Articles




Your Phone Is Helping & Hurting Your Weightlifting Technique
Matt Foreman

Believe it or not, I’m gonna show you how your iPhone is connected to your snatch technique problems. You don’t believe me? Fine, keep reading
 
Your iPhone (or Android or whatever you have) is incredible. Just think for a second about how much stuff it can do. You can talk to people, text people (which is more fun than talking to them), take pictures, record videos, watch YouTube, listen to music, read books, access the internet, and hundreds of other wackadoo functions that I don’t understand because I’m one of those over-40 people who can just barely handle the basic crap. My phone has about a hundred of these things called “widgets.” No idea what the hell those are.
 
So let’s get back to the internet thing, and I’ll start to explain where I’m going with this. Many of you have started Olympic lifting within the last few years, right? You found a gym where somebody taught you the Olympic lifts. You fell in love with them. You practiced the lifts for a while and started making some progress, and your weightlifting fever has just been getting hotter and hotter ever since.
 
Now, you’re the type of person who likes to do outside homework on the things you love. When you watch a movie, you get on Wikipedia as soon as it’s over and read about it. Know what I mean? So with weightlifting, you’ve taken to the internet to bulk up your knowledge of the sport. You’re obsessed with this thing and you want to suck up every little bit of learning you can find, like a cat licking spilled milk off the floor.
 
So what do you do? You pull out your phone whenever you’ve got a free moment (like at your job while somebody is paying you to work) and you get on websites like Catalyst Athletics and good old Facebook, where all your weightlifting friends post videos of lifters at the Olympics and World Championships, snatching and clean and jerking weights that literally blow the back of your skull off when you try to comprehend how any human can lift them.
 
Watching weightlifting videos on the internet becomes one of your favorite hobbies. While life passes by and your kids are making Molotov cocktails in the garage, you’re on YouTube watching Russian weightlifters snatch world records and trying to absorb their flawless technique into your muscles through osmosis or something. Aside from the gargantuan weights they’re lifting, you just can’t believe how fast and precise their movements are. They’re snappy, flexible, totally consistent, and they just make it look so… easy. You’re in love with weightlifting, and I mean TRUE love, not the kind you have with human beings. This is, like, the real thing.
 
Now, this is how your phone is HELPING your weightlifting technique. Trust me, watching videos of elite weightlifters is one of the best things you can do when you’re in the beginning and intermediate stages. I’ve written about this before. Athletes learn by imitation. They watch other athletes move and just figure out how to mimic what they see. As both a coach and athlete, this is one of the truest things I can tell you. Those of you who are whipping out your trusty device in the middle of a family dinner at Outback so you can watch Tatiana Kashirina’s lifts at the Worlds… you’re doing the right thing. We all know the family stuff anyway… dogs, prostate exams, new barbecue grills, blah blah. We’ve gotta learn how to snatch, and stalking the weightlifting world on your phone is a great way to do it.
 
However, there’s a flip side to this. As great as those weightlifting videos are, they can also screw with your head sometimes because they’re a constant reminder of how imperfect YOU are. You look at Lu Xiaojun’s clean & jerk technique, and then you flip to the image gallery of your phone and look at the video your training partner took earlier that day of your own clean & jerk technique. You watch Lu, then you watch yourself, and at some point you say, “Wow, my technique stinks worse than a sack full of buttholes.”
 
I don’t want to say this is HURTING your weightlifting technique, because I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. But I think we can safely say we’re taking an already frustrating experience (learning the Olympic lifts) and making it even more frustrating because comparing ourselves to the best in the world can be a harsh reminder of how far away we are from excellence.
 
How many of you are impatient people? Go ahead, raise your hands. Yeah, me too. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Personally, I think patience is totally overrated. Most of the really successful people I’ve known in my life, in any field, have been pretty impatient personalities.
 
But impatience is an example of one of those emotions we all feel at some point, just like anger, lust, or jealousy. Those are normal human feelings. What really matters is HOW WE HANDLE them. Different people handle weightlifting impatience in different ways. Some people get frustrated, bark out a few F-bombs, step back, settle down, talk to their coach, listen while the coach reminds them that this whole thing is a process and it takes a long time to get really good at this sport, relax, go back to work, and keep trying to get better.
 
Other people storm out of the gym in a cocoon of horror, violate multiple traffic laws on the drive home, stop at 7-11 for a drink, mutter “friggin idiot” under their breath at everybody they see in the 7-11, get home and scream, “THIS SUCKS!! I CANT TAKE THIS CRAP!! I’M GONNA GO IN THE KITCHEN AND TAKE A DUMP ON THE FLOOR JUST TO SHOW THE WORLD HOW PISSED OFF I AM!!”
 
Okay, listen. Olympic weightlifting is one of the most challenging sports you’ll ever try. When you get on the internet and watch world champions break world records, you have to remember that you’re watching the end result of 10-15 years of hard work. Trust me, those studs didn’t look that good when they were beginners either. They had to go through the exact same struggling-to-get-it-right phase you’re going through. Why the hell do you think they explode in tears and screams when they nail big lifts? It’s because they’ve spent years clawing and scratching for progress, just like you. They’ve been knocked down, got back up (repeat process several times), and fought their way to the top.
 
I hate to break it to you, but you don’t get to be great at this sport right away. Your iPhone gives you everything you want immediately, with no waiting and no trouble. Weightlifting isn’t like that. You have to stand in line and wait for your turn in this sport, regardless of how much type-A hard charging blood you’ve got pumping through your veins.
 
Oh, and by the way, it’s all gonna hurt. So you want to be a weightlifter, kid?
 
Keep watching. Keep studying. Keep learning. Keep working. And keep reminding yourself that weightlifting greatness has a pretty big price tag attached to it. If you want to be great in this game, you have to be willing to pay that price… for a very long time.
 
Are you willing?


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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.


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5 Comments
Mike 2015-07-13
Great article. I was just talking about this with some of the people I lift with the other day. I coach regularly at a Crossfit gym to help with their weightlifting, and some of them watch too much video for just learning. They ask the craziest questions about technique, "well all the best lifters hit their hips, how do I do that", "shouldn't I be loading my hamstrings?", but they can barely do a normal power snatch.
Greg Everett 2015-07-13
Easy access to all kinds of information, good and bad, has disconnected lifters from coaches and students from mentors, and is making it more difficult in many cases for new lifters to learn. Definitely a double-edged sword.
Dylan 2015-07-16
Excellent article! I believe I hit almost every point in this article.

As a coach, for both weightlifting and crossfire, I have a objective view and can always tell my athletes to calm down, suck back, so we can re-examin whats going on when they're feeling that frustration and wanting to talk a HUGE DUMP ON THEIR KITCHEN FLOOR, LOL.
But when it comes to me being the athlete, I naturally loose the objectiveness, start swearing and wondering why I'm not smashing out new PB's overtime I come to the end of a program. For example, just today I went for some new PB's, got 3, 2 C and J and a FS, but missed getting a snatch PB. Of course I didn't look at the positive of the 3 PB's I got, but instead looked at the 1 I didn't get. And of course I was extremely pissed with this, unfortunately I don't have a coach to ground me, but....... fortunately, being a coach, I could recognize this in myself and gently remind myself that it does take time.

Furthermore to that, Greg, been following the website for a little bit now, and got to say it is great!
I am in the UK, when are you going to bring a course out this way?

Cheers for all the info, keep it up!
Dyan 2015-07-16
Apologies for some of the spelling mistakes, bloody auto correct.
Greg Everett 2015-07-16
Dylan -
We were in Manchester last year, and Dublin earlier this year, so we probably won't be back in that general area until at least next year.
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