A Little Consistency Never Hurt Anyone

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The other day I was watching one of our athletes squat, and noticed he was having a little trouble.  Okay, maybe a lot of trouble. Alright, truth be told, I felt like pouring battery acid into my eyes, it was that bad – but, whatever.

Now, I could have been super anal and pointed out 18 different things that were wrong:  get your air, keep your chest tall, pull the bar down, sit back, push your knees out, eyes forward, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

But, in the end, all that would really accomplish is nothing other than to make him feel frustrated, confused, and not a real big fan of mine from the coaching side of things.

So, instead, what I decided to do was to focus on one (maybe two) things that I felt were the biggest “redflags and that’s it.  While it sounds counterintuitive, by ONLY working on one thing at a time, many of the other issues tend to fix themselves automatically.

For example, on his very next set all I told him to do was “focus on keeping your chest out (or tall).  Pretend you’re on a beach, and there are a bunch of hot chicks playing volleyball and/or giving each other tickle fights – show them that steel plate you have for a chest.”

By focusing on that one thing, he was then able to get decent thoracic extension and maintain a better arch throughout his next set.  Success!  I’m awesome.

Looking at the broader picture, though, it comes down to consistency and having a routine.   Sure we can break down every lift to the most mundane detail, but I watch some of our guys or even random people at commercial gyms train, and see no consistency.  More specifically, no two sets look the same:  one set they’re setting up one-way, and the next, it looks completely different – either their foot placement is off, or maybe they’re looking in a different direction altogether.  There’s no focus, and that’s a problem.

Bluntly speaking, how do you expect to build rock solid technique if, on every other set, there’s no continuity and things are completely out of whack?

Lets use myself as an example.  Here’s my first warm-up set with 145 lbs on the trap bar deadlift from the other day:

NOTE:  I wouldn’t crank this one too loud if you’re at work due to the background music – EAR MUFFS!!!

Now take a look at my first “work set” at 450 lbs (which was done after going 235×3, 325×3, 415×3 on subsequent warm-up sets):

And, here’s my last work set at 570 lbs:

Note:  Yes, I realize I didn’t get my hips though quite all the way on those reps.  Yes, I’m calling myself out.  Yes, I’m still one sexy bastard either way.

Every set was the same:  how I approached the bar, how I adjusted my feet, where I kept my arms, how many breaths I took before descending, hell, even my little Jack Parkman butt wiggle that makes all the ladies swoon (props if you get that reference) stayed consistent with every set. 

So, the question then becomes:  are YOU being consistent?

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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Comments for This Entry

  • R Smith

    For me, consistency has paid huge dividends, especially with squats and deadlifts. The more I perform a lift, while paying close attention to form and feel, the better I seem to get at it. For example, on the TB deadlift, I can always tell if my hips were too high (feels like a good morning), I didn't engage my lats (the bar drifts forward), I didn't drive my heels into the floor (my hammies don't cry) or I didn't get full hip extension immediately following the lift (my glutes aren't set on fire). But I wouldn't know to be aware or recognize such things were it not for being diligent (consistent) in performing the lift. A long-winded way of saying I agree. RS

    February 10, 2011 at 7:54 am | Reply to this comment

  • Matt

    The "Major Leagues" were the best sports movies ever! 100% agree with being consistent with your lifts.

    February 10, 2011 at 7:56 am | Reply to this comment

  • nock

    For moi......"focus on keeping your chest out (or tall)" is a key to get me on track when it comes to deadlift. The other thing as well that works for me and I believe Tony has mentioned this in another post of his, is focusing your eyes on a certain spot or location for each set.

    February 10, 2011 at 8:17 am | Reply to this comment

  • Chris

    ... but it makes the women in cleveland puke...

    February 11, 2011 at 11:50 am | Reply to this comment

  • Eric Addis

    You could change your sites headline to a Parkman quote. "I'm the only winner on this team. The rest of 'em, they're losers. Either by choice, or by birth."

    February 12, 2011 at 8:49 am | Reply to this comment

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