My Rant on Athlete Attitude in Powerlifting

Written by: Kevin Cann


I have been around elite athletes my whole life.  Whether I was playing on teams, or coaching them, I have been surrounded by high level athletes.  When I was shoved into the world of powerlifting this changed a bit.


I was fortunate enough to be coached by an elite, world level coach, in Boris Sheiko.  Not only was I able to learn from the best in how to coach this sport, but I also learned a lot about attitude and how important it is for a coach.  Attitude was something that I took for granted throughout my life.


When I was on a high level team, we all had the same attitude.  We pushed each other in practice and fed off of each other’s energy.  We were all completely bought in to the goals of the team and worked our asses off to achieve them.


To be a member of these teams as an adult meant that you had been playing your whole life.  The fact that you were still playing meant that you were better than everyone else.  Sports is like a funnel; it is big at the bottom where everyone can join but gets much more narrowed down at the top.


This is not true of powerlifting.  Powerlifting is a sport that anyone can partake in.  I actually love this part of it.  A beginner can share the platform with a multiple time world champion.  That is pretty cool.


Throw the internet into the mix and every beginner thinks that they can become a world champion if they get the right program.  They will see certain lifters running certain programs and just think the secret to success lies in some Microsoft Excel algorithm.


Powerlifting is like any other sport.  Some of you reading this are good, some suck, and everything else in between will be represented.  This is an important message for many lifters to hear.  Some of you are not very good at this sport.  I tried hockey as a kid, I couldn’t fucking skate.  Due to that, I am not in the NHL.


I am not a good lifter either.  I am aware of this.  I got into this sport later in life after participating in sports for 30 years.  I didn’t give a fuck about how good I was at lifting weights.  Now I give a fuck about how good I am at lifting weights and I am not very good.


If I started at 12 years old, I bet I would be.  I didn’t.  However, I did learn what it takes to be elite at something, twice.  I learned how to create a culture that will foster lifters being the best that they can be with their God given abilities and a little direction.


There are some top lifters that were very good from the first time they picked up a barbell.  They were good at lifting weights.  This is not a sport that draws from the best athletes around.  They tend to be the best of the athletic leftovers.  Be wary of choosing this as a coach.


Being elite amongst leftovers is very different from being elite amongst the elite.  With that said, there are some lifters that absolutely get it and you can see this in their coaching.  These are very few and far between though.


They end up speaking in absolutes and trashing other methodologies that do not match their thinking. Ironically, most world champs would be world champs no matter what program they do.  Even these shitheads display what it takes in the gym to be as successful as you can be.


Being elite is an attitude well before it is a number on the bar.  Your intent as an athlete matters.  Every single time your hands touch that bar it is an opportunity to get better.  Too often lifters just go through the motions thinking that a magic number of sets and reps will make them stronger.  It is far more than that.


Every time you touch the bar there needs to be intent and purpose.  This starts from the empty bar and continues through the whole training day.  Every rep needs to be moved with the control and effort that is required to hit 5lbs more than your current best.  This is how you get better.  Microsoft Excel does not make you better.  You make you better.


As a coach my words cannot make you a better lifter.  All I can do is put you in the positions and guide the process for you to learn how to become the best lifter you can possibly be.  This does not mean that all of you will be world champions.  At the end of the day it still falls on you.


Elite athletes are accountable for their actions.  Novices blame the coach and the program.  If you are someone that blames your coach or program, chances are you suck at this sport and you do not have the attitude to become better.  Find something else to do.


Of course there are bad fits between coach and lifter.  However, if you have a coach with a good track record, it is not their program or coaching that is not working.  It is you.  I am sick of seeing lifters blame other things for their lack of progress, which many times they believe should be linear.


There will be times that you will go potentially years without increasing your total.  Better learn to love the sport for other reasons than chasing numbers.  Things feel like they aren’t going well.  Refocus your attention and do some soul searching to see where you can really improve.  This is where a strong relationship with a coach can be important.


It is very rarely because you are doing 4 sets instead of 5.  It is what you bring to each set and rep that typically needs to be improved.  Having a coach that you can talk to about these things is important because sometimes it is some serious life shit that is negatively affecting your training.


If you are training and posting on IG that your lifts are RPE “trash” and using emojis to tell the world about your too many feelings about lifting weights, that attitude is holding you back.  Saying that you do not feel like training, my lifts suck, or any other bullshit childlike statement, it is holding you back.


Louie says, “If you run with the lame you develop a limp.”  If you are hanging around these weak people, get a new crew because your crew is negatively affecting you.  If you follow these people on IG, unfollow them because seeing it negatively affects you.


Being strong is not about your total.  It is about attitude and heart.  If you want to be a powerlifter, fucking commit to it.  You chose a sport that will break your heart more than it will fill it with joy, but those joyful moments will be addicting, and you will do anything to seek them out.


Find yourself strong company.  Again, not by total, but by attitude and heart.  Because they will push you harder than you can push yourself.  When things seem like they are stalling, you will push harder because you want to push them to be better.  Weak people complain and let their feelings dictate their training.


Strong people analyze what they are doing and bring focus and intent to every single rep that they do in the gym.  They don’t make excuses because they do not have room for them as they are too worried about getting better.  They don’t blame others or give a fuck about what other people are doing because they know they have what it takes inside of them to be great.


These are major reasons why PPS gets stronger no matter what we do for training.  No one joined this team with an elite total.  Most don’t even have a total.  But you will see us represented at the Arnold again this year, just like every other year.


That is because we train in a shark tank.  I scroll through the internet and I see a lot of flounders.  Some of them are stronger than others, but they would still get eaten in our environment.  Find yourself a shark tank to train in if you want to get better.



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