Coach Newton began his career as a coach and athlete at Central Florida University. He was USA Weightlifting’s first national coach (1981-84) and served as that group’s executive director (1982-88). Coach Newton is one of the original five US coaches to receive the coveted Senior International Coach status. Furthermore, Coach Newton authored the popular Explosive Lifting for Sports book and DVD for Human Kinetics.n

Harvey Newton: Tips For Beginner Lifters

nNothing is more important for a novice weightlifter than developing, as soon as possible, a rational technique for both competitive lifts. Solid, efficient technique (not heavy attempts) established at an early age often sets podium finishers apart from the also-rans.
Extensive drilling of technique with light to moderate loads, along with regular evaluation and feedback, leads to success. In order to achieve optimal results in weightlifting skill development must be realized in the early teenage years. This presumes a certain amount of basic motor skill ability. In other words, it’s difficult, if not impossible to create an efficient weightlifter is this is their first athletic venture.
Olympic-style lifting is at the advanced end of a resistance training continuum. This is not the starting point for young lifters who should gradually work their way through less complex activities, such as mastery of bodyweight exercises, some general bodybuilding or weight training, and some experience with powerlifting. But learning proper weightlifting technique while engaged in this less challenging training is an excellent mix.
The realization of solid technique, at least in the United States, can be difficult due to a certain lack of cohesiveness in our coaching ranks. A successful beginner cannot (at least in my opinion) simply imitate others or listen to a local “expert” explain the lifts. True, one can learn to lift well enough to compete at a low level with such basic instruction. But learning to lift properly takes much more than this simplistic approach.
Mastery of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk requires an inquisitive mind and the availability of comprehensive resources for further learning. And the sooner this learning takes place, the better. Each repetition, each set performed with less than optimal technique is another step in the wrong direction. Go far enough down this path and otherwise interested beginners never find their way back.
This approach requires patience, a trait often missing in beginners. But weightlifting is not a sport that supplies instant gratification. Success in weightlifting requires a long vision and a dedicated approach.