Using Video in Training Most Effectively
June 17 2021
Just about every weightlifter out there uses video one way or another these days, whether or not they work in-person with a coach. I don’t need to point out the value of video, but it does warrant some discussion on how to best use it to maximize the benefits and avoid the potential drawbacks.
The first thing to consider when using video is what your purpose is. Are you providing a remote coach with information? Are you doing your own technique analysis? Are you getting content for social media? Are you just capturing lifts for posterity?
If you’re providing video to a coach, communicate with them about what exactly they want to see and how—that is, how many videos, of what lifts/sets, and from what angle. If you don’t have that information yet, film from an oblique angle for the best all-around viewing, and only send a couple videos of your top set(s), and/or any set showing a problem you feel you need to address or need help with.
In all cases, set up your camera in a permanent position (for the session, not eternity) and don’t mess around with it during your session. Anything beyond hitting record and stop is taking focus away from your training and disrupting the rhythm and mindset for ideal work. You don’t need to create a cinematic masterpiece. An exception is if you need, or your coach has requested, more than one angle of a certain lift, or different angles for different lifts in a session. In those cases, keep camera manipulation to the minimum actually required. And avoid the temptation to watch your videos between each set—you’re just going to disrupt the flow of your training and start overthinking your lifts.
Even if you’re shooting video for your own technique analysis, don’t watch your lifts between sets except in cases of exercises you’re doing expressly for technical improvement that you’re not yet entirely comfortable or consistent with. That is, you can check each set immediately after to ensure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but don’t spend more time than needed reviewing. Otherwise, save the analysis for after the session.
When your training is complete, go back and review your videos. Watch all of them and get a sense of what the universal problem(s) is/are—that’s what you need to be focusing on. If every lift in your session is different, you don’t have specific issues to work on—you’re still developing a basic level of proficiency and just need to remain focused on the fundamentals of positions and motion.
Pick the 1-2 most critical errors and plan to work on them in the next session—don’t spend hours carefully scrawling extensive notes about every single issue (or possible issue) like an obsessive serial killer with a room full of composition books. You can’t practically address more than that, and getting into your mind is just going to distract you from what’s most important and limit your success working on it. Determine a method for addressing the problem, whether with a cue, technique primer, or other exercise.
Immediately prior to the next session in which you’ll be working on that lift, check your notes from the last time and review those videos again to make sure the information is fresh and you’re sure about not just what you want to fix, but how exactly you’re going to work on it.
And if you’re just shooting video for a historical record or to post on social media… do whatever makes you happy in the moment.