As I look back on my 45 years in this insane sport that I love, I have come to the conclusion that the best advice I can give to anyone is to never stop learning. No matter how accomplished you are (or ‘think’ you are), always be in learning mode. No matter what the source: listen, learn, and then, pass it on.
This mantra was something that was fine-tuned by experience over the decades but I clearly remember one moment in particular, during a conversation with Matt Smith, one of Westside Barbell’s all-time best lifters and my mentor at the time, when he told me, “I don’t care who the lifter is. If they are putting up a big total, I want to know what they are doing. Even the ‘little guys’. If some guy in the 220’s is punching up 22-2400 total, I want to know what he’s doing.”
To put this into perspective, you need to know (if you don’t already) that Matt is 6’5” and at the time weighed about 385. I believe his best total was around 2700 and he was one of the highest ranked super-heavies in the world. But to him, every source of information “even from the little guys” in the lighter weight classes, was worth paying attention to because he, like every other lifter wanted five more pounds on his total. If some “little guy” in the 220’s knew how to make that happen, he wanted to know.
“I don’t care who the lifter is. If they are putting up a big total, I want to know what they are doing. Even the ‘little guys’. If some guy in the 220’s is punching up 22-2400 total, I want to know what he’s doing.” - Matt Smith
What makes this story especially significant to me is that Matt was mentored by Louie Simmons, ‘the’ powerlifting guru of all time, in my opinion. But even while training at Westside Barbell, Matt recognized….as his mentor had taught him... he should always be open to listening and learning.
So, as your journey proceeds down the path to more meets and hopefully ever-increasing totals, never be too proud to listen and learn. You never know what bit of information you may come across that will bump your total that ever elusive next five pounds.
Coach Ken Wheeler USPA Multi Ply/Vice-President/HogPit Powerlifting