You Got a Lot of Freakin Problems: Common Complaints in Weightlifting
Matt Foreman

Okay, I’m gonna make a list of common problems weightlifters have. Read this and keep a running tally of how many you A) have right now or B) have had in the past. I’ll write them as quotes so they sound authentic.

1) “My lockout sucks. I can pull snatches pretty high and clean a lot of weight, but my lockout when I get the bar over my head is terrible.”

2) “I jump forward in the snatch. I didn’t used to do it, but now I do it all the time and I can’t seem to fix it.”

3) “The bottom position isn’t comfortable for me. I see other lifters sitting deep and it looks stable and comfortable, but I feel tight and off-balance when I go below parallel.”

4) “I’m stuck at the same weights. I haven’t made a new PR in what feels like forever.”

5) “When I’m snatching, I accidentally do a lot of power snatches. I’m not trying to do it. I want to go all the way into the full movement, but I catch a lot of them high and I can’t stop doing it.”

6) “The bar keeps swinging out in front of me. I can’t figure out how to keep it close to my body.”

7) “I doubt myself. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be really good at this, and it screws with my head.”

8) “My family gives me a lot of static because they think I’m wasting my time with weightlifting. They think I should just quit and start living a normal life.”

9) “I keep getting injured. It happens all the damn time and I can’t make any progress because of it.”

10) “All of my friends are getting married, buying houses, and making money. I feel like I’m getting behind in life because I’m committing everything to lifting.”

11) “Other people in my gym are making progress faster than me. Some of them haven’t even been lifting as long as I have.”

12) “My knees/back/wrists/elbows just hurt…all the time.”

13) “I keep hitting my pubic bone when I drive my hips into the bar and it hurts so bad I almost can’t stand it.”

14) “I know some of the people I compete against are taking drugs. I’m staying clean and they’re beating me because they’re cheating, but they don’t get caught.”

15) “I don’t think my coach has me on the right program. I think I should be doing something different but I don’t want to say anything.”

16) “Things are going bad with my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife because he/she thinks I’m obsessing too hard about weightlifting.”

17) “I can’t find a good coach.”

18) “I have to train every day with somebody I hate.”

19) “I have to train every day with somebody I used to date, and it’s awkward as hell.”

20) “The athletes I coach aren’t making progress and I think it’s because I’m not training them correctly.”

21) “One of my best athletes is a pain in the ass and it’s screwing up the rest of the team.”

22) “Some jerkoff coach is trying to move in on some of my lifters.”

23) “I have to train in a gym where they get pissed at me if I try to do any real lifting.”

24) “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. Sometimes I feel like I want to just move on and get out of weightlifting, but I don’t want to let anybody down.”

25) “One of the best athletes I’ve ever coached just quit on me all of a sudden.”

26) “I can’t believe how many freaking idiots there are in this sport. It drives me crazy because some people actually listen to them and think they know what they’re talking about.”

27) “My leg strength sucks. I can pull the crap out of the bar, but I can’t stand up with anything.”

28) “I get so pissed off sometimes when lifting isn’t going well. I want to break stuff and kick the crap out of somebody, and it’s making me a nasty person.”

29) “People tell me I’m really talented, but I don’t believe them. I think they’re lying just to be nice.”

30) “I’m worried that weightlifting is going to make me look like a freak.”

31) “I work my ass off for the people I coach and not one of them shows any appreciation or gratitude.”

32) “I know I’m working harder than most of the other lifters out there, but some of them are still beating me. It’s not fair.”

33) “My coach is being a butthole.”

34) “I’ve got a weight I’ve been trying to lift for a long time and I keep missing it. Now it’s in my head.”

35) “None of my friends respect what I do. They don’t know what weightlifting is and they think it’s stupid.”

36) “I started lifting too late. I think I’m gonna be too old to really make it to the top.”

So…how many of those have you had, or currently have? Personally, I’ve had 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 28, 32, and 34. You’re not alone when you go through rough patches. We’re all in this sport together, and that means we’re going to eat a lot of the same dirt.

