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Client & Coach Conversation... How Strict Should I Be With My Technique?



A lot of the work I do with my remote coaching clients is actually conversational. The individualized programming is only a piece of the puzzle for people who really want to take control of their fitness and learn about themselves.

I was asked a question last week and believe that it is a really important question to consider for people of all levels who lift weights. Hilde (fake name), wants her squatting strength to increase, but finds that her butt raises early when she gets to certain weights.

So, the question really is... how strict should we be with our technique and movement vs. pushing the load (kg's) enough to get stronger.

As per usual, the answer is IT DEPENDS! (My lengthy answer is below)

Hilde:

"One more thing: how much should I care about hips going up first? It happens after a few reps in the sticky point, and after that I manage to turn on my quads more."

Myles:

Hips raising early... within reason is ok. But, for training, I would try to stay at weights where that doesn't happen. That is your goldi-locks zone.

You may not lift as much, but you'll be lifting better.

Having said that, I can support an argument in the other direction, so we can figure out what is best for you...

Here is a question worth considering and I hope you see my analogy... it delineates the two approaches one can take in their development... There is no right or wrong here, although one is more sustainable and safer.

What is more important...?

Writing the test faster, but getting the same score/grade. This is the progress at all costs approach. The goal here is to lift as much as possible as fast as possible even if technique is sub-optimal or even dangerous.

-OR-

Getting a better grade, even if it takes longer. This approach has a broader definition of progress, taking into account that moving better and safer is just as meaningful progress as lifting more weight.

Now, you can choose either path, and I have supported athletes (albeit reluctantly) with both approaches based on their goals.

So... with squats, if you want to write the test faster, but get the same score, forget about the early butt raise and push yourself to the #'s you want, no matter what your squat looks like. I trained this way for many years when I had a win at all costs mentality, and my body paid for it.

The other option is that you try to get a better grade. To do this, you take the approach that your threshold at a given weight/rep range is where your butt raises early or technique starts to slide. This could also be referred to as technical failure. You may not lift as much as you would with a "kg's at all costs" mentality, but you will likely have a longer career of squatting. I made this switch after being forced to take a step back from competing due to illness. Now, I enjoy squatting without pain/resistance and am working towards my old PR, but with far better technique.

Meditate on this my friend, and let me know what you think.

Hilde:

This is an easy choice for me. I want to move better and stay safe, so I choose the long way. I know that will improve other weaknesses as well. If I´m going to work on NO hip rise at all, I have to go down on the weights I used so far.

Hilde is taking the approach of doing things right. She is looking to progress, but is not willing to sacrifice her body for #'s alone. For her, this makes sense. On the other hand, if you are a high level competitor, this may not be the way to go for you because you'll need to be pushing past the point of technical failure if you want to win and are trying to beat people.

If you are like Hilde, also known as the other 99% of people, I would lightly suggest that using technical failure as a guide is going to keep your body healthier for longer, and you will also still be progressing. Progression occurs not only quantitatively (I used to lift "x", now I lift "x+5"). Are you not still progressing if you lift the same weight, but it looks better, you feel better, and it is more sustainable? So my friends, what is your threshold? Where you truly fail (bar falls, knees cave in, butt-rasies early)? Or where you notice that technique is starting to slide? And, now that you know the difference, what is your reasoning for choosing either path?

Know your "why's". Prokope,

Myles Jeffers

Coach@senecastrength.ca



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Contact: Coach @ Senecastrength.ca