Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

Sunday lifting thread – Technique and only technique.

After my personal training session with an instructor I spent my days in the gym this week focusing on my technique. Going into the personal coaching my aim was to fix my bench press as I detailed last week. But the bench press turned out to be quite easy to tweak; I now have it exactly where I want it to be and the difference is noticeable. I had a second coaching session with my trainer yesterday and the two lifts which I need to work on the most are the squat and the deadlift.

I now have to really concentrate on the mental cues which I need to learn the physical cues so they become habitual. I have been lifting seriously for about 3 years now but I have been going to the gym in sporadic bursts for 30 years. In other words, I have a lot of bad form and technique to unlearn.

My weight on the deadlift has dropped substantially as a result of fixing my form. 110kg with proper form was almost too much for me yesterday. That amount of weight was a warm-up set for me with my prior incorrect technique. But my progress on the deadlift has been stalled due to my bad form. I instinctively knew it was incorrect so I wasn’t pushing through to really substantial weight for fear of injuring myself. The same goes for the squat although the weight decrease has been small when compared to my deadlift.

So to sum it up, I thought that the bench press was my big problem but my real issue was the deadlift, and to a lesser extent the squat.

I am determined to get my technique as perfect as possible. With that done I know that I will be able to push through to a different level of lifting. I only wish that I had done this years ago but better late than never and all that. At least I didn’t injure myself with my bad form. And when I say bad form it wasn’t that bad; we’re talking minor tweaks here but they add up to a big deal.

Now that I really know what these lifts should look like I’m noticing how many lifters in my gym have poor technique. I made the mistake last week of copying what another lifter was doing with his feet on the bench press as he is a serious lifter. Well, it turns out that he’s wrong. And he’s not the only one. I asked one of the trainers what their approach is when they see people lifting badly, and keep in mind that this is a dedicated powerlifting gym – the only piece of cardio equipment in the entire building is one rowing machine.

The trainer told me that it just isn’t possible to give technical advice to a lot of the serious lifters as there is too much ego involved. You simply can’t tell them anything. He tries to concentrate on those who are just starting out so as to try and get them into good habits from the get go.

This is the second time in 3 years that I’m deloading and rebuilding so as to get my form down pat. Hopefully this time it will work out the way that I want it to. Now I just have to hope that I find a decent gym when I go to the USA at the end of the month as I need to keep the momentum going.



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  1. The bench video was good so thanks for the link. I’ll be getting back to the gym soon (after back surgery in December) and giving bench another try, in spite of my shoulder issues. I’ll probably watch the video one more time before I head back.

    I’m also going to add a press since Rippetoe suggested that it was easier on the shoulders (and potentially a more useful exercise anyway).

    As far as squat I think I’ve got the technique down pretty good (I’ve had a couple of the trainers in the gym comment positively) but don’t know about deadlift. I guess I should go find a Rippetoe video (I have Starting Strength and have used that as my reference).

    Where in the US? Still Louisiana? Unfortunately that’s a bit far for me to travel as I am diametrically opposed to that corner of the country. I’d love to buy you a beer at some point if you end up back in the US and a bit closer to the Pacific NW.

    • Adam

      Yeah Louisiana. I won’t have any time to travel around so the Pacific NW is not an option unfortunately, but I appreciate the offer.

  2. jamesbumanlag

    Don’t fuck around with heavy weights and poor technique. Thanks to my misinformed high school strength and conditioning coaches, I had years of bad form and one day it all came crashing down. One heavy deadlift rep left me with low back and sciatic nerve pain for a solid 18 months. God bless YouTube because the conventional healthcare system didn’t do shit, just insisted on cutting me open. Greedy bastards. Keep up the good work!

    • I jacked up my back last fall and had surgery in December. So far all good. Sciatic pain gone, leg mostly working again (they did say could take a few months for full recovery of nerve damage to leg), able to do light workouts and working my way back. I have no complaints so far about being cut open. The alternative was to potentially end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Worth every penny., so not sure what you mean by greedy. They get paid for the work they do. Are you saying there was an alternative treatment? If so, how effective was it if it took 18 months to recover?

      • jamesbumanlag

        I’m glad surgery was a success for you. It can be pretty hit or miss and I didn’t want to chance it.

        Months of physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, fire cupping, bloodletting, either exacerbated the problem or lasted only temporarily. After four PRP/prolotherapy sessions, three cortisone injections, two MRI’s, EMG test, and a clinical study, my doc gave me two options. Pain management (norco) or surgery. In the end, all it took was consistent stretching, hours of tissue work, and progressively strengthening my quads/hips/hamstrings.

  3. I hope you’re kidding: “acupuncture, fire cupping, bloodletting,”

    Glad it worked for you. From the discussions I had and the research I did, back surgery has progressed mightily in the past couple decades (as have all types of surgery). Don’t know when you had your issues, but twenty years ago back surgery was pretty risky, today it sounds pretty basic.

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