I guess we should come up with a list of solutions, right? It doesn’t do any good to complain about something if you don’t find a way to fix it. I’m not a genius, so I can’t really come up with a long list of ways to solve these problems. In fact, I can only think of two possible choices when this crap hits you. Here they are:

1) You can curl up in a ball and quit.

2) You can keep working and find a way to fight through it.

Feel free to chime in if you can think of any more. But that’s all I’ve been able to come up with after 25 years of weightlifting. When it’s all said and done, you just have to pick one of those options and go with it.

Personally, I think you should pick #2. But it’s your life. Do whatever you want.

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Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams. He is the author of the books Olympic Weightlifting for Masters: Training at 30, 40, 50 & Beyond and Bones of Iron: Collected Articles on the Life of the Strength Athlete.

Read more by Matt Foreman


Casey 2013-01-28
Can I add one???

When my snatch feels great, my jerk suck. When my jerk feels great, my snatch sucks.

I think some of those are an easier fix than others. Some of those are definitely a "suck it up" situation. And some may take a few steps back to focus on the basics.
Greg 2013-01-28
37) My Isabel time is sub-two, but I can't snatch more than 165.

Aaron 2013-01-28
I see people in my gym lifting incorrectly (dangerously), but I feel awkward correcting them because I'm not a coach.
Paul 2013-01-28
I think "keep working" can be overly simplistic when what you are doing isn't working. I learned a trick on the rifle range that has helped me through a lot of situations. Make a big change, a huge change, a completely different approach and redouble your effort toward the goal. The fresh approach will freshen your mindset and it may be the change you needed. If not ... make another big change and then ... "keep working."
Matt Foreman 2013-01-28
Hey Paul,
Good points. What I actually wrote was "Keep working and find a way to fight through it." The part about "finding a way" is where the athlete (or coach) might need to make changes, adjustments, or whatever. Just working hard isn't always enough (like you said), which is why I wrote it the way I did.

Tom Brown III 2013-01-28
38) " I'm too new to O-lifting to tell if I have any of Matt Foreman's 37 common problems weightlifters have" But I'm gonna pick #2.
mIKE 2013-01-29

I started oly lifting at 57 so my views are a bit different and I don’t lift at the levels you guys and girls do. But I have had and continue to have all the problems you mention.

The big problem with oly lifting is the feed back is fast and direct in other words,
How much can I lift, direct feedback you and the bar, Today !

I think that’s why we all get obsessive at least I do, it’s always on my mind how much was my last big snatch or cj and when.

I think to continue in the sport we all need fun days in the gym pick what you like best or what ever is working best this week and go do it, have fun! Days when you want to train but need a break train flexibility it’s really hard to over train flexibility so at least you feel like you are doing something.

In the end figure out a way to have play days to make the sport fun because lets face it
We all started because its fun!
BK 2013-01-29
I think you forgot
37) My coach keeps telling me to gain weight.
dude 2013-01-31
Solution 3: Steroids
BB 2014-01-20
Sometimes I cry I get so frustrated.
Isaac 2014-01-21
I had a very bad case of #1 on my jerks. Once I widened my grip and started externally rotating my shoulders all the way to a position I could CGOHS from it was completely solved. It sucks for longer limbed lifters but this completely fixed it. Almost everything I read suggested the opposite.

I have 9 as well but it's all non-lifting injuries which is weird.

#19 sounds horrible haha
Anita 2014-05-28
I have just started weightlifting and I love it. I'm super motivated. I'm also weak (no. 27) and lift the least amount of weight in my gym. Even though I've been making huge progress (PRs weekly), the coaches and other lifters don't take me seriously and I often get ignored, forgotten or treated as an aside.
Cassandra G 2014-05-29
I'm inconsistent....this week I can snatch or clean this weight and next week, I can't seem to move the bar.

PS...Great list!
Jonathan 2015-01-14
Great list.
Nick 2015-01-15
Can I add one as well please. Ive gone "back to basics" about 50 times.
Aaron Butcher 2015-01-19
I had 6 for my A column and 8 for my B column. Glad to know I am not alone in this. Still, I love the sport and am picking solution number 2!
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