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Paralysis By Analysis

By Sean | In Olympic Weightlifting, Psychology | on February 3, 2014

MORNING CLASS REMINDER: Mon-Fri 630am & 730am classes have permanently moved to 6am & 7am.  Thank you for your flexibility!

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Although Weightlifting is not a competitive Winter Olympic Sport, be sure to tune in to root on Team USA as they take on the world in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Opening Ceremonies are this Thursday.

In a recent article from Juggernaut Training Systems Weightlifting Coach Colin Burns entitled “Too Much Technique?,” Colin discusses a phenomena that many new weightlifters encounter that is both relevant to athletes and coaches alike.  Something I call “Paralysis by Analysis,”  where every little detail of a movement is harped upon leaving the athlete with so much to think about that their overall performance is left severely lacking (compared to the person’s potential).  In weightlifting I see this a lot, especially with beginning weightlifters but also with novice weightlifting coaches; beginning athletes are in a hurry to fix everything at once and new coaches are in a hurry to fix everything at once.  In my experience neither has turned out well because as mentioned the outcome is typically Paralysis by Analysis, and nothing gets accomplished.  A lifter’s speed and power decreases the more technical issues they concentrate on fixing in a given movement.  Also, the overall workout session is a wash because the coach wanted to fix too many things in too little time, typically leaving both frustrated and losing motivation.

In a seminar where we hosted Justin from 70’s Big back in 2010, he recommended concentrating on 1-2 things at any given time and I’ve found that to work well for myself and for my athletes.  With that in mind, I prioritize the technique faults I observe and concentrate on fixing the 1 or 2 most impactful issues of the movment.  With the long term development of our lifters, we focus on technique early and if necessary reduce the complexity of the movement to improve the technical quality of the movement.  As technique becomes well understood and consistent, mistakes are often improved by addressing physical weaknesses and strength imbalances in the body.  Besides improving position, speed is a vital part of weightlifting and should always be part of the learning process.  But emphasizing speed over position early in a lifter’s development is a huge mistake, in my opinion, and often leads to plateaus and even injuries.

I, like Colin, also believe that training is the time to address technique issues, and competitions are time to simply lift.  At a competition I also look to give lifters 1-2 things to think about and tell them to let it rip.  In my experience, trying to make major technique fixes at a competition not only introduces doubt into the mind of the lifter, but here again we run into the Paralysis by Analysis dilemma.  Technique is likely going to break down at maximal weights, but trust in your training and give it your best.  Colin puts it plainly saying, “Your time in competition is where all of your training is realized.  If you are going to screw up in competition, do it at full effort.”  Get into your beast mode mentality so that you step on the platform confident and ready to bring the nasty.

You’ve heard my two cents on the topic, but read what Colin has to say in his article “Too Much Technique?” and hear his perspective on the issue.  Colin is a much more experienced and accomplished weightlifter and coach than myself, and has a lot of good insight that can be found in the JTSstrngth.com Olympic Weightlifting articles found here.

Speaking of brining the nasty, here’s a short highlight reel of our Intrepid lifters at last Friday’s Code 3/Intrepid Weightlifting Competition held at CrossFit Code 3 in Torrance, CA.  Congratulations to all who participated and PR’d, and a huge thanks to our cheer squad and Daniel and Marc from CF Code 3 for hosting an awesome event.  We are looking to host another Weightlifting meet in early May, so stay tuned for more information as the details are hashed out.


WOD 2.03.14
Jerk 2-2-2

For Time (11 min cap):
10 Squat Clean & Jerks (135/95)
50 Double Unders
10 Squat Clean & Jerks
50 Double Unders
10 Squat Clean & Jerks

5 Comments to "Paralysis By Analysis"

  • Amanda says:

    February 3, 2014 at 7:42 AM -

    Happy belated birthday, Josh!

  • Pablo says:

    February 3, 2014 at 7:57 AM -

    Sorry to have missed your birthday Josh. Hope it was fantastic!

  • Tom Davoren says:

    February 3, 2014 at 9:18 AM -

    Glad I am not the only one. Happy birthday Josh.

  • Jake says:

    February 3, 2014 at 9:47 AM -

    Very cool video. Nice job again!

  • Nathalia says:

    February 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM -

    Hahaha, you did not just post that collage…

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