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The Team Environment for Olympic Weightlifting
Travis Cooper

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A lot of weightlifters do very well training on their own as garage warriors. There is nothing wrong with that, and I commend everyone who digs deep everyday to grind through a workout alone. I have been one of those lifters through certain parts of my career, but in the last four years, I have had a lot of great training partners and team environments that have taken me to the next level.

Training with a team is one of the best ways to take your training up a notch or two. The most overlooked reason that training with other good lifters raises your performance is by seeing others lift with good technique. Whether or not you realize it, when you train with lifters who have great technique and tempo, your technique and tempo will improve.

Often times when I am tired or not mentally in the zone, my team brings me back to reality. When you’re on a team, someone is bound to have a good day. Success is contagious, and when one lifter is having a good day, it can shift the mood of the room. You cannot help but get a little competitive when your peers are succeeding and you are having a rough day. If those teammates were not there to force you to get your head out of your ass, you would just sit there feeling sorry for yourself on the tough days.

On my team, MuscleDriver USA, we have a fake WWE title belt that we give to the winner of our weekly Friday contest. We may decide to compete in a variety of different things. One Friday it might be snatch, another Friday it might be total, etc. The point is we are always competing, which keeps training fun and stimulating, and on more than one occasion, that fake title belt has sparked some huge PRs.

Not everyone has the opportunity to join a team. With the social media boom in weightlifting, it is easy to find someone to follow online to compete against. A lot of lifters post YouTube videos of their training, so it is easy to keep up with their training and try to compete against them even if you train alone in your garage.

Even if you cannot find a training partner on the same level as yourself, try to find someone with the same level of commitment to training as yourself. Even if they are a beginner, seeing them improve will spark your own improvement!

See also Are You a Good Teammate?, Your Tribe, Peer Pressure is a Good Thing, Keeping Your Gym Environment Strong


Travis Cooper is the 2013 National Champion and Pan Am Bronze Medalist in the 85kg weight class. He trains with and competes for team MDUSA.


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