Powerlifters, have you ever been ready to take a big attempt at a meet…focused and prepared for the task at hand, when out of the blue someone starts shouting some random cue that you have never heard before? Let alone had time to process and implement? I can assure you this has happened to me and it can be a huge distraction. As a coach/trainer it is a huge pet peeve of mine. Few things make me cringe quite like setting up my lifter under a heavy squat, then hearing some random cue across the room being shouted above my own voice. It’s usually from an irrelevant person that just learned a new cue on YouTube that morning from some “guru” and now thinks that everyone NEEDS to hear it immediately if not sooner. SHUT. UP. Please…shut up. Seriously.
When I am ready to get under a heavy barbell, I can and will take cues from ONE VOICE, maybe two depending on the people and situation. Anything else is just white noise or worse, a distraction. The voice(s) I will listen to under any circumstance are extremely limited. They belong to people who know my lifting and the important things to remind me of. They know to be concise, loud and get the job done without throwing me off. This is something I got help with a long time ago at an EliteFTS seminar. Dave Tate saw a flaw in my positioning and approached me to fix it. Once he had explained my issue to me, he asked who I normally trained with. I nodded to my guy Tyler. Dave in turn explained that he needed to communicate with me using ONE syllable and ONE syllable only, what to do, and to make it loud enough that I could pick it out of a crowd while under 600+ lbs. (Ask the Panda himself about this encounter if you’d like a good chuckle by the way) I still use that cue and my closest partners know to use it to this day. And it still works. That ONE voice in a sea of white noise gets me to position correctly, and ONE VOICE to call me “back, back, back” then “UP!” This didn’t happen overnight though; it took years of practice to develop the ability to block out the rest of the random loud noise.
Time and time again, I see a lifter approach a bar for a big attempt and I hear 46 different things being yelled at them. It’s to the point that I can’t even process what I’m hearing, let alone the person trying to line up under the bar. Today, everyone is a coach and wants to be the one to yell “the big one.” That one big, brand new cue that someone published on the internet 8 hours ago and will suddenly be the key to success in this attempt for a lifter they may or may not even know anything about.
STOP IT. Don’t be that guy or girl.
I make it a point to know my lifters and their needs as well as humanly possible. We work to develop specific cues where necessary that will apply to their individual needs. You may not understand those cues, but they’re not for you. They’re for the person under the bar that may need to be reminded of the things they may forget to do unless prompted appropriately. If they can’t hear the cues we’ve been practicing, they could miss a lift or even get hurt. There may also be a process in place that you are not aware of. When it comes to technique, there is only so much information someone can process at one time. Let’s say a lifter has three glaring technical issues. Maybe we have discussed them at a previous time, but on that particular day, the focus is on elbow position. We will be working on cues to get the elbows where they need to be. Yelling about foot placement is only adding to the issue by taking focus away from the lifter. This isn’t a control freak thing; it’s a need to get the job done properly. Similarly, I am not going to walk up to a platform and yell “double chin” at you at the top of my lungs when your mechanical issue is that you’re not engaging your glutes. That would be irrelevant and counterproductive. Nor am I going to approach someone else’s client in the warmup room and tell them to “twist the towel” with their feet. First off, it’s not my place. Secondly, they won’t have any idea what that means. It would be counterproductive and just confuse them and add noise to an already busy mind. Meet day is not an appropriate time to be addressing technique issues that have not been previously addressed; ESPECIALLY if it’s not your lifter. If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of someone’s training, the seconds before a lift are NOT an appropriate time to try and interject. If you just like to make loud noises and be encouraging to the lifter, that’s great. Just keep it nonspecific and allow their coach or training partner to do their job. Cheering them on by saying “let’s go!” or “you’ve got this!” while they approach is great and leave it at that.
Remember, each lifter will have their own specific needs and preferences for what they need to hear under the bar. Please let them hear that without a bunch of excess information. If you want to help hype them up and create excitement, that’s fantastic, and it can really help on meet day or even heavy training lifts! Just keep it generic and let the coaches/handlers do their job addressing the details. If you just HAVE to impart some kind of information that you think will help someone, go ahead and do so, but do that at an appropriate time. Maybe strike up a conversation after the chalk dust settles for the day, or even wait and send the lifter a message on social media at another time. But under a heavy bar, please let them listen to their ONE VOICE.
For Coaching & Programming Inquiries
All In Personal Training