5 Things That Sabotage Younger Lifters

By: Brian Carroll

1. They have no mentors in their life or the ones they have are idiots; your average gym bro, a clueless high school coach, etc. Most athletes that are successful have coaches that played an important role in their lives and guided them down a path to what ends up being eventually productive. My mentors were Skip and Norman at the local powerhouse. They told me to train heavy, eat a lot and to stay away from bullshit movements that were unproductive for my goals. They were more right than I even knew. They showed belief in me, even though I didn’t believe.

2. They listen to too many experts at one time. This is a thin line to walk on. There’s a huge difference in listening to everyone and spinning your wheels like a maniac and not getting anywhere and being an actual student of the game and applying certain ideals, principles and suggestions when warranted. This comes with maturity but some athletes never learn this and wonder why they don’t progress properly even if they have all the tools at their disposal.

3. They are in the wrong shoes, literally. They go out and buy the newest ‘fad’ lifting shoe when their favorite lifter pimps them out. I do endorse certain products and things of that nature but everything is relative to your goals. For example, Lifter X is now on top of the strength game and endorses the new lifting shoe with a monster heel and tells you all about it. You have to consider how is this person built? Flat feet? Long femurs? Tight hips? Loose hips? Wide stance or close? You have to see what works for you, your leverages, injury history and the way you perform the movement. As a rule of thumb Louie Simmons says, “don’t have a $300 pair of shoe and a $5 squat”. I will take it a step further and say before you go out and spend 300 dollars on a top of the line lifting shoe, work on your form, buy a cheaper pair first, do your homework and ask other good lifters what works for them. Don’t just assume because your favorite lifter wears them that they will work for you. You may end up wasting money on shit you don’t need.

4. They lift heavy too often. I can tell you I never knew or even heard of a deload but I definitely figured out the importance of them until about seven years ago. Even with that knowledge I didn’t apply like I should have. I see it all the time; lifters training heavy, heavier then heaviest and then after a few weeks of this they either peak too early, get frustrated and program hop or get injured in some way. Neither of those are not good. Go heavy for a few weeks then back off for a week or two. If you ramp up and back off before you need to, you’ll stay ahead of the game as I talk about in 10/20/Life.

5. They think progression is linear. This is a huge one and goes almost hand in hand with point four. They thing just because they went from a 315 deadlift to a 405 deadlift in 10 weeks that they will have a 500 deadlift in another 10 weeks, 600 in 20 and 1000 dead within 50-60 weeks!!! That is an extreme thought, yes, but you would be surprised how many people truly believe their strength will increase that quickly. Your gains generally will be the largest and most noticeable when you’re a rookie or new to strength training. Why? It’s the novice effect. You can take a relatively untrained novice and they WILL get stronger fast, as their strength increases come, so will the slowdown of progress. This is why coaching and smart programming is critical as you progress.  Generally, you can make gains and improve no matter how bad everything is actually put together as a novice. As a lifter as you progress you need to have everything covered to keep increasing; diet, supplements, rest, program, intensity, deloads, how many times you compete a year, etc. When you are new, the extreme basics will work but that all changes over time. Unfortunately some people expect those beginner gains to be the norm when they aren’t.

As a beginning lifter these 5 steps will help you to understand a little more about lifting. They are not magic tricks, just a basic primer to avoid a few stupid mistakes a lot of people make along the way.

You will still make mistakes, we all do and many of us make them regardless of the amount of years we have under the bar. If you can learn to minimize mistakes by listening to others who have already learned them you are several steps ahead of the game.


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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.

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