It’s that time of the year again where we reevaluate ourselves and make new goals for the new year. Setting goals is very important, not just in the gym but in life as well. When someone sets a goal, especially if it is a big goal for them, they tend to get a little obsessed with that goal. I will use myself as an example. I have been stuck at a 114 kg snatch since mid March of 2016. No matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to get over that number. It had been the only thing on my mind throughout most days. “I gotta hit 115, I gotta hit 115.” When we start to use this phrase of “I gotta…(fill in the blank)”, we are unintentionally adding unneeded stress on ourselves. Let’s be honest, weightlifting is a stressful sport to begin with. We are consistently putting external and internal stressors on our bodies, we get caught up in the numbers we want to hit by such and such date (I’m guilty of that), and we only get 6 attempts during competition. Why would we want to add another stressor such as, I gotta make this lift, into the mix? Here are a few things to keep in mind or practice when you start to feel this unnecessary stress starts creeping in:
1. Use Different Words
When we use the phrase “I gotta” or “I have to,” it turns into more of a chore rather than something we enjoy. The same applies in training. If we approach the bar with this mindset, we tend to get a little too tense or a little too anxious. Instead, we should approach the bar using phrases like “I will make this lift” or “I want to do this.” That is one of the many reasons why we do this sport. We want to do this and we find it enjoyable. So next time you start feeling stressed or putting more pressure on yourself, remember to take a step back, breathe, and most importantly enjoy the lift.
2. Be Realistic
When someone is new to the sport of weightlifting, it is like being a kid in a candy store. PR’s everywhere! Every week, you seem to hit a new PR in something and it keeps you coming back for more and more. Fast forward a year or two down the road and all of a sudden PR’s are harder to come by. Well, what the heck is going on? I used to be able to PR every week or two and now I have a hard time getting past that same number. Don’t worry. This is completely normal in the sport of weightlifting. The reason why you were hitting so many PR’s in the first 6-11 months of training was because you were new to the sport. When you are new to something, this generally means you have a lot of room to grow and make improvements.
For guys, within the first three to six months of training, they can add an average of 10 kg on their squats. Dang, that is sweet! From 6-12 months of training, they can add an average of 4 kg on their squat. Alright, not too bad. Once these guys get into one to two years of training, they can average less than a kilo on their squat. Oh my goodness, that came to screeching halt.
For ladies, sorry to be bearer of bad news but, it is even less when you first start out. And that is okay! The reason behind these drastic changes in gains is because once we get into one to two years of training, we have become conditioned and our body has adapted to the type of training we do. It is completely normal to have these types of roadblocks in your training. This leads us to our final practice of being consistent.
3. Be Consistent
Being consistent is arguably one of the most important tools a weightlifter can have when it comes to training. First off, life can be hectic and it can get in the way of training. This is okay. As long as we are consistent when we train, that alone can make a big difference. This goes for lifters of all levels. Whether your program calls for three-, four-, or five days, you will want to plan out your weekly training schedule before you start. That way you know what to expect before approaching the week.
Once we get to the gym, we will want to make lifting as consistent as possible. What does this mean? Simply put, we want every lift to feel the same as the previous lift (with good technique). Sometimes we tend to see lifters changing their set-up or how they pull when weights start to get heavier. Trust yourself. It is easier to trust yourself and your technique when you are consistent at lighter weights instead of just going through the motions. And finally, when we are finished training, we want to be consistent in our nutrition and recovery. These will become more of a habit over time and they will prep you for the next day.
So, whenever you have doubts, added stress starts to kick in, or you’ve hit a roadblock, try using these three tools to help you get back into good training. Stay positive, be realistic, and be consistent. Happy New Year!