“Critical of one’s actions in a self aware way”

To be a self critical athlete is to have a state of mind rich in self awareness and depth in personal responsibility. It is a state to strive for as a lifter regardless of if you are coached or not. It is a state where you are aware of your own weaknesses and how they influence your decision making as well as being aware of how the decisions will influence your lifting.

Are you a self critical lifter?

The fact that you are reading this article is a great start!

There are multiple skills that a self critical lifter has. Often, how self critical someone is is directly related to how much they care about a certain goal. If you care about powerlifting as a hobby and don’t care to become National Champ, that’s totally OK, and it’s unlikely you will have the innate self critical skills and motivations that the aspiring champ does, but that’s partly besides the point of this article.

The point of the article is to pick out some common traits that I have observed between great lifters and not-so great lifters, observed from lifters I have coached and followed. My goal is that you can improve on at least one of these traits.

To be self critical in your training is to work your hardest to learn about your own lifting strengths and weaknesses, mentality, and what your goals require you to do. To be self critical, you use your coach as a guide to get you to where you want to go rather than as a bootcamp instructor. To be self critical is NOT the same as to be obsessive over technique to your own detriment. It is to understand there is a time for technique improvement and a time to simply get more work in, and knowing how to adapt your mindset based on this. To be self critical is NOT to say “no” to going out and eating with friends because you may blow your macros. It is the ability to understand the compromise you are making and move on anyway, a state of responsible decision making. It is also synonymous with you being almost entirely “independent” with your own training: development of problem solving skills and self awareness to help drive productive training with you holding yourself more highly accountable than your coach does/would.

Being self critical requires a lot more effort and exertion, but almost always results in better progress over the long term, mentally and physically. 

I’ve given a few examples below of how the two mind-states can differ and perhaps give you some things to think about.

Do any of these examples ring true to you?

Non-self critical lifters often share the same traits to reactive lifters, as well as self-critical lifters to proactive lifters.

Here are some examples of these different states, in practice:

Reactive lifters are forced to try and be self-critical (if at all) after the fact whereas proactive lifters (who are self-critical by default) take care of themselves based on past information and experience, to ensure the best result.

It’s important to note that defining a non-self critical lifter versus a self critical lifter, or a reactive versus proactive lifter, is often not black and white. It is a continuum and lifters share traits from separate columns based on the topic and their own weaknesses. Without a doubt, lifters that are self critical and proactive tend to communicate more during coaching to their own advantage, and this tends to lead to a better coach-client relationship as well, facilitating better progress. 

Though, these factors are even more important if you are self-coached, as you are your own accountability backstop with no-one to remind you of these factors.

Do you notice any parallels in your lifting behaviour with these examples?

I hope this has been relatable and will help you improve on your training and nutrition mentality by giving you a different perspective. 

I would love to hear your own personal examples and comments — share these on whichever medium you found this article through!

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