Originally published on December 15, 2017

Seriously, you’re killing me. It’s like death by exposure to stupid. Some days I feel like I should put on a hazmat suit before going on YouTube. Since I don’t want to be “that guy” who just walks around angry because the rest of the lifting community is seemingly brain dead, I’ll just stick with the top 10 most idiotic things powerlifters absolutely must stop doing. So maybe, just maybe, some of you will take a look at your own “practices” and see if you’re committing any of these offenses. And then stop doing them!


10. Dime Dropping

When you’re fat and bloated and pull a dime off the bar and drop it on the floor only to realize that you need it, you have to choose between two evils: bending over to pick it up or walking across the gym to grab another. Walking is like doing cardio, and you’re too bloated to bend over. This is a tough call.

What’s even worse is when bastards leave a 45-pound plate facedown on the floor. That’s just wrong. A hundred pound plate?! Need I say more?

9. Posting an Apology Online to Your Family, Friends, and “Fans” for Doing Poorly at a Meet

This is the absolute worst thing about the day after powerlifting meets. I would rather read 10-page rants from sore losers complaining about the judging, equipment, and temperature in the warm-up room than another whiny apology from a lifter for “failing to meet their fans’ expectations.”

Hey dipshit, nobody—especially your family and friends—cares about how you perform at a meet. I would bet that most of them have no clue about what you do or what any of it means. The fact is, the only reason they even know that you competed is that you’ve been beating them over the head with status updates for weeks leading up to the event. You know, that update with how you were starting your weight cut, the last real meal update, the no-carb meal update, the scale pic update, the after weigh-in update, the post weigh-in meal update, and the ready to #killweights update.

So maybe if you didn’t talk so much, you wouldn’t have to apologize for something that’s just a natural part of the process of training and competing: failure.


8. Thinking Every Injury Can Be Fixed by a Knee Wrap

Pull your groin? Just wrap it. Strain your quad? Wrap it. Tweak a hamstring? Wrap it. Cut your forehead open after banging your head into the bar? Hell, wrap it the fuck up. I know I did, and I have witnesses to prove it.

Speaking of wraps, you don’t want to wrap like an idiot. I sell 70 different types of wraps. None of them will do shit if you don’t know how to use them. I love all the debates about what the best wrap is when 90% of the lifters I see have no idea how to even wrap in the first place. Here’s a tip: I have a 20-year-old pair of Marathon wraps that, when put on correctly, will out-perform what is considered the best #beastmodewrap put on incorrectly. Before trying to figure out if you need a “casting” wrap or a “rebound” wrap, you really need to learn how to wrap in the first place. We have several articles and videos to help with this.


7. Not Telling Your Training Partner They Smell Like Shit

Powerlifters are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. The assholes that pick on smaller or weaker people typically get washed out fast, as the sport just doesn’t tolerate that kind of thing. Which is good, but can also be bad. Sometimes you need to be told how it is, with no filter, on stuff other than just technique or training. Number one on that list is when you fucking smell.

Guys, your gear starts to stink. Your sleeves, wraps, and certainly your shoes, all eventually reek — often like ammonia and old piss. If you’re a naturally stinky bastard already (you know the type I’m talking about) this can become a real problem, especially when you have two or three or even 10 pungent motherfuckers sweating their asses off in the gym. But most people can’t tell when they themselves stink (not until it’s way too late), so it’s on the training partners to grow some balls and break the bad news to them. Fact is, not doing this is worse than giving a shitty spot, because it affects the whole gym and makes for a horrific training experience for everyone, especially in July.

Not being honest with your partner about their odor level is criminally negligent. You should go to jail for that shit. I think they call these “critical conversations.” Have it. Thank me later.


6. Taking Five Hours to Do a Bench Workout

How can a group of guys take an entire afternoon to do a simple bench workout? Even when I trained at Westside, it never took longer than an hour to bench — max effort or dynamic. Shit, when Meadows comes over to the compound and we do one of his two-and-a-half hour leg sessions from hell, we’re still done before the guys benching finish their warm-up.

I understand the need for long rest intervals. I also get trying to copy how the day of the meet is going to play out. Still, how can it seriously take one hour before you have two plates per side?


