Part 3 of 3: Inspiring, coaching and empowering others; and building a community of strong people.

I am equally passionate about coaching others, as I am about improving my own lifting. I consider myself very privileged to have a job where I can coach people to do what I love and choose to do in my own time. My goal is to develop, and encourage, more people to get involved in strength training and weightlifting, as the benefits are life-changing!

 

Helping to build a community of lifters where I work, has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

 

 

I come across people with a whole variety of goals, but everyone shares one goal in common, and that is to improve themselves, both physically and mentally. Lifting weights has become a vital part of maintaining an optimal level of health and quality of life for everyone in the Strong For Life training community. When relevant recovery strategies are in place, no other type of training results in the combination of improved movement quality, increased muscle and bone density, resilience to injury, and fat loss. All of these benefits are life-changing, in that they hugely improve the confidence, health and quality of life of everyone involved.

 

My personal weightlifting and strength goals are to continue to learn from some of the best coaches and lifters in the country and to compete at as many National championships as possible. I’m always analysing videos of my lifts, both in training and competition, and I’m rarely satisfied with my technique. I often have bad training sessions, where not much seems to go right, but I’m slowly learning that this is the process required in order to improve. On many occasions, clients of mine become frustrated in the gym, when things get tough. After years of lifting every day and still struggling myself, I can empathise with them, probably more than anyone! Every training session is important, and continually acquiring knowledge and experience will help me to become not only a better lifter, but a better coach.

 

 

Strength training and weightlifting is on the rise, particularly amongst women, which is brilliant for the health and wellbeing of the nation. However, there are still many challenges and barriers that prevent a lot of people from getting started and also sticking with it. There is still the belief amongst many, that hours of endless cardio machine work, abs exercises and restrictive diets are the best methods to achieve a better physique. Yes, these methods are better than sitting on the sofa and can yield some results, but for most people it is difficult to sustain this type of approach. There is still the belief among many, that lifting weights makes women bulky. In fact, lifting weights, when combined with a slight caloric deficit (eating slightly less calories than required to maintain bodyweight), and adequate protein, will result in weight loss, whilst maintaining muscle mass. This is what most people actually mean when the words “lose weight and tone up” are mentioned. It actually refers to losing fat and maintaining muscle. Consistently lifting, eating slightly less calories and adequate protein are vital in order to achieve these goals efficiently and sustainably.

 

Weightlifting training, including cleans, snatches, squats and pulls; demands the use of the biggest, most powerful muscles in the human body, through full ranges of movement. Therefore weightlifting is one of the best things that you can do to become leaner (or more muscular, depending on calorie and macro intake), faster, stronger and more flexible. Plus, lifting weights improves bone density, something that can otherwise decline much quicker as we age. It can take time and patience to master the techniques, but this is what makes it all so worthwhile in the end!

 

 

In the future, I envisage commercial gyms to have less machines and more free weights space and equipment. We’ve already seen the start of that change over the past year at our gym, David Lloyd Hull, with the introduction of half power racks, platforms, heavier kettlebells/medicine balls, and less resistance machines. With the emergence and growth of CrossFit, where free weights and open space exercises are key, commercial gyms are having to keep up with the demands of members. When I started working in the gym in 2010, we had one squat rack, which was hardly used. Now, it’s a fight to get on one of the three racks! Members will demand the equipment for their needs.

 

 

I’ll be honest, over the past three years, a lot of my time, energy and effort has gone in to developing myself as a weightlifter, weightlifting coach and coaching people the Olympic lifts. These are all hugely important areas for me to continue to work on, but it is still quite a niche area of training at this stage, and only appeals to a certain type of person, initially. You need to be confident and not afraid to make mistakes in front of others. I think this is one of the reasons weightlifting has appealed more to women than men. Generally, women tend to be more patient and have less of an ego when it comes to how much weight they’re capable of lifting from day one. This is how it should be ideally, but many guys quit too early, which is a real shame because men have such potential to be strong and powerful in weightlifting. We would learn a lot from women when it comes to being patient, mastering skills and then increasing the weight at the rights time. I’ve been there before, myself, when I’ve loaded too much weight on the bar and nearly folded myself in half! Lessons learnt!

 

My focus for the future will still be on developing Olympic weightlifting participation, but I also aim to go back to basics and get more people in to general strength training first. Coaching people the basics of how to squat, hip-hinge, press and pull with good technique. This is the type of training I get the majority of my clients doing and these are the fundamentals that olympic weightlifting are built upon. People are generally more open to learning these lifts to start with, as they are slower and “easier” to learn.

 

 

Moving forward, a big goal of mine is to make learning and participating in strength training more appealing and accessible to everyone in the local community. In 2015, I put up a blog post, encouraging more women to get involved in strength training: https://strongforlife.co.uk/women-win-weights/  Fast-forward two years and my challenge is now to encourage more men to get involved in weightlifting, as women are starting to dominate the weightlifting platforms now! We’re gradually getting there, breaking down the stigmas involved when it comes to certain groups of people lifting weights.  There are still stigmas attached to children and elderly populations lifting weights, which are usually totally uninformed. These are groups that I currently work with, but have the potential for huge growth.

 

There’s an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. I believe that, as more and more people get into lifting weights and realise the benefits, there is the potential for it to snowball to the point where the majority of members of commercial gyms come in to squat and deadlift! If people learnt, practiced, understood and experienced the benefits of strength training and optimal recovery, I genuinely believe that this would be the case!

 

 

I’m beginning two lifting technique courses from October 2017, suitable for both men and women (you don’t have to be a member at David Lloyd Hull, although I will be running courses here):

https://strongforlife.co.uk/services/big-lifts-course/

https://strongforlife.co.uk/services/olympic-weightlifting-course/

 

Please contact me for any questions.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

Sam