A popular practice in most powerlifting gyms, and a hated trend in commercial gyms, filming your lifts can be a controversial topic depending on who you talk to. However, the truth of the matter is that it is essential to truly measure progress. Sure, some people might be filming just for the insta clout, and some of us (guilty) might genuinely be filming to improve technique but then see some good lighting and immediately throw the set up on the gram.
Let’s take a moment to discuss the true purpose of filming your lifts, IG clout aside.
It usually only takes a single session of filming your lifts to realize that your technique might not be as dialed in as you thought it was. Whether you’ve been half-squatting without knowing it, letting the bar bounce a little too hard off your chest on bench, or pulling with those hips a mile high, many of us think our form is much better than it actually is.
A lot of commercial gym lifters think that by looking in the mirror, they can avoid this need to film. While that may be true for bicep curls, the big 3 powerlifting movements are very intense and strenuous exercises. The truth of the matter is, if you’re able to properly analyze your form in the mirror mid-lift, you’re probably not lifting enough. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough for those looking to compete. If you look at SoCal Powerlifting, we have no visible mirrors around any of our racks. This is very intentional. If you’re used to lifting in front of a mirror everyday, how do you think you’re going to perform when that mirror is no longer there? Probably pretty poorly. Train like you compete.
How a weight moves and how a weight feels are often 2 different things. If you have me hit a heavy single at 95% right after being nose-deep in a bottle of ammonia with Rage Against the Machine blasting, I’m probably going to tell you I could’ve done that weight for 10. If you have me hit the same weight for a single ammonia-free in absolute silence, I’ll likely have to double-check that I’ve actually squatted heavier than that before. If you watch the video? They probably look about the same. It might move a little faster when I’m hyped, sure, but most of the difference between these two lifts only exists in my head. Next to measuring the bar speed (a luxury that not many lifters have), watching the lift back is unquestionably the most accurate way to accurately measure difficulty. It also allows you to more accurately understand how YOU lift.
Some lifters move weights fast or not at all, while others may grind everything from warm-ups to maxes. That being said, there’s still a visible difference between easy and hard reps, it just may not be apparent at first. Having a full database of videos of your previous lifts allows you and/or your coach to better predict how future weights will move, allowing for much more success. This is why we at SoCal Powerlifting use TrueCoach, a coaching platform that allows us to see all of your previous training sessions for a specific lift at the click of a button.
Look, I’ll save my full “The Importance of Getting a Good Coach” rant for another day and focus on filming your lifts for now, but the truth of the matter is it’s damn hard to coach yourself. All of our coaches have coaches, and there’s a reason why. Diagnosing issues with your own form is HARD. Whether it’s advice from a lifting partner or better yet a coach, everyone can benefit from getting a second opinion.
I’m sure you do, but if you could be 1% better, wouldn’t you want to be? Especially if all it took to make that 1% improvement was to prop your phone up and push record? In a world where so many of us spend hundreds of dollars on supplements and take hours upon hours to research new programs or coaches, I’m consistently shocked at how few of us are willing to do something so easy. We can do better. Start filming your lifts and I guarantee you’ll see the rewards.
P.S. If you have a coach and aren’t filming your lifts, you’re not taking advantage of the tools available to you in the slightest. We need to see what’s going on to know how to improve. You don’t have to film every accessory and every warm-up set, but make sure you’re getting some videos sent over to your coach so that they can do their job to the best of their ability.
It's one thing to read it; it's another to do it. And when you're training without a coach, you need to make sure you know what you're doing.