Updated: Nov 17, 2022
"I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes." -Jimi Hendrix
Our team moves pretty dang great as a whole. We take a very progressive step by step long term approach to technical progress and it shows! Typically, our pulls look great, our turnovers are solid, our strength gains tend to lead to great jumps in our competition lifts, and we get it done when its time to get it done. We don't compete once a month and instead dedicate focused periods to bringing up weak points until the time is ready. It's all very logical and a step by step process with the emphasis on where you're personally at as a lifter so that your weak points can turn into strengths swiftly... So I unfollowed and hid several social media accounts when it suddenly occurred to me "how is this affecting me and my own lifting?" You see, when we watch fails or shitty technique, we have now introduced our brain to a new potential of movement. As humans, we build everything into patterns and subconsciously integrate movements into our own movement (i.e. watching how someone does something and then producing the same movement). It's not some new science. In fact, "mirroring" was observed in the 1980s when monkeys who watched other monkeys pick peanuts up experienced neuron firing as if they were picking the peanuts up... And then in 1996 a similar study was observed with humans. Literally, monkey see monkey do.
Protect your eyes and ears AT ALL COST. It is so easy to get caught up in the world of "too much information" and "overcoaching." We scour through instagram and youtube trying to watch lifters lift maximal weights on the verge of technical breakdown, then wonder "omg is that the key to a big squat? Do I need to throw my head back at the bottom of the squat because the Chinese team is doing it?" or even just watching a famous Crossfitter hitch could introduce less than ideal positional habits. Boom. Copying "the experts" or trying something that appears to be working for someone is often appealing and works in most areas of life - but in Weightlifting can sometimes build bad habits and introduce new "funky" weird things to technique. Even more difficult is when an influencer suggests doing specific things that make you wonder why you're not doing that one exercise out of the infinite number of exercises. As lifters, there's an easy solution - hide your eyes and ears from bad information. I'm not saying don't follow your favorite lifters, in fact I WANT you to pick the best technicians and examine what they do well! Then incorporate those details into your training. Some of my favorite lifters to watch for newer lifters are the most over-emphasized. Are you unsure of who is a good technician? Ask your coach! Chances are, your coach is going to be able to point you toward lifters who do the thing you're working on very well that you can watch and study.
Here's where things get complicated... A single technical model is complete crap. Instead, what matters the most to me is breaking down someone's movement over time to find which positions work best for them. There are generally a few consistencies that are true, but I teach a spectrum of movement. From John North to Tian Tao, technique gets pretty diverse with a few key points trending similarly! But where things go wrong is when less than ideal positions are being touted on instagram. So, I unfollowed accounts and hid folks/meme accounts for the sake of my own subconscious and preventing mirroring from horrifying movement and misses.
But let's play devil's advocate! What if someone needs more aggression and edge to their lifting to get the job done when things get heavy? Well, possibly mirroring could play a nice strong role here! Watching lifters get hype and power under crazy weights is motivating as heck and helps introduce potentially more passive lifters to approaching the bar with attack and commitment. Generally though, for the sake of getting better, we want to move consistently from lift to lift so it's hard for me to get behind a "pull and pray" approach to training. Especially with safety, athlete longevity, and progressive development at the front of my mind.
If you watch people miss, guess what you're engraining.... if you're watching flawless lifters with excellent balance on the bar, guess what you're engraining... This all isn't too foreign of a concept but at the end of the day its simple. The things we put into our mind or watch is reinforced the more often you see or do it. So protect your eyes and ears. Aim for quality movement first overall and trust your own process of development. Monkey See Monkey Do! Jimi Hendrix said it himself "I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes."