Written by Dr. Reena Tenorio
Let me start off by stating this: I am a beginner weightlifter. With only 16 months of weightlifting under my belt, I am very much a rookie in this sport. I jumped into competitions early in my career and sometimes forget that I have limited experience.
At this year’s American Open Championships, I lifted in the 53A session. I gotta be honest with you, I was scared shitless for a good minute when I walked into the warm-up room. Here I am, standing amongst some great veterans of the sport – girls I admire. I had to take a second to reel myself back in.
Now, fast forward. As with competition sometimes, things don’t always go as we plan (or desire). I ended up going 2/6 and totaling well under my competition PRs. Despite a poor performance on the platform, I learned a few things that all new competitors can benefit from:
- Weightlifting is a sport that takes YEARS to master. Accept it!
- There are a small number of athletes who will move up in the ranks quicker than others, but the rest of us have to buck up, put in the work, and remember that it is a journey to reach the top level.
- If you are already a successful beginner, you still have a lot to learn. Don’t forget that. Find a qualified coach, follow a plan, take criticism, be coachable, and learn from training and competitions.
- You’re going to fail. A LOT.
- Some meets/lifts go as planned, but some don’t. Either way, you go back to training and get better. That’s the name of this game.
- The other lifters are … just people.
- Yeah, you are going to one day compete against people who you’ve looked up to – some who have done some amazing things on the platform – but don’t let that make you question your own strength. Ultimately, you are only competing against yourself. Lift the weight on the bar; that is all you can do.
- Competition anxiety and nervousness never goes away. Learn to tame it.
- The more experience you acquire (through competitions, mock meets, even mental imagery), the better you will perform under pressure.
- Don’t dwell on the past, whether successful or poor
- Give yourself a set amount of time to bask in the glory of a great performance, or cry, curse, pout, over-analyze, and be upset over a bad meet. Losing yourself in the outcome of a competition (whether good or bad) will not make you better. Use it as a learning tool to improve the mental and physical aspects of your training and competitions.
- Learning to lift is equally as important as learning to perform. You can’t be successful without BOTH.
- Again, be patient, this takes TIME! Compete more often, emphasize technique in training, watch the top weightlifters/meets, and be a sponge. It is our own responsibility to learn how to lift AND perform come competition time.
Reena Tenorio, is a weightlifter/CrossFit athlete, and Physical Therapist based in Orange County, CA. Reena competed at the 2013 and 2014 American Open in weightlifting and the 2012 and 2013 CrossFit Southeast Regionals (team). Reena’s diverse athletic history and background in physical therapy give her a unique perspective when examining training.