5. Doing New Stuff You’ve Never Done at a Meet

Static stretching, funky diets, activation exercises, etc., can all be effective, but only if you’re used to doing them. Deciding that the day of the meet is the day you start static stretching is about the dumbest thing you can do. Even the time of day matters. If you’re a 9 PM trainer and your meet starts at 10 AM, you may be in for a rude awakening. You compete how you practice. Use that to your advantage.


4. Missing Lifts in Training

If you’re prepping for a meet and miss a lift in a training session, there should be a very good reason for it. Not being in the groove is a good reason. It happens. Failing because you picked a weight that was too heavy is not a good reason. It means you’re an idiot and making everything harder in the long run.

I see this mainly in intermediate lifters. They have everything all planned in their log down to the rep and they hit their targets perfectly. And then what do they do? They decide they’re feeling awesome and slap two 25s on the bar and get stapled. This can set them back weeks, if they’re lucky enough to not get injured. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing a lifter do everything right only to torpedo their own program because they let their ego get the best of them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you should say, “Yeah, let’s go for it.” While you're preparing for a meet isn’t one of them. Remember what the end goal is.

3. Being Scared of the Weight

This isn’t a macho thing about “not being a pussy.” Powerlifting isn’t that hardcore — it’s nothing like MMA or boxing or even football, where you literally risk getting your head knocked around every time you show up to train. But you do have to put heavy weights on your back, sit down, and get back up, or hold heavy barbells over your neck, lower it to your belly, and press. A lot can go wrong. I get that more than most.

The key is to learn to use that fear and channel it into performing at a higher level. There are things you can do to instill confidence with heavy weight (like overload sets with reverse bands or high box squats), but it comes down to your desire to succeed being stronger than your fear of failure or injury. Some people don’t have this. That’s okay. There are a dozen other strength training related endeavors you can try. Like bodybuilding (no one ever tore their triceps doing 15 reps of cable pushdowns) or Olympic weightlifting or whatever.

You can’t let fear keep you from getting under heavy weights. You need to embrace it and use it or get out now in one piece before you wash out later.


2. Not Seeking Real Life Mentors

I had great mentors in powerlifting from day one. I was coached as a teenager to a 500-pound bench in high school. By that point, I was the strongest guy in the gym, so I had to leave to find a new gym where I could learn, grow, and improve. I made a few switches like that before arriving at Westside, where I stayed for a long time and never reached the “strongest lifter” status. The point is, I always sought mentorship from real life experts who knew more and lifted more than me.

Today, there are guys who will ignore real-life expertise to follow some online guru with a fancy website. There are “serious” lifters who live near and/or train at Steve Pulcinella’s Iron Sport Gym in Pennsylvania who would rather pay some douche for online coaching and train at a commercial hellhole than train and learn under Steve’s watch. And this is a guy who I’d trust to teach a weekend seminar at elitefts for my customers without me even being there – he’s that good.

Online sources can be great to learn from, but it’s nowhere near as effective as real life expertise. If that's all you can do then find the best you can, but when there are great lifters and coaches within a 30-minute drive, I don’t get it. I used to drive one or two hours to squat, and we had people at Westside Barbell that would drive three or four hours one-way a couple times a week to train.

It’s that way with anything online: Some guys are really into online porn, but sex with an actual woman is way better. Hey, if you’re alone and can’t get laid, log on and tug away. But if you have a wife, girlfriend, or some friend with benefits thing, I would bet my ass you would drive more than 30 minutes to get the real deal. The things people will do to get laid amaze me, but the things people will not do to get strong amaze me even more.

As an aside, what’s more important? A world record or 10,000 online fans? Why does anybody even care?


1. Failing to Figure Shit Out for Yourself

Wanna piss me off? Complain about how an 800-pound squatter’s program that you followed was “shit” because it didn’t work for you. Hey asshole, their program wasn’t shit. It was shit for you. Big difference.

Everybody responds differently — not just to exercise but to everything. Teachers know this; some kids respond favorably to a militant disciplinarian style, others need less structure. No one is exactly the same. Lifting is no different. It’s called the Law of Individuality. There are individual biomechanics, muscle fiber makeup, recovery capabilities, immune systems, and response to stresses. Nothing is cut and dry, and nothing works for everyone.

Blindly following someone else’s plan when your progress shows that it’s simply not working is foolish. Of course, beginners need structure and best practices, but at a certain point, you need to take ownership of your training. Listen to experts (especially the real life ones), but the onus is on you to figure this all out.

Looking back over this list I have to admit…

I am guilty of them all.