I was talking to Andrew Simons,  one of my coaches the other day about stuff and things, mostly our new Weightlifting group he will be coaching and coding issues for the new site we are launching (TPSMethod.com).



TPS Method

Andrew started telling me a story about a guy he was talking to who had been coming up with lots of non-answers to issues he was having on his Clean and Jerk, and Snatch.

You know, legs all over the place, arms wobbly, falling on the toes in the pull and generally looking like a soup sandwich.

The guy was over analyzing everything, sort of like the person who has a headache and goes on WebMD and decides they have a tumor when they just need an aspirin.

He was also a pretty new lifter with little experience, little strength, no technique but lots of internet "research" on his issues.  He also had no real way of knowing the root cause of his problems.

His real problems were:

  • new lifter
  • little experience
  • little strength
  • no technique
  • lots of internet "research" on his issues.

He needed to know what specialize things he should be doing to fix his issues. You know, secrets.


(NOTE: In no way is this intended to make fun of new lifters or people who just aren't strong yet-rather, it is intended to redirect your attention to the root cause)
Andrew kindly told him that he was incorrect about what he learned from the Instagram and interwebs.
Andrew simply told him that he was weak and had bad technique, and no amount of activation, corrective exercise and diagnoses of injuries/issues that don’t exist will help his lifting.

He just needs to get strong(er).
And improve his technique.
Andrew was correct.


Andrew's story reminded me of our old Weightlifting coach, Nikita Durnev.

cj murphy, elitefts, weak, technique, old man, rant;

He came here to work right off the plane from Russia, and boy, do they have a different attitude, which I love.

Nikita would watch someone lift and then say something like:

"Everything was perfect, except that you are slow, have no power and your legs suck, but other than that, it was all perfect." 

He did not give them magic mobility work or special exercises, he made them work harder at proper assistance and accessory work, while perfecting technique with weights they could handle.

Common sense right?

We see the first example all the time, in some ways more now than we did before the gross overload of information online. Back in the day no one for the most part knew that their Pectineus was locked up and it was ruining their squat because it wasn’t letting their Adductor Magnus fire.
They just knew that they had to get strong(er). So, they worked harder.

These days with the massive amount of information, treatments, mobility drills, activation exercises, warmups and so much more, the simple matter of realizing that you just aren’t that strong, or strong enough to handle weights that you want is the problem.
Or that you just have shitty technique and that is what is causing your issue.

To a large majority of the new breed of lifter who have been training for a year, and have a  $300 belt, $250 shoes, a $900 phone, a $300 a month online coach (who may not be coaching, just providing workouts) and a 195 squat, I say:

Maybe you’re just weak and have shitty technique.

Yes, may of you will be insulted by this and think I am just a grumpy old man, which I am, but it’s true, but you shouldn’t be.
Sometimes the truth hurts.

Let’s use me as an example.

Bombing out, CJ Murphy, Sabra Mitchell, Matt Buckingham, Russ Smith, Candace Puopolo, powerlifting, elitefts, total performance sports

I am trying to build my bench back up after a long list of injuries, and also trying to return to squatting and pulling again too. Weights are not moving up as fast as I want it to, but they are going up.
It’s a challenge for many reasons.

  • I’m almost 50
  • I have actual injuries sustained over more than 30 years of hard training and competing
  • My bodyweight is lower than it has been since 1986
  • I took over a year off benching
  • I took at least that long off squatting
  • (Both due to injury)

When I look at my bench and it’s less than stellar number, I am not making excuses, I am not wondering what muscle I need to activate more in my back to stabilize, or 1000 other things we see many do today.

I am firmly aware that I am just not strong.

I am firmly aware that I need to develop a higher level of strength.

My technique degrades as the weight gets heavier.

The reason for this is that I am just not strong enough for it, yet.

Nothing else.

In today’s culture, many go looking for the micro detail of why?

Let’s look at the macro of why.

For me, and many of you, the reason that you’re having issues is that you just need to get strong(er).
Getting strong(er) allows you to have better technique with heavier weight.
Common sense isn’t it?

However, you could be pretty strong and just have bad technique, we see this a lot too. In this case, you don’t really need to get strong(er), you need to find a good and qualified coach to clean up your technique.

