thing you can possibly do in my opinion when it comes to weightlifting.

Gym session:

*Starts lifting, hits a few good reps, maybe a few not so great.

*Continues to add weight

*Starts missing

*Continues to miss but persistence = gains right?

*Rather than lowering the weight you continue to try, and miss.

You end your session with 5 successful lifts and 12 missed lifts.

What did you just do?

If your lifting session is similar to what I explained above then you actually hindered your performance more than helped it. You just practiced missing.

Let me say that one more time, YOU JUST PRACTICED MISSING!

You made 5 lifts but missed 12. If you did this once a week for year that would be 624 misses and 260 successful lifts. That means you'll probably miss 50%+ of your lifts. I do not like those odds.

I see this happen all the time too. Someone gets done with a workout, tries to lift heavy, and gets frustrated they can't hit the lift.


We get to a competition and the workout ends with a heavy lift and they do not even get close. Thats because their chances of hitting it are <50%. Not only are the odds against you, but you probably expect to miss since thats what you do most of.

Side note: No one cares that you almost snatched a PR (personal record). Don't be an ego lifter.

*Things an ego lifter says, "It was ugly but I got it." 

What you should do instead!

Now I know we don't all have time to practice for an extra hour or do positions for hours on end but what you do have control over is modifying!

Maybe your lifting session can be like this:

*Starts lifting, feels bad.

*Thinks about what is making it bad

*Work on that piece of the lift for a little

*Goes back to some lifts

*Misses a lift

*Drops weight to make sure no misses

*Call it a day

You recognized that you didn't feel great. You picked apart your lift and determined a piece that needs work. (example: your transition is bad on the snatch) so you decide to do some muscle snatches, or tall snatches. 

Now you didn't practice missing, and you got better at a piece of the lift. 


Not only would this be more beneficial in the short run but now you're picking apart your movement and will probably get better at everything else.

Practicing hitting lifts is also important in building confidence. I'd rather you be surprised by a miss than a make. If you expect to miss, you rely on luck and are already shooting yourself in the foot.

Don't forget:

Movement over everything. Movement breeds healthy growth and strong positions.

In 20 years you'll probably forget about the time you hit that one PR, but if you get hurt doing it, it might be with you forever.

When should I go heavy then?

There is a time and a place to work up to something heavy, or go for a PR. It should not be every time you touch a barbell.

Take a few weeks picking apart your movement, work different positions, and when you lift DO NOT PRACTICE MISSING. Drop the weight if necessary, or choose an accessory lift to work on.

You will progress faster than 90% of the community who chooses to ego lift and never focus on small pieces of the lifts.

 Good luck and start getting surprised when you miss.

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