Over the last two decades, the internet and social media has allowed businesses to flourish and give platforms to millions of people around the world. The fitness industry and strength training community is no exception. Trainers, coaches, athletes and enthusiasts all around the world are connected on a device you can hold in the palm of your hands. Powerlifting elites like Dave Tate and strongman legends like Brian Shaw can share their knowledge and inside world with everyone who clicks the follow button. Fans and amateurs can follow their favorite world class athlete for training tips and advice. Entire communities revolving around strength training and fitness involve millions of people posting videos and sharing stories. It’s truly remarkable how interconnected people can be.
Despite how absolutely awesome it is to be able to connect with someone you admire or fellow enthusiasts to ask for advice or show off your progress, there is an ugly side to it all. It’s quite disheartening to see just how disrespectful some people can be towards someone they’ve never met. Critics and “haters” are constantly bombarding people with their evaluations and comments without ever actually being in the room. Now, I’m not saying constructive criticism is a bad thing. I have personally posted some of my own videos and have asked for advice or evaluation. For the most part, I think these critics really do mean well, but I think a lot of them like to make remarks without looking at the big picture. It’s easy to be a critic when you’re looking at a small, out of context clip. So, before you decide to leave a comment or critique someone, you should keep a few things in mind.
Be Positive with Beginners
No one will be more excited to post about their lifts than a beginner. They’re trying something new and feeling excited about challenges and changes that come with strength training. So, news flash: their technique is terrible. Of course it is; it’s inevitable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beginner with good technique. Every person on this planet ever, looked terrible when they first started training, but with time and practice, they got better. Unfortunately, instead of positivity and encouragement, you see a lot of empty criticism. Leaving a one liner like “You’ll hurt your back lifting like that.” doesn’t do anything for the lifter. Yes, poor technique will lead to an injury, but not in that one instant. Instead, try actually providing advice like, “Good pull man! Lock those lats back, and you’ll pull that easier next time.” Offering real advice and criticism is a good thing, and a beginner will probably appreciate it. It encourages them to keep learning and working.
If the beginner lifter is under the instruction of a strength coach or a mentor, it’s probably best not to critique at all. In order to correct poor form, an instructor has to see said poor form. Even though you’re seeing a snapshot that you can easily criticize, you can’t see the bigger picture. The coach could be trying to determine a base strength level to build a program around. Or maybe the coach is analyzing the lifter’s movement patterns to determine what cues to use to correct it. The coach is well aware, or he or she better be, of the lifter’s poor form. With time, the technique will improve. Show the coach and the lifter some respect, and let them work.
Don’t C,riticize a Professional
Professional and advanced athletes are in a class of their own. Their bodies, experience and medical history often dictate how and what they do. Without knowing their background and history, commenting on what they do is a guess at best. For example, a world class bench presser in a powerlifting meet who has gone through a pec tear, a tricep tear and bicep tear in his career may have to perform his bench press with a modified technique. A 6’3” tall strongman weighing at 400 plus pounds going for a world record deadlift is probably going to have to take a different approach to his deadlift setup. High level athletes typically have experience that can be measured in decades. Without knowing their history, we can’t speak accurately about what they do.
The same approach can be taken for any person you might see in the gym. You never know what kind of injuries or illnesses a person has to deal with everyday. Instead of blatantly being overly critical of someone, try to find out why a person has to move the way they do. For example, a retired football player who suffered knee injuries might not be able to perform a full depth squat. Another person may not be able to perform conventional deadlifts from the floor because of a back injury from a car accident. Someone else might get easily fatigued because they’re going through chemotherapy. You never know what battles a person has to face.
This is one of the reasons why I have come to truly enjoy being a part of my community at the Atlas Strength Shop. Even though we’re a bunch of meatheads, this gym has a pretty compassionate group. They’re always positive and always considerate. It doesn’t really matter who walks into our gym, they’re treated with respect and kindness. Whether it’s a record holder or someone completely green to what we do, they’re always treated with the same respect. The only thing that really matters is the effort and attitude of a person when they walk in.
If you want to be a part of an awesome group of strong people, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can give us a like on our Facebook page here or like our Instagram page here to keep up with all the happenings at the Atlas Strength Shop. Do you need some high quality energy supplements? Check out strikeforceenergy.com and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH to get 20% off of your order.
On October 30, 2021, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting its second annual strongman competition, the Rougarou Classic. Check out the Facebook page here or visit ironpodium.com for more information.
“Both champions and beginners walk these halls, and both deserve respect.” -Lauren Wells