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A Formula That Measures Your Commitment To Weightlifting
Matt Foreman

What kind of questions do you ask yourself when your training starts to go bad? Where do you look for answers?
 
You might have read what I just wrote and said to yourself, “My training doesn’t go bad. It’s always great!” That’s splendid, congratulations. You’ve obviously just started weightlifting.
 
For those of you with experience, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those time periods when everything just starts to… suck. Technique is off. Body feels wrecked. Can’t hit weights you should be able to lift easily.
 
When these rough patches pop up, you ask yourself, “Why?” Actually, you ask yourself, “WHY?!! HOLY #*&! WHAT THE $&^%! IS GOING ON?!”
 
There are three possible reasons for these lousy training streaks. (Actually, there could be thousands of reasons, but we can boil them down to three basic categories).
  1. Your training program isn’t right, and it’s hurting your progress.
  2. Nothing is really wrong with what you’re doing. You’re just going through crappy stretches that fall under the category of “normal weightlifting stuff.”
  3. It’s a personal responsibility issue inside you. You’re not doing everything you need to be doing outside the gym to ensure your lifting keeps moving forward.
Let’s say a couple of quick things about #1 and #2:
 
Your training program is off, and it’s hurting your progress
This could definitely be the problem, but there’s a pretty reliable way to know for sure. Look at the program you’re following and ask yourself these questions:
“Has this program worked for a lot of other people?”
“Has this program worked for me in the past?”

If the answer to both of those questions is YES, then the program probably isn’t the problem. Sure, it might need some adjustments or personalization. But if the basic method you’re using is proven reliable, you can probably cross it off the list of potential causes.
 
Nothing is really wrong with what you’re doing. You’re just going through crappy stretches that fall under the category of “normal weightlifting stuff.”
This probably accounts for 90% of all bad training stretches. Weightlifting is a tough sport. You’re gonna struggle sometimes.
 
#3 is the one I really want to take a look at.
 
It’s a personal responsibility issue inside you. You’re not doing everything you need to be doing outside the gym to ensure your lifting keeps moving forward.
Listen, I believe our society is moving more in the direction of pointing fingers and blaming others, instead of looking in the mirror for answers. I’ve been coaching for 20 years, and I’ve noticed it. It’s a shift in responsibility, and it’s happening in the wrong direction. Adults seem to play the blame game more than they used to. I don’t know…maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. Doesn’t seem like it though.
 
So let’s get back to you, your weightlifting, and those nasty little runs of crummy training we all have to deal with from time to time.
 
I have a math equation that’ll tell you just how hard you’re working for those big weights you say you want to lift. Here’s how it works: 1) I divide your weightlifting commitment up into five categories. 2) You give yourself a personal rating score in each of those categories, on a scale of 1-10. 10 is the highest score, and 1 is the lowest. If you give yourself a 10, it means you’re doing an excellent, practically flawless job in that department. If you give yourself a 1, it means you’re totally neglecting it, pathetic effort. If you give yourself a 5 or 6, it means you’re putting normal effort into it, nothing exceptional. Pick any number in the 1-10 range that accurately reflects where you’re at.
 
Taking care of your body outside of training (stretching, icing, massage, etc.)
Your score (1-10): _____
 
Getting enough sleep
Your score (1-10): _____
 
Nutrition
Your score (1-10): _____
 
Managing your personal life to keep your stress down
Your score (1-10): _____
 
Keeping a positive attitude
Your score (1-10): _____
 
Now, add up your scores and put the total below.
TOTAL SCORE: _____
 
Now, divide your total score by 50 (top maximum score). Then move the decimal point two spaces to the right, to give you a percentage (EX: A score of 42 divided by 50 is .84, which would be 84% after we move the decimal.)
 
Your percentage: _____
(My apologies for bringing math into this.)
 
That percentage score shows how much personal effort you’re putting into your weightlifting. If you came up with 78%, it means you’re giving 78% of yourself to your training. In other words, you’re 22% away from giving full 100% effort to your career.
 
That extra percent you’re not giving… maybe THAT’S the reason for those periods of bad lifting.
 
And you may be saying, “I can’t give 100% because I’ve got kids, and a career, and a house payment.” Totally understandable. I understand. Your coach will understand too. If you’re coming up short of 100% effort because of those factors, it doesn’t mean you’re half-assing your weightlifting. It means you’re a busy adult with life demands, and this sport will be more challenging for you. It’s just part of the game when you’re not a kid anymore.
 
When you’re investigating a bad stretch of training, trying to figure out why it’s happening, your first suspect should always be yourself. Trust me, that’s probably where you’ll find the answers. When I look back at all the ups and downs I’ve had in my career, I understand this idea even more. There were plenty of times when I struggled, and they usually happened because I wasn’t getting the job done in one of those five categories you rated yourselves in.
 
Nobody gets a free pass in this sport. We all take our lumps. Your job as an athlete is figuring out which of those lumps you’ve given yourself. 


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Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams. He is the author of the books Olympic Weightlifting for Masters: Training at 30, 40, 50 & Beyond and Bones of Iron: Collected Articles on the Life of the Strength Athlete.


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2 Comments
K 2016-01-18
Just double the score for the percentage.
Marla 2016-01-20
It would never be my programming because I follow Catalyst Athletics! 😊
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