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Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Started Weightlifting

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

5 tips that will help you learn from my mistakes and get stronger, faster. This applies to any form of weightlifting.

After being an olympic weightlifter for the better part of the past 10 years, there are many lessons that have been learned. Some lessons were more painful than others. Whether you are new to the sport, enjoy lifting weights as a hobby or simply wanting to get stronger in your current routine, these tips can be useful for you.

Tip #1 - If your technique is trash, the amount of weight you can lift does not matter

Using a barbell as an example: if you can't get the movement down first with a PVC pipe or broomstick, do yourself a favor and don't pick up the barbell until you do. I guarantee you this- if you rush the process you will injure yourself. Building strength is like running a marathon. Learning how to properly move takes time. It is a matter of training your nervous system and your muscles to all work together cohesively.

All the little details matter. What your set up looks like, how upright you are in the pull, how you brace your core, how low you get in the squat, where your feet land.. every single detail matters. I can't stress this enough: if you are brand new to weight lifting, please get help and don't try to figure it all out on your own. Even if that means setting up a few sessions just to get the foundations down.

Tip #2 - Master your body's full range of motion

Adding to tip number one is the importance of range of motion. Using as much range of motion as possible in a strength training exercise will help lengthen muscle fibers and increase hypertrophy (stronger muscles) especially in lower body exercises (1). Notice that I said your body's full range of motion. When you first start out, you will not have the same flexibility and range of motion as someone who has been doing it for years. Do not compare yourself to others. But make sure that you are not cutting your movements short just to get the reps in. Quality of each rep over time will always improve strength faster than cutting the movement short just to get it done as fast as possible.

"Weight lifting not only strengthens your body, it strengthens your mind, and it builds a stronger character." - Ronnie Coleman

Tip #3 - Visible abs are not equivalent to having a strong core

Strong abs refer to the group of muscles located in the front of your abdomen, primarily the rectus abdominis muscle, which is responsible for flexing your spine forward. While having strong abs is important, having a strong core involves much more than just your abs.

Your core is a complex system of muscles that includes not only your abs, but also your obliques, lower back muscles, and hip muscles. Together, these muscles work to stabilize and support your spine and pelvis, allowing you to move with control and efficiency. A strong core is essential for good posture, balance, and overall movement quality.

In other words, while having strong abs is a part of having a strong core, it's not the only component. A strong core requires a balanced development of all the muscles that make up your core, including those in your back, hips, and obliques.

Tip #4 - Learning how to breathe should be the first skill you master

Diaphragmatic breathing involves breathing deeply and fully by expanding your belly instead of just your chest. This technique helps engage the diaphragm, the primary muscle responsible for breathing, and allows for more efficient oxygen exchange in the body.

In weightlifting, diaphragmatic breathing can help improve performance by increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which helps stabilize the spine and improve force production.

Bracing, on the other hand, involves contracting the muscles around the abdomen and lower back to create a stable and rigid core. This technique helps maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent injury during heavy lifts. By bracing, you can increase your body's ability to handle heavier loads while reducing the risk of injury.

Together, diaphragmatic breathing and bracing help weightlifters perform lifts more safely and effectively. They allow for better force production, spinal stability, and overall body control. Additionally, using these techniques can also improve breathing efficiency, reduce fatigue, and enhance recovery between sets. To get a more visual explanation of this watch here.

Tip #5 - Recovery is just as important as the workout

Recovery is a crucial aspect of strength training because it allows the body to repair and rebuild the muscles that have been stressed during exercise. When you lift weights, you cause micro-tears in your muscle fibers, and during recovery, the body repairs and rebuilds those fibers to become stronger and more resilient.

There are several ways in which recovery improves strength in weightlifting:

  1. Muscle repair: During recovery, the body repairs the micro-tears in the muscle fibers caused by weightlifting, leading to muscle growth and increased strength.

  2. Energy replenishment: Recovery allows the body to replenish its energy stores, such as glycogen, which is important for maintaining energy levels during workouts.

  3. Hormonal balance: Weightlifting can cause hormonal imbalances in the body, and recovery helps restore hormonal balance, which can enhance muscle growth and strength.

  4. Improved nervous system function: Recovery also helps improve the function of the nervous system, which is essential for muscular strength and power.

  5. Reduced risk of injury: Adequate recovery time and techniques can help reduce the risk of injury by allowing the body to repair any damage caused during exercise.

Weightlifting is not simply a means of exercise. It is a means of keeping our body healthy and resilient into our older years of adulthood. Like many skills, we must work to get better at it. If you have been wanting to start weightlifting or a resistance training routine but have no clue where to start, click here to speak with an expert to help you come up with a plan. Like and share this post if you found it helpful!

1. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: A systematic review. SAGE open medicine, 8, 2050312120901559.

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