Without any experience at all, not even knowing what it entailed…I had a drive to do something more and to accomplish a goal. I wasn’t great at one specific thing but I was focused on a goal and determined to reach it. I strongly believe that having a concrete goal to focus on provides motivation, increases adherence and yields personal reward including a boost in health and self-confidence.
Starting is more about getting out there with a goal and seeing what you can do! From there, you can create a plan and start working towards progress!
These are a few of my recommendations after you’ve made the decision to start:
1. Set goals – Create a roadmap
When you take a really long road trip, most often, you start off knowing the destination but since road trips can be fairly long; pit stops are necessary. Before venturing out, you might decide to stop for food then at the halfway point for gas, at another point to stretch and perhaps a few miles beyond that for more gas. You’re meeting smaller, more immediate goals that build on your efforts to reach the final destination.
Your roadmap should entail: process and product goals. There will be multiple process goals to reach the product goal. These all need to be specific, attainable and relevant.
An example could be:
I want to squat 2 plates (225 pounds).
– Focus on my weaknesses in training: My weakness is I fold when in the hole and need to work on my chest being more upward.
– Train 3 days per week for 6 months and focus more on my squat. (Have a set start and end date)
– By X month, I want to have increased my squat and my “goal” is 2 plates!
This is just one example. Maybe your goal is to master a new technique or change your form. Maybe it is to increase your strength by 5 or 10 pounds. Maybe it is to compete at your first meet! The important part is setting the goals, writing them down and then sticking to them.
2. Log your training
Write it down! This will hold you accountable, track your progress and allow you to review or get feedback. This is the one SURE way to know whether or not you’re making progress.
3. Look back & re-evaluate
If you stumble or lose your drive before reaching your goal, take a seat, look back at your process goals, review your training log and reevaluate the product goal. Did something change? What changed? Do I need more or less of something in my training? Do I need more rest days? Where in my training log did I see the most progress? What was I doing then? Did I have enough rest vs. training days? What am I doing differently now from then? (These are just examples of things to look at but the point is to sit down and really look back at times where you were doing well and evaluate what changed and what can change).
Powerlifters LOVE to help you reach new goals and each lifter is so very supportive, always willing to share a tip or technique with you as far as what worked for them. Listen respectfully, if possible learn what they’re teaching you or at least try it. But always remember that everyone has a different lifting, learning and strength style. The tall lanky lifter will have different techniques from the short husky lifter; different things will make them successful in each lift. The mistake that I made when I began powerlifting was I took every piece of advice and tried to merge it all into one. Everyone had my best interest in mind, so why not!? I’d start making progress with a lift and 2-3 different people would give me their input (It was AMAZING to have experienced greatness sharing their pointers with me! They could see what I couldn’t so I’d soak up every bit) I never ever wanted to be disrespectful or think that I knew better so I was constantly changing my lifting form- which was constantly resetting me back to square one. Everyone was giving amazing advice and with great care and concern. The mistake I made was that I took every single piece of advice and applied it to me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I had been doing this long enough to know exactly how my form should be and what technique worked. I needed to be confident in my training and technique and some tips just wouldn’t work for me. Take what works, throw out what doesn’t and move forward in that.
When I hit my national bench record – I was 123 pounds and my bench was 231 pounds; I had a wide grip on the bar, my feet close, in, tight and arched back as far as possible. This form works for some and not others. I knew what and how to do it; I needed to be confident in it!
Looking back, I can see that I am a very “mental” lifter and by that I mean most of my failures were “in my mind”. My husband could tell from the look on my face when starting a lift if I was going to get it or not. Of course at the time, I couldn’t see it. For me, my mind must be calm when going into a lift. For others, they like the loud, motivating, worked-up support. Some like yelling or a nice hard slap on the back, and some like constant talking and repetitive encouragement. At one point, I missed a lift over and over. At the end of the day I was discouraged. I went back the next training day, failed again. It was “in my head”. One lifting partner knew the key. He calmly came up to me and told me “you can do this, you know what you’re doing. Go back to the original form and technique that worked best for you, put your feet where you feel best, you know how to do it, you will get it, I’ll be right there, let’s go.” He came without any correction but he knew I needed to calm my mind. Back under the bar, my mind was calm, I gripped the bar, set my feet, took my breath and the lift was good!
When you have a clear picture of your goal and have the steps to get there mapped out, your motivation will go up because you WANT to REACH YOUR GOAL for YOU! When you learn what works for you, trust that. Take advice and try it out; if it works – great! If it doesn’t- toss it out (respectfully). Your powerlifting family or team only want the best for you and all of their advice comes from the right place. Learn to discern what works for you and what doesn’t.
4. Find your community/team
Did you know that lions are the only members of the cat family that live in community? Where one lioness is weak, another is strong. Where one might falter, another succeeds. They have a community of support. Each has their own goal and they work together as a team. Like lions, we were not made for isolation. Together is when we will be strategic and stand united, singular in vision, contending for each other’s trust and support. Together, your courage and unity will overcome failure and bring victory for you and your teammates. It doesn’t have to be the same goal but that we all support one another. Surround yourself with others shooting for goals and you will be unstoppable.
My goal now is to work on my weaknesses and become the best version of myself that I can be. The goal isn’t to duplicate the talents of another or to compare or copy the competition but to hone my own skill set and awaken my area of prowess. Like the lions, they hunt together, without competition and without breaking rank. No one man or woman’s portion or contribution is more significant than another’s. Let’s follow that example and set goals to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be!
Prepared by Holly Helton
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.
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