5 Lessons to Unlearn in Weightlifting.

As weightlifting is a skill that needs to be learnt, sometimes there are some mis-information going around as to what learning the lifts should be. I won't say I have the best qualifications or experience but there are a few things I can definitely tell you for sure regarding some concepts in weightlifting that are commonly misinterpreted. Here are just five of them: 1. It's fast from the get-go.

You are told you need to move fast. You are told it's an explosive movement so explosive means fast. But we all know that pulling fast from the ground contributes nothing but poor positions later in the lift and you will probably struggle to make the lift.

IMG_5512.JPGCredit to Ironmind for the image.

Instead, it is usually a controlled movement off the ground, involving tension in the back and drive through the legs in order to be accurate with the positions you want to achieve. Only until you transition into a good position to develop force, that's where you can be as fast as you want and in fact you need to be fast. More importantly fast in that transition from an upward direction to a downward direction of your body. This concept is simple. It's one of tempo. Think of moving controlled then fast. Slow-fast.

2. I need to get under the bar faster.

So you go on to do all your high-hang work, your block work from the hips. Then you realise you still can't receive the bar fast enough. You always end up having the bar coming down on you and you are still on your way down to meet the bar.

IMG_5315.PNGAt this point, you are heading down. But is the bar following you down? If it is, then you wouldn't be ready to receive it.

Why so? The concept here is simple. You lost all the momentum of the bar which you tried so hard to develop in your pull. No momentum? What happens next? Bar starts coming down then. It's not that you are not fast getting down into the bottom of a squat position. You just lack that timing. That transition which I mentioned in the earlier point. You need to let the bar do its work (many call it the weightlessness feeling) and travel up while you take that opportunity to travel down. If you constantly pull pull and pull and even try to pull yourself under, you are not developing momentum on the bar, you are placing it. Of course then, you will be too slow to get under.

3. Hip drive/hip contact.

This is even developed into a cue. Hip bump, bar need to bounce off the hips, the bar needs to be brought into the hips etc. Upon hearing this, you think you just need to feel the contact and everything should fall into place. Or you try really hard to "sweep" that bar into place and end up pulling with your arms. Or worse still, you attempt to hump the bar and end up getting a bruised hip.

IMG_5271.PNGHow the hip and the bar moves following this point is critical to how easily you will receive the bar.

Instead, you should be looking at hip contact as a result of you and the bar moving upwards and meeting (rather than colliding). Also, hip drive should be seen as part of the whole action of using the legs and not just hip extension. Stand up straight and keep your legs straight. Now open and close your hips; it doesn't go up in any way. It goes back and forth. My point exactly. You want the bar to go up, not back and forth. The hips and the bar are two moving points and should be seen as two moving objects. If they move in the same direction, their speed increases due to momentum but if they collide, speed is lost.

4. I need to feel my weight being distributed in the different areas of my feet.

You are told you need to start with the weight in your mid foot, then you feel it move back probably to the middle of your heels then back forward into your forefoot (some say balls of the feet). All these when pulling. Tough task isn't it? Try walking and feeling that you are trying to land heel to lateral side of your foot to the medial portion of the ball of your foot everytime you take a step.

IMG_5516.JPGWeight distribution taken too far to the limits not only force you to lose balance but also cause you to work harder than you should to bring your balance back to the centre.

Weight distribution is indicative of how the centre of mass moves over the bass of support which are your feet in this instance. It is not something you actively control by forcing yourself to get weight distributed that way but it's a result of the actions of keeping yourself centred. More importantly, think of trying to drive force from your toes or only balls of your feet to perform a vertical jump. I do this in my seminars and workshops all the time to introduce the concept of base of support and the number of eyes that you see realising that being flat-footed when jumping makes things a lot easier to get the legs going. Why not the same for your lifts. Forget your feet when pulling. Think of your legs.

5. This is the 's way and they have many world champions so I should learn their technique.

You see the Russians, the Chinese, the Armenians lifting a certain way. You see a certain weightlifter lifting that way and getting big numbers overhead. You watch them lift and think I need to do what they do to hit my 100kg snatch. I need to do their program or do whatever exercises they do and I'll lift like them.

IMG_5517-2.JPGKnow not only what they do but why they do.

I'm sorry but no. The Russians lift loke the Russians because they are Russian. The Chinese lift like the Chinese because they are Chinese. Rather than following the exact technique or learning the exact technique, you need to understand the concept of their lifting. Not the "how they do it" but the "why they do it". You understand the why and you will understand what works and what doesn't work for you. Blindly following a certain style may not be the best thing for you. Having a style that suits you allows you to move better. All styles or methods follow the same concepts and should lead to the same point: lifting more weight.


Learning is something that is very important in weightlifting. The desire to expand one's knowledge is key to getting you understanding the lifts better, building better awareness of the movements and subsequently lifting better. However, there are always going to be sources of information which have been taken out of context. Hopefully, these lessons I have mentioned will help you clarify just the basic concepts related to the weightlifting movements and give you a clearer picture to make a more informed decision to what you should or should not be doing in the lifts.