Getting back to the macro of why, getting strong(er) will allow you to use more weight on the big lifts as I stated, but it also does a lot to clean up technique in those who do pretty well with lighter weights.
Strength goes a long way.

In the car world, they say the only substitute for cubic inches is more cubic inches.

Cubic inches are like muscle and strength. More is never bad.


We display strength on our main lifts, the big ones.
We build it on the other ones, the Assistance and Accessory work.
Sure, this is a gross oversimplification, but I like simple.

Looking at my bench, will it get bigger by benching 4-5 times a week, maybe.
But, chances are that doing this will reinforce more of the same weaknesses that are holding me back.
And do little to improve technique.
As a mater of fact, I see a lot of this in certain styles of programing popular now.
We see a FAST increase in strength, and then stagnation and injury.
A lot!

Wait, am I saying that squatting, benching and deadlifting every session and doing minimal assistance/accessory work is not the best way to get strong(er)?

Well, YES. Loudly YES.
Screaming YES.


One, hitting the big lifts everyday is very taxing on recovery and can lead to overuse issues.

Two, you NEED variety.
Different exercises work the body differently-obviously. Working different muscles and angles makes the whole body stronger.

Three, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

So, if you have technique issues brought on at higher workloads, don’t over-diagnose what the issue is or could be.
You probably just need to get strong(er) all over.
Do some hard work.

Video yourself performing the lifts you suck at and then compare your technique to one of the people that is at the top of the food chain and see how your technique is compared to theirs.
I’ll bet theirs is better. Partly because they have a good coach who addresses technique issues, but mostly because they can press 125 pound dumbells for 20 reps and you either don’t do them at all, or use 45’s for 3 sets of 6.

Because that’s all your strong enough for.

Getting strong(er) can be done by only doing the big lifts BUT you will get much strong(er) and will be more resistant to injury if you actually do Assistance and Accessory work that addresses your needs.

Let’s say that your bench sucks like mine and the main reason is that your triceps are weak, like mine.

Do you:

A- hammer the bench press 4 days a week
B-maybe bench twice a week and spend a good deal of time getting your triceps stronger with stuff like:
Close Grip Bench Press
JM Press
Band Pushdowns
Tate Presses
And the other 5000 tricep exercises that we know of?

I’d argue that the lifter who does A will have an equally shitty bench a year from now and the one who chose B will have a much BIGGER bench because they decided to get strong(er).

Got a coach?

Do they actually coach you or just send a program and then give you a quick comment, or worse, not correct any technical issues?

Don’t call me grumpy old man again. I see this ALL THE TIME.

Just a few weeks ago, a member was training for an event and they have a “coach” who really has no business being a coach. The "coach" also never competed or trained at the sport they are coaching this person for.
Why would you pay that “coach”?

I offered a few tips, as their technique was shitty and it made a difference. I also asked if their coach was doing this. They said no. I said nothing but- let me know if you need any more tips.
The coach had them working at much too high of a weight (percentage) and they had very poor technique. The person was trying to figure out why and what the issue was.

They did not look at the macro of why.

They just were not strong enough to handle the weight and that forced them into worse technique that was bad to begin with.


And let me say this, I am not against mobility work, soft tissue work, or any of the things I listed in the earlier part of this log, I just hate seeing it used too much and in an unnecessary fashion.
If you need to do it, then do it, just don’t take 45 minutes.

And don’t overcomplicate things. If you’ve been training hard for less than 3 years there’s a good possibility that your issues will clear up simply be getting stronger and drastically improving your technique.

Rant over.


Did you catch my last Coaching Log?

Click the picture if you missed it.

Ass curls


One last thing, on June 12, 2018, Andrey Malanichev will be back at TPS for a Bench and Deadlift seminar.

andrey malanichev
You can see all the details and register on my site, or on our Facebook page under Events.

Find me on Google-search for Total Performance Sports Malden, Mass. The Best Gym in Boston, Facebook too.

Oh, yeah, follow us on Instagram too. TPSMalden



Vincere vel mori

Total Performance Sports


By: C.J. Murphy

May 10, 2018