The sport of powerlifting has evolved in many ways since I did my first meet back in 1997. As is life, some of these evolutions have been great and some not so good. There are even some that seem great on the surface but when I think deeper I am not so sure how great they really are. One such evolution is the access to knowledge about strength training. Technology and social media have put incredible amounts of information at the fingertips of lifters all over the world, but is this really as great an opportunity as it seems?

When I started powerlifting I had to search, work, and sacrifice to find information. All I really had easy access to was bodybuilding information. It was a hard search to find written materials about it. When I did it involved ordering and waiting for books or magazines. Powerlifting was still so underground that it was difficult to find knowledgeable lifters to train with or learn from. If you could find a good place to train that had experienced lifters, it was a pilgrimage.

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Even seminars were few and far between. You planned months and months in advance to make one. Today, of course, you can just open up any web browser on any number of modern devices and then spend days reading information or watching videos about getting stronger. You can find access to hundreds of lifters to follow and even ask questions of. You can access tons of forums to ask questions or just get fired up by talking about lifting. There is plenty of information about seminars going on throughout the country and year that lifters can plan to attend. With this new technology not only can you find great places to train near you but you can find places to train when you leave town for whatever reason. It is so much beyond what lifters back in the day had. I would have killed for this when I started out. But then again maybe it is not the greatest thing as it appears.

One of the best things about powerlifting for me was that it allowed me to push myself. I love pushing myself to see what I can do, and I don't only mean physically or mentally. I loved pushing myself to learn and understand as much as I could about strength, about myself. Knowledge is strength to me and I knew I had to obtain it in order to achieve my goals in lifting. Like I said, it was not easy back in those days. It took time and effort; it took dedication. When a lifter did find it they could not take it for granted. They had to make the most of every ounce they could get. They earned that knowledge and they were grateful for the chance. I believe the things that are worth having take work to get and sometimes when they are too easy they are taken for granted. I am not sure lifters feel that way about knowledge anymore.

box squat

It seems there are so many lifters today that take all this easily accessible knowledge for granted. It seems they just want to be told what to do but don't really want to learn. They want to buy set programs or have people train them (tell them what to do) over the internet. They want to send videos to lifters so they can tell them what to tweak in their technique. I see very little effort put into actually learning what they should be doing and why they should be doing it.

To make matters worse, if they do not see the results they expect they just jump ship and move on to the next internet sensation. They have access to endless programs and athletes they can keep switching to. I question if there is even any logical thought to which programs or lifters they jump to, minus the fact that maybe they are a fan or that this person just put up some amazing numbers.

Then to compound this problem even further, now there are lifters out there that are claiming to be trainers/coaches just because they are instafamous. So many of these lifters are just regurgitating stuff they have been told or read off the Internet, but they don't actually understand what the hell they are talking about. They surely don’t understand how to actually modify any of that information to a specific individual. It just seems lifters are taking all this knowledge for granted just because it is so much and it so easy for them to obtain. Why learn when it is so easy to just be told what to do?

Always being told what to do is not how one becomes great and it is most definitely not how one becomes a great lifter. The best coach anyone can ever have is himself or herself. This is because no one can ever know your body better than you can and knowing your body is a crucial part of strength training. This takes serious hard work, dedication, determination, persistence, and years if not decades of consistency.

All the greatest lifters I have ever met know their own bodies and are their own coaches. They may have teams or coaches that help them but they are the top coach with the final say. They are in control of all aspects of their own training. They did not start out this way but instead it was more of an individual evolution. Most of us learned from other lifters or coaches better than ourselves in the beginning. We learned from publications, coaches, other lifters, seminars, etc.

The key point here is the word “learned.” It was not about being told what to do; it was about learning how to get stronger. It should be like a baton of knowledge being passed on. The goal is to learn from better lifters and coaches in the beginning. Then we should take that knowledge and run on our own, finding how to best utilize it in terms of our own individual needs. After this, ideally we will learn how to use it to help other lifters discover what they individually need and again pass it on.

The baton keeps getting passed on and expanded on through each lifter that touches it. The knowledge gets dropped when lifters just want to be told what to do or when they try to help another lifter by simply regurgitating what they were told to do. Hardly anyone benefits from this. Live it, learn it, and pass it on!

glute ham raise

I have never been a person that liked to just be told what to do or how to do something. I always wanted to understand and learn it, especially if it was something I really enjoyed to do. This makes it hard for me to understand lifters that just want to be told what to do.

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I also find it really frustrating and have actually seen it my whole lifting career. When I was new to powerlifting and trying to learn conjugate, I would ask questions of lifters training that style. So many of them could only say that’s what they were shown or that’s what they read. They were unable to actually explain to me what and why they were doing it.

This never made sense to me, I wanted to know. Nowadays I see all kind of lifters just asking what they should do and rarely asking why. I see them jumping from program to program or trainer to trainer. It is like they are trying to hit the training program lottery and just keep buying tickets until one of them give the results they are after. Strength is about learning and modifying to fit our own personal needs. Maybe it has always been this way and technology just makes it more obvious or maybe the ease of access makes it that much easier to do now. Either way, I believe a lifter should learn what they are doing and why they are doing it. They will reap much bigger rewards in the long run for it for it.

I think it is an amazing opportunity to have the technology we do these days. I think it is so incredible that athletes have so much knowledge literally at the tips of their fingers. This is a very positive thing, but with all positives, there is usually some sort of negative. Lifters need to learn to see through negatives for what they are and focus on the positives. Even though the knowledge is there, do not just accept it and follow it to the T; it is the internet after all.

Take time to research and make sure it is solid information. Use your own brain and don’t just accept it. For all the great info out there, there is also a ton of crap. Just because someone has tons of friends or followers does not mean they know what they are doing or that they are a good person to learn from. Well, that is unless your goal is to have a ton of followers/friends, in which case maybe they are good to learn from.

When you do find the great information, don’t just memorize it. Learn and understand it. Then when you have learned it and you understand it, do not be afraid to expand on it or bend it. I can’t even say how many great lifters I have met that did not actually do the set program they were associated with. They almost always did their own version of the programs, gyms, or coach's style everyone thought they did.

These athletes were great because they learned and then expanded on what they learned. They used their minds as much as they used their bodies. This is such a great time to be a lifter if you grab ahold of the positive things and use them. Find the coaches, lifting partners, trainers, information, seminars, programs, and knowledge you need to improve. Take advantage of these things and actually learn from them. Don’t take them for granted because they are easy to find, because they are still priceless. Strive to push your mind as far as you push your body.

Strive to be your own coach on the road to greatness and remember the best coach you can ever have is yourself.