There are a lot of technical aspects of strength training, and there are lots and lots of movements. And hundreds of variations of each movement too.
There's the overwhelming confusion that stems from the technique. How do you pack your shoulders? How do you brace? How much do you stiffen up? What angle should you turn your toes out? What does all this even mean?
And while there are remarkably excellent books and coaches that we can pick up these techniques from, mastering them is a life-long journey. For example, Brett Jones is still searching for his perfect kettlebell swing, he says.
As a beginner, or sometimes, even as an experienced lifter, we can get bogged down with technique and get in the way of things. As an over-thinker, I certainly fall into that category.
But I realised something profound and simple - watch a ballet dancer, or a speed skater (or any elite athlete) and you will see that they look good doing what they are doing. It is not clunky or weird.
Don't think so? Here's something you can do. Take a video of something you do reasonably well - playing badminton or running or whatever. And then compare it to world #1 and look at the difference in the beauty of the movement.
You know it when things look right. It is just how it is. Even as coaches, before I can point out whether there's something off, I know there's something off. And when someone moves well, it is blindingly obvious.
There are two attributes that I strive for when it comes to my training. One comes from Pavel and the other comes from Dan John.
They are rhythm and grace.
Rhythm: movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like
Grace: elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
Rather than be robotic about a movement, or being over-stiff or too floppy or trying to do 27 different things in my setup for the deadlift - finding my natural rhythm and aiming for grace - seems to nail things for me.
These might not be two things that one would associate with lifting heavy weights and it took me a long time to understand what the two greats were saying, but this has been amongst my biggest learnings in my training.
Aiming to find my rhythm - whether it is doing heavy squats or going running or doing a metcon. And striving to look graceful when I do that, as opposed to trying to do it as fast as possible or going as hard as possible.
Next time you find yourself over-thinking or unsure if you are doing it right or not - focus on a solid setup and then just aim to find a rhythm and look as graceful as you can.
Maybe it will change how you train forever.