A Little Consistency Never Hurt Anyone
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?