Can you record this lift for me? Training effectively with video

Training effectively with video

It’s safe to say cell phone cameras and lifters recording workouts are part of today’s training environment. It’s not going away so training effectively with video is something we can be intentional about.

Is recording (or over-recording) of training lifts a distraction?

Recently one of the “older” guys and I go into it about the “kids” in the gym constantly recording everything they do while training. Not just heavy or max attempts but warm-ups, squats and even pulls. Our grumpy old-school vibe said distraction but after thinking about it I’m not so sure. It depends.

While I want to complain that lifters who video everything are just adding to the attention-needy millennial garbage we read about, it might not be the case. Even though I don’t record much I recognize our cell phone cameras could be a catalyst to progress.

Off the bat, it’s important to note it’s not an intrusion or disruption in our gym. It’s accepted routine. Before chalking up lifters hand off their phones to someone in between sets. No one minds. It’s casual and reciprocated. If one of them is obviously going heavy they can ask anyone to record for them and they get left alone until they are done with the heavy series. So that part is not a distraction.

Possible distractions of video as a training tool:

Over-stimulation: Our team gets clear and direct feedback during a workout. Our coach is particularly mindful of keeping focus simple and limited to one or two specific points while training. Video can blow that up.

You did something, felt it and received feedback. Why not add a real-life visual to tie it all together? Because it’s difficult to simply watch, carve out working points and use what we see productively. Our minds race when we see too much.

Tendency to focus on errors and confirmation bias: Asking and looking for what you did wrong is normal. It’s also unproductive. Often the point of good coaching is to focus on what you need to do going forward, not harp on what you did wrong. Video can easily facilitate the latter.

Also, when things are rough, watching and re-watching lifts can foster a snowballing negative mindset. If it feels like crap, and you are mad, it’s going to look like crap and make you madder.

Conflict and “noise”: This is not the same as overstimulation but is similar. What happens when your coach tells you one thing but you observe and key in on something else that you see?

Disrupting others: I mentioned the acceptance and comfort in our gym but not everyone wants to be bothered filming for others. It’s not just asking someone in between sets to get up and record a lift for you. That person has to get whatever angle you want. So walking across or in front of other platforms could disrupt someone else trying to lift. If you put your phone down on the platform or lean it against something others will also have be mindful not to touch it, step on it or worse.

As a working rule, show someone the courtesy of asking if they want to see a video of you before sticking your phone in their face. Unless asked, don’t assume everyone, or anyone cares to see the replay of what you just did. They might be thinking about what they need to do.

Possible benefits of video as a training tool:

Real visual over visualization: This one is tricky. Visualization is a special and necessary skill to improve performance. What if you aren’t good at it? While the skill of visualization using your mind’s eye won’t develop perhaps a hard, clear video, sidesteps that problem. A key benefit of visualization is using focus and imagination to see what you want to do. It’s forward thinking. That’s why I’ll suggest you limit video review to lifts you did well. Not bad ones.

Additional eyes for the coach: During a busy workout it’s difficult for a coach to see everything. A video is a great tool for a coach that is trying to watch multiple platforms at once. Also, there is a clear benefit for a coach to see something again to verify something.  Great apps/tools like Coaches Eye allow for simple and thorough analysis of videos.

Suggestions for training effectively with video

Only watch the good ones: If something felt good and you’re generally pleased with the effort that is a good one to see again. Odds are you’ll be in a positive mindset less likely to key in on the imperfections (if there are any). Too much nitpicking and obsessing over every little mistake is a distraction.

Consider waiting: Hold off reviewing videos until after the workout or exercise series. Instant feedback or gratification feels good but can be disruptive if you have more to do. This is especially true on max days when you are not working a specific skill or technique issue.

Watch from a wide angle: By that, I don’t mean zooming in or out with the camera. I mean simply watch without slicing apart every micro-movement of the lift and assigning meaning to it. Promise yourself and follow through on not harping on known problems.

Watch videos of those who do things right: Instead of watching videos of yourself, search for videos of lifters whose technique you like or who do the thing you are trying to fix well.

Social Media

Before I hit this one, please know I don’t hate social media and I do enjoy seeing good weightlifting related stuff. Also, I’m aware this is a blog, shared on social media. Socia media and the act of sharing your performances and progress are both great things. But context is everything.

Almost everyone wrongly assumes their Facebook friends and IG followers give a crap about every little thing they do. We also have a few friends/followers who are generous with the like button. Don’t mistake rote behavior with genuine interest. A regular workout where nothing special happens is just that. Consider leaving it offline.

If something has meaning, if it represents a breakthrough and you want to share it, great. Go ahead and post it. A good thought on this, if something falls into that category take the time to add a little context in the comments with the video. People will happily enjoy it with you and share a kind thought in return. If you don’t care enough to set it up or explain it, what does that tell you?

I understand some lifters, regardless of level, post a significant amount of stuff to keep some kind of living journal or log of their progress. Some are actively trying to build a following or business. I’m not hating on that. Just don’t hit me with altruism about a journal or that you are doing it for others. If you really want it for yourself you could easily save stuff to a non-published or private space.

Do you really need or want that feedback? Some people thrive off the feeling of putting stuff out there. Most of your friends (as mentioned) don’t care about everything but what if people on the periphery really are paying attention?

Some high-level lifters live on social media. They post everything. They engage comments and don’t mind the noise that follows them. They handle it fine. Others go on total lockdown and share nothing about their training. They’d prefer to step onto a competition with that non-aura or maybe mystery in a world where everything else seems to be “known” about them.

When closely followed, lifters tend to catch a world of unneeded and frankly unwarranted shit because they post training highlights they fail to match or exceed in competition. Do you want that pressure?

Be mindful about all this and think before you post. If everything is important, nothing is. Ultimately to use video effectively you have to both know yourself and why you want someone to hit the record button. Is it vanity? Is it personal? Is it for analysis? For most of us, the answer will be a combination of all 3.

If you can accept the mistakes you see, or at least not let them compound into lingering irritation and self-criticism, video away. If you can’t move on without dwelling you absolutely should not watch videos of yourself while working out.

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