The SINGLE BIGGEST Difference Between Beginners and Advanced Lifters

There’s always something crazy going on in this industry. At any moment, there’s a maniac in a weight room taking a dangerous lift and a shady businessman in an office finding a way to turn dirty profits. The posts you find here in my log are the musings of a mashed-up meathead — the reactions I have as I spend my whole life watching this industry. I will share my thoughts with you here, unedited, uncensored, unfiltered, and Under The Bar. If you are offended byprofanity - do not read this



I was recently asked what the biggest difference between intermediate and advanced lifters, and beginning lifters was.


It didn't take me long to come up with the answer to this one because it's so obvious to me after being in this sport for as long as I have. The difference between the 2 is, in the simplest form, beginning lifters or novice lifters need to learn how to train harder, while the advanced lifters need to learn how to train not as hard.


To dive into this a little bit deeper, beginning lifters need to understand and learn how to keep their entire body tight when they lift. They need to learn to use maximum amount of muscle, central nervous system, basically everything when they lift weight, and when they lift maximum weight. If you think about the coordination skills of a beginner and basic movements; squat, benches, presses, dead lifts and so forth, their technique is not optimal, and their coordination is not optimal, and the neuromuscular coordination is not optimal.


Is their 100% max really 100% max, or it just the most they can lift with the coordinational skills that they have, so they need more repetition. They need to train harder than what I typically see most of them do. Most beginners that I see over the past 10 years try to emulate the training that they see that advanced lifters do, which is entirely ass backwards.



What they need to do is to emulate the training that the advanced lifters did to get to where they are.


...because when you're an advanced lifter, most of the time the coordination is dialed in. The muscular system is firing efficiently. The technique is dialed in. Everything is so dialed in that they're getting more stimulus out of one repetition than the beginner is going to get out of one repetition.


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Years ago when I was still working as a trainer, I saw this firsthand when I had a soccer player I was training, just as a gauge, work up to per one rep max on a box squat. This ended up being around 100 pounds, and then I stopped it because the technique was breaking down more than I was comfortable with. So, maybe, maybe another 10 pounds, but it would have been a complete disaster, as far as the way it looked. I dropped the weight back to 80% of what that was, as she proceeded to do close to 30  repetitions with it.


box squat harvey

Now, if I took an advanced lifter who's got 20 years experience competing at a national level, and asked them to do 27 repetitions with 80%, they couldn't fucking do it. It would be impossible to do. Not in one set, so there is a vast difference there between the stimulus and how it's being impacted, and how it's impacting the body overall. That is going to affect the ability for somebody to recover, which then is going to process the ability for them to super compensate, and the ability for them to be able to make progress. That would be the other end with the advanced lifters who do too much, when they need to learn how to back down, because if they are drilling their bodies much harder than what they actually think that they are.


The Take Away

To tie all this up, if a beginner is having problems making progress, and they want a simple solution on what they need to move forward, my answer is always simple. They need to do more volume. They need to work harder. With their accessory work and their supplemental work, they need to find a way to mentally do one more fucking rep than they think they can do. If they mentally lock themselves in, they'll probably find they have the ability to do 3 or 4 more repetitions than what they actually think they can do. Those 3 or 4 more repetitions on that supplemental and accessory work at that level should not be left on the table, because the intensity factor isn't as relevant as what it is for the advanced lifter, because coordination is not as dialed in as the advanced lifter.


An advanced lifter who was to ask me for advice because they're stuck, my simple solution is they need to dial something back. They could be dialing back the accessories to be able to put more focus on the main lifts. It could be the volume for the main lifts is too high. More likely, something needs to be dialed back. So, the biggest difference between the advanced lifter and the beginner lifter is the ability to work hard. One needs to work harder, one needs to learn how to dial it back.
* This advice is generalized for most. I will be the first to say I have seen many beginners who need to dial it back and advanced lifters who need to work harder and add volume. When it comes to training advice I have found few it zero absolutes. There are always exceptions. The problem with "exceptions" is they only make up the minority as a whole but the majority feel they are the exception.

Look objectivity. 



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