No Coach? No Problem!
Written by Andy Thompson
In the course of my personal weightlifting endeavor, I've had years where I didn't have a coach to look out for me or give me any instruction on my lifts.
In this retrospect, it's ALWAYS better to have a coach. Make no mistake; having an experienced coach with cues that you are able to understand, will always trump lifting alone.
If you are serious about weightlifting, improving your lifts, and competing on the big stage, you need a coach. However, we're not always fortunate enough to have a reputable coach at our fingertips that is local, affordable, or available to watch you while you put in hours at the gym.
If this sounds like your current situation, I have a few recommendations:
1. Video tape your lifts.
When you record your lifts, you're able to see your mistakes. This is going to help you learn where you need to improve, as well as it actually develops your eye. While developing your eye for these lifts, it brings me to my next suggestion...
2. Watch professionals every chance you get.
That may be the difference between myself and "normal" humans. While everyone else was out and about, doing the bar scene, going to the movies, or doing other things with their lives, I was at home, obsessing. I had a goal. I needed to achieve this goal by every means possible.
This means I would do whatever it took. Instead of watching tv, I would watch youtube videos of weightlifting. I watched every Olympic weightlifting event, in every weight class.
I watched them succeed. I watched them miss lifts. I would watch their training videos. I would watch everything. From there, I would compare my own videos to my favorite lifters.
With this, I would say to myself "I need to fix this angle", or "I need to be faster here," or "I need to make this line tighter."
Whatever I saw that I could change or improve on, I would go back to the gym the following day, and I would try to correct it.
3. Follow a program.
Regardless if I had a coach or not, I was following a program. If you're fortunate enough to have a coach that knows how to program, and knows the proper progressions, than you can just skip right over this little section. But for everyone else, FOLLOW A PROGRAM.
Having a plan when going into the gym not only creates motivation, but it gives you an aid to see your progress. Percentages, tonnages, waves, whatever methods you're following. Follow it, and stick to it. Notice how you feel, how you're progressing, and if your lifts are feeling better.
If you like the program, great! Stick with it. If not, now you know, and at least you tried it. This will give you a means of developing your understanding of how progressions work, and what works best for you.
In conclusion, having a coach is best. But if you don't have a coach, it's ok! Follow a program, watch the greats, and record your lifts!
Happy lifting, kids!