One of the hardest things to do as a coach is getting your athletes to listen and do what they need to do in order to improve. Its often not because they are unmotivated, instead, its because they want to be successful as fast as possible. They want to run faster, lift more, play better, etc., but unfortunately there just aren’t any shortcuts. The one thing that always works whether you are coaching a sport, or weightlifting, or even chess, is practice. The mind and body need time, a lot of time, to master the mental and physical coordination to function both accurately and consistently.
Often, in the gym, if a new lifter is still having problem with form or weak spots, they will ask me for accessory work to improve the problem. If I tell them they aren’t engaging their lats, they want to do lat pulldowns. If their grip is failing, they want to do grip work. If they can’t run 3 miles without stopping, they think they need sprint work.
|Someone told this shark to improve his squat he just needed to squat more.|
While all accessories and tools have their place, they absolutely NEVER trump basic skill training while skills are still being developed.
So, if you can’t keep your back engaged when you squat, bench, or deadlift, you need to take weight off the bar, engage your back and practice, practice, practice. No amount of lat pulldowns or alternate versions of the lift are going to help with this task.
If that doesn’t make sense to you, consider these examples:
If you have a hard time throwing and catching a baseball, batting won’t help you. You need to practice throwing and catching the ball.
If you keep falling off your bike, you need to practice riding your bike, not do leg extensions in the gym to strengthen your quads.
If you are having a hard time writing neatly, taking a drawing class isn’t going to help.
Training is learning and learning is always specific. If you want to get better in the gym, on the field, or even in the classroom, you have to do what every successful person does: get comfortable with practicing the main task and simply doing the time.
And in case you’re wondering, it even works with being kind.