Lately, it seems like I am seeing more and more powerlifting “experts” regarding training techniques both online and around the gym. This article is not intended to dispense training advice but rather to help young lifters in finding a coach and confirming that they are getting sound advice.
This advice can apply to everything from politics to religion, and it certainly applies to powerlifting. Do not listen to advice you find on social media from self-proclaimed powerlifting experts. Virtually everything I read regarding training advice on social media is complete garbage (and that is being polite). As I read most of the powerlifting advice I see on social media, I am convinced of two things. Firstly, you are almost guaranteed to over-train and/or injure yourself. I see so many videos of people using bad form; and lifting too heavy and too often. Not too mention the terrible advice on form which I see people dispense. Secondly, I am sure you will have severe digestive issues if you follow some of the dietary advice I see. Generally speaking, social media has become a platform for everyone to be an expert on every topic. Feel free to discuss things, but please remember that the advice you are receiving may not be coming from someone who really knows what they are talking about.
Look for a coach that has a long history of competing or coaching others. When a coach has a long history, that coach has seen a lot of techniques and a wide variety of body styles and personalities. A good coach will also know how to keep you injury-free while training. A lifter should NEVER injure themselves training. A good coach knows that there is no reason to push yourself to that level in training. It is better to be 100% on MEET DAY rather than leaving your PRs in the gym. There is no standard or perfect training method that works for everyone. Different body styles and personalities will dictate the method of successful training to be employed with individual lifters.
Just because a coach has a successful lifter does not mean they are a great coach. When a coach has an athlete with great genetics and a natural build, he or she will be successful with almost any coach. Granted their performance will be better with a good coach, but that is not the whole story. I believe anyone could coach Kobe Bryant in basketball and he will still be a great player. I would be more interested to see how the coach was able to coach the players around Kobe to achieve an even higher result. The same is true in lifting. A great coach cannot make an average person a National or World champion lifter. However, a great coach will see steady improvement in all of his or her students, not just the ones with natural talent.
Before working with a coach, discuss your goals and determine if they are compatible. Some coaches work better with competitive athletes who can push themselves beyond “normal” expectations, while others prefer to coach individuals who are more laid back and see their training as more of a hobby. Unfortunately, there are coaches who also do not want to coach people unless they are willing to put anything (including PEDs) into their body to get better. If I put all my lifters on steroids, of course, they will improve by leaps and bounds. But does that make me a good coach? Lifters may even swear by these coaches. At least until they have their second or third surgery to repair a torn rotator or pec, or even joint replacement. You and your coach need to be on the same page regarding what you are willing to do to improve. This is not only PEDs, but also the amount of time you want to put into your training. It is also important to consider how well your personalities work together, among other things.
I hope these tips regarding finding a coach helps those of you looking for a good coach. You will know when you have found the right coach for you because you will listen to him or her without question. I was coached for a very long time by Dick Connors. To this day, I do not believe you will ever find a better coach than Dick. His knowledge is unsurpassed, and his lifters ALWAYS improve. Having said that, Dick always had a low tolerance for (well let’s call it what it is) bullshit. As a result, some lifters did not always gel well with Dick. Those that did, myself included, considered his word as law. If Dick told me I could lift a certain weight, there was virtually no doubt in my mind that I could. In my mind, my coach knew everything and if he said I could lift a certain amount of weight then that meant I could do it. This is the kind of relationship you will have when you have found the right coach. As always, I hope this advice helps you and I always welcome your thoughts, stories, and feedback!