7 important lessons I learnt from spending a day with GB Weightlifting Coaches

Around a week ago, I headed up Nottingham way for the day to Atlas Weightlifting gym to spend the day with Cyril Martin and Dave Sawyer.

Coaches and Athletes from our days seminar at Atlas Gym

They were hosting a seminar on all things weightlifting – from biomechanics and technique, periodisation and programme design, as well as a guest talk from Dr Sarah Audsley on muscular imbalance and weakness.

For those of you not aware, Atlas gym is the home to numerous national champion weightlifters and international lifters including current Commonwealth Games and European bronze medalist Emily campbell and current international GB athlete Rooni Siraj.

Coaches Dave and Cyril have coached internationally and have a reputation for developing high level lifters all the way from youth level upwards (to say i was excited to attend the seminar was an understatement).

Cyril Martin and Dave Sawyer

We were also very lucky on the day to be joined by Emily and Rooni who did some fantastic demonstrations, coached us and shared insight into what it was like to be a high-level athlete at the top of their sport nationally.


So what were the biggest take homes from the day?

  • Keep programme design as simple as possible (Block linear periodisation works well – GPP phase, Technical phase, Strength phase, Competition phase). Every lifter is unique and will have their own particular needs. Over time through trial and error you will find a plan that works. Once you find this don’t overcomplicate it, stick to it.

  • Technique first, always – without great technique you’ll never reach your full weightlifting potential. Never compromise on this. Ever.

  •  Get your first pull right – without a getting this part of the lift spot on you are unlikely to make lifts at heavier loads.

  • Building coach/athlete relationships is key for long term success. Its our job as coaches to understand the needs of our athletes and support them as best we can.  Being able to listen and adjust things when needed is key.

  • Don’t neglect your accessory work, particularly when you’re further out from comp.  For injury prevention and to bring up lagging muscles that could be causing issues in your lifts (think scapula muscles, core muscles, hip and glute muscles)

  • Do not copy what other lifters in other countries are doing. You have a unique body type, with unique lever lengths etc so trying to lift like a Chinese Olympic medalist probably won’t work for you. Over time with a coach you will find the best way.

  • One of the best things I took away from the day however? Surround yourself with similar people regularly who are just as passionate about becoming better as you are. This seminar bought along exactly that type of person and made it a great day as a result. Cyril and Dave were both attentive, willing to help and clearly very passionate about their work and the sport. This was clear form the moment i walked in until i left 8 and a half hours later.

The day comes highly recommended from me and i will be sending  more of our coaching team down in the near future. Cyril is also currently organising a youth weightlifting day which i am keeping my eyes peeled for.

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