10 Things All New Weightlifters Should Know
Mike Gray

1. Learn the correct terms. Snatch, Clean and Jerk. Then learn Power Snatch, Power Clean and Power Jerk. Then keep going until you can name every lift on Greg’s video showcase with out notes.

2. Learn kilos. I am at the point where I convert pounds to kilos in my head. It will make training at real gyms easier and meets as well.

3. Find a coach or a group of like-minded lifters. It will make a huge difference in your training. When I started lifting, my kid was pretty young; six years later he could tell me exactly what I was doing wrong because he has seen enough lifting over the years to know the difference.

4. Hook Grip. I shouldn’t have to say this but there are plenty of people who are reading this and still don’t use the hook grip. Practice it all of the time: your steering wheel, grocery cart, brushing your teeth… just get used to it.

5. Everybody wants to build a gym in his or her garage. I have one (don’t really have access to it right now but that’s another lovely story) and just about every guy I have trained with has one. Buy right the first time, and by that I mean the barbell. I lift on an Eleiko at work with Kraiburg bumpers that I had to rattle-can the different colors onto. Buy the bar first and foremost and then build up better plates as you go along.

6. You are going to hurt, I promise you that. Either in the beginning or somewhere down the line you will most likely get an overuse-type injury that I guarantee we have all been through before. My first 2 months, my wrists hurt so bad I had to dunk them in ice water every damn night.

7. I’m a shoe snob, so I might not be the best person to write this, but buy good shoes; no scratch that, buy some great shoes. My first pair lasted 3 years, and you know what, I could probably still lift in them, but I found some cooler ones. If you find cool ones in 9 ½, DONT BUY THEM, but please email me the link. Thanks.

8. I’m going to catch some hell for this, but here it goes. Mobility… Yes it’s important and it helps, but there is a line with that stuff, and if it takes you 25 minutes to get loose, then you need to rethink your plan. I am also going to say that sitting in a squat for 10 minutes is counterproductive. You tight with a bar overhead? Then get that bar overhead and stand in front of a mirror and loosen up by doing what you are trying to achieve. My goal for a warm-up is 10 minutes and I should have weight on the bar and be moving it around. And just so you know, most of my workouts start at 0700. Read Greg’s article about warm-ups being warm-ups, not workouts.

9. Read everything you can and keep an open mind. However, don’t be so quick to follow one guy down the trail to the Promised Land. See what works for you and adjust if needed. And look at the bright side: If you are just starting out, then damn near everything works for a little while.

10. This may sound odd and some people are going to freak out a bit, but don’t stop all of the beach work. Give yourself a “pitch count” of reps that you are allowed to do every other day and keep it light. I’m not saying blast the hell out of your bis with 20 sets of curls, but 3 sets of 10 reps is pretty healthy for your elbows and it keeps you still looking like you actually lift weights.


11. Be honest with yourself in regard to PRs. If it’s a legit lift then count it, as you should. But if you bounce 110 off your grape and push press it the rest of the way, then it’s not a PR.

12. Video yourself. Real easy and cheap way to see what you are doing wrong if you are stuck by yourself. Plus they are fun to look at years later to remind your self of the good ole days when you could curl more than you could snatch.

Please log in to post a comment

Andrew Hargus
August 6 2012
Great article Mike. Thanks for sharing.
August 6 2012
Funny shit about the shoes lol. Good article!
Geoff Hegedus
August 8 2012
Inspired by number 10: off to do some bench press :-)
Number Cruncher
August 8 2012
Great article Greg as always. Thanks for the info about the "hook grip".
Ejaz Ahmad Khan
February 25 2015
Good style of writing ones ideas.
January 6 2016
What are your favorite lifting shoes?
Tony LeClair
June 22 2016
Very informative in a tongue & cheek kinda style. Congratulations to All of the Catalyst Athletics Crew on your move, and thank you again for all of information, in all the various formats and styles. This article was particularly poignant for me, Mr. Gray. Although all 12 make absolute sense - 4, 6, 8 & 10 seem to be written to me.
Mark Smith
July 6 2016
Enjoyed the article. I have my own site about lifting shoes you can check out here