Weightlifters Are F’ing Awkward

Posted on Posted in Olympic Weightlifting
We’re all a little crazy, but it makes us good at what we do!

It takes a special type of person to be a true Weightlifter. Most find the sport and dabble around in it for a few days a week over the course of a few weeks, find a little bit of improvement, and move on to the next shiny object. I’ll never forget the way one of my lifters described his first impressions of Weightlifting. It went something like this:

“Yeah, so the gym I was at offered an hour long class once a week and I figured that I would just hit that class and I’d be better in 6 weeks or so…now after doing my first competition and being around other Weightlifters, I quickly realized that wasn’t enough to get me to where I wanted to go.”

Would one day a week be enough for some? Sure. Is it enough for someone who needs/wants more out of Weightlifting? Probably not. And those athletes with that particular mindset are the awkward ones who stick around for the long haul. Ok, so I just called most of my friends and colleagues awkward. You know you are…but before everyone goes nuts, here’s what I mean:

  • Most Weightlifters are introverts.
    I would bet money that if I were to give the Myers-Briggs personality test to everyone on my team, the majority of them would come out as introverted to some degree. Most of us enjoy minimal stimulus while we are training – not because we hate being around other things/people, but because we tend to live inside our own heads and a lot of times, people tend to think we’re anti-social assholes. But as we are training or coaching, we allocate our mental and emotional energy to the task we are performing and frankly don’t really care about anything else.
  • Most Weightlifters are extremely OCD.
    If you have any doubt about this, take a look at my training area. Weights are equally divided between platforms, evenly spaced in between platforms, racks are color coded, and the floor is always clean. But we’re not just OCD about our surroundings, we’re also OCD about our training. Weightlifting requires a tremendous amount of discipline and when we are talking about being a part of the competitive environment, the rest of our lives must be regimented to support our training. But with any true athlete, everything is a conscious decision that will either contribute to your success or failure.
  • Weightlifters don’t mind training alone.
    Training alone is bound to happen at some point in your Weightlifting career – especially if you decide that you want to be that meathead in the corner of a gym who’s just constantly lifting. I was that guy when I first started lifting and most of my remote lifters fit that bill as well. Either way, whether you train at a gym with other Weightlifters or you’re that person who’s shoved in a corner to be forever forgotten, your only real opponent is yourself. We catch a lot of crap for going against the grain and doing something different and so specialized, but at the end of the day, the only way to get better at a skill is to train the skill…so we train the skill.
  • We don’t do it for the show.
    There’s nothing flashy about being a Weightlifter, though all the experts on Instagram would tell you differently. Training is always hard, we’re always working on fixing or improving something, and the better you get, the harder it gets to improve. Do we still improve? Of course we do — and I’m not saying that we don’t get excited when we exceed our previous 1RM, but for a Weightlifter, the chase is what we live for. Sure, the payoff of smoking a heavy weight is awesome, but the even bigger payoff is looking back on all your failed lifts, bad training days, and overall grind and saying, “It worked.” We train because we can’t stop – but we also train so we don’t look like we’re getting electrocuted when we’re attempting a heavy single.

So, that’s all I’ve got for now. Being awkward isn’t all that bad. It directs a little less attention towards us as Weightlifters and we can focus on what really matters: training to make lifts in competition when it really counts.