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Is It Really a Technique Issue?

Have you ever hit a plateau in your lifting, and couldn’t seem to find the right drill to solve the issue? It’s a pretty common issue people run into. You’ve been lifting for a while, but all of the sudden you hit this seemingly impossible point where you can’t set PRs anymore, and no technique drill or cue seems to help you get past it.

I see it all the time with athletes, and a number of times, the issue they’re trying to fix with drills is actually a strength issue. They need to get stronger to keep making progress. But how do you identify if it’s a technique issue or a strength issue?

In working with a number of athletes over the years, we’ve found a pretty simple checklist to run through to help identify the issues:

  1. Film it first. Film lifts from all the angles you can: side, front, back, and 45 degrees. Many times a technique flaw can’t be seen from a single view, and you have to find the point it breaks down from all the angles.

  2. Identify the point where technique struggles the most. Take your videos and find the point which is the least consistent, or the point where you find technique breaking down.

  3. Test the position for strength. Load up a bar and spend time in the position where technique breaks down. If you can’t hold the position, chances are technique isn’t the issue, but strength is. If you can hold the position with weight and no movement, then it may be a technique issue.

Admittedly, for intermediate lifters, strength is often a major limiting factor. If you’ve been lifting for years, and all of the sudden weights seem to plateau, strength is a limiting factor. At the beginning of your time lifting weights, and on the tail end, technique can usually be found as the issue.

Once you’ve identified whether or not it’s a technique or strength issue, then we can better apply the right drills or programming solution to solve the problem. Then you can take action and get back to setting PRs more easily!

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