Let's start with the definition of Methodical.
(adjective) done according to a systematic or established form of procedure.
(of a person) orderly or systematic thought or behavior.
That sounds like something that should be applied to the body when lifting weights, right?
More often than not, I see people lift one way when they're warming up or with sub-maximal weights and then make changes to their approach, set up and even movement pattern when working with heavy loads. This is a mistake.
Becoming a methodical lifter is incredibly important. Being consistent always yields positive results when it comes to barbell training.
What do I mean by being methodical lifter?
I mean you approach the barbell the SAME exact way, each time you lift it...
- It all starts in your mind... envision the lift first. Go over the main points you want to focus on to ensure you move well; remind yourself of some key cues (stay vertical, belly tight, etc). You can say these cues out loud or to yourself in your head. (I say them out loud. I'm not a quiet lifter ;) )
- Next, walk up to the barbell with confidence whether it's on a rack or on the floor. Stare that fucker down. You are are in control here. At this point, you should be taking in a few intentional breaths. You're psyching yourself up. Remember, we're doing this whether the bar is empty or if you're going for a new PR.
- Place your hands on the bar. Hand placement and how you arrive at the correct hand placement should be a ritual. Do you measure with your thumbs from the knurling? Do you start your hands close and then slide them out to the right place?
- Check your feet. If you're lifting a barbell from a rack, you should have both feet together before you remove the barbell..lift the bar off, take 2 steps back to make sure you're clear from the rack and then lift. Don't unrack the barbell in a split stance. You wouldn't do that with a PR attempt so don't get sloppy and do it haphazardly with an empty bar. Remember...be systematic.
- Now you're ready to get tight (use your diaphragm). Remind yourself one last time of those key cues you need to focus on. Get your mind right and LIFT.
There are plenty of little rituals that people have when they're setting up to lift. Some are slow to set up, some are really fast. Some do little twists and stomps with their feet. Some make some noises. Whatever floats your boat. It's all about you.
The point is you need a system. You need a ritual. You need to have these things in place, down pat, so when it counts the most (going for a PR), you're not having to think about your setup...it just happens.
The only thing you need to worry about is getting that shit done!
Oh, and I don't want to hear your excuse about how you need the bar to be heavier to "feel it" so you can lift it correctly. Your warm up reps and sets should look pretty damn close to your reps and sets at max weights. Do yourself a favor and look up some training videos of the world's top weightlifters. They're way stronger than you are and they move an empty barbell just as precisely and gracefully as they do with their heaviest loads.
Be methodical. Be consistent. Be The Pelican.
Ready to lift some barbells and be awesome? Take advantage of our Free Week Trial at SPSC Crossfit now.
-Nicole Race, Co-Owner/Coach at St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit