Weightlifting, a sport that is still considered niche, is becoming popular amongst gym goers. While there aren’t many people flocking to be competitive in the sport, many use Weightlifting as a fun way to get stronger.
Weightlifting looks dangerous, lifting a barbell above your head is downright intimidating, and finding a good coach is difficult, so most people who want to learn Weightlifting never start. They make up many excuses as to why they haven’t yet done something that scares the shit out of them. On the other end of the spectrum, once you start Weightlifting, you get so addicted to lifting the barbell that you can’t understand when to rest.
I’m going to discuss these two aforementioned problems, 1. When to start lifting, and 2. When to rest., and give principled solutions to help you get started in lifting so you can balance your eagerness towards your newfound sport.
Three Types of Weightlifters
First, for a simplified differentiation, let’s dissect Weightlifters into three basic types. There are 1. Recreationally-competitive Weightlifters, 2. Hybrid Weightlifters and there are 3. Hobbyist Weightlifters.
All three types enjoy Weightlifting, but at varying degrees. For example, the Recreationally-competitive Weightlifters will solely focus on Weightlifting, and dedicate as much time and energy into Weightlifting as they possibly can. Some will integrate Weightlifting into their lifestyle and make important decisions (i.e. Selecting a college with a great barbell club nearby) based on their love for Weightlifting.
Hybrid Weightlifters enjoy Weightlifting, however, it’s not their only or first love, and they’re not completely committed. They admire Weightlifters with great technique, and they are strong athletes, but they lack the commitment to consistency, so their improvement is slow and sometimes stagnant.
The last type, the Hobbyist Weightlifters. This type likes Weightlifting, they are typically in that beginning stage of their lifting career, but the difference between them and a beginner is they are fine with remaining here. They have goals (ie. bodyweight Snatch), but they lack the commitment, consistency, and confidence altogether, so they train sporadically and then they take huge breaks because they are preoccupied with other responsibilities. Hobbyists tend to be working professionals with families, so they understand that their commitment is limited, but they still love Weightlifting.
When to Start
When people want to learn Weightlifting, for many reasons, they are apprehensive about when is the perfect time to start. So, when should you start Weightlifting?
The answer: Start today.
The Great Apollo Creed said, “THERE IS NO TOMORROW!”
Rocky III, “There is no tomorrow Rocky”
This quote is the major reason why you should not wait for the perfect time to start learning Weightlifting. There is never a perfect time to start lifting. However, starting along the proper path with a good coach and a few other amenities will help you succeed.
If you’re ready to start learning how to lift the barbell properly, from certified coaches who are passionate about teaching you, we would love to have you join a class. We teach classes every day, go to www.hkweightlifting.com to learn more about us.
So when should you start and stop lifting? Short answer: Start anytime; train consistently. Briefly, stop lifting in the middle of the year, and at the end of the year.
When to Take Time Off
Taking time off, or resting is a simple concept, but it’s widely misunderstood. If you are resting, then you are recovering, and recovery helps you improve. If you’re not recovering, you may not be resting enough. For example, after a strenuous training session, you should compliment your hard work with food, sleep, and other modalities like stretching that help you recover. If you continue on to your next training session, and you’re not properly recovered you will tire quickly, under-perform, and likely become injured.
Resting is seen as a sign of weakness, and for some reason, people completely disregard the benefits of rest. For example, many coaches and athletes prefer to train more than needed. You’ve probably heard overly-macho talk like “Sleep is for the weak!”, “No days off”, and “Train stupid”. Those are the stupidest things any athlete can believe and regurgitate. Sleep is the second most important recovery modality behind smart and optimal training, I’ll expand on more on the details of downtime and sleep in a follow-up post.
Taking time off is a reference to a specific type of rest period known as DOWNTIME. This is a pre-planned period WHEN YOU SHOULD YOU STOP LIFTING THE BARBELL. Downtime typically lasts two to four weeks a year or as needed and recommended by your coach. I prefer to split the year in a half with two two-week periods, so my lifters can think of the year as two smaller training cycles; this chunking will help them to be more successful in achieving their goals.
Let’s assume you have four competitions in a year and you’re planning to peak for two major competitions (one in June, and one in early December). This means you will need to take a break after the June competition and the December competition to allow the body time to prepare for another half year of strenuous training or for complete rest after your final end of the year competition.
Scholars have written papers and books about how long the optimal rest period should be, and they all agree that at least four weeks a year, in two-week increments is optimal for downtime. To test this, I’ve run two empirical experiments:
- Planned downtime into my athletes’ training before I add training modalities into their macrocycle.
- I searched the internet (actually just Instagram) for empirical evidence of some the best athletes in the world, and ALL OF THEM HAD DOWNTIME after the 2017 World Championships. Go to some of their profiles below and you’ll see at least one of these three things that indicate that they are resting:
- Videos of them doing “accessory work”
- No videos, like they’ve stopped posting because they aren’t training seriously yet
- Photos and videos of them doing other activities (hunting, stretching, hanging with family, etc)
After a week full of ?+?, I will slowly start to train again. ? And I can finally overload you guys with my training videos. ? _______________________________________ Nach einer Wochen?+? werde ich wohl mal so langsam wieder mit dem Training beginnen.? Und dann kann ich euch endlich wieder mit Trainingsvideos voll spamen. ? . PICTURE by: ??@gregorwinter . #nofitnesshipster #germanweightlifting #crossfit #olympicweightlifting #bvdg #dosb #wirfuerD #fitness #sportdeutschland #teamdeutschland #trainingshelden #sporthilfe #RoadtoTokio #atginsta
- Mattie Rogers (-69, USA)
- Francisco Mosquera (-62, COL)
- Sopita Tanasan (-53, THA)
- Lydia Valentin (-75, SPN)
- Sohrab Moradi (-94, IRI)
- Lasha Talakahadze (-105+, GEO)
A Small Challenge
I’d like to leave you with a few challenges. Just before you roll into the new year:
- Discuss with your coach when will you plan to start and stop lifting the barbell. For my athletes, we are on the final week of a Transition Phase where we are using anatomical adaptation to strengthen the joints, tendons, and muscles, and to improve balance and flexibility so that our lifters stay injury free while they prepare to lift heavy weights again. That means this is the perfect time to start for almost anyone. Also, we plan to release our 2018 competition schedule soon. With that schedule, I have two periods of downtime for much-needed recovery (end of June, and the end of December).
- If you’re anxious to start weightlifting, but you don’t know how, then let us guide you to a safe and successful start. At Hong Kong Weightlifting, we offer an Introduction to Olympic Weightlifting course that is specifically tailored to taking beginners through the foundational movements. We also offer regular barbell club, technique classes, and strength & power classes. Our core focus is Olympic Weightlifting, however, we train beginners and athletes from all experience levels. Come lift with us!
- If you know someone who could benefit from these training tips, please share with them!