Unplug from Technology in the Gym for Bigger Lifts

As a science geek and man who loves data driven solutions, I am always looking for the next great piece of technology to help my lifters take their weights to the next level. If there is a piece of reputable training technology on the market, then the chances of it being in our gym are very high.

I have had our athletes use one of many bar path tracking devices, HRV monitoring systems, sleep monitoring systems, TENDO units, and Omegawaves, to name a few. So it may be odd to you that I would actually suggest that you stop using technology in your training.

A few months ago it was suggested by a colleague of mine that I read Unplugged, which is a collaborative work from Dr. Andy Galpin, Brian Mackenzie, and Phil White. The book primarily talks about breaking away from technology to become more fit and productive with your training. While this is an oversimplification of the synopsis of the book, I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.

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The impact of this book on my teaching and coaching has been huge. I would like to propose a few ideas for you to consider when implementing technology into your Olympic weightlifting program.

Coaching has always been considered part art and part science. However, it is becoming less and less common that that you see those two blended. People typically trend towards one camp or the other—data driven solutions seem to be a little easier to understand and justify.

I would like to think that at Lift Lab Co, we do a good job of implementing data driven practices with the artful eye and intuition of a live human coach. Here are a couple things that we’ve suggested for our athletes.

The Problem With Video

Stop taking video of every single lift you perform. Athletes who do this are often hypercritical of their own work and will scrutinize every single detail. As a weightlifter, some of those details are so insignificant to your process that you as the athlete should not even consider them.

When you video your lift and you slow it down to slow motion, of course you are going to see every single flaw in the lift. Because you see every single flaw often means relatively nothing, and the video will not tell you the cause of your mistake.

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Additionally, because you know you are going to replay that lift a thousand times on your smartphone you are not actively trying to feel the lift. I tell our LIFT LAB athletes all the time that they need to be the bar, which means they should be Intune with where the bar is at any given moment in the the lift, so they can feel when it is out of place. This requires an extreme amount of focus often referred to as “flow”— which is a feeling where time slows down and actions are autonomous. It is hard to be in a flow state of performance when you are worried about stopping and starting your iPhone as these are the simplest breaks in concentration.

Furthermore, Daniel Coyle wrote a book called The Talent Code in which he explored the idea that 10,000 hours of practice was the key to mastery of a skill (Research done by Erickson).

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What Coyle found was that the research done by Erickson was flawed. What matters most in learning a skill is how hard you focus and think about what you are doing. Yes, there is a certain amount of time you have to be practicing your skill, but 10,000 hours is by no means a magic number because our brain has a very sophisticated myelination process that is driven by your intent, which determines success.

Staying focused on the task at hand and driving learning is extremely hard to do when you are multitasking and focusing on other things, such as taking a video. Put the phone away for a month, focus on what you are doing, and enjoy the PRs. Which of course will not have happened because you won’t have gotten them on video.

Anti-Social Media

The inception of social media was not rooted in a place of evil. Rather it was viewed as something that would allow people to stay connected from a distance and disseminate information to individuals of similar interests. Once you graduated college, moved away from your friends or family, then you would still have the ability to stay connected to their lives.

The reality of that scenario is that even without technology we connect with those who are physically closest to us, yet social media has created the phenomenon where we as a culture want to impress strangers who are thousands of miles away.

Many times athletes are posting PR lifts on the social media platforms in an attempt to gain followers and views. Although, there are cases where this can be used for monetary gain, but the majority of individuals are doing it for the scientifically proven hit of dopamine your brain receives from getting “likes”.

While this temporarily gives you a euphoric feeling, much more is lost than is gained. While your head is down typing on your pocket computer and uploading your videos, you are ignoring the real life social aspects of your gym. If strangers like your lifts and that makes you feel good, then imagine how you will feel when your teammates and fellow gym goers encourage you and tell you good job.

However, if you are self absorbed in your phone, your social media following, and your amount of likes, then it’s probable that your teammates will pick up on that and probably distance themselves from you.

In today’s world it is highly unlikely that you will exist with zero social media, so before you quit social media cold turkey just consider this. You can still video your lifts, you can still post them, just do it after you leave the gym when no one is around. The people around you won’t feel ostracized and you won’t be distracted from training.

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Wrapping Up

In reality, social media and video are here to stay. This piece is no way intended to try to get you to stop ever taking video of what you are doing. Rather, I am proposing that you think of when and how you use video. Of course, there are many ways to implement video for your success. Have a discussion with your coach about how your performance can be enhanced with video, and not destroyed. If you have a heavy max lifts day of training that you would like to use to grow your personal brand on social media, then by all means do so.

But consider asking your coach before the training session, so you don’t have to think about it, or ask during training. Let them know you would like them to record your max lifts on their device and send them, or airdrop them to you so that you can post them/review them after training.

Use video in a way that helps you progress— not in a way that takes away from the awesome things you are doing in the gym as well as the awesome relationships you are forming.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image from @lift_lab Instagram page. 

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