I am fully aware of the potential for irony in writing an article for an Internet website, advising people to spend less time reading and watching things on the Internet. That fact notwithstanding, the next installment in my "Mistakes 101" series is here: Too Much Surfing, Not Enough Lifting.

One day back in March, when I'd already been working on the 5thSet book for quite some time, I got to the section where I break down the way I teach the squat (something I have probably done 1000 times in my life).

I realized that it came down to about eleven bullet points. That's it. Eleven bullets.

It made me think about the over-complication I've seen recently, by some experts, presumably in an attempt to teach the squat. Someone sent me a link to a series of long-ass YouTube videos on the subject.

Probably 90% of the people watching those videos are absolute beginners, and the vast majority of that group of viewers is now going to stumble, in an attempt to apply an onslaught of convoluted material, which is marginally useful at best. "Wheels within wheels," as they say. Yeah, that's all very interesting, but in most cases it muddles up what could be a very simple learning process.

The Internet is a double-edged sword. While it has certainly changed the way we live our lives, mostly for the better, it has also provided an overload of information to people starting out in training which is easily, and it seems like usually, misapplied. Believe it or not, consulting the oracle of Google is not really the best way to learn some things.

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I didn't have that problem when I started lifting. Back then, the Internet just squealed annoying dissonance when you'd attempt to "sign on." There were websites, but nothing really on them. There were "chat rooms," but you sort of instinctively knew not to take advice from anyone in them. For the most part, you had to either buy books or learn directly from someone else to pick up a new skill. We might've been better off back then.

MORE Mistakes 101: Assistance Work

Nowadays, websites and social media are rife with heavily credentialed "experts" ready to confuse the shit out of anyone willing to listen, for a nominal fee.

It's like teaching someone how to lift weights has become a form of practicing medicine and these people would have you believe you need a PhD to do it. Or, to learn how to do it. Like you need a PhD in Squatting to do it correctly. Well, guess what? You don't.

I have taught people how to squat in prison who didn't know how to read or write, and get ready for this: they did it much better than some of these experts.

If I'm trying to teach you how to cook breakfast for yourself, when the time comes to show you how to make toast, I'm going to tell you to put two slices of bread in the toaster and push the handle down. When the toast pops up, it's done. We don't really need to have any dialogue about how the filament in the toaster heats up. In fact, to do so would distract you from the skill you're trying to learn.  See where I'm going with this?

I might tell you to make sure the toaster is plugged in, but we don't need an in-depth conversation about how electricity works.

When I learned to squat correctly, for the first time, I had no concern for glute activation because I was 14, and I didn't know what the fuck that was. There was basically no internet, so I didn't know any better. That worked in my favor. The guy who taught me told me to keep my back straight, my stomach tight, to squat down as low as I could and stand back up. It took me a few tries, but I got it. If he had given me a 20-minute explanation about the potential for injuries to the psoas muscle, I'd have probably just walked out while he was talking.

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There is a lesson here. I wasn't ready for all of that other information. One day I would choose to make coaching my career, and at that point, learning the minutia would prove helpful. But most people don't ever need to learn it, even the very best lifters. Malanichev is arguably the strongest man to ever get under a bar, and he says the best thing for him is to stay neutral, not think, and listen to his coaches. He focuses on attacking the weight, that's it.

In the beginning, all that information might have provided me with excuses I could've used to avoid developing the obstinate determination that I did; that which has fueled me to come as far as I have. I might've never even become good at lifting, much less decided to compete.

I hate to ever present a problem without offering a solution, so here is the best I can do for you. If you want to learn to lift correctly, or improve your technique, or learn about competition, stick to the material that keeps it simple; the stuff you can easily understand. Or better yet, how about hiring a coach to work with you? Preferably one who has worked with lifters who have succeeded, or, at the very least, actually done something notable his or herself (not two to four  meets).

MORE Mistakes 101: Doing Things That Hurt

Don't think you can afford it? You probably spend $100 per week at GNC on shit you don't need. Most coaches won't charge you that much, and you'll be getting something you actually do need, so that seems like a much better deal.

It bears repeating: there is no suitable replacement for hands-on instruction and coaching. That goes for novice, intermediate and advanced lifters.

The bottom line is that you do have all of this information at your fingertips. What you choose to do with it is up to you. Like I said, it can be useful when the time is right. If you find yourself reading something about training that seems really technical and confusing, stop. Turn off your computer.

Ask yourself "Did Ed Coan worry about this shit?"

I'm going to bet that's a solid "no." He was too busy training, eating, and sleeping, like you should be.

Stop obsessing about shit that doesn't matter, and focus on putting in work.

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