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Four Lessons Learnt From Very Strong and Smart People

On the weekend of the 18/12/20, I had the privilege of spending three days with Sebastian Oreb, AKA the Australian Strength Coach, and Dr Andrew Lock, a world-renowned rehabilitation expert on their de-constructing gym, lifts seminar. The de-constructing gym lifts is a three-day-long event where each day, Bas and Dr Lock breakdown a gym lift- Friday was squats and the knee joint, Saturday was bench press and shoulder joint, Sunday was deadlift and back pain/solution. I've been following both Sebastian and Andrew for a few years now but watching them live, doing their thing, was a whole different experience. Below, I want to summarise a few key lessons that I took away from the weekend. Let's get to it!


Lesson One- Technique is everything


For someone who lifts heavy and whose athletes are strong AF, you'd be a fool to think that Bas only cares about lifting heavy shit for himself and his athletes. A predominant theme across the three days was technique is everything! Of the three-days, the final day, deadlift day, was the only day people went heavy and tried hitting new PBs. In his own words, Bas said he let us do it because it was the last day and deadlifts is one of those lifts that you can go ape shit on.


The rest of the time, Squats and Bench press was conservative and focussed a lot on technique. The heaviest I squatted was 40kg (my max is 160kg) and I benched 30kg (my all-time best bench was 107.5kg). The use of light weights shows you how vital nailing the technique is before increasing the weight. Which leads me onto the second lesson- earn the right to add weight to the bar.


Lesson Two- Earn the right to add weight to the bar


I've heard Bas mention this concept multiple times online, but seeing and hearing it in action, really drove home the point that if your technique is shit you have no right to increase the weight on the bar, even if the weight was light AF. A driven home concept is that just because someone is lifting heavy doesn't mean they are doing it correctly. Some people can get away with just muscling the weight from point A to point B. However, for most people, we need to get the technique 100% before trying crazy shit.


This concept was exemplified when Alex "The God" Simon, hit a new PB during the seminar at 272.5kg on the bench press. As Bas was presenting, Alex would warm up on the bench on centre stage. For someone who can bench press 200kg +, Alex warmed up with the bar twice before adding weight. TWICE! Most people at the gym don't even warm up, and they can barely bench 100kg. Again, I heard it multiple times but seeing it in action is different! Since attending the seminar, I've been happy to say I've been taking my time warming up and making sure everything was okay before adding weight.


Lesson Three- My technique is actually good!


This one isn't so much a lesson, rather than validating myself and my coaching abilities with the big three gym lifts. The set-up of the day was during the morning Bas would go through how to perform the lift, Dr Lock will then take us through activation exercise specific for that lift, then we lifted for an hour or so while Bas and his coaches float around critiquing technique.


Naturally, I went to the rack that Bas was coaching on. I made use of the event to have my technique critiqued by one of the world's best strength coaches. Honestly, the amount I paid is nothing compared to the knowledge and feedback I got that day. In saying that, Bas didn't have much to say to me.


It was funny, as someone performs a lift, Bas would cue them as they were doing their set. When it got to me, I did five reps, and he didn't say anything till I racked. What he said was "goo technique". Inside I was like "FUCK YEAH!". The scenario was the squat. During the bench, he had a slight technique adjustment that made lifting the weight feel easier. During the deadlift, he said I had good technique too!


Hearing these things, did a lot for my confidence as a coach. Having one of the world's best tell you your lifting technique is good, just boosts your confidence.


Lesson Four- The importance of warming up


Performing glute activation exercises was something I was already doing, but having Dr Lock guide us through what he does and why he does it was a game-changer. Since then, I have tweaked my activation routine slightly. It's important to note here that what I was doing before the seminar were things Dr Lock and Bas suggested and what I've seen them do online. Again, seeing it in person just kind of made everything click.


So, when performing spinal loading exercises, such as a barbell squat and deadlift, it's vital to turn on the glutes and core muscles to help protect our spine under load. Following this, performing multiple warm-up sets with light weights is crucial. I use warm-up sets to gauge if I can hit the number I intend to do that day. I use it as feedback to judge if my body can do what I want it to do with good technique. I might be able to do it, but if the technique is shit, it's not worth doing it.


Reality is, the goal is lifting longevity. I turn 30 this year and I want to hit a 500kg powerlifting total. By the time I’m 40, I want that number to be in the 700kg +! The only time it’s okay to lift heavy with broken technique is when going for a 1RM. Either in the gym or at competition. Outside of that, if you’re not feeling it, just stop. Live to lift another day pain and injury free.


Summary


There you have it. The four lessons I took away from the weekend with Sebastian Oreb (Australian Strength Coach) and Dr Andrew Lock. If you're in Australia, I highly recommend going to their de-constructing the gym lifts seminar. Follow either of them on Instagram for the latest details! Alternatively, they both release a ton of free content on their IG and YouTube page, so give them a follow!

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