Athlete Blog: The Three Hardest Lessons I've Learned from Weightlifting

This blog was written by Jake Horst, a 69kg weightlifter for Garage Strength. Jake has won national championships at Youth and Junior levels, and was the national runner-up at his first Senior Championships. 

1. Listen To Your Coach

A lot of Olympic weightlifting athletes start around their teenage years (as I did). These I call the “Rebellious Years.” When I started weightlifting, I thought I knew everything. I would lift heavy when I was instructed not to, I argued in defense of my garbage technique for years, I did my own exercises sometimes because I thought what I was doing wasn't working, and most importantly, I wasn't coachable. When I got into my junior and senior years of weightlifting, I started to notice a minimal amount of growth. It was then that I realized that to be a champion you have to have the best technique. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a champion, but my technique was nowhere near the best. As we started breaking down my technique and fixing all my flaws, I found myself extremely frustrated and ready to give up. Slowly but surely, I found myself getting better with my technical movements, however I was still nowhere close to the best. Still frustrated and angry I continue to tell myself “if you would have just listened 5 years ago, you would be closer to the best”

2. Weightlifting Is a Lifestyle, Not Just a Sport

The day I decided to take this sport seriously was the day my life changed. It wasn’t just a show up to the gym thing anymore, I had to change my lifestyle. Recovery and nutrition were what I struggled with the most. Coming from a wrestling background, I knew how to cut weight, but cutting weight for weightlifting was totally different. There was no more 3 day weight cuts, it has to be planned out so your body can still perform at a very elite level. To this day I struggle with recovery. Icing, normatec, and stretching were my biggest issues. I used to always make excuses why I couldn’t do those things, now I know that I am the only one responsible for me feeling run down after a big training session. Training became more intense and there was a program to follow. Specific things I did to work on weaknesses and specific movements I did to improve my technique. Weightlifting has taught me to be patient and taught me how to work hard, shaping who I am today. Weightlifting isn’t just a sport. It’s a job that has to be taken seriously in order to be successful.

3. Mental Toughness

This is what I struggle the most with. So many hours have been spent doubting myself, and a lot of failure has come from that. You take thousands and thousands of  reps in training to prepare yourself for 6 lifts that matter, and that’s when you have to be mentally strong. The days you feel off, or tired, or even days you don’t want to lift at all have to be positive training sessions. Everyday is a day to learn and get better no matter the circumstances. You have to meditate and envision yourself hitting big lifts on the platform. One missed rep can ruin a training session if you let it, or it can be a learning experience that you can immediately grow from. When you step on the platform for big lifts your mind can’t be racing. You prepare for these big moments in training and that is when you turn your head off and do what you know how to do. The way you feel doesn’t matter if you repeatedly tell yourself that you can be a champion.

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