Five People You Need in Your Training Life

TAGS: lifting form, teammate, successful powerlifter, Matt Ladewksi, technical flaw, training partner, training philosophy, powerlifting

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To be a successful powerlifter or athlete, you need both a good technical and tactical support group. I’m not talking about the cheerleaders or rah-rah support, but those in place that help get you from Point A to Point B. I have looked at my personal success and observed who is currently in my life and who has been in the past to help me move toward my goals. I have found five types of people who can bend my ear, grab my attention, and then push or pull me toward the place I need to be. Each of these people plays an important role at different times and I hope that you can find them in your training life.

The Voice of Reason

Who doesn’t need a voice of reason? We all need that person who can bring us back to square one. They are there to help you make decisions by looking at the bigger picture that you can see from where you stand. They will always give you leeway but they won’t let you stray too far from the path. Some will be blunt and tell you that you’re making a mistake, others will take time discussing all your options to present a better choice. The Voice of Reason will help discuss your options and help you weigh them out so you can make your own decision. The Voice of Reason will plant idea seeds and let them grow into your own ideas that keep you grounded. By not giving you straight answers every time, you will come to a conclusion while you talk things out and they listen.

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The Truth Teller

Powerlifting is full of egos, but that should be no surprise to you. The guy who always tells you the truth is not always liked; not everyone wants to be told they are squatting high. The Truth Teller does not blow smoke up your ass. They are blunt and to the point. If you are high, The Truth Teller will tell you. If your lift looked like crap and you can do it better technically, they will tell you. These are the guys you need to help nitpick lifts apart. They will find the smallest cracks and point them out. But if you are this guy, be warned: there are big-time lifters who get pissed when told they're high. These are the same lifters who have trouble keeping training partners. They are called out and they immediately throw out their numbers, and if you are not close to them, your opinion doesn’t matter. If you disagree with their opinion, that is fine, but file it away for a time when you need answers.


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You are better off having a person be more of a stickler in training and get away with the lift at the meet than squat high constantly in training and have it raining reds. You need The Truth Teller.

The Eye

Much like The Truth Teller, The Eye will help you pinpoint any small flaw in your lifts, especially technical flaws. Their job in your training life is to help you find the next five pounds. It might be a tweak, a quick fix, or big change that could take months to take you to the next level. They will review video, provide feedback, and watch for improvements or regressions. The Eye has many tools and tricks to tweak your technique. The Eye is able to diagnose weak points and offer corrective measures. They understand that technical improvements may not always be possible until the weak parts are brought up.

The Brain

The Brain is the person you go to when you are trying to hash out some ideas. They will bounce ideas back and forth, giving you multiple angles to attack your training problems. Understanding there are multiple roads to the same place, The Brain will help you explore the options but still leave you to choose the best route. Seeds will be planted and may not come to fruition for a long while, but once they take hold, they will grow quickly. You should also be able to disagree with The Brain without hurt feelings on either side. Having someone who doesn’t always agree with you will help you to rethink your approach. It can solidify your own training philosophy. This is why road trips, visits to other gyms, and going to meets will help you grow as a lifter and coach.

The Agitator

If you have trained in a group—and I hope you have—you already have an image of your agitator. The Agitator stokes your fire and motivates you, but not always in a positive way. If they beat you that day they will let you know, they will talk trash, and they won’t let you forget. Everything becomes a contest: reps, sets, time, weight, and most importantly contest numbers. No matter if you are chasing The Agitator or they are chasing you, they will be there to remind you that you must constantly work harder. You can’t take the foot off the gas pedal in fear of being passed up. In the back of your mind, skipping a week, day, or even a set will give The Agitator the opening they need to get an edge.

One person could fill all of these roles but that is highly unlikely. It might be a training partner, friend, competitor or family member that fills one of the roles. Each person will play a part in your success. As you grow as a lifter, competitor, coach, and teammate, people will come and go, shifting in and out of these roles. Just as important as the people are to your success, what role will you play in the lives of lifters around you?

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