If you’re reading this then you have likely found weightlifting at some point in your life. If you have been lifting for over 1 year then you will recognize everything that we cover throughout this letter to new lifters. No matter how quickly you progress to good or even great, you will deal with all of these things. Because these situations are just as much as part of the sport as lifting barbells.
Learning The Lifts
No matter if you trained similar lifts for another sport or if you had never touched a barbell a day in your life, you will be sore. What weightlifting puts you through is different from all other barbell sports. Every movement should be quick and violent no matter the weight on the bar. But if you're into training that's just part of the process. And we live for it.
If it were just soreness that wouldn't be a problem, but the reality is that when you learn the snatch you’re going to feel like you have never used your body before. It's incredibly frustrating. Great athletes take a long time to figure out how to move both their body and the barbell at insane velocities. Your entire life you might have been able to move around and get stuff done but boom, all of a sudden you feel like you have two left feet, arms that can't go above your shoulders and hips made of concrete.
On top of all that weightlifting, gives you another type of soreness. In all of my years of training for football, my hands were never as sore or tender to the touch. There will be many days where you walk into the gym excited to continue mastering these simple movements (I said simple, not easy) but the moment you touch the bar you cringe and want to quit rather than hold on to the bar even a second longer. But you'll do it and you'll be better for it.
Your First Perfect Lift/The Obsession With Lifting
You will struggle for months to learn the movements and then out of nowhere you’ll hit what feels like the greatest lift anyone has ever done in the history of the sport. You'll be full of smiles and excitement. You will want to make sure everyone you’re training with saw it. This is the beginning of your obsession with weightlifting. Because what happens next is seemingly designed to drive you up a wall.
Your next lift will feel terrible even if it wasn't. But it wasn't as perfect as the previous lift, so you'll hate it. Now you’re going to be chasing that perfect rep until you find it again just like a junkie chasing their first high. You'll walk around your house or your job imagining exactly how you have to move to make that perfect clean happen again. You'll start looking things up on youtube, finding your favorite lifter, and analyzing why they are so much better than yourself.
Because of this obsession, and the fact that you’re new you'll start to get better and better seemingly everyday.
Improvements Come & Go
So you've been smashing weights, you've hit dozens of PR’s, and you start to think that maybe you're good enough to qualify for the American open or Nationals. After all, if you keep PR’ing like this you'll make it to the olympic trials and win by hundreds of kilos. But if you've been in the sport longer than a minute you know that those gains stop and they stop without warning.
You won’t hit a PR for a couple of days, then a month or two will go by without a PR. This is when weightlifting starts to wear on you like water on a rock. It chips away at your resolve. Your thoughts that used to be filled with optimism and excitement about training begin to be replaced by anger and a lack of desire to show up at the gym again, just to not hit a PR, or maybe not even hit 85%.
You'll question your athletic ability with thoughts like ‘am I even good enough’ or ‘ am I just wasting my time, I'll never be a national champ’. Then instead of taking responsibility your thoughts will shift to ‘this program sucks, I should be doing [enter whatever nonsense you see on instagram]’ or ‘my coach doesn't even know what they are doing’. You'll find reasons to hate the facility. It's drafty, the lighting sucks, the hours don't fit my schedule perfectly, if they had better bars I’d hit more PR’s, these weights suck, the list can go on.
You keep showing up for months despite all of this, or at least you do if you're worth a damn. You'll struggle to warm up, and the bar will kick your ass. Then, one day, you'll walk up for your next rep, get set, and you'll hit that perfect rep again. You'll smile, sit down, and remember why we do this to ourselves.
Weightlifting is hard, frustrating, exhausting, painful at times, and under appreciated. But the idea of trying to perfect these three simple yet complex, confusing, tiring lifts consumes you and gives you purpose everyday. The majority of us will likely not make it to Nationals, more won’t make it to a podium, fewer still an international competition, and the very few greats will make it to the World Championships or Olympics. But all of us will love the feeling of chasing the perfect rep. All of the crappy training sessions and aches and pains will always be worth it when you smash that perfect rep.
ant to share your own stories? Leave a comment below! Both new and old lifters feel free to share your frustrations and glorious moments!
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