Reno Hardcore: Technique
Powerlifting and strength sports in general definitely advanced a lot over the past few years in terms of training, but there’s still one major hole that never seems to get plugged! It’s a hole that’s sinking your potential, progress, and your PRs. It’s a huge limiting factor in the number of pounds you lift, no matter how strong you are or how strong you get. The advancements in strength training will definitely make you stronger, but you will never lift the weight you have the potential to do without it. The hole I’m talking about technique.
I’m continually amazed how so many top sports see the importance of technique, but strength athletes seem to pay little attention to it or have no idea what good technique actually is. Take baseball for instance, even the parents of little league kids see the importance of good technique and send their kids to a specialist. Hitting and pitching coaches get paid good money and are in high demand. They analyze every segment of the kids’ swings and their throwing style – trying to make each as efficient, fluid, and powerful as possible. As the kids get more advanced and closer to pro level, the coaches bring in the serious technology using computers and software to really fine-tune everything. This same technology is used in golf, throwing, running, swimming, and so many other sports. Even boxers, MMA, and martial arts athletes use this technology to make kicks and punches more powerful and more efficient. They study the movements to get the most power possible. Shouldn’t we approach strength sports in the same manner? Our sports are solely based on how much you can lift or how far you can throw a heavy object, so shouldn’t we therefore be even more technical then other sports?
I think somewhere along the line, the grip it and rip it attitude sunk in a little too deep. I think our testosterone-filled bodies and huge egos took over. We don’t need technique, we’re just going to get bigger, stronger, and will the weight up! However, that’s stupid thinking and honestly a bunch of B.S. Anyone that knows about me can tell you that I’m all about the mental game. I’m about pushing my mind past barriers and refusing to believe I can’t get a weight up. I’m also all about getting bigger and stronger. These are all good things that you need, but why throw technique out the window? I want to utilize everything I can to be as strong as I can and to lift the most weight I can. Meeting your true potential is a combination of all of these.
Technique is the solid foundation to years and years of strength gains. It will allow you to put your body in the strongest positions structurally, to utilize the strongest muscle groups for each lift, and it will make the movements as short and efficient as possible. It will also put your body in the safest position and help reduce the chance of injuries. That alone, will help keep strength growing because having to stop training or around injuries slows gains. Proper technique will allow you to catch and fix weak points sooner and that’s also a big part of strength gains. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. For example, if your lats are your weak point in the bench press, you can make every other muscle stronger, but you’ll still only bench as much as your lats can bench. So, the sooner you spot and fix the weak points, the sooner you make gains. With poor technique, it’s hard to find and diagnose these weak points. Good technique is not the easiest thing to obtain, but it’s well worth the hard work.
With poor technique, you simply aren’t lifting the amount of weight you have the strength to lift. You often hear about guys going to some of the bigger name gyms for a day and they hit huge PR lifts. Do you really think they gain muscle strength in a day or two? Do you really think it’s all just the atmosphere? No! A knowledgeable lifter or coach fixed their technique and it allowed them to lift more weight. I see it all the time in meets, guys lift so far under their potential simply because their technique sucks. In fact, I never missed a lift because of my strength. I missed lifts in the gym because I was exhausted or tired, but I never missed a lift because of strength. Every lift I ever missed in a meet, I can pick apart with things I did wrong with my technique. I often missed lifts so bad to the point that people think I’m out of the meet, but I know what I did wrong. I fix that technical issue and come back to smoke the weight on my next attempt (plus shut up the people that questioned me – ha!) Technique can make or break your potential.
Lifting technique isn’t just important to strength athletes either. All athletes of all sports who want or need to get stronger can benefit from solid technique. You can spend hour-upon-hour in the gym training to get stronger, but if you aren’t training the right muscle groups, you won’t better your performance on the field. Take, for instance, the athlete who needs to get faster. He can do all the squats in the world with a narrow stance using all of his quads and he won’t get much faster. All he’s doing is making his quads bigger and stronger and wasting precious time that is doing little to help him on the field. He’s screwing up recovery time on muscles that don’t need that much work. If you’re going to strength train wrong, you’re better off just spending that time on sport-specific training. Ideally, you’d utilize your limited time and strength train intelligently. You need more speed, so learn to squat properly and strengthen your posterior chain, which will definitely translate into better speed on the field. I see so many athletes training with more bodybuilding style in the three main powerlifting movements and it just irritates me. They’re spending so much time and effort in a way that isn’t optimal to their sport. Proper technique of the three lifts will use more of the posterior chain, which is so much more important to athletes. It’s so ironic that they’ll put so much effort into maximizing the technique in their sport, and then not follow those same principles in the strength training for their sport. An athlete only has so much time for all the training they need, it’s so important to maximize it.
Not all lifters or athletes ignore technique, there are so many that mistakenly think they know what good technique is. I can’t even remember all the times or arguments I had with people that say their technique is perfect, only to see them actually lift and it’s horrible. I go to many gyms or meets where guys are screaming commands (or stuff they apparently heard a good lifter say) only to tell the lifter he did a great lift when it was complete shit. I guess people see or talk to a good lifter briefly and think they know everything about technique, but they really have no understanding of what it is or why certain things are done. When I made my video on the technique of the three lifts, it ended up being two DVDs and almost 2 hours and 40 minutes. That’s a long time to talk about three lifts! I was even amazed at how long it was. When I tried to edit it down – I couldn’t. That’s because everything I said was important and I felt needed to be said. Technique isn’t an easy thing to learn and can’t be fully taught in a few minutes or even one short conversation. It takes even longer to master then to learn. Once you do learn and think you’ve mastered it…you still haven’t. I’m continuously reminding myself of little things I have to be aware of and need to stay on top off. It’s a difficult thing and at the same time, very simple. It was the first thing I really learned when I decided to dedicate myself to powerlifting and the best money I ever spent. To this day, I know it was the solid base that lead to all the huge numbers I lifted.
The bottom line is that you need to learn and master proper technique whether you’re a strength athlete or any athlete. It will allow you to get the best result from all the grueling hours you put into the gym. Strength training is hard work and takes a lot of time and you deserve to get the most you can out of it. We all love the journey and pushing ourselves, but strength sports and all sports are all about performance. Without great technique, your performance will not be your best. Take the time to learn your technique and see the gains you’ll make in this next year! Plus it will make me so much less irritated when I go to competitions or to your gym! Ha ha!