Recently, I wrote an article to dispel some of the myths surrounding lifting weights in the Jiu-Jitsu community. I’ve also written about a good starting lifting routine. However, before you get started, there are some things you ought to be aware of that really, only a lifting coach can help you with such as: improving form (or breaking bad habits), pushing your athleticism, and providing specific feedback. I’ll be using examples from my own foray into weight lifting to illustrate my reasoning.
When I began lifting, I watched lots of videos, asked around, and just decided to start. My form was horrible and it stayed that way for almost a year before I topped out my “lifts”. I sought help – once – and got some great advice on fixing my mistakes. We went through some of my errors and how to correct them.
I then went off on my own again for almost another full year. I developed some pretty bad habits. You see, lifting on your own when you’re new to lifting is similar to training Jiu-Jitsu on your own when you’re new to grappling; you’re not going to totally get it right and you’re going to develop at least a few terrible habits. The best way to avoid it? Seek out a professional who can teach you the right way and break you of your bad habits.
For me, that help came from Steve Tuttle and Justin Curtis of Performex Inc., a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym that also specializes in Strength and Conditioning. A person who understands grappling and weight training is the most valuable help you will ever find if you intend to pursue any sort of athletic endeavor in the grappling arts. If you don’t have a place like this around you, Performex does offer distance learning, which I highly recommend.
I was able to approach these guys and get the help I needed. We went over my current goals, fitness level, and base knowledge. The first thing we started doing was fixing my form. Lifting on my own had left me squatting incorrectly and with a few other errors in my form. It’s humbling to have to drop the weight so significantly but it’s 100% necessary. It’s better to lift a low weight properly than it is to lift a higher weight (and my ego) at the expense of building real strength or potentially damaging my health.
Steve Tuttle has provided me with personalized programming that has challenged me beyond what I ever bothered to put in front of myself. Not only have Steve and Justin been working to break me of the bad habits I developed lifting on my own, they have been making me work hard.
My strength has drastically improved, my cardio allows me to grapple for longer periods of time than what I could previously, and I feel more capable of moving around the mats and performing techniques smoothly. Better strength and cardio translates well to the mats now that I have sought out that professional help.
Lastly, whenever I make mistakes, I get immediate feedback on them. I know what to fix. If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, you can’t expect to fix it. My form is getting better and my bad habits, though more slowly than I would like to admit, are being broken. When I do something right, I get immediate feedback on that as well. Because of this, I have a much more realistic vision of my capabilities on and off the mats.
In order to lift weights safely, seek out someone who can teach you the proper, safe way to do so. There are exceptions to this rule, people who are much better learners than most of us, but play it safe and assume that isn’t you. Treat your athletic goals with the seriousness they deserve by getting those who know more than yourself to help you in all aspects of your game instead of attempting to do it alone.