Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So...You're Not Elite

Here's the hard, honest truth, in case you didn't already know: you're not an elite athlete.

You're not Klokov. You're  not Lu Xiao Jun. You're not Froning or Brandon Lilly or Zydrunas Zavickas. 

You're a regular athlete with a regular life. They are elite athletes with an elite life. Admire them, learn their training techniques and aspire to achieve their level. But don't emulate them, that will just serve to stunt your own growth. 

I'm not trying to be negative here; I love that so many people train their asses off and and I love that elite athletes like the ones I mentioned above are so accessible via social networking that you can literally see their training and talk to them almost daily. But this has caused a bit of a problem in todays training landscape. Everybody and their mom can see what Klokov is doing on his FaceBook page or Instagram feed. You see his daily training, his technique and even what he is eating for breakfast.

While this is really cool, it's stunting peoples growth. There was once a time when you only saw your sports heros on TV when they had a game. I'd watch Alonzo Mournings post moves and go outside and try to emulate them. I'd see Griffey Jr's swing and go get my bat and pretend I was him.

This was ok because you didn't have 24/7 access to it. What it did was get athletes outside and practicing their sport. You'd see it in your head, but didn't have the ability to pore over it all the time. You just spent the time in your driveway taking 100 shots from the baseline, and you'd develop naturally.

Now, in place of real coaching people have YouTube and Instagram. You see these stud athletes do something and you presume that that is what you should be doing as well.

Dmitry pulls with a weird staggered stance, I guess I should be trying that!

Froning seemingly eats nothing besides peanut butter and milk, time for a diet change!

Ilya Ilin takes a ton of weird selfies and apparently became a vegetarian...Selfie Saturday here I come!

I'm sure Dmitry uses it for a particular purpose for himself and that it serves a pretty specific purpose in his training, but for the average Joe what does it do? It looks cool and it's probably uncomfortable as shit.

I've written before about how when we first started weightlifting we practiced a lot of stuff that we shouldn't have, and ingrained some bad habits. When Ivan was breaking us of these habits, he had a pretty good explanation. He first mentioned it when discussing the dynamic start.

We assumed it was the proper way to start a lift since the majority of elite level weightlifters started off like it looks awesome. Coach's explanation, which is the whole point of this post, is that these athletes have spent countless hours and reps in the gym perfecting their technique. Every little thing that they do is for a reason, and the reason they do it probably doesn't apply to us. As we practice and practice and practice we will figure out what works for us individually...but we had to start with the basics. The basics are the basics for a reason, practice them to perfection and get strong at them before you move on.

That's the thought process that I see many people with nowadays: they don't want to stick to the basics. Wether its an aspiring powerlifter who only squats 225 thinking it's time to hit a Smolov cycle or an athlete new to weightlifting who thinks they should be practicing the same assistance lifts as Klokov and maxing out 13 times a week like North, people want to jump the gun and think that they are much more advanced then they are. If you take a moment to bring yourself back down to reality, you'll see much smoother progress and you'll get to where you want to be way easier.

Any athlete that has reached the level of the people I mentioned has spent an absurd amount of time training. They have gone through several hundreds of thousands of repetitions in their particular sport and have grooved their technique to the level where it's absolutely unconscious. They started with the basics and over years of training, they've had to develop various small techniques to keep improving.

Stick to the basics, trust me when I say that you're not as advanced as you think you are. Master the technique and then you can play with different variations further down the road once you've achieved a significant level of proficiency.

Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit.

1 comment:

  1. Dude who didn't try to emulate Griffey's swing back in the day?