What Weightlifting Has Taught Me (Part 1 – Patience)

Hey Strength Tribe! Once again we are lucky to have a guest blog, from our weightlifting coach Jen Javier!
What Weightlifting Has Taught Me (Part 1 – Patience)
As many of you know, weightlifting is and has been a big part of my life for a significant amount of time. Hell… I even have a barbell tattooed on my forearm, if that’s not commitment then I don’t know what is! Weightlifting has kept me grounded and sane when life fluxes and changes. One thing remains the same: the barbell continues to be there and it continues to challenge me. Weightlifting has taught me countless lessons that have spilled over into my life outside the gym and I can honestly say it has shaped me into the person I am today. It has helped me to be a better, kinder, more resilient person and to learn how to take on challenges with patience and grace.
This is the first installment in a four-part series where I will discuss the lessons I have learned through the barbell. I hope weightlifting can help you as it has helped me.
Lesson 1: PATIENCE
Patience with the bar, patience with yourself, patience with the process. This has become my mantra over the past few years and I can attribute this zen-like quote to weightlifting. (Go ahead, you can use it too… just make sure to credit me when you post that inspirational Instagram pic!)
Patience with the bar – Success in weightlifting can be attributed to good positions and moving well through good position. This takes HELLA patience. I get it. The bar feels heavy off the ground. But guess what? It’s heavy weight! IT’S GOING TO FEEL HEAVY. Do you want to lift heavy? Then get used to things feeling heavy and hard sometimes. The goal is to be patient with the bar EVEN when it feels heavy so you can set yourself up into good positions and gain the most transference of power from your legs into the bar. This means avoiding the “grip and rip” and slowing down your first pull off the floor (not necessarily a “slow” pull but slow-ER so you can accelerate into your second pull). If you are not patient with the bar off the floor then you will rush your way through the rest of your lift, missing all of your positions along the way, and it will all snowball into a big, bad disaster. Be patient with the bar in order to set yourself up for a good lift.
Patience with yourself – Yes, we all want to snatch a million kilos (2.2 million pounds if you want the conversion) and we all want to do it tomorrow but that just ain’t gonna happen. Weightlifting takes years and years and years to master and you can’t get everything right all in one day. I have been weightlifting for 9 years and I STILL feel like a baby in the sport, for Pete’s sake! There is still so much for me to learn, so much I can improve on and all I can do is take it one day at a time. Sometimes it’s just one LIFT at a time. There are some days that feel wonderful and amazing and things are just clicking and then there are other days where everything feels awful and my body doesn’t know what’s happening. It’s like my body just FORGOT how to lift. (“Oh, you wanted to snatch today? LOL J/K, Jen, I totally forgot how to move. I’m just gonna turn your legs into spaghetti noodles.”) But you have to work through those tough days with patience and grace and a sense of humor. (It’s also okay to cry, I have most DEFINITELY cried during a training session a time or two… or ten.) Consider that I haven’t PR’d my clean & jerk in over 2 years and my snatch in almost 3! This can be frustrating but being patient with myself also means seeing how far I have come and celebrating the things I have improved on and what HAS improved is that I can lift higher percentages (80-90%) more consistently, which is way more favorable in weightlifting anyway! Moral of the story is: Do your best, that’s all you can do… and be patient with yourself along the way.
Patience with the process – There are two major components in the improvement of weightlifting, building strength and improving technique. Not one is better than the other and not one can exist without the other. Being successful in weightlifting means paying attention to both; this can be increasingly frustrating. You may go through periods where you may improve in strength but your technique may suffer and vice versa. Learning to see the big picture is SO important and approaching each training session as a step in your plan of action to get you to your ultimate goal is the key to improving. Trust the programming and trust your coach. Remember, there is no magic programming. To a degree, ANY programming is good programming. What makes the difference is the amount of focus and intention and diligence you put into your training. Elite level weightlifters sometimes spend MONTHS at a time not pulling anything off the floor – just block work and pulling from position, NO FULL LIFTS. I mean, talk about patience with the process! But they trust that working the basics and focusing on specific areas of weakness will lead to success once they finally do get to the full lift. Keep your nose to the grindstone but also keep the big picture in mind.
I hope this gives you a little insight into why I believe weightlifting can be so beneficial for people, not just physically but mentally as well.
Until next time, Happy Lifting!
Coach Jen
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