Learning to Train


I know, it’s been far too long since my last post and I haven’t been very consistent before the last post. No excuses though, I’m going to be posting at least twice a week from now on. Anyway, on to our topic for this post – learning to train.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the learn to train (7) seminar in Columbus, Ohio at the Elitefts training facility. What follows are my experiences and thoughts from the seminar. Think of this as looking through the eyes of a weightlifter attending a powerlifting-specific event; kind of an oxymoron 🙂

Hands-on and New Cues

Saturday included all of the hands-on experiences. They ran the exercises in the order that you would see for a powerlifting meet; squat, bench, then the deadlift. It was great to be able to learn from such knowledgeable guys. Especially since I’m usually the one coaching. It was a nice change of pace to be the one being evaluated.

I usually squat narrow, high-bar, but I didn’t even try that because I knew that it wouldn’t fly at this event. I kept the bar relatively high, but moved my feet wide and seemed to be fairly good in that stance (according to the coaches). A few tweaks that they had me do included changing my grip to a false grip; externally rotating my feet; pulling my elbows down and forward on the ascent; and leading with my chest and chin on the ascent.

The bench saw some more tweaks that led to a much more stable set-up for me. My arch has been good, but I needed to keep my shoulders tighter to the bench. I also needed my lats to remain tight throughout the entire exercise (they would become loose too soon). I’ve always been good at keeping my legs constantly pushing (isometric contraction), but I found that I’m not very good at driving my legs in the bench. My hips came off the bench too much, which would lead to a “no lift” in most federations.

I consider deadlifting to be my best event of any of the strength sports. I contribute this to my build, but also to the amount of pulling from the ground I’ve done in the years past while competing in weightlifting. The mechanics aren’t similar between cleans and deadlifts, but the same muscle groups are stressed, which has helped bring my deadlift up.

Attending this seminar has taught me one valuable lesson about the deadlift; I can do better – methodically and mechanically. I can program and perform the lift better. I was given enough cues to take home and lift more efficiently. The main cues I was given for the deadlift included keeping my lats tighter (I knew that one :)); and keeping my shoulders behind the bar in the starting position (still a very new concept for me, as the shoulders are kept in front of the bar when performing cleans and snatches).

I’ll continue to work on these new elements of training as I train for strongman. I’ll definitely be using the powerlifts more often now that I’m not competing in weightlifting. Time to work on some new techniques!

I’ll be going over the specifics of each of the cues I was given for the three powerlifts and WHY you need to perform them with those specific mechanics. Come back now, ya hear! 🙂


The ideas, comments and materials presented herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion or otherwise.

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