Olympic weightlifting requires an incredible amount of technique, strength, flexibility, agility, balance, focus, and determination. There’s a lot to work on — and that means that getting better usually means learning from a lot of mistakes. We spoke to some pretty extraordinary weightlifters to find out what they wish they’d known before they picked up a bar.

Ingrid Marcum

2009 US National Champion (75kg), Owner of BGB Fitness

“I wish I had learned much earlier how important it would have been for me to develop better stability and control. I came from twenty years of gymnastics and was even flexible for a gymnast.  Since most coaches are used to seeing people fight to get into positions and work to increase their mobility, I was initially praised for the extreme arch in my back and my enormous range of motion.

“However, because I didn’t always have great control throughout my entire range of motion, it took a tremendous toll on my body over the years, resulting in many chronic injuries and pain throughout my career.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to rebuild my foundation by improving my movement variability, but I would have been been much more solid had I learned that years ago.”

Mike Burgener

Level 5 Senior International Weightlifting Coach, Head Coach of CrossFit Weightlifting

“A great coach will pride him or herself in taking complex movement patterns and making them simple to learn and achieve!”

Dr. Aaron Horschig

Competitive Weightlifter of 11 years (85kg), Doctor of Physical Therapy, Owner Squat University

“Technique is the most important aspect in weightlifting. The better your technique, the more potential you will have to lift greater weight. For this reason, every single time you touch the barbell, it should be your goal to perform a perfect rep. With this mindset, good things will happen.”

A photo posted by Jessie Humeston (@jhum63) on

Jessie Humeston

2 Time World University Team Member (63kg)

“Something I wish I’d known before I started is that the years of weightlifting would take a very hard toll on my body, particularly my knees and back. However, all of the aches and pains I feel remind me of some of my sweetest memories and greatest adventures. It is a constant reminder that I have sacrificed and put everything I have into being a competitor, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Sonny Webster

2016 British Olympic Weightlifting Competitor (94kg), Rio Olympics 

“I wish I had a better understanding of how to manage my body weight as a youth athlete, so that I didn’t keep holding my weight down and restricting my development.”

Sam Poeth

2013 National Champion (75kg), Holder of 4 University National Titles and 2 American Open titles

“I wish I’d known that weightlifting would become a lifestyle. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a piece of who we are and everything we do circles around it. I recently joked with another weightlifter that we don’t plan weightlifting around our lives; weightlifting is our life. We schedule our family time, holidays, and social life around training times and competitions. Sometimes they fit and sometimes they don’t, and people get frustrated, but eventually they learn to respect the dedication we have to being the best at our craft.”

Greg Everett

Head Coach of the USA Weightlifting National Champion Team Catalyst Athletics, author of Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches

“There really aren’t any secrets or tricks, so don’t waste time searching for them. Master the fundamentals and commit to long term, steady progress; continually searching for shortcuts instead ensures limited success and a lot of backward steps.”

Featured image: @sonnywebstergb

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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.